"Hampi" in the state of Karnataka in India is the site of the once-magnificent capital of the Vijayanagar Empire. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Vijaya Nagara, meaning the city of victory was the capital city of the historic Vijayanagara Empire which extended over South India. The city's ruins, surrounding the modern-day village of Hampi, are in Ballari district, Karnataka.
Around 1500, Vijaynagara had about 500,000 inhabitants (supporting 0.1% of the global population during 1440-1540), making it the second largest city in the world after Beijing and almost twice the size of Paris. The city flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries, before suffering a catastrophic defeat in 1565 at the hands of the Muslim invaders. The area is surrounded by millions of boulders, within which there is an oasis with lush palm, banana, and mango trees nestled near the river.
Places to Stay
Avoid places recommended in the Lonely Planet guide, because they immediately raise their rates and lower their quality. Accommodation quite basic in Hampi; better in Hospet a few km away.
The best way to explore Hampi is by bicycle, either by yourself or with a guide. Alternatively if you are less fit, you can hire an auto for a day or half day and a guide.
Ayurveda & Meet the Locals
Ayurvedic Massage Center Anjili [Hampi Town, close to Kiran Guesthouse on the corner in a small corridor opposite-right of Gouri Guest house]
"Not only great and very affordable aryuvedic treatments (I tried 2 in Hampi and definitely enjoyed this the most - ask for her Hampi special massage) is what you get there but you can also have inspiring conversations with the heart-filling owner Suma. While you don't expect it, it's fascinating to talk to her and listen to her advice on life and the spirits around us. Also if you want to speak with a knowledgeable local or need an insider tip in Hampi, she will be happy to tell or even guide you around as she knows everybody and every stone". (Jan/2016)
By coracle ferry. Ensure ferry is not overcrowded, especially if you can't swim!! (Not joking!)
Very scenic and attractive.
Hampi Children Trust
Takes care of 38 children with studies, food (all 3 meals, seven days a week) and medical care. Set up by a Britisher with a local. Directions: Hampi main bazaar. From the main road leading up to the Virupaksha temple, take a right to go into the main bazaar. The trust is a few metres on the left. Voluntary donations accepted.
This may come out at night and attack dogs
This may be encountered in the river.
These may be dangerous if with cubs.
As many as 185 species of bird are in the Hampi area.
The temple is still in use now. It is dedicated to Virupaksha, an aspect of Shiva and his consort Pampa, a local deity. The main entrance with a 50-meter (160-feet) gopuram (=entrance) faces east into a ceremonial and colonnaded street, that extends for about 1 km (0.62 mi) to a monolithic statue of Nandi.
Another gopuram towards north known as the Kanakagiri gopura, leading to a small enclosure with subsidiary shrines and eventually to the river Tungabhadra
Lakshmi Narasimha temple
Also to the south of Hampi is this massive rock cut idol of Narasimha, the fierce aspect of Vishnu, 6.7 m high. Narasimha is depicted seated on the coils of Shesha. Shesha is shown here in a form with seven heads, the heads arching over Narasimha to form a canopy. The statue has been restored sometime after 1984.
Hemakuta Hill temples
To the south of Hampi. It bears several small temples that predate the construction of Vijayanagara as the capital of the empire, some being as early as the 10th century. Many smaller additions to the temples since then, some unfinished.
Big Shivlinga/Badavilinga Temple
This is the largest Linga image in Hampi. Located next to the Lakshmi Narasimha statue the Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front. A close look on this icon can reveal three eyes (depicting the three eyes of Shiva) carved on it. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue). The sanctum in which the Linga is installed is always filled with water as a water channel is made to flow through it.
Worth a look! Situated northeast of Hampi, opposite the village of Anegondi, this is one of the principal monuments of the city. It is dedicated to Vittala, an aspect of Vishnu worshipped in the Maratha country. It is believed to date from the 16th century. In front of the temple is the world-famous stone chariot or ratha. This is one of the three famous stone chariots in India, the other two being in Konark and Mahabalipuram. The wheels of the ratha can be rotated but the government cemented them to avoid the damage caused by the visitors. There are 7 musical pillars in the temple, each one mimicking the sound from a different instrument.
