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All you need to know when you travel to Hampi

I was in 5th grade when I first heard of Hampi. It was part of my syllabus and I was extremely impressed with what I read. I was more than excited to visit it at least once in my lifetime.

Though my dad made sure we traveled at every given chance, visiting Hampi remained a dream for me for the next 15 years.

It was only in the year 2010 that I first visited Hampi since then I have actually lost count of how many times I have visited it.

Over the years I have fallen in love with Hampi more than I had ever imagined.

This blog post is a collection of all the information I have gathered over the years.

Lotus Mahal, Hampi

1. Geographical significance of Hampi

Hampi is located at about 350 kms from Bangalore in the Bellary district of Karnataka.

It is on the banks of river Tungabhadra and surrounded by rocky mountains. These rocks are igneous rocks.

River Tungabhadra flowing in full grace in between massive stone boulders
River Tungabhadra

It is believed that the entire Hampi was below sea level at about 1.5 million years ago.

These rocky formations could be seen extending up to 60kms radius. This acted as a natural boundary and protection to Hampi.

2. Mythological significance of Hampi

Indian mythology is divided into four yugas.

  1. Krita Yuga
  2. Treta Yuga
  3. Dwapara Yuga
  4. Kali Yuga

Krita Yuga

The legend goes that, after Sati’s death Lord Shiva traveled south in search of peace. With a lot of furry and grief in his heart, he sat here at Hampi for meditation.

Parallelly Tārakāsura got a boon that he cannot be killed by anyone except Lord Shiva’s son.

For that Shiva should get over his grief and move on and marry again. Disturbing Shiva from his meditation was the most challenging part.

Kamadeva ventured to do this by shooting a flower arrow, and as a result, angry Shiva burnt the Kama to ashes with his 3rd eye. This made Shiva being called “Virupaksha”. Virupa means angry face, Aksha means the 3rd eye.

Later Shiva found love again here at Hampi on the banks of Pampa Sarovar in the form of Pampa Devi (Reincarnation of Sati).

Since Shiva married Pampa Devi at Hampi, it gets the name Pampa Kshetra or Pampapura.

Treta Yuga

Hampi is also known as Kishkinda kshetra. It is the birthplace of Lord Hanuman.

During the Ramayana, when Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, Rama and Lakshmana ventured out in search of her.

They reached Kishkinda where they met Hanuman for the first time. Hanuman eventually became the most loyal and greatest follower of Lord Rama.

Hampi is significant for yet another reason. It is here that Rama got a confirmation that Ravana had kidnapped Sita and taken her further south, as Sita would have dropped her jewelry leaving a track behind.

Hanuman, along with Sugriva king of Kishkinda helped Rama in finding Sita.

3. Historic significance of Hampi

In the year 1336, Sage Vidhyarayana of Sringeri Shankara Mutt visited Virupaksha temple at Hampi.

Coincidently two warrior brothers Harihara (Hakka) and Bukka came to this region for hunting.

When the sage and warriors met, Sage explained to them that Hampi is a very special and apt place to start a dynasty of their own.

Reasons being:

a. It’s on the banks of a river.

b. It has a natural boundary.

c. It’s of great mythological significance.

He further illustrated the story of the hare and a wild dog. The hare which is usually hunted by wild dogs, when attacked at Hampi puts up a fight and wins. Sending out a message that this place has some special powers.

Convinced with Sage Vidhyaranya, Hakka and Bukka formed the “Vijayanagar Dynasty”.

The kingdom was initially named “Vidhyanagar”. As they become victories at everything they ventured, the name gets changed to “Vijayanagar”. Vijaya means victory.

Four families ruled the Vijayanagar dynasty from 1336 to 1564 with 24 kings.

Royal families and celebrated kings

a. Sangama Family- Prowdadevaraya

b. Saluva Family- Narashima Devaraya

c. Tuluva Family- Krishna Devaraya and Achutharaya

d. Aravidu Family- Ramaraya

Hampi flourished to its highest glory under the rule of Krishna Devaraya. In the span of 21 years he ruled, he fought 18 wars and won every single one of them, making him the king of entire south India.

