Hampi Utsav / Hampi Festival or Vijaya Utsav is one of the most marvellous festivals in the Indian state of Karnataka. It is a cultural extravaganza which is been celebrated since the times of the Vijayanagar reign. The festival is all about dance, music, drama, puppet shows, vibrant processions and fireworks.
Hampi Utsav is celebrated in the ruins of the ancient city of Hampi, in Karnataka.
The ancient Vijayanagar empire is now Hampi. The festivities take place every year at the Virupaksha Temple, commemorating the culture, traditions of the bygone era. With the beautifully carved ruins of Hampi serving as the backdrop, the rich culture of this region is shown through folk songs and dance performances. The Janapada Kalavahini, a concert of folk songs, and the light and sound shows are unique attractions which one can not afford to miss.
Hampi Utsav is more of a celebration of cultural traditions and remembrance of the past than a religious festival. Therefore there is no fixed date for its celebration according to any calendar. The celebrations take place for three days. The festival is scheduled according to the time deemed best by the Government of Karnataka.
Hampi Utsav is celebrated in the ruins of the ancient city of Hampi. Being a witness to ancient and medieval grandeur of Vijayanagara Empire and beyond, the site of Hampi relives the past in the three-day event at the same location. It is situated on the banks of the river Tungabhadra and at a distance of 373 kilometres from the city of Bengaluru.
With a culturally rich history, Hampi witnesses numerous festivities throughout the year. Hampi Utsav is the largest of all the festivals celebrated in Hampi.
Although the exact time of origin of the Hampi Utsav is not known, the festival has been celebrated since the Vijayanagar Empire.
The Virupaksha temple enjoyed the honour of a guardian shrine of the Vijayanagar Empire. It is a temple of Lord Virupaksha, an attribute of Lord Shiva. Though the temple is very old, it was enlarged during the Vijayanagara reign. The Vijayanagara kings patronised the shrine. Therefore, the road leading towards it, known as the ‘Raja Marg’, is adorned with decorations and lights on the Hampi Utsav as though welcoming a king.
Folk songs constitute a significant part of the Hampi Utsav and performers entertain the visitors very enthusiastically with their songs. The event is known as ‘Janapada Kalavahini’.
Puppet shows are held at varied locations, providing entertainment to the visitors with the art-form rarely to be found elsewhere, or in other festivals, today. The fireworks light up the sky above Hampi during the festive period. The light and sound show at the ruins of Hampi is a major attraction of the festival and takes the audience back to the golden days of the Vijayanagar empire.
Apart from these, the three-day long festival provides a great shopping experience for the admirers of traditional handicrafts and other items particular to the region. The local food of Karnataka is also something one must explore, and there is no better occasion than the Hampi Utsav to taste these delicacies.
The History of Hampi – Culture & Traditions :
Hampi was the capital of the famous Vijayanagar Empire, the most prosperous empire of the Indian subcontinent in the 14th century. The Vijayanagar Empire was a centre of trade & commerce as well as culture and traditions. The famous ruler Krishnadeva Raya, brought the empire to its zenith, and thus Hampi became the second largest city of the medieval era.
The Vijayanagar Empire was not only a commercially and economically prosperous kingdom but was also known far and wide for its arts and culture.
The ruins of the medieval city of Hampi is spread over an area of 4100 hectares and is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Although much of the Vijayanagar empire have survived only as ruins, the city of Hampi continues to be an important religious centre in Karnataka. Among the numerous temples that the city of Hampi houses, the most significant ones are the Virupaksha temple, the shrine of Pampadevi, and the ancient matha (monastery) with its connection to the world teacher Adi Shankaracharya.