Tungabhadra is a major river in the south Indian peninsula. Hampi is located on the south bank somewhere in the middle of this river’s path. In this area the river takes a number of twists and turns owing to the rocky terrain. The river has immense significance in forming the political & religious history of Hampi. The river along with along with the boulder-strewn hills formed the northern barrier of the capital. It was not easy for an invading army cross the river without the fate of a sure defeat.
Tungabhadra is in fact formed by the union of two rivers Tunga and Bhadra and hence the name. Both Tunga & Bhadra Rivers are originated on the eastern slops of the Western Ghats. Tungabhadra flows in a more or less northwest direction before joining the eastern river Krishna. The Krishna River finally ends into the Bay of Bengal.
In modern India a huge dam and hydroelectric project is constructed across Tungabhadra (about 20 kilometer southwest of Hampi), curtailing the original vigor of the river in this part.
The Vijayanagara kings took advantage of the river by constructing a host of irrigation canals and aqueducts. A highly networked water supply system fed the manmade water bodies in the urban core of the palace area. Many of the ancient canals are still in use to irrigate the surrounding agriculture fields.
The ancient name of the river was Pampa. According to the legends, Pampa, the daughter of Brahma (the God of creation) did penance to please Lord Shiva. Impressed by her devotion Shiva married her and taken the name Pampapati (means husband of Pampa). The name Hampi has origin in Pampa. On the banks if the river, there are numerous shrines and idols associated with the worship of Lord Shiva.