How Do I Get There?
By Air: Bengaluru International Airport is your best bet. Located approximately 350km away from Hampi, Bengaluru International Airport is connected to almost all major cities across the world. From here, one will have to either hire a cab, hop on a bus or - if you are brave enough - rent your own vehicle and head down to Hampi which is 7 hours away.
By Road: Hampi remains a great destination to drive to; as the scenery changes - as will the weather - you will find yourself experiencing a rural Karnataka, that revels in its history. Relatively close to south India's major cities - Bangalore (7 hours), Goa (7 hours), Chennai (12 hours) and Hyderabad (8 hours), a day or night trip to Hampi will be worth your while.
By Rail: Since Hampi is located within and around the Hospet District, the incoming rail based traffic falls onto Hospet Railway station, 13km from Hampi. From here, one will have to go through the obvious process of hiring a cab or auto, buying bus tickets or renting a car to reach their destination.
When's The Best Time To Visit?
Hampi is best experienced during the months of October to February; festive months that are both exciting and lenient in terms of the weather. The weather is cooler, with a lot more breeze to help you get through the day.
Monsoons (June to August) tend to bring out the scenic beauty of Hampi and are also a good time to visit.
The summers, while great for a photo-perfect scenery, leaves you and the land around you dry and taxed. The river is also most likely to be dry during summer months but this makes it easier for you to walk to the other side and experience the laidback Virupapur Gaddi (or Hampi Island).
How Do I Get Around?
The entire town of Hampi is a tourist landmark, and the best way to explore it, is slowly; taking your time with each area. As such, the two most popular options remain on foot and biking. You can rent a bike from a variety of places in town (or from your hotel) and explore every nook and cranny of this historic town. One can also avail the services of rickshaws, cabs and buses that take you across town, all best reserved for those trips that really require it.
If you wish to cross the river and head to Virupapur Gaddi (or Hampi Island), a ferry (that barely charges anything) will take you there. Although a longer route by road is also an option, the ferry will save you a lot of time and money.
What Are The Attractions & Things To Do?
While Hampi is well-known for its sites and landmarks, which we have listed below, it is important to note the exciting possibility of having an adrenaline fuelled trip as well - courtesy of the adventure sports available in the region - rock climbing, mountain biking, trekking/hiking, body surfing, kayaking, cliff diving and more. Find a local adventure outfit and get out.
Vittala Temple: The focal point of Hampi's attractions, the Vittala temple is an expansive, intricately carved, warm-stoned landmark that will leave you in awe, at the handiwork and craftsmanship of the stonecutters of yore. A temple dedicated to one of Lord Vishnu's incarnations - Vital - the temple is not just a historical heritage site, but an active (and powerful) spiritual one as well. Built in the early 15th century A.D the temple has seen kings and emperors come and go, and not a day has gone by where its beauty has moved on too. The most unique aspect of this structure though, are its musical pillars; pillars that emit an audible tone - tuned to a scale - when tapped; used probably for bhajans and other musical events in the temple. The Vittala Temple is a must for everyone - history enthusiast or otherwise.
Ugra Narasimha: Carved out of a single, large block of stone, the statue of Agra Narasimha is a major tourist attraction in Hampi. A juggernaut - 6.7m in height - the statue is placed within a small temple complex, situated on the topmost point of the Hemkunt Hill range.
Elephant Stable: One of the most preserved structures in Hampi - having survived the Mughal raid in the 16th century A.D - the Elephant Stable is a magnificent edifice that to this day, captures the minds of children and historians alike. An elaborate and intricately designed structure, we know that this building housed the royal elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Elephant Stable is as sturdy and magnificent as the elephants it housed over 600 years ago.
Monolith Bull: A statue dedicated to Lord Shiva's mount - Nandi - the Monolith Bull is locally known as Yeduru Basavanna. Situated on the eastern face of the Virupaksha Bazaar, on an elevated pavilion, the Monolith Bull is a junction to a variety of other important landmarks and sites in the area, such as the Kodanda Rama Temple, or the Achyut Raya's Temple.
