The mysterious singing pilars of Hampi (India)

The immense country of India is particularly rich in sights and archaeological sites. Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, the holy Varanasi on the Ganges and the Taj Mahal are among the most spectacular places in the world. At one place, however, secrets and beauty meet in an especially magical mix – in the mystical ghost town of Hampi.

Hampi in Karnataka was the capital of the kingdom of Vijayanagar from about 1343 to 1565 and controlled at the height of its power almost all of southern India. At the zenith of this glory, it had between 200,000 and 500,000 inhabitants and was the second largest city in the world after Beijing. It traded with other countries from Persia to Portugal.

Today, the old power is no longer noticeable in the small hamlet of Hampi, with its 3.000 inhabitants, it remains however surrounded by impressive ruins. Mysterious temples and old streets are all that remains of the heyday. These now lie enticingly beautiful in green rice fields on a picturesque river, which the curious visitor can cross at the side of colourfully dressed fakirs and pilgrims in a nut bowl. These corals, woven of branches and leather, transport idlers, inhabitants, goats and even motorcycles over the sluggish mud-yellow stream.

Corals in the river close to Hampi (c) Wong

Who wants to feel the history and the breath of the past, wanders now through the quiet fields of Hampi. One of the most remarkable sights in these valleys is the filigran Vittala-Temple with its mysterious singing columns, one of the magnificent miracles of architecture of India.

These 56 pillars produce musical sounds when struck with the finger. They sound like bells ringing. Each main column is surrounded by 7 smaller columns and each of them produces a different sound. In the past, it was said, they were played with sandalwood sticks and produced rhythmic sounds. Today they sing only under the fingers of astonished passers-by. The reason for their creation and use remains a mystery, they hide their fascinating secret since centuries.

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