Hampi was the capital city of this world’s 2nd largest empire only after the Roman empire.

Along with natural boundaries, the king built 7 walls and 24 gateways.

One of the 24 gateways to enter Hampi
One of the gateway

Trade and commerce

Economic prosperity was at its peak during the time of Krishna Devaraya.

Another unique feature that we cannot miss noticing in Hampi is that the king had a dedicated market built in front of each temple catering to a specific commodity.

Stone mantapa on either side on the road which was used as market place near Vittala temple, Hampi
Market in front of Vittala temple

The 800 meters long market in front of Virupaksha temple was for gold and diamonds.

Are you wondering how do I know all this? What’s the proof? Oh well! the foreign travelers at that period have documented all this in their travelogues.

Krishadevaraya was just not a good warrior but was also very good in trade and commerce.

There are pieces of evidence that he had traders coming in from Portugal, Mongolia, Srilanka, and southeast Asia to do business.

He took all the effort within his limits to expand and maintain the glory of the Vijayanagar Dynasty.

He died in 1529 due to illness and not in any war πŸ™

All the glory came to an end when five Bahamani Sultans came together in the history only once and defeated Ramaraya (Son-in-law of Krishnadevarya) in the battle of Talikote, marking the end of an unforgettable era in Indian history.

Apparently it took 6 months for the Sultans to shift all the wealth from Hampi. (Probably it might have looked something similar to a shot from Game of Thrones, where Jammie Lannester shifts the gold from HighGarden)

Today, all that you see in Hampi is just the “Ruins of Vijayanagar”. It is one of the world’s largest open-air museums.

Remains of once a glories palace at Hampi
Ruins of Hampi

It was declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in the year 1986.

I know that is a lot of history to digest. Pardon me if I bored you, it’s just that I get carried away every time I start talking about Hampi and according to me words cannot make justice to what you see there.

If the ruins itself are so magnificent, just imagine how it would have been during its peak time.

Ok, now let me tell you what are the places you must visit when you are at Hampi.

4. Things to do in Hampi

Let’s assume you have read a lot of blogs, you have learned a lot of history, you already made a list of places you want to explore, even then I highly recommend hiring a local guide for an unforgettable experience.

You will find a number of them in Hampi, would recommend hiring one who is approved by Karnataka Government. The charges vary somewhere between INR 1500- 3000 based on the season.

We had a wonderful experience hiring Nagaraj (Ph no- 9480254627) as our guide. Please note this is not a paid promotion.

To know more about various interesting people I have met in Hampi, click here.

Now let’s get to the list, shall we? This list is in no particular order.

Virupaksha Temple

This is the only operational temple even today, for the only reason the idol of the main god Virupaksha was not damaged.

A unique feature that you might not want to miss while you visit this temple is the pinhole effect being incorporated into the gopuram of the temple.

Ask about this to your tourist guide or priest of the temple, I’m sure they will be more than happy to show it to you.

Note: You have to be inside the temple before 12 noon to see this play of shadow.

Vittal Temple

The most iconic “Stone Chariot” that you see everywhere is in this temple. You will definitely not want to miss taking a picture with it.

Other than a stone chariot, this temple is also famous for the musical pillars. Yes, you read it correctly, stone pillars in the main hall (this is now not accessible to the public) when tapped on makes the musical sound of sa ri ga ma pa.. isn’t it an architectural marvel?

Special tip: Visit this temple first thing in the morning or by around 4 ish to get some amazing photos.

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple, Hampi
Stone Chariot at Vittala temple

Purandara Mantapa

After soaking in the beauty of the Vittala temple, start walking behind the temple. You will be greeted with a spectacular view of the river Tungabhadra.

On the banks of the river is a small stone mantapa where the renowned poet and philosopher of Karnataka Purandaradasa sat and wrote most of his keertanes (poems).

There is something very magical about this place. The white noise from the river, birds chirping around, no vehicle sound, I could sit there all day. I have been here many times, and have felt that positivity and aura every single time.

