Located in Karnataka, Hampi will transport you to a bygone era. The scattered ruins of Hampi speak volumes about the rich past of the region. Every carved stone masquerades as poetry in Hampi. The capital of the 14th century Vijayanagar empire, Hampi was a rich city where diamonds were sold on streets. Hiring a bicycle, bike or car is the best way to see Hampi since the ruins are scattered around 26 kilometers. The monuments of Hampi are UNESCO World Heritage Site.
1. Go On The Amazing Temple Trail
Virupaksha Temple is dedicated to Virupaksha who is a form of Lord Shiva. It is the most important temple in Hampi. People still worship here. The tradition has continued for centuries. The other monuments around the temple are in ruins but the temple is still in good condition. What began as a small shrine is now a huge temple complex.
Vittala Temple, built-in 15th century, is one of the best examples of the brilliant Vijayanagar style of architecture. The beautiful stone chariot and the musical pillars of the temple make it stand out. It is an architectural marvel. It is one of the most sprawling structures of Hampi. There are many big and small shrines and halls located on the campus.
Hemakuta Hill Temple Complex is the cluster of many ancient small temples perched on the Hemakuta hill.
Badavilinga Temple which is located close to Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is a huge monolithic Shivlinga. Located inside a dark stone chamber, it is still worshipped by people.
Hazara Rama Temple which is devoted to the Hindu deity Lord Ram is an important temple located in the royal area. There are many panels and bas reliefs here that depict the events from the Hindu epic Ramayana. The literal meaning of Hazara Rama is thousands of Rama.
Achyuta Raya Temple is known for excellence in the Vijayanagara architecture style. The best form of such architecture can be seen in this temple. Lord Tiruvengalanatha, a form of Lord Vishnu is worshipped here. The temple is awe-inspiring thanks to its grand structure.
2. Learn About The Royal Past Of Vijayanagar Empire
Zenana Enclosure, the fortified area was built for the Vijayanagara empire’s royal women.
The lotus-shaped Kamal Mahal or Lotus Palace exists on the same premises. This architectural gem is a sight to behold. Other salient features include water pavilion, treasury building, watchtowers and ruins of queen’s palace. The Elephant Stable is located outside the zenana enclosure.
Queen’s Bath, a colossal structure with exquisite carvings is located near the royal enclosure. This was the private bathing area of the King and the queens. Even after 500 years of its construction, it is in good condition. It is a rectangular building that surrounds a huge sunken bath. Ornate windows and balconies add to its aesthetics.
Mahanavami Dibba is the tallest structure in the royal enclosure. You can see the carvings of horses and elephants on either sides of the main stairs. As per the archeologists, the King used this platform for ceremonies and festivities.
3. Marvel At The Huge Statues
The impressive monolith statue of Kadalekalu Ganesha is one of the largest statues of Lord Ganesh in South India. It is located on Hemakuta Hill. The belly of the deity looks like Bengal gram. Kadle means chickpea in Kannada. It also offers wonderful views of Hampi Bazaar and Virupaksha Temple.
Sasivekalu Ganesha, the 8 feet tall statue of Lord Ganesha is another architectural masterpiece that depicts God with 4 arms. The specialty of this statue is a snake carved on the belly of Lord Ganesh.
Lakshmi Narsimha Statue also called Ugra Narasimha, it is the tallest statue in Hampi carved in stone. It depicts Narasimha in his most fierce form. The statue of half-man, half-lion reincarnation of Lord Vishnu is covered by a seven hooded serpent.
Monolith Bull which is also called the Yeduru Basavanna or Nandi is located near the Virupaksha Bazaar. The giant size of this statue is jaw-dropping. It is facing the Virupaksha Temple. Also, notice the stone lamp near the Nandi.
4. Pay Your Homage In The Land Of Lord Hanuman
Anegundi, the quiet village near Hampi is gaining popularity due to its secluded location. Many devotees also visit Anegundi as it is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. Some believe that Hampi is Ramayan’s Kishkinda. Many travelers prefer to stay here. Do visit the Old Palace, Monkey Temple, Hanuman Temple and Chintamani Temple here.
5. Enjoy A Coracle Ride
The unique coracle ride on the Tungabhadra river is a must when in Hampi. The ride is closed during the monsoon months. Do not miss it as this is unique to the region.
6. View Sun Rise And Sun Set At Matanga Hill
Since it is located on a high vantage point, it offers sweeping views of the ruins from the top. People go here to soak in the stunning views during sunrise and sunset as well.
7. Visit Daroji Bear Sanctuary
This sprawling sanctuary was built for the conservation of sloth bears. The rescued bears are also given sanctuary here.
8. Visit The Museum- For History Buffs!
Located in Kamalapura, the Archeological Museum houses the artifacts and relics found during an excavation in Hampi. It is a small but impressive museum that houses statues, ancient coins, metalwork, miniature paintings, and tools, etc. The museum was first opened in 1972.
Suggested Read: A Guide To Karnataka’s Historical Places And Monuments
9. Try Bouldering And Rock Climbing
Thanks to the many dramatically shaped giant boulders which dot the landscape of Hampi, it is also popular with adventure enthusiasts. Bouldering is pretty common here. Many local restaurants and homestays offer gear for the same.
10. Visit Ancient Markets
Virupaksha Bazaar which is known as the Hampi Bazaar, this kilometer-long street leads up to the foot of the Matanga Hill. These double-storeyed ancient pavilions once served as the homes of nobles and as shops. It is a pleasure to take half an hour-long walk here. Time travel is omnipresent in Hampi.
Best Time To Visit
November to February is a good time as the climate is pleasant during this time. Other months are very hot in Hampi.