Image source – Youtube/Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy
Hampi a village in northern Karnataka was the capital of magnificent empire of Vijayanagar and a flourishing rich city in mid 14th century.The vast ruins of Hampi today are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are mesmerizing.
Places to visit
Hampi is divided into two main centers: The Royal Center towards Kamalapuram and The Sacred Center around Hampi Bazaar.
A must see is the spectacular temple of Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy. Its Dravidian architecture and carvings of fishes and strange looking marine monsters would surely catch your attention.
The Hampi Bazaar with many ancient ruins is around 35 yards wide and 800 yards long. The Virupaksha Temple with a 120 feet tall tower in the western end of Hampi Bazaar has shrines of Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneshwari . Some parts of this temple is even older than Vijayanagar kingdom itself. The 6.7 meter tall monolith of Ugra Narsimha at Hemkuta Hill near this temple has inscriptions which mentions that this sculpture was built from a single boulder in the year 1528 under the rule of Krishnadeva Raya.
At the eastern end of Hampi Bazaar, there is Nandi statue around which you can have a look of the ancient marketplace. Overlooking this place, is the Matanga Hill. The best time to visit this place is early morning when the panoramic view at sunrise is mesmeric.
Vithala Temple Complex is on of the most splendidly built monument of Hampi. It has around 56 musical pillars. There is the famous stone chariot with revolving stone wheels. The roof is supported by pillars of granite that are 15 feet in height. Every pillar consists of a central pillar that is surrounded by detached shafts, all cut from one single stone block. The protected monument of Purandra Dasara Mantapa is also located nearby.
Other temples that would leave you spellbound are Hazara Rama, Achyuta Raya and Kodandarama. Royal residences, Queen’s bath, elephant stables, Zenana enclosures and Royal Performance Zone are other highlights of the “beautifully ruined” city of Hampi. Sule Bazaar near the Achyuta Raya Temple would give you a glimpse of ancient eCommerce.
If archaeology interests you, you should not miss out your chance to visit the Archaeological Survey of India Museum at Kamalapur.
It has a collection of sculptures that would leave you awestruck. You can visit this site from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It is closed on Fridays.
Rock climbing and wildlife spotting can also be enjoyed at Hampi. Around 25 kilometers from Hampi, there is the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary.
Stay and Food
You have ample options for a comfortable stay in Hampi with home stays, resorts and budget hotels. The restaurants here serve delicious vegetarian south Indian food like idli, dosa and Thalis.
The nearest airport to Hampi is at Hubl at around 143 kilometers. Hospet is the nearest railhead at a distance of around 13 kilometers. Hampi is around 350 and 360 kms from Hyderabad and Bangalore respectively. You can consider driving or hiring a private cab from these cities. There are centers that offer bicycles from Kamalapur for exploring the ruins of Hampi.