A complete travel guide to Hampi
Hampi is surely one of my most favourite destinations in Karnataka. It is the place to be if you love ruins, history and culture. I have visited the place twice already and both the times I have learned something new. The vibes and the way the town has just stuck back in time are the highlights of visiting Hampi.
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The Group of Monuments at Hampi or just Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Karnataka state of India. Hampi, a fortified city, was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century.
At that time, Hampi was probably the richest town in India attracting all the traders from Persia and Portugal. Unfortunately after the Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by a coalition of Mughals, Hampi was destroyed and burnt and all the monuments are in ruins.
The best time to visit Hampi is during the winter season. The winter months are between November and February. Hampi festival is also one of the amazing times to visit Hampi and it happens annually in the month of November.
To cover and see most of the monuments at Hampi and Anegundi, you need at least three full days, dedicating one whole day for Anegundi.
About Vijayanagara Empire
Also called as Karnata Kingdom, the Vijayanagara empire was established in 1336 by the brothers Harihara I and Bukka Raya I of the Sangama dynasty. Based in Deccan Plateau of South India, the empire is named after its capital city Vijayanagara. It is said that the empire was so wealthy and rich that it inspired the visits by European travellers.
- Hampi is mostly known for ruins and hence many of the structures and statues are broken or burnt.
- Most of the monuments do not have any entrance fee.
- Be prepared for intermittent internet and network.
- Only yellow plate vehicles are allowed inside Hampi.
- One has to walk a lot in Hampi as some of the enclosures are huge and the only way to see them is by walk.
Temples and ruins of South Hampi
Sunrise on Mathanga hill
Mathanga hill is the highest point in Hampi and watching sunrise at Mathanga hill is the best thing to do. The walk to the peak is around 2 kilometres and it provides a breathtaking views of the entire town of Hampi.
Sree Virupaksha Temple
One of the temples that is still used for worship and is intact in Hampi is the Sree Virupaksha temple. Built in the 7th century by Lakkan Dandesha, the temple is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, a form of Shiva.
Carved out of a single rock, the Saasivekaalu (mustard seed) Ganesha is around 8 feet tall which was built in 1500 AD. It is a cute monolithic statue of Lord Ganesha and is kept in the open pavilion.
Lakshmi Narasimha and Badava Linga
At a height of 6.7 metres, the Lakshmi Narasimha is the monolithic of fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Narasimha idol is seated on the giant coils of Adishesha, the sacred snake of Lord Vishnu. As per Lithic record, the statue was consecrated by priest Krishnabhatta in 1528 AD.
Just next to Lakshmi Narasimha is the Badava Linga. Standing tall at 3 metres, the Badava linga is also a monolith of Shiva Linga. According to legend, the Badava linga was commissioned by a poor woman.
Akka Tangi Gudda
Akka Tangi Gudda (meaning Stone Sisters in Kannada) is a natural arrangement of gigantic rocks that have been standing at the site for ages. According to legend, the two rocks were actually two sisters who once visited Hampi during its glory. They became jealous and started talking ill about the town. The reigning deity came to know about this and turned the two sisters into stones. It is also called as Jealous sisters of Hampi.
Hazara Rama Temple
Built in the 15th century, the Hazara Rama temple was once used as a private temple for the Kings of Vijayanagara empire and is dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple has stunning relics of the stories and scenes from Hindu mythological story of Ramayana.
Zenana enclosure is a structural complex that has tall walls on four sides of the complex. The structures are in Indo-Islamic style of architecture.
Also called as Chitrangini Mahal, the Lotus Mahal is a two storied structure which was used as a residue place for royal family of Vijayanagara empire. It was specifically built for the women of the royal family.
Constructed in the 15th century in Indo-Islamic architectural style, the Elephant stable was built as a stable for state elephants. It has eleven large domed chambers interconnected with arched openings.
Tenali Rama pavilion
Very close to the Archaeological museum and Zenana enclosure is the Tenali Rama pavilion. It is a small stone structure that reminds visitors of the notable and funny poet Tenali Ramakrishna who wrote poems about the Vijayanagara empire.
Dedicated to the ruins of Hampi, the archaeological museum is a great place to see all the excavated structures and sculptures.
