Guide on Top places to visit in Hampi & much more..

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This post speaks about the crowning glory of the Vijayanagara Empire which was in existence from 1336 to 1565 and provides details about Hampi tourism complete travel guide.  Time has moved since then, but the works of the architects, builders and visions of the Kings of Vijayanagara remain for travellers and visitors to see. In this post, I would be speaking about the top sights in Hampi to visit.

Come November of 2019, and I found myself travelling on a road trip which led to me to Hampi( Do read about my journey by road here ). As  I was nearing my destination, seeing the topography of the land changing, I browsed some articles, and this couplet from an anonymous writer struck me …

Oh Hampi ..
I get your calling ..
And i am longing to see you and hear You 
Oh Hampi, you are the oasis in the realm of aloofness where i wander ..
Virupaksha Temple seen in the early dawn moonlight

Hampi tourism complete travel guide

Brief History

In the year 1336 AD, during the reign of Edward III of England, a remarkable event occurred far away to the East of the world and one which passed unnoticed amongst all those who were relevant during that time.

That event was the foundation of the city and the Kingdom of Vijayanagara. Founded by two brothers known as Harihara and Bujja, who chose a stunning strategic location on the banks of the Tungabhadra to build the mighty city of Vijayanagara in the shape of a cosmic diagram.

Birth of Hampi …

The kingdom of Vijayanagara attained dizzying heights under the reign of  Krishnadevaraya who doubled the size of the Empire. It always takes a visionary to build something long-lasting, and Krishnadeyaraya was one such visionary who encouraged and amalgamated the mix of the artistic, intellectual and literary creativity. No wonder we need to visit the top 24 places in Hampi.

Readers will be amazed to know that Hampi was at one point in History the second largest city in the world, salvaged from the wrecks of three greatest Empires of Southern India – The Pallavas, Chalukyas and the mighty Cholas. No wonder it was named Vijayanagara – The Hindu city of Victory. Accounts of various historical travellers have noted that Hampi was the city which had the World’s most extensive collection of diamonds. Ref : A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagara by Robert Sewell

The fading away of Hampi …

So this was Hampi as its height of glory and like all things with time, the Kingdom declined on account of low calibre Kings who could not sustain the governance and strength needed. So the war that saw the penultimate defeat and destruction of the Kingdom resulted in all the temples ( more than 2500 of them )smashed and buildings set on fire. It is said the work of destruction took almost a year relentlessly done day and night.

The ruins of Hampi

Hampi after the Vijayanagara Empire.

Hampi, as it is now known remains as it was; abandoned almost deserted a strange haunting and surreal landscape of massive boulders, dusty red earth mingled with bright green fields and plantations. In case one is discerning the remains of mighty walls, gateways, arches and intricately carved temples speak their presence and glory loudly however time has moved on in Hampi indeed.

Hampi tourism complete travel guide- Cond…

For whom Hampi is an ideal destination

Hampi is like an addiction to those set of individuals who are keen in history, art and architecture. With over 400 temples unearthed by ASI, this region is pure gold in terms of getting up close with ancient India history and its architecture. Hence the theme of the post “Top 24 places to visit in Hampi”.

Second set !

Hampi also calls out to those from across the globe who wish to chill and relax in laid back surroundings amidst outward landscapes. The hippie culture is quite prevalent in the outskirts of Hampi and attracts visitors from far and wide.

Third Set !

Then there are those set of travel bloggers for whom Hampi is an essential bucket list destination and needs to be visited because they arrive to see, document and then spread far and wide the history and the allure of this place. Hampi tourism complete travel guide describing the top sights in Hampi, would definitely help them in forming their own check-off list.

So if you belong to one of these three broad categories, then Hampi is the place that is waiting for you. In case you don’t relate to any of the above three even then just hit the road and reach Hampi. Believe me; you will not go back disappointed after having seen the top places in Hampi. So then let’s foremost begin an account of top sights to see in Hampi which will be followed by further essential info as a part of the Hampi tourism complete travel guide

Top Sights in Hampi

As a part of Hampi tourism complete travel guide I have listed down the top 24 sights in Hampi :-

Virupksha TempleKadalekalu Ganapati
Sasivekalu Ganapati Krishna Temple
Kadalekalu Ganapati Urga Narasimha
Hemakunta HillPathaleshwara Temple
Lotus MahalElephant Stable
Hajara Rama TempleMahanavami Dibba
Stepped PushkarniGanagithi Temple
Talari Gatta Gate Vijaya Vittala Temple
Arasara ThulabharaVyasaRaja Matha
Achyutha Raya TempleMatanga Hill
Monolithic BullTungabhadra River /Coracle
Anjanadri Betta Octagonal Bath

There are a few more that I have omitted, but the above sights will saturate you, especially in the time frame that one will be staying in Hampi. In case anyone wishes to know a few more additional views just connect with me, and I will discuss the details.

