The village of Hampi is most famous as the site of Vijayanagara, once the capital of the wealthiest and most powerful kingdom in southern India, which was left devastated virtually overnight by the Delhi sultans from the north of India after the battle of Talikota in 1565.
In addition to the magnificent ruins of the “City of Victory”, Hampi features a stunning boulder-strewn landscape that not only adds a haunting quality to the crumbling temples and palaces that abound in the area but is also saturated with legends and myths that date back to ancient times.
Indeed, the village gets its name from the goddess Pampa, the daughter of Brahma, who fell in love with the god Shiva after seeing him meditating on the nearby Hemakuta Hill following his destruction of Kama, the god of lust, who had been sent to distract him from his thoughts.
Pampa caught Shiva’s attention by assiduously carrying out penances nearby, and eventually the great god married her. After the marriage, he became known by some as Pampapati, or Pampa’s Lord, and she was usually called Parvati. Others in the locality worshipped Shiva as Virupaksha, which literally means “the one with oblique eyes”. Virupaksha is also the name given to the oldest and most important temple in Hampi.