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A page from the past -
Pujyasri Mahaswamiji at Hampi- 1978-79

Pujyasri Mahaswamiji

His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji visited the historic city of Hampi in the year 1978-79 and camped there. Below is an article about His Holiness' visit along with photographs of the place of camp taken recently.

Hampi camping place of His Holiness
(View of His Holiness' camping place in Hampi -photo taken recently)

From the pages of “Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati Swami”, compiled and edited by Sri.A.Kuppuswamy.:-
Reaching Hampi on the 24th October, 1978, the Acharya camped in the Vidyaranya Math for some days. One of these days, His Holiness saw the carvings of Ramayana in the Hazare Ramaswamy temple, on the way to Kamalapuram. On the 28th of the month the Acharya visited Pampasarovar, Sabari Ashramam, Rishyamukha, Hemakutam, Malyavantam etc., all situated within a radius of about 6 kms. After darshan at the Lakshmi Temple and visiting Sabari-Guha, the Acharya stayed at Pampasarovar. There a group of Bairagis completed Akhanda Tulasi Ramayana parayanam (recital), four months after starting it. The 15th of November was the last day of the Tula month and people of Tamil Nadu bathe in the sacred Kaveri on that day. The bath is known as Kadamuzhukku- thereby signifying that it was the last day of bathing in the Kaveri during that month. His Holiness had bath in the Tungabhadra, peformed japam, and then returned to his camping place. Till about the 21st of April, 1979, the Acharya covered visiting many places, having Hampi as the centre of His movements. His Holiness performed Vasanta Navaratri puja at Hosur. Later, after a short stay at Huligit, the Acharya crossed the river and returned to Hampi on the 8th of April. On the 11th of the same month the Swami of Vidyaranya Math met the Acharya and conversed for a long time. The next day came off the car festival of Sri Virupakshesvara. About six years back, the old wooden car had broken. A newly fabricated car, was used during this renewed car festival. The Acharya witnessed the festival. In the evening an armlet (Toda) was presented to the Architect (Sthapati) who constructed the new car, and shawls were presented to his assistants and to pandits who had gathered for the function.

Hampi camping place of His Holiness
(View of His Holiness' camping place in Hampi -photo taken recently)


About Hampi:

                        Hampi is a short drive from Hospet in Bellary District of Karnataka.  History tells us that it was the glorious capital of Vijayanagar Empire, while legend identifies it thousands of years earlier as Kishkinta, the capital of the monkey kings who helped Lord Rama to rescue Sita from her abductors.  In the former incarnation, Hampi is known as Vijayanagara, while in the latter it is called Pampa.  The ancient name for the Tungabhadra which lies on one side of Hampi, was Pampa.  The word ‘Hampi’ is believed to be derived from the word ‘Pampa’.  Hampi is also called Vidyanagara, after the Sage Vidyaranya who played a major role in founding the city.

                        Legend says that when the monkey kings Vali and Sugriva, rule Kishkinta, trouble arose between them and Vali drove his brother out.  Sugriva took shelter with Huanuman or Anjaneya in a hill called Matanga Parvatam, idenfied as a steep hill to the east of Hampi village on the south bank of the Tungabhadra.

                        Rama and Lakshmana, searching desperately for Sita, came to Kishkinta.  Rama killed Vali, restored the kingdom to Sugriva and then stayed on the Malyavanta Hill while the monkeys went in search of Sita.  This hill is located on the road to Kampili and has a Raghunath temple with a large image of Rama.  A mound of ash in the nearby village of Nimbapuram is believed to be the cremated remains of Vali, while a cave on the Tungabhadra’s southern bank is believed to be the spot where Sita’s jewels were hidden.  With its numerous associations with the Ramayana, little wonder that Hampi is an important piligrim centre to this day.  In fact, many of the temples and other structures in Hampi communicate the story of the epic.

                        The story of Hampi is fascinating, especially the way it was built,  literally stone by stone, by various rulers and kings stretching over a considerably period.  Based on the discovery of neoliths and handmade pottery in excavations near the Vitthala temple, the ASI dates the history of the Hampi region to the Neolithic / Chalcolithic times.  It is also surmised that the region was within the Asokan Empire, based on the recent discovery of some rock edicts in Bellary District.  Excavations have also revealed a Brahmi inscription and a terracotta seal belonging to the 2nd Century A D.
                       
                        It is said that it is the moon in the insignia that saved the Virupaksha temple, which alone seems to have survived the Muslim onslaught (as the crescent moon was sacred to the Muslims).

                        To the northwest of the King’s Palace Enclosure lies the Hazara Rama temple.  As there is no idol in the sanctum sanctorum, this temple is not in worship.  The striking feature is the ornate ardhamandapam, whose outer walls are richly carved with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Ramayana.  Four black stone pillars with intricate carvings stand at the centre of the ardhamandapam.  On these can be seen bas-reliefs of Ganesa, Mahishasuramardhini, Anjaneya and several forms of Vishnu.

                        Just outside the Virupaksha temple, is the broad Hampi Bazaar with its large collection of hotels and restaurants, which not only offer vegetarian delicacies of north and south India, but also Lebanese, Tibetan and Mediterranean cuisine.  In this busy road, you can visualize how the many bazaars of Hampi, the features of the Vijayanagara Kingdom’s thriving economy, must have functioned in olden times.  Today, these are all just ruins.

                        Finally, we come to the structures and shrines along the banks of the Tungabhadra.  There are numerous temples dedicated to a number of Hindu gods and goddesses.  Apart from the famous Vitthala temple,  this part of Hampi is notable for its many temples to Lord Rama and places associated with the Ramayana.

                        Among them are the Kodandarama Temple, the Rama Temple and the Malyavanta Raghunatha Temple.  The first has a huge relief of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana carved on a boulder.  There is also a shrine with a figure of Hanuman, who is known as Yantrodaraka Anjaneya.  This is because the idol is surrounded by a circular yantra.  Just opposite is the Chakratirtha, considered the most sacred bathing ghat in the river.  Near by is a temple to Suryanarayana.  The deity here is Sudarshana with 16 hands.

                        The Rama temple is the only Vaishnava shrine in Hampi in the Kadamba style with a pyramidal super-structure.  There are bas-reliefs of Garuda, Gayalakshmi and Dwarapalas.  Opposite is the Sugriva cave where Sita’s jewels are said to have been stored.  The Malyanta Raghunatha temple is situated on Malyavantha hill, to the east of the Vitthala temple and has large seated images of Rama and Sita, with a kneeling Hanuman

We thankfully acknowledge the contribution of the photos and the article by Sri. Sethu Ramachandran, Devotee of Srimatam.

 


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