Outline of Hampi

The top 24  sights in Hampi

Virupksha Temple

The crowing star of Hampi and oldest of all temples. The only temple which was not ravaged by the invaders, Virupksha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Pampadevi. The shiva lingam is the Virupksha. It is a reasonably big temple complex and houses numerous shrines. Dominated by entrance towers known as Gopuras, the central tower is 165 ft tall ( Eleven stories to give a perspective ) known as Bistappa Gopura.

Note: Visit the temple in the morning around seven to steer clear of the massive build-up of the crowd during the day time. Alternately one can also visit around 7 in the evening.

Kadalekalu Ganapati

A monolithic sculpture 18 feet tall and housed in a big inner sanctum. The Ganesha belly resembles a Bengal Gram hence the name Kadalekalu Ganapati. This sculpture is situated on the slopes of the Hemakunta Hill and finds itself in the top 24 places to visit in Hampi.

Note: Try to visit in the morning before the sun climbs up in the sky to get a clear excellent photograph else the bright sun will result in a darkened image of the idol.

Sasivekalu Ganapati

Sasivekalu Ganapati is a 12 feet monolithic structure installed in an open mandapa structure on the right side of the Kadalekalu Ganapati. Lord Ganesha in a lotus position with four arms displayed here. Legend says that Lord Ganesh tied a snake around his belly to stop his craving for food and the same is seen sculpted on the idol.

Krishna Temple

One of the most opulent ruins, Krishna Temple, was built in celebration of the conquest of the kingdom of Gajapathi. The main idol was a Bala Krishna Idol which is presently housed in a museum in Chennai. The temple consists of dancing halls, intricate pillars proclaiming the life of Lord Krishna. There are multiple small shrines in the main compound with numerous carvings and arches.

Note: This is one of the most photogenic temple spots in the whole of Hampi to do some portraiture shoots of human subjects against the backdrop of structural frames. So plan accordingly and avoid visiting during harsh sunlight. Primary in top 24 places to visit in Hampi.

I hope the readers are finding the list of Top sights to visit in Hampi as a part of Hampi tourism complete travel guide useful. Do keep noting these down in your checklist which you will find useful once you reach Hampi.

Badav Linga

Along the Kamalapura road, if one walks ahead, there comes a mandapa which contains a shiva linga made of black stone. Of all the Shiva lingams in the Hampi region, this is the most massive. The uniqueness out here is the presence of a canal within the inner precincts of the temple. The presence of water ensures that the Shivalinga is submerged in water, especially in the monsoon months.

Note: There is no more permission to enter the inner sanctum of the mandapa with a locked gate installed. The net will spring images of a local priest praying the Shivalinga, in case one wishes to frame this kind of a visual, please speak to the local priest whos sits near this mandapa in the morning and evenings.

Urga Narasimha

The largest of all idols in Hampi, 22 feet tall and carved out of a single stone. Built-in 1528 during the reign of  Krishna Devaraya. Formerly it was known as Laxmi Narasimha view goddess Laxmi sculpture adorning the Narasimha idol. However, ever since the statue of Goddess Lakshmi was damaged, it came to be known as Urga Narsamimha.

Note: Visit the idol during dramatic monsoon skies to get the full essence of Urga Narasimha, the most terrifying of all Vishnu Avatars.

Hemkunta Hill

Hemkunta Hill consists of a cluster of temples on a stony hillock overlooking the Virupksha temple. This place, however, is renowned for the soul-stirring sunsets which one can witness amid the landscape of temples and surrounding hills.

Historically speaking, most of the shrines out here  dedicated to Lord Shiva, and when Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati (Pampa ) it rained gold over the hill hence the name Hemakunta ( hill of gold )

Note: Sunsets is what one needs to watch from here so arrive well in time and look around the various shrines and after that set yourself up to experience one of the gorgeous sunsets that you will ever see if weather conditions are right.

Top Sights in Hampi ,Contd….

