Before the tropical air hits you here, an uncanny sense of time travel does, as you scan the historic Vijayanagar's devastatingly beautiful ruins and temples spread across the boulder-strewn landscape. The ancient capital of the Vijayanagara Empire (1343-1565), which has now become a favourite hipster holiday destination, is best explored on foot or bicycle. It has a lot of famous attractions such as the Hemakuta Hill, home to the ancient scattered ruins and a monolithic sculpture of Hindu God Vishnu, along with Hampi Bazaar, once an ancient trading spot for horses, silk, cows, precious stones and now a hub of handicraft shops and little restaurants, with the 15th century Virupaksha temple at its western end and the 16th century Vittala temple at its eastern end. Sule Bazaar and the Achyutaraya temple is also a must visit. This historic expedition can get tiresome and overwhelming for many, and the village in contrast maintains a very laid back atmosphere, with innumerable guest houses spread around, some even with a fascinating spartan setting, costing no more than 300 rupees. Just like its ruins, an ancient festival called the Hampi Utsav has also been kept alive since the Vijayanagar reign and is celebrated annually in November, with light and sound shows, music and dance performances, all boasting of the Kannadigas' rich culture, set against the backdrop of Hampi's ruins. The Mango Tree restaurant is a quaint place reached via passing through a banana plantation. Other good places to eat include Prince Restaurant, Goan Corner Restaurant and Laughing Buddha, popular for South Indian, Chinese, Israeli, Tibetan, and usual vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, enjoyed by the riverside.
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit Hampi is from November to February
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
One of the oldest and largest in the city of ruins, this temple was built in the 7th century and is still in use. The temple is on the southern banks of the River Tungabhadra and has a very simple design and architecture. Over so many years and the changing rule of so many kings, a number of additions and expansions had been made in the form of pillars and small rooms. The temple is one of the gems of this ruined place and was built of simple brick and mortar. The life size idols of Lord Shiva is attractive and overall this place is an important site of pilgrimage for Shaivites. The present temple is also almost in ruins but still in use.
This is the central landmark of the city of ruins and also known as the Matunga Hills. The peak of this hill is a place from where you can enjoy awesome views of sunset and sunrise and also some of the most spectacular views of the city. On the southern part down the hills is the Tungabhadra River and on top is the famous Veerbhadra Temple. This temple is dedicated to one incarnation of Lord Shiva known as Veerbhadra. On another side of the hills is the Achutya Raya Temple and last but not the least is the Hampi Bazar. This old market is the starting point of people who come for trekking here.
Hazara Rama Temple
An important shrine and a hindu temple, this is located right in the middle of the royal omplex in Hampi. This temple was once the private temple of the Vijayanagara rulers and the others following them. The temple is now in ruins but the bas and the relics here still look beautiful. These are the specialties of the temple and on them are depicted the whole story of the epic Ramayana. The temple was built during the 15th Century during the rule of the Vijayanagara Ruler Devaraya II and initially had nothing but a single mandap. Later all the pillars and designed structures were added to make this temple look more beautiful. The name Hazara Rama came from the fact that there are a large number of idols and structures of the deity here. Also there are relics of royal scenes, horses, elephants and other royal animals. Surrounding this temple is a sprawling lawn which is a popular spot of tourists especially during the afternoon.
Hemakuta Hill Temple Complex
This is a whole temple complex where most of them are in complete ruins and some are partly in ruins. The temples all look like Jain Temples mainly due to their beautiful architecture of typical Jain Temples but most of these are dedicated to Lord shiva, Vishnu or Lord Ganesha. As you go further, you find a beautiful ond which is now dry but the group of temples around, especially the Veerupaksha Temple complex is extensive and beautiful. The other temples are the Kalu Ganesha, Kadalekalu and Sasivekalu Ganesha. The Lakshminarasimha and Badavalli are two more attractions and there is also an old Hanuman Temple here. This is a perfect spot for history buffs and photographers.
In total there are 11 domed chambers, tall and inter-connected, giving it a grand appearance. These halls have different shapes, such as drum-shape and octagonal. In the middle is an ornate hall that was perhaps used for ceremonial gatherings that included elephant processions.
Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple
The specialty of this temple is the huge monolithic statue of Lord Ganesha which was built by a rich trader of chandragiri, which is the present day Andhra Pradesh. This temple was built in the honor of King Narasimha II. The idol of Lord Ganesha here holds a noosh in one hand, a modak in another, his broken tusk in the third and an axe in the fourth. It is said that once Ganesha ate so much that his belly was about to burst and so he took a snake and tied it round his belly as a belt. Even in this temple there is a snake carved on the belly of Lord Ganesha according to this story. This temple is on the southern foothills of the Hemakuta Hill and is almost in ruins.
