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Group of Monuments at Hampi

The austere, grandiose site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The austere and grandiose site of Hampi comprise mainly the remnants of the Capital City of Vijayanagara Empire (14th-16th Cent CE), the last great Hindu Kingdom. The property encompasses an area of 4187, 24 hectares, located in the Tungabhadra basin in Central Karnataka, Bellary District. Hampi’s spectacular setting is dominated by river Tungabhadra, craggy hill ranges and open plains, with widespread physical remains. The sophistication of the varied urban, royal and sacred systems is evident from the more than 1600 surviving remains that include forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, Mandapas, memorial structures, gateways, defence check posts, stables, water structures, etc.

Among these, the Krishna temple complex, Narasimha, Ganesa, Hemakuta group of temples, Achyutaraya temple complex, Vitthala temple complex, Pattabhirama temple complex, Lotus Mahal complex, can be highlighted. Suburban townships (puras) surrounded the large Dravidian temple complexes containing subsidiary shrines, bazaars, residential areas and tanks applying the unique hydraulic technologies and skilfully and harmoniously integrating the town and defence architecture with surrounding landscape. The remains unearthed in the site delineate both the extent of the economic prosperity and political status that once existed indicating a highly developed society.

Dravidian architecture flourished under the Vijayanagara Empire and its ultimate form is characterised by their massive dimensions, cloistered enclosures, and lofty towers over the entrances encased by decorated pillars.

The Vitthla temple is the most exquisitely ornate structure on the site and represents the culmination of Vijayanagara temple architecture. It is a fully developed temple with associated buildings like Kalyana Mandapa and Utsava Mandapa within a cloistered enclosure pierced with three entrance Gopurams. In addition to the typical spaces present in contemporary temples, it boasts of a Garuda shrine fashioned as a granite ratha and a grand bazaar street. This complex also has a large Pushkarani (stepped tank) with a Vasantotsava mandapa (ceremonial pavilion at the centre), wells and a network of water channels.

Another unique feature of temples at Hampi is the wide Chariot streets flanked by the rows of Pillared Mandapas, introduced when chariot festivals became an integral part of the rituals. The stone chariot in front of the temple is also testimony to its religious ritual. Most of the structures at Hampi are constructed from local granite, burnt bricks and lime mortar. The stone masonry and lantern roofed post and lintel system were the most favoured construction technique. The massive fortification walls have irregular cut size stones with paper joints by filling the core with rubble masonry without any binding material. The gopuras over the entrances and the sanctum proper have been constructed with stone and brick. The roofs have been laid with the heavy thick granite slabs covered with a water proof course of brick jelly and lime mortar.

Vijayanagara architecture is also known for its adoption of elements of Indo Islamic Architecture in secular buildings like the Queen’s Bath and the Elephant Stables, representing a highly evolved multi-religious and multi-ethnic society.Building activity in Hampi continued over a period of 200 years reflecting the evolution in the religious and political scenario as well as the advancements in art and architecture. The city rose to metropolitan proportions and is immortalized in the words of many foreign travellers as one of the most beautiful cities. The Battle of Talikota (1565 CE) led to a massive destruction of its physical fabric.

Dravidian architecture survives in the rest of Southern India spread through the patronage of the Vijayanagara rulers. The Raya Gopura, introduced first in the temples attributed to Raja Krishna Deva Raya, is a landmark all over South India.

Criterion (i): The remarkable integration between the planned and defended city of Hampi with its exemplary temple architecture and its spectacular natural setting represent a unique artistic creation.

Criterion (iii): The city bears exceptional testimony to the vanished civilization of the kingdom of Vijayanagara, which reached its apogee under the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1530).

Criterion (iv): This capital offers an outstanding example of a type of structure which illustrates a significant historical situation: that of the destruction of the Vijayanagara kingdom at the Battle of Talikota (1565 CE) which left behind an ensemble of living temples, magnificent archaeological remains in the form of elaborate sacred, royal, civil and military structures as well as traces of its rich lifestyle, all integrated within its natural setting.