Queen's Bath: Built for the women of the royal family of the Vijayanagara Empire, over 500 years ago, the Queen's Bath (as it is known now) is an impressive 30 sq.m structure with a 15 sq.m pool in the center of it. Built in an amalgam of Indo-Islamic architecture, the bath remains a culmination of the Vijayanagara architectural and engineering pursuits. While a large chunk of what used to be the bath - intricate carvings, beautiful stucco walls, magnificent pillars and more - is absent (credits to the Mughal Empire's constant raids), the bath still holds onto your imagination.
Stepped Tank: A large water reservoir - famous for its terraced design and fine blocks of black schist stone, that make it different from all other buildings in Hampi - the Stepped Tank is located off the SH 131 and is within a large campus called the Royal Enclosure. The tank along with the neighboring Queen's Bath and other water reservoirs and tanks are fed by the intricate water system - drains and aqueducts - built in the time of the Vijayanagara Empire, and still functioning today.
Dasara Dibba: A large stone platform within the Royal Enclosure, the Dasara Dibba was built by King Krishnadevaraya in the 15th century A.D to commemorate one of his many military victories. One of the highest points in the region, overlooking everything that fell within the empire, the Dasara Dibba is a wondrous structure, and a must for all visitors.
Virupaksha Temple: A temple dedicated to Virupaksha - a form of the Lord Shiva - the Virupaksha Temple was built as another commemorative edifice to the king's conquests and achievements. The temple is still functional and has thousands of visitors (both local and foreign) every year.
Lotus Mahal: Situated within the Zenana Enclosure (an enclosure in which most of the buildings were devoted to the women of the royal family of the Vijayanagara Empire), the Lotus Mahal is a magnificent structure, whose design is similar to a lotus flower (and so its name). Also called the Kamal Mahal or the Chitragani Mahal, this structure - tall and delicately engraved - is surrounded by large green gardens and is a great place to head down for a picnic with the family. Another unique aspect of this edifice is that it is one of the few completely surviving structures in the area; only weathered by the passage of time and changing climates.
Underground Temple: Probably the most weird structure in the group of monuments, the Underground Temple is a Shiva temple built many meters below ground level - which over the years have slowly been filled with water, blocking certain sections of the temple. With large green lawns surrounding the site, the temple is located by the SH131 and is a must.
Things To Do
Matanga Hill: The highest point in Hampi, the Matanga Hill is the best vantage point for all of Hampi. A great place to spend time in with family, friends or just your significant other, the hill is special for two reasons - a daily, amazing sunset and the Veerabhadra Temple on its SE perch. Its location (south of the Tungabhadra and to the east of the town) makes it perfect for a hike and the trails there - connecting other important sites and landmarks in the area - ensure it is.
Tungabhadra River: One of India's sacred rivers, the Tungabhadra traces through three South Indian states - Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and now Telangana. Sacred and spiritually important, the Tungabhadra is a beautiful river that must be seen.
Daroji Bear Sanctuary: A one-of-a-kind sanctuary, the Daroji Bear Sanctuary is the only place in India where one can view the black Sloth Bear (endemic to India). With a network of caves, and a variety of bio-diverse hotspots, one can enjoy a day outing here, viewing all kinds of bird and animal species native and migratory to this land.
Akka Tangi Gudda: The "Sister Stones", or the Akka Tangi Gudda are two large rocks leaning on one another just by the main road on the way to the Underground Temple. While there isn't much to do, it is a grand natural structure that one must see.
Hampi also has a hidden secret for those who wish to kick back after a long week, enjoy good food, and meet new people from around the world. A popular hippie destination, Virupapur Gaddi, or more commonly, "Hampi Island", is quite unlike the historical side of Hampi and has its own unique offerings. A small peninsular village across the river, accessible by motorboat ride, or if you are feeling rustic, via a coracle, Virupapur is a backpacker's paradise - full of lush greenery, expansive red rock and few landmarks/sites, allowing you to explore to your heart's content. Filled with plenty of budget inns and homestays, laid back cafes, cheap yet wholesome restaurants and more, Hampi Island promises a good time.
Where To Eat?
Hampi is known for its laid-back cafes, dirt cheap food and humble hosts. Over the years, a few great restaurants have slowly managed to inch their way into national view. These are the 5 top rated restaurants in Hampi -
- Mango Tree (Indian)
- Laughing Buddha (Chinese/Indian)
- Rasta Cafe (Multi-cuisine)
- 1985 Restaurant (Indian/Tibetan/Multi-cuisine)
- Gopi Restaurant (Indian/Chinese)