Hampi in many ways is a traveller’s ultimate destination. It is most well known for its ancient temples and has been titled as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Actually, Hampi has too many things to offer to a tourist. Hampi has ancient structures, wild forests, trekking spots, festivals, mythological locations and exceptional landscapes.
Hampi is divided into two sections for tourists, one is the temple complex and the other is the Royal enclosure. Here is a snapshot of what to experience there.
What to see
The oldest temple of Hampi and one of the most ancient but still active sites in the whole world. Hampi was the capital of the Viajayanagar Empire and the whole town was constructed with fantastic structures which today are our national treasure.
The Virupaksha Temple complex houses a Lord Shiva temple and smaller temples. The inside of the temples depict beautifully carved images and murals telling many stories of deities and their incarnations.
If you visit in March or April, you can get to see the Virupaksha car festival. It reminds one of the Puri rath yatra. A huge chariot is pulled from the temple on the occasion of the celebration of Lord Shiva’s marriage. Lord Shiva and his wife Pampa (from whom Hampi was named) are seated in the chariot and the people joyously attend the procession.
Near to the Virupaksha Temple is the venerated Nandi’s statue. It is a monolith, i.e. it is carved out of a single block of stone which gives it a extraordinary importance. Do not miss the amazing lamp carved out of stone as well.
Lakshmi Narasimha Statue
One of the most striking statues of Hampi is the Lakshmi Narasimha Statue. The statue had been damaged during the attack of the Mughals but still stands in glory. It is considered one of the best pieces of ancient architecture.
If you have seen pictures of the great Hampi, most commonly you have seen of this. Vitthala Temple is the prime attraction of Hampi and considered one of the most amazing historical architecture all around the globe.
Vitthala Temple is dedicated to a form of Lord Vishnu. This grand temple stands near to the Tungabhadra River. The whole temple is an epitome of excellence. Right from the shrine to the courtyard, you will see countless decorations made perfectly. Seeing the stunning Garuda Chariot makes tourists speechless.
But that is not all. Then there are musical pillars. The Ranga Mantapa stands on unbelievable architecture. The pillars have been so made that on tapping these emit musical notes of SaReGaMa. How the builders have achieved such masterful feat is still a mystery.
There is so much to see and click in Royal Enclosure. As the name suggests, it used to be the place of the royals during their heyday. There is the pyramid platform Mahanavami Dibba and the 100 Pillared Hall where the king held his court. The Stepped Tank is a popularly photographed place.
Basically the Royal Enclosure is truly the open air museum and is one-of-a-kind in the whole world.
Where there are kings there will also be the king’s royal elephants. And a royal place to live in. Here is something we do not get to see every day.
Out in the Hampi town still remains the ruins of one of the busiest streets of the ancient times. Sule Bazar, a half-kilometer long way was a market place but mostly a place of courtesans. As you walk down the street lined with magnificent pillars, you can imagine a day in the street with the dancing girls and their charms.
Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary
If you want a break from history, there is the Daroji Sloth bear sanctuary. It is said that this sanctuary is located in the spot what was known as Kishkinda in Ramayana. The sloth bears are the legacy of Jambavan, the bear hero in the epic.
As interesting it may sound, the truth is today sloth bears have found a safe home here. Not only bears but Daroji is home to tiger, leopard, monitor lizard, numerous species of birds and about 27 types of butterflies. Do pay a visit and enjoy the scene from the watchtower.
There is so much more to explore in Hampi. . You can see the Jain temples and statues. Hampi has so much in store like the Krishna temple, Pattabhirama temple, Hazara Ramachandra and Chandrasekhara temple. As excavations continue, something new and wonderful comes up.
Be sure to visit the Zenana enclosure which was the queen’s swimming pool and also the Lotus Mahal.
If you like adventure, you can go trekking around Hampi. Trekking expeditions on Anjaneya hill can be planned through adventure groups. Bouldering is a popular form of trekking in Hampi, which is art of climbing rocks without any rope.
Hampi gives a great opportunity for photographers. You have too many subjects to choose from. Apart from temples, the rock and boulder landscape is very unique to this area. The sunrise and sunset points make surreal shots. You can also take a walk along the Tungabhadra River and capture some beautiful photographs there.
Coracles, the round bamboo boats of Hampi will stay in your memory forever.
How to go
Hampi is about 13 km away from Hospet, 160 km from Hubli and 340 km from Bangalore. Come to Bangalore and then travel to Hampi by train, bus or car.
Hospet is well connected by railways. From there car and auto transport is easily available to Hampi. The nearest airport to Hampi is Hubli.
Where to stay
There are many hotels available in Hampi. If you are visiting in the peak season from October to April and especially during the festivals, book your hotel earlier.
You can also stay at Hospet, there are plenty of hotels, lodges and home stays available.
Image credits: Wikipedia, Dreamstime.com, Temples of India, Wikimedia, Pixers, jennyonthemove.wordpress.com, Outlook India, Thrillophilia, Lonely Planet, visitingplaces.files.wordpress.com