- The museum is open between 10 AM and 5 PM every day.
The huge fortified of Royal enclosure was the seat of power for Vijayanagara kingdom. It housed as many as 45 buildings and spread over 59000 square metres.
Queen’s bath place
Used by the king and his wives, the Queen’s bath place is an outdoor pool with amazing architecture of pillared corridors and decorated windows.
Sree Vitthala temple
Famous for the stone chariot and musical pillars, Sree Vitthala temple is my most favourite temple complex in Hampi. Built during 15th century, the Vitthala temple is one of the largest temples in Vijayanagara empire. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Vitthala.
- Temple is open between 8:30 AM and 5 PM every day.
- The ticket purchased for Zenana enclosure can be used here.
- The main gate is around 1 kilometre from the temple. There are carts that are available, driven by women only, to drop visitors from the gate to the temple and back for a small price (INR 20 for one way).
Seven bazaars of Hampi
Back in those days, there were seven bazaars (markets) in Hampi where traders would shop for various things including the precious gems. Today, they all lie as ruins where some platforms can be seen. The names of the seven markets are:
- Krishna bazaar.
- Paan Supari bazaar.
- Virupaksha bazaar.
- Achyuta bazaar.
- Vittala bazaar.
- Malyavanta bazaar.
- Varadarajammana bazaar.
Temples of North Hampi (Kishkinda)
The best way to go to Kishkinda is by crossing the Tungabhadra River from South Hampi to the other side on a coracle or a ferry. The ferry is a shared ferry and the cost for one way crossing is between INR 30 to 50. And the coracle ride is a private ride and the cost for one way crossing is between INR 150 to 200.
Once you cross the river, you can either hire a two wheeler for INR 500 per day or an auto rickshaw for INR 1500 per day. The owner here of the two wheeler rentals is nice and friendly. In order to hire a two wheeler, you need to produce your valid government ID.
Known to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman, the Anjanadri betta is an amazing place to visit. There is a small temple at the peak and the temple also has a floating stone that supposedly was used for making Rama sethu. It is also a sunset point and provides panoramic views of the Tungabhadra river.
- The visitors have to climb 575 steps to reach to the peak.
- There is plenty of parking available and for a two wheeler, the parking fee is INR 5.
- Be careful of monkeys, there are a lot of them.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Chintamani temple is famous for the spot where Rama had aimed and shot his arrow to kill Baali during the fight with Sugreeva. The temple is located right on the banks of the Tungabhadra river and one can go down to the river to sit by it and enjoy the cool breeze.
Previously known as Kishkindha, Anegundi is a village on the banks of Tungabhadra river. According to mythology, Anegundi is the place where monkeys lived in Ramayana.
Shabari cave and Pampa Sarovara
Shabari’s cave is a place where Shabari, the devotee of Lord Rama, used to live and perform her tapasyas. It is right next to Pampa Sarovara, a lake in the Koppal district and is considered as one of the five sacred lakes in the district. Pampa is a place where Goddess Parvathi performed penance to show her devotion to Lord Shiva.
A beautiful place to ride a coracle is at Sanakpura lake. It is a small lake formed by the backwaters of Tungabhadra dam. With spectacular sunset views, it is a perfect place to relax and wind up the day.
- The coracle ride costs about INR 350 to 500 per person for 30 minutes.
- Watch out for otters. I saw a couple of them.
Cafes of Hampi
Mango Tree Café
One of the most famous cafes in Hampi, that is right next to Virupaksha temple is the Mango Tree café. The ambience, staff and the food are all very nice. I visited this café couple of times and had a great time each time.
A very chilled out and unique café is the Whispering café. It is on the other side of the Tundabhadra river in Anegundi. The seating arrangement is on the floor with beds laid out everywhere and provides a very relaxed atmosphere. The food is delicious and keeps up the mark too.
Shopping in Hampi
Banana fibre products
I accidentally discovered the banana fibre products in Anegundi. The local women of the village have been employed to make the banana fibre products such as hand bags, bowls and toys. This is to provide employment to the women and empower them.