The area of the property is adequate to accommodate, represent and protect all the key attributes of the site.

The majority of the monuments are in good state of preservation and conservation. The highly developed and extremely sophisticated settlement articulates architectural manifestations, agricultural activities, irrigation systems, formal and informal paths, boulders and rocks, religious and social expressions. However, maintaining these conditions of integrity poses significant challenges derived mainly from pressures associated with development, planned and unplanned, which pose a threat to the landscape of the property, as well as encroachments and changes in land use, especially increased agricultural activity of commercial crops that might threaten the physical stability of the diverse monuments. Particular attention will need to be placed on regulating residential constructions and potential development to accommodate visitor use, as well as infrastructure to address communication needs, particular by pass roads. Addressing also the visual impact of modern electrification fixtures, telephone poles and other elements, will also be important to maintain the integrity of the property.


The attributes like strategic location and abundance of natural resources, rendering this spectacular landscape befit for a Capital City have been maintained in the property.

The authenticity of the site has been maintained in terms of location and setting, as the original setting comprising of river Tungabhadra and boulders is fully retained. In terms of form and function, the integration of the geographic setting with man-made features in the design and functional layout of the entire capital can still be discerned and the form of the original city planning with suburban pattern is evident. The largely untouched archaeological elements provide ample evidences of authentic materials and construction and interventions have maintained qualities when undertaken. The stages of evolution and perfection of the Vijayanagara Architecture are evident in the monumental structures As for traditions and techniques; the physical remains are a befitting tribute to the ingenuity of the builders in shaping the metropolis of this grand scale by utilizing locally available material, traditional knowledge system and skilled craftsmanship. Today there is a continuity of several religious rituals, associations, traditional skills and occupations within the society that have been maintained.

However, the destruction by the battle of Talikota and the passage of time have led to some of the original functions and traditions becoming obsolete and altered, while several are in continuum forming an integral part of the site like festivals, temple rituals, pilgrimage, agriculture, etc. The Virupaksha temple is in constant worship, this has led to many additions and alterations to different parts of temple complex. Similarly, the haphazard growth of modern shops, restaurants in and around it and its bazaar that caters to religious and social tourists has impacted adversely on its setting as has the asphalting of the roads over the ancient pathway in front of the Virupaksha temple. The tensions between modern uses and protecting the fabric and setting of the ancient remains need to be managed with the utmost sensitivity.

Protection and management requirements

Different legal instruments exist for the protection of the property, including the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Remains and Sites Act, 1958 (AMASR Act, 1958), AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 and Rules 1959 of the Government of India and Karnataka Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1961. Recently, the Draft (Bill) of Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority Act, 2001 has been framed to look after the protection and management of the 4187,24 hectares of the World Heritage Area.

There are different levels of authorities and agencies that have mandates that influence the protection and management of the property under a diversity of Acts. The Government of India, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Government of Karnataka are responsible for the protection and management of fifty-six Nationally Protected Monuments and the rest of the area covered by 46.8 sq. kms respectively under their respective legal provisions. The ASI has established site office at Kamalapuram to manage the Centrally Protected Monuments. It is also functioning as World Heritage Site Co-ordinator at the local level and district level interacting with various local self Government and district authorities and the Hampi Development Authority for preserving the values of the property. The regional level office at Bangalore, which co-ordinates with Directorate, ASI, New Delhi and concerned agencies of the Government of Karnataka at higher level, supports the ASI site office at Kamalapur. Office of the Director General, ASI, New Delhi office is a national apex body coordinating with UNESCO on one hand and the regional offices under whose jurisdiction the World Heritage Property falls and also the highest authorities of the Government of Karnataka on the other. The DAM has its office at Mysore and local office at Hampi. The HUDA, HWHAMA, Town Planning and other district level authorities are located in Hospet and Bellary, which is also the Head Quarters of the Deputy Commissioner. The management of other aspects of the property such as the cultural landscape, living traditions, rest with State, Town, Municipal and Village level agencies.