The temple is the venue of the annual Purandaradasa festival.
Hazara Rama Temple
Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi is an important shrine in Hampi. This small but beautiful temple is located at the center of the royal area. The temple is dedicated to Lord Rama, a Hindu deity. It was once the private temple of the kings and the royal family of Vijayanagara. The temple is famous for the lovely bas relics and panels depicting the story of the epic Ramayana.
This extensive area consists of a small plateau, which starts about 2 km (1.2 mi) to the southeast of Hampi, and extends southeast, almost to the village of Kamalapuram. It is separated from the Sacred Centre by a small valley. Little remains of the palaces except the foundations, as they were largely timber structures, for comfort. The temples and some of the other stone structures survive however, as do many of the surrounding city walls.
The temple stands in a rectangular courtyard, with entrances facing to the east. Reliefs showing daily life and festival scenes occur on the outer walls of the courtyard. Scenes from the Ramayana occur on the inner courtyard walls, and on the temple itself. There is a well-relief of baby Krishna on the walls.
Underground Shiva Temple
At times the base of the temple is flooded and may be inaccessible. When it is accessible, masses of small bats may be found in the temple.
Lotus Mahal, also known as Kamal Mahal or Chitrangini Mahal is situated in the Zenana Enclosure of the monuments. It is a ticketed monument and a single ticket would let you into the Zenana Enclosure covering several monuments including Elephant Stables. The base of the structure is Hindu in design but the upper storey is Islamic in design with the lotus pattern.
Achyut Raya temple
Achyuta Raya Temple is one of the magnificent and major temples of Hampi. Built in 1534 AD, this temple stands as an exemplary example of Vijayanagara style of architecture. The temple is located between the Gandhamadana and Matanga hills. It is one of the last grand creations of the Vijayanagara dynasty before the fall of the great empire.
Generally early November. It is a cultural extravaganza which is been celebrated since the times of the Vijayanagar reign. The festival is celebrated with full of joy and happiness and the entire ambiance is lively and colourful. The festival is all about dance, music, drama, puppet shows, vibrant handicrafts, leather puppets are displayed by traditional craftsmen as they were made in the past generation. Musical instruments like pipes, drums etc are played in throughout the festival. In the streets, decorated horses, elephants and men dressed in the Golden Era military fashion are posted under the red, blue, green, white cloth known as 'Gopuras'. At different venues many vocalists, dancer and artists entertain the guests and tourists. For women the festival presents some nice shopping experience. The Festival also has events like 'Janapada Kalavahini' a concert of folk songs, 'Jumbo Savari' an elephant march, a light and sound show, etc. processions and fireworks.
Jan-Feb. Classical music festival to celebrate birth of ancient poet Purandaradasa. Venue near Vittala temple and lasts 2-3 days.
Virupaksha Car Festival
Held in March or April, biggest religious festival at Hampi. 'Car' refers to giant wooden chariot. (You see these all over India). The festival marks the annual ritual marriage of the god & goddess.
Held in December to celebrate ceremonial betrothal of god and goddess.
Diwali is also celebrated here (October), with crackers and parade of temple elephant.
Sivaratri is celebrated here(Feb-March), as for all Siva temples, at Virupaksha Temple
Bangalore Airport is most convenient but far away (343km).
Many trains to Hospet Junction 13km from Hampi. Public buses from Hospet bus station.
Buses are very popular and should be booked in advance.
Hampi’s climate is generally dry & hot. March to early June is the summer. Monsoon brings some wet weather that typically lasts from late June to early August. The colder period of the year is from November to February. Irrespective of the climate, Hampi is open for visitors all round the year. Tourist crowd (and prices too!) drops during the summer & rainy seasons.