Krishna Temple Market Road
We next stopped at the Krishna temple, engraved with the incarnations of Lord Vishnu and Kamasutra carvings. The complex consists of the main shrine, shrines of the goddesses, the chariot/market street and the temple tank. The main hall spots a series of pillars carved with mythical rampant creatures.
Hampi is one of the best ruined cities you will find in the world and the Queen's Bath is a popular attraction here. This is a part of some very old palace and this was the place where the royal ladies and queens would bath themselves. From the outside everything looks very simple but as you go in you find beautiful corridors and a central courtyard. The corridor has a number of ornately decorated arches and also fountains. These fountains supposedly were filled with perfumed waters and sprouting options during the earlier times. This is now almost in ruins except for the fact that you can make out the beautiful architectural patterns.
9. Relax by the lakeside of Sanapur Lake and enjoy the cool breeze!: This beautiful lake is situated around 5 kms away from Hippie Island. It is surrounded by rocks and giant boulders, besides being less frequented. Visit this place to relax and enjoy the breeze. I am told that you can do cliff jumping as well from here. WITH CROCS waiting down under! but I didn't see anyone jumping and I didn't see any crocodiles. Phew! You can also take a ride on a coracle. The boatmen will charge you around 100 rupees for a trip. But without proper gear, its a do at your own risk thing!
A normal stepped tank, this is also known as the Pushkarani in hampi. This is nothing but a mere rock structure now but by the design which we can still see here, it is evident that this place was once a royal pride. This place has resemblance with a number of typical Rajasthani stepped tanks and as you stand here you will be able to take a view of the surrounding areas very well. Also, there are quite a large number of other stone temples, buildings and monuments surrounding this stepped tank. It is over here that you will realize how grand a city this place must have been at one time. Trekkers also find interest over here.
Infront of the Krishna Temple Complex in Hampi, there was once a buzzing market evident from the structure of the buildings around. Circled with rocky structures and raised platforms this is where the central marketplace of the city used to be during the times of the ancient kings. This place is now just a place of loose, huge rocks and historic ruins.
Rocky Guest House
Just beside the main temple of Hampi, this guest house is simple yet very popular. The oener and host is very friendly and welcoming. He takes care of all his guests. The rooms are standard and perfectly clean. There is no hot water facility but the owner makes sure you get it. There is also wifi facility in such a location which is actually value for money. The food is good quality though they do not store alcohol. The location is prime and the hotel is easy to be found.
No more used as a temple, this ruined site is on the north eastern slopes of the Hemakuta Hill. The 15 feet idol of Lord Ganesha here is the largest structure of a God in South India. The name is derived from the fact that the idol of Lord Ganesha in this temple has a big belly resemblimg a Bengal Gram which in Kannada is called Kadalekalu. The pillars are simple yet attractive with the inscription of mythological themes which is otherwise very common in this city.
Thilak Home Stay
Thilak is the best place to stay at when in Hampi. The place was recommended to me by a friend and that one advise made our trip a super success... Big rooms... Bathrooms as good as new. Fast WiFi and hot water... Ever helpful owners and their friend Vinny. Also, please call Vinny (+919448794050) for any transport needed from Hospet and in Hampi. Vinny is the trump card when in Hampi. He literally takes one for a ride - explains Hampi's culture, helps meet locals and interact with them. Helps in shopping for reasonable rates. Is always cheerful and most of all loved Hampi and is proud of it. There can be no better person to explore Hampi with than Vinny.
On the way we came across the beautiful clean Sanapur lake. It was exotic beautiful but hot. The lake is clean, untouched and offers some stunning views. We can have a bath in the lake or can jump from the cliffs. The view is amazing and so is the road leading to the lake. People sit in a coracle and just relax and sail across the lake. A must visit.
Pampa Sarovar is among one of the few sarovars or sacred ponds which find mention in the religious scriptures of the Hindus. It is believed to be formed by Lord Brahma and is in fact one of the five sacred sarovars of the Hindus. It is named after Goddess Pampa Devi which is a form of Parvati who did Tapasya or deep meditation for a long time for Lord Shiva at this place.
Daroji Bear Sanctuary
Dorji Bear Sanctuary is few kilometers away from Hampi town famous for Sloth Bears. You need to wake up early the next day and after witnessing sunrise from Matange hill take a ride for Bear Sanctuary. The best time to see bears is around 12 in the afternoon so by the time you reach there you'll see sloth bears resting in grass or looking for water.
Another Heritage temple in the royal ruined city of Hosepet, Hampi, this was built in the Dravidian Style. As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu whose other name is also Lord Raghunatha. The interesting and unique feature of this temple are the fish and marine creatures carved on the outer walls of the whole temple. The first name Malyavanta is probably kept after the name of the dynasty during whose reign this temple was built.