The Palace of Vira Harihara in Hampi was a colossal structure that once existed in the ancient town. The palace, or rather its foundation layouts, is located within the fortified area of the Royal Enclosure in Hampi, close to the Hazara Rama Temple. It served as the abode for the King of the Vijayanagara Empire.
The base of the palatial structure has always been a matter of curiosity among the visitors and tourists in Hampi. Even today a large number of visitors take pleasure in visiting the area where the palace had stood once, and try to imagine the grand lifestyle of the Vijayanagara Kings.
- Timing: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM on all days of the week
- Entry Fee: No entry fee required
- Photography: Allowed
- Visit Duration: About 20 to 30 minutes
- Best time to visit: From November to February
History of the Palace of Vira Harihara, Hampi
The Palace of Vira Harihara is an ancient structure that dates back to the days of the Vijayanagara Empire. It is believed that the palace belonged to Harihara Raya II (1377-1404 CE), the third king of the Vijayanagara Empire who belonged from the Sangama Dynasty. Harihararaya II was also known as Vira Harihara II and he ruled over the kingdom in the later part of the 14th century.
The Palace of Vira Harihara is said to have been constructed in the 14th century. It’s presence within the Royal Enclosure of Hampi signifies its importance as a structure meant for the personal use of the King of Vijayanagara.
After Vira Harihara II, the palace was used by the subsequent kings of the Vijayanagara Empire. The palace remained in use till 1565 A.D., when an attack by the Deccan Sultanate led to the downfall of the Vijayanagara Empire and brought about extensive destruction in Hampi.
The Ornate Base of the Palace of Vira Harihara, Hampi
The Palace of Vira Harihara is a structure that has long ceased to exist. All that now remains of the supposedly grand palace is its base. The base has elaborate carvings on all sides.
After looking at the ornate base of the palace, one can make just a guess about the plan and the layout of the building. This is because what exists today is just a pattern of the palace plan. No trace of the superstructure of the palace exists except for the base.
Architecture of the Palace of Vira Harihara, Hampi
The beauty and architecture of the Palace of Vira Harihara can only be imagined. The ornate base of the palace provides an idea about the architecture of the long lost structure. Moreover, the rich architectural beauty of the other structures of Hampi indicates that the palace of Vira Harihara must have been a magnificent one in terms of construction and splendour.
There is no trace of the palace walls. Though not much is known about the superstructure of the palace, it is believed that the palace architecture made extensive use of wood and other perishable materials.
The use of wood is said to have been quite prominent in the structures found within the Royal Enclosure. This theory holds ground as the structures and monuments built within the Royal Enclosure have suffered maximum damage during the attack by the Deccan Sultanate.
Structures that existed near the Palace of Vira Harihara, Hampi
The original boundary wall of the Palace of Vira Harihara can be seen even today, though most of it is in a ruined state. The palace had its original entrance through the eastern side of the boundary wall that surrounds it. The area surrounding the palace still contains the ruins of some other structures that made the place fit for the King’s living.
Situated near the ornate base of the palace is an elevated structure with an attached flight of about a dozen steps. This was the platform from where the king used to get on the royal elephant. The platform has two protruding portions supported by ornate brackets. These two portions were used to handle tow elephants at a time.
The platform is no longer used to board an elephant. However, it is a good spot to stand and take a look at the surrounding areas, just as the Kings of the Vijayanagara Empire might have done in the ancient ages.
There is also another structure near the palace that is considered to be the King’s court. A rectangular well, some residential quarters and a kitchen are the other structures whose ruins can be found near the location of the main palace structure.
Present Condition of the Palace of Vira Harihara, Hampi
The Royal Enclosure is one of those areas which suffered the maximum level of damage in Hampi due to the attack and destruction unleashed by the Deccan Sultanate. The Palace of Vira Harihara is an example of such mindless destruction.
It is one of those structures that were completely ruined. Nothing remains of the palace except for the base. Visitors and tourists can only imagine how the palace may have looked during the time of the Vijayanagara Empire.
How to reach the Palace of Vira Harihara
The remnants of the Palace of Vira Harihara can be found within the Royal Enclosure, which is one of the most famous tourist spots in Hampi. The Royal Enclosure can be easily accessed by vehicle from any part of Hampi.
Hampi, though a famous tourist destination, has no airport of its own. Ballari (Bellary) is the nearest town to have an airport. Ballary is located at a distance of about 64 km from Hampi. Visitors can reach Ballari by flight and proceed to Hampi by means of local transport.
Hampi does not have a railway station within its area. The nearest railway station is situated in the town of Hosapete (Hospet). It has the Hospet Junction Railway Station. Hosapete is located at a distance of just 10 km from Hampi. One can easily take a bus or avail other means of local transport to reach Hampi from Hosapete.
Hampi has a good road network and is well connected to many towns and cities by means of the road network. There are several buses that operate between Hampi and many of the major towns and cities in Karnataka.
Visitors can hire private cars, cabs or other vehicles from major cities like Bengaluru (Bangalore) or Mysuru (Mysore) to reach Hampi.