Hampi (Hampe) is a village in northern Karnataka india. With the name of Vijayanagara it was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime in around 1500 AD. Vijayanagara had about 500,000 inhabitants (about 0.1% of the global population during 1440-1540) making it the second largest city in the world after Peking-Beijing and almost thrice the size of Paris. The name Hampi can also mean "champion". It is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of Vijayanagara Empire.
Hampi is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.
Hampi is charismatic even in its ruined state, attracting thousands of visitors every year. Vast stretches of boulder-strewn hills make the backdrop of Hampi unique. Dotted around the hills and valleys are 500 plus monuments.
Among them are beautiful temples, ruins of palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, bastions, royal platforms, treasury buildings. the list is practically endless. Hampi is a backpacker's paradise, the same way a pilgrim's delight.
What To See
The Archaeological Museum of Hampi is one of the principal attractions of the place that houses collections of sculptures and assorted antiques. Although a lot of these findings were made by the British officers who stored them in elephant stables, the Archaeological Survey of India established this museum and started shifting the antiques in 1972.
At present this museum consists of four galleries, the contents of which are listed as follows:
Gallery 1 – Holds sculptures of Virabhadra, Bhairava, Bhikshatanamurti, Mahishasuramardini, Shakti, Ganesha, Kartikeya with his consorts, and Durga.
Central Hall - This hall is a look alike of Hampi temple consisting of Shivalinga, Nandi and Dwaramantapa.
Gallery 2 – Has an array of antiquities such as armoury, copper plate grants, religious metal objects, brass plates and gold and copper coins of the Vijaynagara dynasty.
Gallery 4 - This gallery displays antiquities belonging to the prehistoric and protohistoric period, medieval hero stones and sati stones. It also exhibits some other excavated items such as Stucco figurines, iron objects, shards of porcelain, among other things.
Since this museum houses some of the most important artefacts of Hampi, it turns out to be one of the important places to visit in Hampi that one shouldn't miss out on. This place is open four tourists throughout the week except for Fridays.
Monkey Temple (Hanuman Temple)
As mentioned earlier, Hampi has a close association with the incident of Ramayana. One of the important evidences that pinpoints this fact is the Monkey Temple, which is located at a serene spot on Anjanadri Hill in Anegundi.
This Hampi Temple is located 4 km from Hampi and is believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman. This Monkey Temple is basically a small concrete structure consisting of a granite carved statue of Lord Hanuman along with a small shrine of Lord Rama and his wife Devi Sita. As you reach the main site, a flight of granite steps lead you inside the temple.
Also, this place has a lot of monkeys that truly justifies the name of the temple so one needs to be little cautious with these primates. Since this temple is located on a hill, it offers an amazing view of Hampi and many of the heritage sites of this region.
Along with this the view of sunrise and sunset is a mesmerising one to witness for tourists visiting Hampi. Some of the other places to visit near the Monkey Temple include Pampa Sarovara Laxmi Temple, Bukkaâ Aquaduct, Anegondi Fort and Rishyamukha Sarovara.
Vijaya Vittala Temple
Built in 15th century AD the Vijaya Vittala Temple is a rich architectural temple that serves as one of the important places to visit in Hampi. This temple has an expansive campus which consists of several other Hampi temples, pavilions and halls. This temple as its name suggests is dedicated to Lord Vittala who was one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vittala is believed to be like an ordinary person and is worshipped by the cattle herds.
One of the main attractions of the temple are its marvellously created pillared halls that reflect true wonders of architecture along with a gigantic stone chariot which also serves as another major attraction of this place.
Along with this one can still find the remains of the Vittalapura township, which once existed outside the temple campus. This entire place, along with its contents, is exemplary of the true marvel of religious architecture.
Lord Virupaksha is believed to be the principal deity of the Vijaynagara rulers, dedicated to whom this temple has been constructed in Hampi. This beautiful and architecturally rich Hampi temple is one of the most important places to visit in Hampi and it also serves as the main centre of pilgrimage in this region.
This temple is considered to be built somewhere around the 7th century and it initially started as a small shrine only to be later developed into a marvellous temple under the reign of the Vijaynagara rulers. Several evidences found in the temple indicate towards the fact that a lot of additions were done in the temple during the late Chalukya and Hoysala periods.
Although this amazing temple lost most of its wonderful decorative structures and creations during the 1565 war, worship here kept on persisting. This temple finally received a major overhaul and renovation at the beginning of the 19th century in order to keep it under working condition and to salvage its structure, artistic elements and aesthetics.
The present day fortified area or the Royal Enclosure of Hampi was once the seat of power of the Vijaynagara rulers. In current times this Royal Enclosure is basically a wide open ground consisting of a number of small shelters.
Some of the important structures in here are spread across hundreds of square metres of land and consists of a number of interesting and important relics. Some of the important structures of the Royal Enclosure are the King’s Audience Hall or the 100-Pillared Hall, stepped tank, an underground chamber and the Mahanavami Debbie to the commonly called Dossier Platform.
Since the Royal Enclosure is pretty large a good amount of walking is required to have a look at the entire place. Any kind of vehicles whether manually or automatically driven are not allowed inside the area, so it is advisable to visit this place during early morning or in the evenings, as the atmosphere at these times are more pleasant.
