According to the ancient Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, the region south of the Vindhya mountains was once thickly forested, and ruled by the Vannars. Van means forest, and nar man in Sanskrit. So Vannar could mean forest men or monkey men. In the Ramayana, the Vannars, and their kingdom, Kishkinda, play a very important role.
The Ramayana tells the story of Lord Rama, who was exiled to live in the forest, where he overcame many problems before returning home to take his rightful place as King of Ayodhya. His wife Sita and his brother Lakshman were with him during his exile. Ravana, King of Lanka, kidnapped Sita from the forest. The two brothers went in search of her, and reached Kishkinda. They first met Hanuman, a vannar, who became one of Lord Rama’s most faithful devotees. He was a friend of Sugriva, who was battling his brother Vali for the throne of Kishkinda. Sugriva and Hanuman offered the services of the Vannar Sena or Monkey Army to build a bridge to Lanka (see the article about Ram Sethu) and rescue Sita. In return, Lord Rama helped Sugriva defeat Vali and become king of Kishkinda.
The kingdom of Kishkinda is believed to have been around where the town of Hampi in Karnataka now lies. The area is filled with ruins of an ancient empire. Many of the places there are mentioned in the Ramayana. The hill named Anjenya is believed to be Hanuman’s birthplace. There is a temple to Lord Rama on Malyavanta Hill, where Hanuman first met him. A huge hillock of ash is thought to be the funeral pyre of Vali.
Hampi is not only a major pilgrimage spot, but also a World Heritage Site, meaning that it is very important from the point of view of history.