Purandara mantapa on the banks of river tungabhadra, Hampi
Purandara Mantapa

Tulabhara Mantapa

You will find this on your way back from Purandara Mantapa towards the Vittala temple. It is one of the most photographed structures after stone chariot.

This is the place where King Krishnadevaraya used to sit on one side of the huge weighing scale and any commodity of the king’s preference on the other.

All the commodity weighed would later be given to the temple as a charity.

Tulabhara Mantapa at Hampi
Tulabhara Mantapa

Kadalekalu Ganesha

A 15 feet tall Ganesha is one of the tallest Ganesha statues you will ever see. It is a monolithic statue.

Since the belly of this idol resembles Bengal gram (Kadalekalu in Kannada) this temple goes by the name Kadalekalu Ganesha.

Sasivekalu Ganesha

This is at a walkable distance from the Kadalekalu Ganesha temple. Sasive means mustard. Since this temple was built by a mustard merchant for the benefits of lower cast people (who were not allowed inside the temples back then), it gets its name accordingly.

A special feature of this Ganesha idol is, it looks like Ganesha from the front, and you will be amazed to see that he is sitting on the lap of his mother when you see from behind.

Front, side and back elevation of sasivekalu ganesha, Hampi
Sasivekalu Ganesha

Hemakuta Hills

Every time I have visited Hemakuta hills, I have discovered some new spot. It’s huge, beautiful and pleasant.

You might want to consider spending an evening here to catch a glimpse of mesmerizing sunset.

Small pond with stone mantapa on Hemakuta hills, Hampi
Hemakuta Hills

Prasanna Lakshmi Narashima

Though, many would call this Ugra Narashima it was Prasanna Lakshmi Narashima before it was damaged.

It is also believed that there used to be an idol of Goddess Lakshmi sitting on Narashima’s lap.

Badavi Linga

Right next to Prasanna Lakshmi Narashima you will find a big linga semi immersed in water.

Since a poor lady (Badavi in Kannada) used to take care of this temple, it is commonly known by that name.

Hazara Rama Temple

If you ever want to understand Ramayana depicted on stone walls, visit this temple.

That too not just one version but three. If you have patience and interest ask your guide to walk you through the story on the walls of the temple.

Intrepid Indian in front of Hazara Rama temple, Hampi
Hazara Rama Temple

Underground Shiva temple

I have never been able to go inside this temple as its always too dark and there is stagnant water.

Apparently this was discovered recently.

Mahanavami Dibba

This is where the king used to sit during Navaratri to see various cultural events that took place during Navaratri. Since this is at an elevated platform, you get a birds-eye view of the remaining ruins of the Palace Foundation.

Step Well

This was discovered very recently, that too by accident. This shows the existence of water lanes back in the 15th century.

You can notice a drastic dip in the water level in just a span of 6 years.

Stepwell at Hampi
Stepwell

Zanana Enclosure

Within this enclosure, you will find two interesting and photogenic monuments.

Elephant stable and Lotus Mahal. I personally have always loved clicking the Lotus Mahal for its beautiful architecture.

Queens Bath

This monument gives you an insight into the architectural brilliance of that era. It is built in the Indo-Islamic style.

Malyavantha Raghunatha Temple

The place where Lord Rama is believed to have meditated during his stay here. You will always see a pandit chanting Ramayana 24X7 all 365 days.

If you walk behind the temple you will find a sunset spot. This can be your other option to catch a beautiful sunset.

Malyavantha Raghunatha Temple, Hampi
Malyavantha Raghunatha Temple

Matunga Hills

Now you already know where to watch the sunset, are you wondering where to witness a sunrise?

Matunga hills is your destination. This involves a medium difficulty trek to reach to the top of the hill. Highly recommend taking a guide as I don’t want you to get lost here.

View from the top is worth all the effort you take.

View from Matunga Hills, Hampi
View from Matunga Hills

Achutharaya Temple

After watching the sunset at Matunga hill, start getting down through the other side of the hill and you will land at Achutaraya Temple.

You will find this temple to have a very little crowd. Which makes it even more attractive.

