72 Hours In Hampi, Home Of India’s Architectural Wonders
It boasts an important historic past and a remarkable, tranquil present.
In a country as rich in culture as India, it can be challenging to find a place that truly stands out. Yet, despite the cultural diversity dotted the country’s north all the way to the south, one destination in India’s geographic centre boasts an important historic past and a remarkable, tranquil present.
Once the stunning capital of the Vijayanagar Empire, Hampi is situated around seven hours from Bangalore and nine to 10 from Goa. With stunning 14th century temples and uniquely scattered boulders on the outer rim of the town, there’s always something to do.
Hampi is blessed with gorgeous scenery so, however you choose to get around, it pays to take your time. By bicycle is the best way to explore, but you can also take a rickshaw or hire a motorbike. The roads aren’t the best, but the views and majestic attractions waiting for you on the other side make the proverbial hike worthwhile.
Join The Party
Hampi knows how to put on a show, with the city’s largest festival taking place annually in the first week of November. The Hampi Festival sees music, shows and fireworks over three days in celebration of the city’s cultural richness and significance. Think Holi on a smaller scale – and without the palettes of paint.
You can’t take a trip to Hampi without seeing its famed UNESCO World Heritage-listed ruins. Virupaksha Temple is beautifully designed and has remained largely untouched since it was built.
The Elephant Stables, a sprawling structure built to provide shelter for the royal elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire, and underground Shiva Temple – one of the city’s oldest and most unique in construction – are equally deserving of your time. Entry to Virupaksha Temple, the Elephant Stables and the Shiva Temple varies, but generally will set you back around $10 (INR500).
The nearby Vitthala complex is home to the stone chariot, an intricately carved and once-functional shrine dedicated Garuda, a figure from Hindu mythology. Entry and golf-buggy transfer to the temple costs around $10 (INR500), and it’s well worth it.
Considering the ruins sprawl over a total 26km, you could (and should) spend a couple of days in Hampi if you’re keen to take it all in.
Head Across The River
Hampi Bazaar may be the epicentre of town, but the equally lively Virupapur Gadde – situated just across the Tungabhadra River – draws a crowd, too. Peppered with lodges and guesthouses and surrounded by verdant greens and rice paddies, the popular tourist area is only a cheap boat ride across the river.
If you’re looking for somewhere to socialise with locals and other travellers, Virupapur Gadde is the place to go. Rock climbing and bouldering are also popular here, while Sanapur Lake is beautifully serene.
If a full day of temple chasing has worn you out and if the weather permits (which it usually does), visitors to Hampi have their pick of a growing number of restaurants. Vegetarians, particularly, will be stoked with the number of dining options, as Hampi is typically a meat-free zone.
Southern Indian dishes like roti, chutney, soups, rice and spiced vegetables are available at most restaurants, but shop around and you’ll find international cuisine, too. Mango Tree, Suresh, Laughing Buddha and Hampi Roof Restaurant are good options.
Taking in the sunset in Hampi is one of the best (free) things to do. The Hanuman Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple, provides an epic vantage point, or Matanga Hill is the most popular spot for epic views.
With all the things to do in Hampi, it really is a place to have some me time. Read a book, meditate or practise yoga. And don’t be surprised if you end up staying longer than you anticipated.
How To Get There
(Lead image: Drouyn Cambridge / Flickr)