Sick and tired of waterfalls and tea estates? Is too much of ‘nature getaway’ clogging your head? Well then, take a dip into the bygone era of kings and kingdoms. Delve into a bit of history and architecture without missing out on adventure – yes, Hampi has it all!
Read on to find out what all this lollapalooza of a place has to offer…
1) VITTALA TEMPLE
Start scouting for ancient temples and ruins at the northeast, at Vijaya Vittala Temple. (Try to get a rickshaw ride as they know these places well. You might also find young children selling guides/tea there is none other than the locals who can quench your thirst with stories and histories)
As the name connotes, this vast lying edifice, with its intricately adorned ‘Gopuras‘ and ‘Mandapas‘, was dedicated to Lord Vishnu as Vitthala. Pillars that sing- the famous musical pillars of Hampi, a shrine dedicated to the Eagle God Garuda- the Stone Chariot chariot, and intricately carved stone pillars showcasing amazing craftsmanship is certainly worth the praise.
Vijaya Vittala temple at Hampi is indeed a must visit for all architectural buffs.
Entry fee: Rs: 30/- (the same ticket is to be used a few other places too.)
2) LOTUS MAHAL
Chitrangi Mahal or the well know Lotus Mahal is yet another architectural bliss at Hampi one shouldn’t skip. Showcasing the glory of Indo-Islamic architecture, Kamal Mahal is situated within the Zenana Enclosure a segregated area that was used by the royal women of Vijayanagara Dynasty.
You can also get a glimpse of the Watchtower and the base of Queen’s palace here.
3) ELEPHANTS STABLES
Adjoining the Lotus Mahal (outside the Zenana Enclosure) is the Elephants stable, the perfect shelter for royal elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire. These long rectangular structures with perfectly, or rather symmetrically, carved out domed chambers (eleven chambers, to be precise) is large enough to accommodate two elephants at a time. Right next to this is yet another constructional wonder, the guards quarters.
This is one place where you get to enjoy ‘Naarial pani’ (coconut water) under the lavish shade offered in this land of boulders!
The Queen’s bath in Hampi is indeed luxurious as the name sounds. Lying close to the Royal Enclosure, this Indo-Islamic structure was believed to have been built by Achyuta Raya. There are chances that you might overlook this construction as it has got extremely plain exterior. The ornately embellished interior with beautifully carved balconies is one architecture that shouldn’t be missed.
4) UNDERGROUND SHIVA TEMPLE
Prasanna Virupaksha temple, popularly called as the Underground Shiva Temple is yet another architectural mystery. Dating back to the 14th century this temple is well below the ground level (reason for which remains unknown).
Word of caution: expect the smell of bats!
5) SISTER STONES
One of the boulders has developed a recent crack.
En route to the royal enclosure make sure to stop at the Akka Tangiyara Gundu, one of the well-known landmarks in Hampi. As the legend goes, the hill of sisters or the sister stones were actual sisters who once visited Hampi. Jealousy crawled in seeing the town at its peak glory. The reigning deity having got to know about the ridicule made by the sisters cursed them, turning them into look-alike boulders.
6) MAHANAVAMI DIBBA
Sneak peak into the royal enclosure starting with the Mahanavami Dibba. Built in 1513 AD, Dussera Dibba stands as the symbol of King Krishnadevaraya’s victory over Orissa (Udayagiri). This grand platform was used as a royal stage to watch different processions made on various occasions. It is said that the king would be spotted here during Mahanavami fete, hence the name. The intricate carvings of elephants, marches, soldiers, and all the rest flawlessly tell these tales!
7) STEPPED TANK
Towards the western side of Queen’s bath, within the Royal Enclosure is where you’ll get to see how water storage systems worked back then. It is one of the best places to study the architecture behind tanks and aqua ducts.
Keep your umbrella open as there ain’t much shade!
8) VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE
Located on the banks of river Tungabhadra is the heart of Hampi, Pampapati temple. Constructed by Lakkana Dandesa, a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, Virupaksha Temple stands as the main pilgrimage centre in Hampi. With the tall Gopurams and inscriptions dating back to 9th and 10th centuries, the Virupaksha temple is indeed a place for all history seekers. The most striking part is an inverted pinhole image of its tower present on the inner wall.
Also, don’t forget to greet Lakshmi, the temple’s very own elephant.
Once done with the temple hoping and architectural studies, the aesthetic side of Hampi, move on to soak in the adventure side:
9) CORACLE RIDE TO HIPPIE ISLAND
Hampi, the land of temples, has a totally different face to it, a place where you get to experience “being a hippie”. Experience a coracle (round boats), or as we call it “Kotta Vanji”, ride to the Hippie Island.
Ferry usually runs from 6:00 am till 6:00 pm.
Once you have coracle’d across, trek over to Anjandhari or Monkey Hill, the birthplace of Hanuman. Hiking up this hill is relatively easy as there are well-defined steps.
Hampi is known not just for its temples, but, is also famous among tourists for bouldering and trekking. The three prominent hills of Hampi:
plays the perfect host to all interested in monkeying!!
Trek up these hills to experience a mesmerizing cockcrow/sundown, see the golden rays highlight the boulders that rim these paddy fields.
WALKING AMONG PADDY FIELDS
Finally, stroll among the greens losing yourselves between the boulders… who knows, you might chance upon some ancient ruins around the corner yourself!
WHAT TO PACK
The best time to visit this land of ‘Hampi‘ness is from Oct to Feb (avoid rainy seasons). The months of November usually gives its audience a visual extravaganza, The Hampi Festival, a fete observed from the time of Vijayanagara King’s.
The question of “What to pack on a trip to Hampi?”, without doubt, depends on which season you plan to visit.
You might consider packing a few light drapes (cotton), maybe a palazzo/trousers. Do not forget a pair of comfortable sneakers intended for trekking/bouldering. Nights can get surprisingly cold even during summer months, so don’t miss out on your hoodie (more of a must if you plan to stay in tents).
Being surrounded by boulders and paddy fields, you can expect not many places to hide from the scorching heat. Make it a point to dump in loads of sunscreen(shawls and caps as well!) for the daylight and mosquito repellent for the night.
WHERE TO STAY AND DINE
Places to stay at Hampi:
There are endless options for hotels and home-stays where you can hitch up for the night. Hampi, as mentioned before, has two sides to it, the main bazaar region where you can expect to get no non-veg / alcohol and the Hippie part, where you can booze your night out! So, the first part is to figure out which side you want to be in.
Now, if you are a luxury traveller, ready to spend thousands, you can opt for hotels like Evolve Blackthat can give you a palatial, royal-like ambience. To experience a cottage stay, check out the Leo Wooden Resort, situated not very far from the ruins of Hampi. You can also check out Heritage Resort and Clarks Inn.
For all those on budget travel, not wanting to spend much on stay or if you are in search for hippie tent/hut experience, you can check out Shanthi GuesthouseorGoan corner.
My personal suggestion for all those who would love to wake up amidst lush paddy fields and have breakfast with an amazing view would be Tutti Hampi tents and cafe.
Places to eat at Hampi:
There are plenty of hotels in Hampi that can provide you with a scrummy meal. But one place I’d recommend for all those venturing to the Virupapuragadde side would beBenjamin’s cafe– a place where you can get soulful, home cooked food, and not to mention, meet really warm hosts. Laughing Buddha andMango Tree are two other must go to eat-outs.
PS: Planing a trip to Hampi? Here are some tips to help you plan your Hampi itinerary.