Hospet, officially named as Hosapete, is a beautiful city in the district of Bellary in Karnataka. Located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, it is also close to the famous Hampi ruins. Thus, those who visit Hospet also pay a visit to the ruins to see astonishing symbols of a bygone era. Hospet was built during the reign of Krishna Deva, who ruled Vijayanagara. What makes Hospet unique is that it stands as if at an intersection of the modern world and the past. There are old monuments on one side and the modern technological marvels on the other, all of which gives a unique identity to Hospet. Some of the bewitching places of Hospet that cannot be missed are:
1. Tungabhadra Dam
As the name depicts, this dam was built along the Tungabhadra River on whose banks Hospet is located. It is one of the most important dams of Karnataka as it serves many purposes for the people of the state. The dam is utilised for electrical power generation, and it is also useful for the local people for irrigation. The dam is also effectively important for flood control in the region.
Though the construction of the dam had started during the British rule, it got completed only post-independence in 1953. The area around the Tungabhadra dam is a popular tourist destination with the beautiful reservoir of the dam housing many species of fish and also another aquatic fauna. Many exotic birds such as flamingos, pelicans can be spotted all the time. Other attractions near the site include many temples which are visited by pilgrims all through the year.
2. Lotus Mahal
A striking structure located amongst Hampi ruins, it was a part of the Zenana enclosure which was a place where queens and other women of the royal household used to live, during the rule of Vijayanagar empire. Other names of Lotus Mahal are Kamal Mahal and Chitragani Mahal.
The architecture is unique and amazing and is still intact. It is named so because the whole structure resembles a lotus bud. The archways are designed in the shape of lotus petals and the central dome is that of the shape of a lotus bud. The architectural style derives both from Indian as well as Islamic influence. There are two storeys and a fortifying wall in the shape of a rectangle surrounds the structure.
An impressive part of the architecture of Lotus Mahal that it had a special air-coling mechanism because of which even during summers, the interiors of the palace remained cool. Visiting Lotus Mahal in Hospet means you are also witnessing one of the technological as well as architectural marvels of ancient India.
3. The Archaeological Museum of Hospet
The Archaeological Museum of Hospet is definitely one of the must-see places in Hospet. It houses a spectacular collection of different artifacts. There are ruins of sculptures as wells as many other idols. It was during the year 1972 that the items were brought to their present location. There are four galleries and each has its own unique features.
You can also see arms and other metal items in display. Brass plates of the historical era are also kept here. Many items found during various excavation in the region are also displayed such as stucco figurines, iron and porcelain items among others.
4. Hazara Rama Temple
It is one of the important religious centres in Hospet. The temple dedicated to Lord Rama was built exclusively for royal families. The architecture of the temple is a symbol of the rich knowledge of the past. It was built by Devaraya II of the Vijayanagara empire during the 15th century. There are many unique features of the Hazara Rama temple. The name ‘Hazara Rama’ or thousand Ramas refer to the relics on the walls. The entire story of Ramayana has been carved on the temple walls.
It is believed that no other temples or structures have such extensive relics. Other features of the temple include a sprawling lawn and two huge gateways. The elaborately sculpted columns in the temple add to its beauty. Not just as a religious place, the Hazara Rama Temple is also one of the most beautiful symbols of the marvellous craftsmanship of the Vijaynagara Empire.
5. Virupaksha Temple
With its finest architecture and historical significance, Virupaksha temple is rightfully one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Virupaksha temple is renowned for its architecture, which can be described in just one word, ‘unbelievable’.
The main aspects of the temple are the sanctum, a pillared hall, ante chambers, gateways to the entrance, a courtyard and smaller shrines. Another amazing fact about the architecture of the temple building is that it was built in such a way that the river Tungabhadra would flow along its terrace, then flow down to the kitchen and then find its way to the outer area. Though the temple is open every day of the year, it is during the month of December that the temple acquires a festive look. It is during this period that the annual temple festival is celebrated which commemorates the marriage of Virupaksha and Pampa.
A chariot festival is also held at the temple during February. The Virupaksha temple can be reached either from the Hospet railway station or from the Bellary airport. It can be reached via road as well.
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