The ropes are created using the banana stems. And these ropes are in turn used to weave and make products. A lot of manual effort and hours go into making a single product. Even though the products are a bit expensive as they are manually made, the products are really beautiful and worth buying.
Hampi bazaar is a popular store where the auto drivers take the visitors for shopping. They have variety of products including the special oils and scarfs. The banana fibre products are also sold here but at an elevated price. Hampi Bazaar is great to buy souvenirs and other things as everything is available under one roof.
Hampi has a lot of local shops that sell souvenirs, clothes, books and other things. The shopkeepers sell the products at a higher price so ensure to haggle.
Traveling within Hampi
The best way to commute is by hiring a two wheeler. However, there is only one bike rental company in Kamlapura as the government have stopped all the other bike rental companies. Note that the guy who rents out the bike at Kamlapura is very arrogant so I decided to commute within Hampi in an auto rickshaw.
Auto driver details
I was in touch with many auto drivers but I did use the services from Anil Kumar (picture below). He was very friendly and knowledgeable. I liked the way he managed and took care of me. I highly recommend him for traveling in Hampi.
- Name: Anil Kumar.
- Contact number: +91 93808 74964.
If Anil is not available, then you can use the below auto drivers too:
- Vijay: +91 73534 45992.
- Basava: +91 63618 31968.
- Bimesh: +91 73489 09857.
Stay in Hospete and Hampi
I have listed the below stay options sorted on the cost (descending from expensive to budgeted).
Evolve Back Luxury Resort
The most expensive of all the options mentioned is the stay at Evolve Back Luxury Resort. Located 4 kilometres from Hampi, the Evolve Back Luxury resort is a mini Hampi in itself replicating the entrances, stone paved boulevards and hallways.
- The cost for a room is around INR 25,000 to 28,000 per night.
Vijayashree Resort and Heritage Village
The second time I visited Hampi, I stayed at Vijayashree Resort and Heritage Village. Spreading across 20 acres of land, this property is located about 20 kilometres from Hampi. The rooms are spacious and well maintained. It is a beautiful place to stay at if you have your own vehicle to commute to Hampi. Even though I enjoyed my stay, I did not cherish the food. I felt the food was limited and tasteless.
- The cost for a room is around INT 5000 to 7000 per night.
Gopi guest house
If you are a budgeted traveller, then staying in Hampi is the best choice. Gopi guest house is right next to Virupaksha temple and is a great place to stay. The room is small but the guest house is very conviniently located.
- The cost for a room is around INR 750 to 900 per night.
Pushpa guest house
Pushpa guest house is cheaper than the Gopi guest house. It is a small place where backpackers or budgeted travellers can stay at affordable prices. It is also conveniently located near Virupaksha temple.
- The cost for a room is around INR 500 to 750 per night.
How to get to Hampi?
Hampi does not have an airport of its own. The nearest domestic airport is at Bellary. The Bellary airport is around 60 kilometres from Hampi.
Hampi is around 340 kilometres from Bangalore and it takes about 6 hours by road to reach Hampi. The route has toll roads and is towards Nelmangala.
- Note: Only yellow plate vehicles are allowed inside Hampi.
Hospete is the closest town tat is accessible by public transportation. Hospete is around 20 kilometres from Hampi. There are many trains and buses that operate between Bangalore and Hospete.
Safety for solo female travelers
Hampi is very safe for solo female travelers. I traveled to the place alone during my second visit and all the people were friendly and nice. However, I did have a bit of problem at the Hospete bus stop where a man tried to make unnecessary gestures. I went and complained to the person at the information desk and after which I was made to sit in the office till my bus arrived. In Karnataka, if you have a problem, the best solution is to be vocal about it so the people around you can help you out in the situation.
Download Emergency Plus app for any unforeseen situations. The app does not require mobile network and it shows the location of where you are. This is useful to let the emergency services know, in case there is any emergency.
If you are a tourist, always make sure to have a good comprehensive travel insurance to cover yourself in case of any emergency.
Hampi must surely be on your list when you visit India. It is a place to be if you love history and architecture. I highly recommend Hampi and is one of the must visit places in Karnataka.
Have you visited Hampi? What did you love about that town? Let me know in the comments below.
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