Water Smart City of Vijaynagara: Hampi Water resource management in Hampi; case of Krishnapura


Hampi, now a world heritage site of UNESCO is known for its planning and architectural wonders. Once the capital of Vijayanagar empire, is located on the bank of Tungabhadra river. The era was marked by architectural and planning epics. As agriculture was the main source of income water was of great importance. Hence the rich Vijaynagara empire focused on developing a strong water management system through planning and governance. The study thus tried to decode the water management techniques of Hampi based on literature, site evidences, discussions with researchers and theoretical assumptions. This article gives an overview of water management system of Hampi with detail information of Krishna precinct in Sacred cluster.


Hampi is situated at 15° 20′ 12″ North latitude and 76° 27′ 32″ East longitude. The altitude of the place is 467.000 mtrs above MSL. The Tungabhadra River flowing north-easterly traverses the Hampi landscape. It is situated at a distance of 346 kms away from the state capital i.e. Bangalore. Distance to important cities in the state like Hubli is 150 kms, Gulbarga 400 kms, Mangalore 420 kms and Mysore 510 kms.
Hampi has been identified as the Kishkindha-kshetra of the Ramayana. The place is naturally endowed with strategic strength. Hence was once the capital of Vijayanagar Empire.
Located in the Northen part of Karnataka, it is now marked by UNESCO as World Heritage site. It spreads over two districts Gangavati taluk of Koppal district and Hospet taluk of Bellary district.

Kishkindha of the Ramayana

Hampi has been identified as the Kishkindha-kshetra of the Ramayana. Kishkindha-kshetra was ruled by the monkey-chiefs, Vali and Sugriva. After a quarrel, Sugriva, who had been driven out, took refuge on the Matanga-parvatam, along with Hanuman. After Sita was carried away to Lanka by Ravana, Rama and Lakshmana came south in search of Sita and met the refugees, Sugriva and Hanuman. Rama killed Vali and restored to Sugriva his kingdom. Rama and Lakshmana then stayed on the Malyavanta hill nearby awaiting the results of Hanuman’s search for Sita in Lanka.

Vijayanagara of 14th century

Prior to the rise of the Vijayanagara dynasty, Hampi and its environs were under the control of the various dynasties which ruled over the Karnataka country in succession such as the Kadambas, the Chalukyas of Badanii, the Rashtrakutas, the Chalukyas of Kalyani, the Hoysalas, Yadavas and others. Often it was ruled by one or other of the feudatories of these powers, such as the chiefs of Kurugodu Anegondi, Kampili etc. Immediately, before the rise of the Vijayanagara dynasty the place was probably under the control of the chiefs of Kampili which is now a small town, about 19 km east of Hampi was a Western Chalukyan capital in the eleventh century.
Harihara was the eldest of the five sons of Sahgama, the other four being Kampana, Bukka, Marappa and Mudappa. Around 1336 AD Harihar and Bukka founded Vijayanagara or Vidyanagara as the capital of their newly-established empire under the guidance of Vidyaranya, their guru.
Harihara I (ad 1336-57) jointly with his brother Bukka, did much to lay the administrative system of the new empire on firm foundations. Bukka I reigned as sole sovereign from ad 1357 to 1377.
Bukka’s large empire was divided into a number of rajyas mostly ruled over by royal princes and nobles. Bukka’s son Harihara II (ad 1377- 1404), set up his own sons as provincial viceroys. Under Harihara II, the Krishna became the northern boundary of the empire, while a successful expedition was sent even to Ceylon in the south. Some of the earliest monuments of the Vijayanagara period in the capital city may be traced to the time of Harihara II, e.g., the Ganigitti temple. The fortifications and irrigation-works in Vijayanagara owed much to the efforts of Bukka I and Devaraya I, the son of Harihara II.
In third dynasty i.e. the Tuluva dynasty began in 1505 with Vira Narasimha as the king (1505 AD – 1509 AD). After which Vira Narasimha was succeeded by his step-brother Krishnadeva Raya (1509 AD -1529 AD) who was not only the greatest of the Vijayanagara rulers, but also one of the most brilliant medieval rulers. Temple architecture flourished during his reign. He built serval structures like the smaller east gopura and the ranga-mandapa of the Pampapati temple, the huge Narasimha figure and the Krishna temple are just a few of the numerous additions made by him to the imperial city. He also made many improvements to existing structures such as the Vitthala and Hazara Rama temples. Many irrigation-projects were also undertaken and a big reservoir were built.

Study area

Hampi is divided into royal cluster and sacred cluster based on the structures. The sacred cluster consists of temples and pushkarnis while royal cluster housed the royal family.

The cluster consists of temples, mandapas and pushkarnis built by different rulers. Virupaksha temple and pushkarni is the oldest and the only used complex. Each temple in the cluster has a pushkarni with different water source. Water was used mainly for irrigation and for temple activities.

Water required for sacred purpose was drawn through wells while the pushkarnis were used by residents, pilgrims and for other temple activities like cooking and cleaning. The major source of water for sacred cluster were canals or Kaluyes.