Myths & Legends
The antiquity of Hampi can be traced to the Treta Yuga, the second of the four yugas or eons of Indian chronology. In the Ramayana, an Indian epic narrating the deeds and adventures of Rama, Hampi and its surrounding areas are identified with the kingdom of Kishkindha. This region was the realm of the Vanara (mythological half-man, half-monkey) brothers Vali and Sugriva and the birthplace of Hanuman, all of whom played a prominent role in the epic.
After the abduction of Sita by Ravana, Rama and his brother Lakshmana arrive in Kishkindha in search of Sita. During their wanderings they meet up with Hanuman at Rishimukha hill. Hanuman explains to them the state of affairs in the kingdom stressing upon the rivalry between King Vali and his estranged brother Sugriva. Rama expresses a desire to meet with Sugriva to hear his side of the story. Hanuman accordingly arranges a meeting between them.
During the course of their conversation, Sugriva informs Rama that he had seen Ravana transport Sita through the air in the Pushpaka Vimana. He also shows Rama some Jewellery that Sita had dropped during the flight, which he had found and hidden away. On seeing the jewels, Rama confirmed that it was indeed Sita’s, and decided to help Sugriva overthrow his brother Vali in exchange for his support in rescuing Sita.
Vali had been blessed with a boon by which half the strength and power of anybody facing him in battle would be transferred to him, thus making him practically invincible. Sugriva had managed to survive up to now by
taking refuge in the Matanga hill which Vali was unable to access due to the curse of a sage.
Consequently, it was decided that Rama would not confront Vali face to face, instead Sugriva would challenge Vali and Rama, from a safe distance, would kill Vali from behind. However, things did not go according to plan as Rama was unable to differentiate between the two brothers and Sugriva had to flee back to Matanga.
Sugriva, upset at what he perceived as a betrayal, admonishes Rama but is eventually pacified and persuaded to challenge Vali once again, wearing a garland of flowers to enable Rama to identify him clearly. This time things go according to plan and Rama slays Vali from behind.
Sugriva is then crowned as king by Rama at the site of the Kodandarama temple, and Hanuman is entrusted with the job of locating Sita. Before setting out on his quest, Rama gives Hanuman Sita’s precious jewel Chintamani, so that she can identify him as Rama’s trusted aide. Hanuman eventually finds Sita in Lanka.
By the time Hanuman returns to Kishkindha with news of Sita, the monsoon rains had arrived, making a military campaign difficult to undertake. Accordingly, Rama and Lakshmana decide to wait out the monsoon in Kishkindha. After the monsoon, Rama and Lakshmana, accompanied by Hanuman, Sugriva and Sugriva’s army of Vanaras set off to rescue Sita from Lanka.