Pathaleshwara Temple

The uniqueness of the temple is that it built below the ground level. The inner sanctum contains a Shiva Linga opposite to which is the Nandi. A canal flows within the inner sanctum and sanctum is home to bats and owls. Also called Prasanna Virupksha Temple. The shiva linga is no more there, or maybe the remains are submerged.

Note: I tried to reach the inner sanctum however backed down on account of dim natural light as well as the thought of water snakes in the cold black water, depth of which was not verifiable as one proceeded further inside. So avoid going into the inner sanctum.

Lotus Mahal

Also known as Chithrangini Mahal, built with inspiration from the Mughal style of architecture. The temple is made from a paste of limestone and sand and is multi-layered. Taking inspiration from a lotus in its construction, the unique architecture ensures that water flows to the lower floor walls from the top floor walls, thus ensuring that the entire temple remains cool irrespective of the temperature. Surrounded by a garden, this is one of the top sights in Hampi and amongst the most lively places to spend some pleasurable time.

Note. This is a paid visiting point, and the tickets purchased at Vitthala temple are valid here.

Elephant Stables.

They were designed as shelters for royal elephants. Abdur Razzak, ambassador of the Timurid Central in the Year 1443 noted in his memoirs that the empire had a thousand elephants with bodies like mountains, magnificent beasts housed in their enclosures in splendid stables.I guess what visible today is only a fraction of the grandeur of the Vijayanagara empire and the glorious past.

Hajara Rama Temple

The name of the temple is something that has still not been ascertained accurately. However, it finds a place among the most beautiful of all architecture in Hampi . The quality of the temple is second to none, and there is a particular delicacy to the entire construction.

In the strips of marbles, there are figurines carved. These denote the various Yoga postures as well as different Hindu gods and goddesses. Furthermore are series of Dashavatharas and Vaishnava gods. In all, there are 48 series out here.

 Opposite to the temple is a vast open area which in the heydays was for animal sacrifice. Domingo Paes, a Portuguese traveller, talks about one particular year of Mahanavami wherein close to 250 buffaloes and 4500 sheep were sacrificed. Think about this and the scenario which would have transpired on that specific day in History.

Note. The entire temple is no more functioning and hence is an ideal location for some creative portraiture photoshoot.

Mahanavami Dibba

A large podium 22 feet high and 80 feet wide, built to mark the victory over Odisha. The beauty of this has been described in the memoirs of various foreign travellers. The podium was used for entertaining foreign dignitaries as well as for various community gatherings.

Note. I visited this place in mid-noon; hence my frames have been blown out because of harsh sunlight, consider visiting the area around 10 am.

Pushkarni

Just ahead of Mahanavami, there is this beautiful pond below the ground level. The sides of the lake consist of a series of levels with each level in a series of 5 steps. The width of these steps increases as one goes downwards portraying a fantastic symmetry to the whole architecture.

Note: It is no more permitted to go down these steps on account of ASI instructions and the presence of a sentry.

Top sights in Hampi, contd…

The top sights of Hampi are too exhaustive to attempt to encomapss them in totality however this Hampi tourism complete travel guide is an attempt to showcase at least majority of them which can be used as a reference checklist for individual readers to populate the same with additional places which they would have visited.

Ganagitti Mahal.

A less visited monument , built by the army chieftain during the reign of King Harihara dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. Thus making it among the oldest temples of the Vijayanagar kingdom.

Talari Gatta Gate

Talari Gatta means toll, and this depicts the intent of this unique Gate on the main road to the city of Vijayanagara. Remains of the single structure cans still be seen. The royal gate would have been imposing back in the days of the Empire.

Vijaya Vittala Temple

Built-in the 14 century, this uniqueness of this temple is the presence of its 50 pillars. The pillars in a specific sequence produce sounds related to musical instruments like Mridangam, Damaru, Thalam etc.

Opposite to the Vittala temple and in the same compound we will come across the world-famous stone chariot of Hampi. Inspired by the Odisha architecture, carved out of a single granite rock. The other way to reach this temple is by using the river route from Virupaksha temple which takes one to various other temples and less used paths over a 3 km trail.

Note: There is a ticket which is needed to access the temple compound, and the same card is valid for the Lotus Mahal and elephant stables as well.One should

Arasara Thulabhara

This is the royal balance which was used by the Kings to distribute among the subjects precious stones and gold equivalent to their weight on certain religious occasions. It is indeed an imposing monument standing in the middle of nowhere. But then maybe in those days, the place would have been the centre of many activities. Who knows what History hides from us.