The constitution of a single heritage authority, Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority (HWHAMA) ensure the effectiveness of the management system and coordination of works from different agencies while allowing local self Government authorities to continue to exercise the powers as enlisted in the respective Acts. The final powers for approving and regulating any developmental activities in the property rest with the HWHAMA. The establishment of the Integrated Information Management Centre and initiation of the Joint Heritage Management Program are major steps towards effective protection and management within the Indian legal frame work.

The present perspective acknowledges its diverse attributes and complex cultural systems. The management framework visualizes the site in its entirety where heritage management is the first priority followed by human resource development, which elevates the economic status. The implementation of the Integrated Management Plan aims at value-based management and ensures safeguarding of the outstanding universal value of the property.

Specific long, mid and short term goals for ensuring effective management of the property have been identified and their implementation processes are in various stages. The periodic review and update of management tools including the Master Plan, the Base Map on the GIS platform, the Conservation Plan, the Risk Preparedness Plan, the Public Use plan, and other tools to ensure sustainable development of the local community and also reduce the risk from natural and human made disaster in different areas of the property, is critical to ensure the sustainability of the management system. Long-term goals include internal capacity building and adoption of a new systematic approach where actions are coordinated and participatory. Sustained funding will be essential to ensure an operational system and the allocation of resources for the implementation of projects for the conservation and management of the diverse elements of the property.

Hampi is a village on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra divided between the Gangavati taluk of Koppal district and the Hospet Taluk of Bellary district of Karnataka. The historicity of the region takes us back to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic times, tracing its role through epochs of Indian history such as the Ashokan empire, a minor rock edict having been found within the District. Prior to the establishment of the Vijayanagar empire, the region was ruled by the Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Yadavas and others.

It was the seat of power of the Vijayanagara empire from 1335 to 1565. The present day UNESCO World Heritage Site covers 41,8,724 hectares. The Vijayanagar kingdom was established by two brothers, Hari Har and Buka Ram who were earlier a part of the Tughlaq bureaucracy. The brothers were recent converts to Shaivism. They considered themselves deputies of the God Virupaksha and signed their official documents in His name. The new city was completed by 1343.

Four dynasties that ruled over Vijayanagar Empire were the Sangama, Saluva ,Tuluva and the Aravidu. The third ruler of the Tuluva dynasty was Krishnadeva Raya. Often recognized as the greatest of the Vijayanagara Rulers. Krishnadeva was a great conqueror, a scholar, author, a liberal patron of the arts and a great builder.

Many notable structures within the complex today owe their construction to this ruler. These include

  • The Narasimha sculpture: Often called the Laxmi- Narayan sculpture. The sculpture originally showed Laxmi sitting on the thigh of Narasimha. This was carved out of a single piece of granite and is one of the last constructions of Krishnadeva Raya’s reign.
  • The Mahanavami Dabba (Throne room): What remains today is a highly ornate platform which used to be covered, multi-pillared throne room from which the ruler would preside over the Royal parade staged during the Navami celebrations.
  • The Vithala Temple was built by Devaraya II in the 15th century. It venerated Lord Vishnu as Vitthal. A stone chariot housing an image of Garuda, the vahana of the lord is situated within the temple.
  • Virupaksha temple : Considered the most sacred temple in the complex, the structure was built to house Devi Pampa, the residing local deity and her husband, Lord Virupaksha, the royal deity. The large east Gopuram and the Ranga-Mandapa was built by Krishna Deva Raya in 1510.

Other notable monuments include the Krishna temple, the Elephant stables, the Queen’s bath, the Lotus mahal and the Hazara Ram temple.

The site was first proposed to the World Heritage sites committee in 1982 and was accepted in 1986 on the criteria of ‘human creative genius’, a ‘testimony to cultural traditions’ and due to its ‘significance in human history.'