Located to the North of the Kodandarama Temple, the riverside gorge is an imminent site for some clusters of remarkable ruins. These relics feature some of the finely carved Shiva Lingas on the flat rock surface along with a reclined structure of carved Anandashayana Vishnu on the rock cleft.
Once you go close to the edge of the river you will be able to notice a couple of Shiva Linga mandalas carved in an array of 108 and 1008 in a square area. The numbers are such chosen due to their significance in Hindu religion.
This place consists of some other interesting features such as an array of pavillions, partially submerged small shrines, sequence of motifs carved on the rock surface, etc. To have a comfortable trip in this area and to get a closer look at the Shiva Lingas, it is advisable that one should hire a coracle, as it would be an easy and quick-to-use option.
If you enter the Hampi complex from the South-West corner, then the Queen’s Bath is the first of the ruins that you would visit. From outside this building appears to be a plain rectangular complex encircled by a big water channel that one might need to cross at some places using the bridge-like structure.
This contraption was created to block unwanted intruders from walking in to the place where the royal women used to bathe. When looked at from the inside, one can see a huge circular veranda facing a big open sky pool in its middle.
It is believed that in ancient times the pool used to be filled with fragrant water and flowers, which now is nothing more than an empty brick-lined pool structure. This entire building and its surroundings have been designed in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. There is a small garden outside the Queen’s Bath, which serves as a fine picnic spot.
This underground temple of Lord Shiva is one of the oldest temples in Hampi. This temple for some reasons was built several metres below the ground level due to which the sanctum as well as the main parts of the temple remain under water for most of the time round the year.
One enters the temple by passing through the main tower, which is supposedly an incomplete addition done later on. There is a series of steps along the axis of this tower that leads you to the sanctum, which further takes you down to the inner part of the temple.
There is a cubical pillared main hall in front of the shrine, which is the last part, access to which is dependent upon the level of water that would decide whether you can go any further or not. Outside the temple there is a beautiful lawn built around it. Most of the time, this place is less crowded so it gives you the opportunity to survey the outside of the temple by going around this lawn.
Old Palace (Gagan Mahal)
Located in the small village of Anegundi (a place of great historical importance during the rule of the Vijaynagara dynasty) near Hampi, Gagan Mahal or the old palace is a place of great importance soaked in legends and history.
A lot of tourists visit this place as part of their tour to Hampi. This place is considered to be constructed around the 16th century and is surrounded by a fort most of which is actually in ruins. This yellow coloured palace consists of beautifully decorated windows and four spectacular towers.
To know more about the place and its history, take the help of the local guides present there, who would efficiently walk you through the history of Gagan Mahal as well as that of Anegundi.
This region has got some other amazing sightseeing destinations which include Anjeyanadri Hill, Pampa Sarovara Laxmi Temple, Sabari Cave, Srikrishnadevaraya Samadhi, and Nava Brindavana.
When it comes to places to visit in Hampi, the Krishna temple is a place that should not be missed. This temple was built in 1513 AD in order to commemorate the conquest of the Eastern kingdom of Udayagiri (present day Odisha State) by king Krishnadevaraya.
A figure of Balakrishna (infant Lord Krishna) was the main idol to be installed in the temple, which in present time is displayed in the Chennai State Museum. The history of this temple is inscribed on a huge slab that is installed in the temple’s courtyard.
The pillars inside the temple are quite unique in their design and architecture especially the Yalis or the mythical lion along with carvings of elephant balustrades.
One of the interesting things to see here is the main tower located at its East, which displays an impressive sight of spectacular carvings especially the one depicting the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.Because of its intrinsic designs and architecture, this temple stands out as an exact specimen of true Vijaynagara era temples.
This Lord Ganesha’s statue derives its resemblance from that of the mustard seed, which is referred to as Sasivekalu in the local dialect thereby leading to its name. This statue is located on the Southern foothill of the Hemakuta and is almost half the size of Kadalekalu Ganesha located on the Northern slope of the same hill.
This statue derives inspiration from an incident of Hindu mythology when one day Lord Ganesha had eaten so much food that his stomach almost burst. So in order to protect his stomach the Lord tied a snake around his belly. On this statue one can see the figure of the snake carved in front of his stomach.
This monolithic statue measure 2.4 metres in height and is carved out of a huge boulder. There is an open pavillion built around the statue, which is believed to be constructed by a trader from Chandragiri (present day Andhra Pradesh) in the memory of Narsimha II the mighty Vijaynagara king. Similar to the Kadalekalu Ganesha Temple, this temple too is considered to be one of the important places to visit in Hampi.
How To Reach
The nearest Banglore international airport is around 350 km away. The domestic airport nearby Hampi is Bellary that allows tourists to reach the place comfortably. Bellary airport is located at a distance of 60 km so tourists can easily commute to land and take off from here. Tourists from here can take a taxi cab to reach Hampi comfortably.
The nearest railhead from Hampi is Hospet that is at a distance of 13 km. Tourists can hire taxi or cab to reach the place comfortably. Hospet is well connected to major cities and towns and some of them are Bangalore, Hyderabad, Goa etc.
Hampi is well connected by bus services from all major cities and towns. There are many private buses, tourist buses, luxury buses and state buses that run from place to place so tourists can easily reach the place without any difficulty. Hyderabad (361km), Bangalore (372km) and Hubli (162km) can be travelled to by road.
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