Ariel view of Achutharaya Temple, Hampi
Ariel view of Achutharaya Temple

Yantrodaraka Anjaneya temple

This is one of the pilgrimage spots of Hampi and is generally crowded with both locals and tourists.

Situated on the bank of Tungabhadra it is very divine and positive.

5. Places on the other side of the river

Hippi Island

Let’s just say you are not interested in any of these historical monuments. You are in Hampi just to soak in the calmness of the countryside.

You will love Hippi island, check into one of those homestays and grab a book and relax on a hammock admiring the beauty of paddy fields and rocky mountains.

Anjanadari Hills

This is the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. Over the years, it has become a bit commercial and a lot of devotees flock in here daily.

Involves a medium level of trekking, the steps and shelter above make it much easier.

Even though you are not very devotional, I would still recommend going to the hilltop for you to get an ariel view of almost entire Hampi.

Anjanadri Hills, Hampi
Anjanadri Hills

Sanapur Lake

This was my latest find. As I went during August, this lake was almost full and beautiful.

Apparently people from all over the world come here to do cliff jumping. The very sound of it is scary to me.

Satanur Lake, Hampi
Satanur Lake

Pampa Sarovara and Shabari Cave

You already know the importance of Pampa Sarovar which I mentioned in the mythological significance.

Shabari cave is right next to it and this is the place where Lord Rama met old lady Shabari who waited for his visit for a very long time.

Navabrundavana

It is a very auspicious place for Hindus. You can get here only through a boat as its an island.

Tungabadra Dam backwaters

This is very close to Hospet and is one of the best places for sunset. I have never seen sky change colors so beautifully as I saw here.

6. Where to stay in Hampi

Hyatt Palace Hampi

Clarks Inn

Evolve Back, Hampi

Jungletree

Padma Guesthouse

7. Best time to visit

October to February is the best time with pleasant weather. Summer gets really hot and many of the places will get flooded during the rainy season.

8. What would be the ideal duration to explore Hampi?

You will need a minimum of 3 days to visit all the places mentioned above. However, I would recommend 4-5 days to explore Hampi leisurely.

9. How to reach Hampi?

By Train– There are a couple of trains from Bengaluru to Hospet. From there you will have to hire an auto or taxi.

By Bus– There are a lot of both government and private sector buses that connect to Hampi directly from different cities in India.

By Road– You can drive down to Hampi from Bengaluru. The highway till Chitradurga is very comfortable. Once you take a right turn at Chitradurga towards Hampi, the road becomes a single lane and can get little challenging due to the movement of huge container lorries.

Was this blog post helpful? Please leave me a comment in the comment box below. I would also like to hear about your experience at Hampi.

9 thoughts on “All you need to know when you travel to Hampi

  1. Very nicely captured every possible detail of Hampi and makes the reader open their imaginative eye to feel the place and enjoy its view. Reading through it motivates someone like me (who has not visited Hampi) feel ashamed and want to visit it the very next available moment. Thanks for the elaborate info on the magnificent historical place. Keep it up and do share your other tour experiences

  2. Very well written Manu. Though I have visited Hampi couple of times, I want to go there again after reading your article. The details have been very well illustrated. Now I feel I haven’t seen Hampi so well. Will surely plan to go there very soon. Now I can explain my daughter about our heritage in a better way. Thank you for the informations. Will definitely use the services mention in Humans of Hampi.

  3. Very well written Manu, good stuff – like a Desi Lonely Planet write up
    The tree in Vittala complex has its own significance which you may want to add
    Did I miss Anegundi?

    1. Wow! thanks, Sudu. Oh ya, how did I miss Anegundi, I will add it. and about the tree as well πŸ™‚

  4. Very beautifully penned Manu…! It was like having e-tour of mystic, magnificent & historical Hampi πŸ‘πŸ» Informative & captivating!
    You have covered almost the entire Hampi in a bit elaborated but enthralling description furnishing all the essential information a first time visitor would require. Perhaps the write-up will surely inspire travel enthusiasts to add Hampi to their list. Well written!

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