VyasaRaja Matha

Aloof and less visited, there is on the slopes of a rocky hillock an enclosure with a temple and three mandapas. This enclosure is said to be a Vaishnavite monastery – Vyasaraja’s Matha. Vyasaraja was the Raj-Guru of Vijayanagara kingdom.

Note: This place is reached by walking from the Arasara Thulabhara towards the Tungabhadra river and then turning left towards the direction of the Virupaksha Temple. Lots of caves around here and the presence of bears is a high possibility

Top sights in Hampi ,Contd….

Achyutha Raya Temple

A series of  mandapas is what the visitor sees when he/she reaches the Achyutharaya Temple. The temple compound and the area just beyond it was also known as the Sule Bazaar and it is said that sale of diamonds and precious stones used to be conducted here.

The main temple compound consists of a Kalyanamantapa which has rows of pillars. Built by Achyutharaya, in Dravidian style, it is an absolute beauty. There are numerous shrines inside the temple complex with the main being the Hattu Kai Amma or the goddess with ten hands, each holding a different weapon.

Note: Visit this place in the evening when it is cooler. Can be reached from the path leading to the Matanga Hill.

Matanga Hill.

This place is to be visited in the pre-dawn darkness; there is no other way to say this. If you wish to see the world-famous mesmerising sunrise over Hampi, Matanga Hill is the place. So one needs to be here by around 5 AM, and as the dawn breaks over a horizon of boulder laden hills, the sun rays fall on the Virupaksha temple. For the visitor, the entire effort of coming to Hampi is repaid a 1000 times over.

Note. Please carry a torch and if you are planning to come alone familiarise the previous day by asking locals or co-travellers the route. Nothing is worse than fumbling in the dark over gigantic boulder ridden narrow paths.

Monolithic Bull

Locally called as Yeduru Basavanna, the monolithic bull or Nandi marks the east end of the Virupksha Bazaar path. Housed in a storied twin pavilion, the size of the sculpture is the main attraction. Carved out of a single rock, I guess the other Nandi at the Tanjore Brihadeeshwara Temple is comparable in terms of size and structure.

Tungabhadra River and Coracle ride

Coracles, also known as Dongs are round boats that are traditionally used to ferry people and livestock across rivers. Made of bamboo can cater to 6 people at one time. One can take the coracle at the Tungabhadra Boat point.

Note: Lifejackets provided by the operator and the cost for one boat comes to around 800 rs. The location is the Kondada Rama Temple. Suggest going for a ride in the evening dusk as the vibes are magical.

Anjanadri Betta ( Monkey Temple )

Anjaneya Hill in Anegundi is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, and there is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman right on the very top. The temple holds high importance for worshippers of Hanuman and is reached after climbing around 600 steps.One of the top sights to visit in Hampi

Note: You will get an added advantage for your efforts to reach to the top as you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views of Hampi  from the top. Tungabhadra river flows through the hills, large spread paddy fields, banana plantation, green forest and boulders spread out till horizon adds to the frame. .I went to watch the sunrise from Anjaneya Hill and was not disappointed. This again is amongst the top 24 places to visit in Hampi

Octagonal Bath.

The structure, as the name indicates, was a large bathing area made in the shape of an octagon. There is a platform in the middle, and the boundary of the bath has numerous raised pillars to provide an awning kind of a structure.

Note: It is a place for some creative shoots, though a bit isolated view located in the middle of fields away from the main road leading into Hampi town. This concludes Top 24 places to visit in Hampi.

Additional Attractions in Hampi

In addition to the top sights in Hmpi described above one can visit and experience the following destinations as well.

Hippie Island Hampi.  

In the middle of the Tungabhadra river is the island, which is the icon of the hippie culture of Hampi tourism. Loads of guesthouses and a favourite with foreigners as well as city crowds and backpackers. The presence of alcohol, weed and meat coupled with deep groove music and late-night coffee  makes it indeed an irresistible option with many who come visiting Hampi

Elephant bathing ritual

Every day in the morning, the royal elephant of Virupksha temple comes down to the river to have a bath. Visitors are encouraged to come and mingle as well as get acquainted with the local people here.

Explore the local markets

The market which sits near the Virupksha temple caters to various curios as well as local handicrafts. A walk through this place is recommended to get a vibe of the local town.

Hampi tourism complete travel guide contd…

Hampi Travel

How to Reach: One has to reach Hospet, which is 12 km away. After that, one can hire an auto or ask the guesthouse to arrange one. Hospet can be reached by Road from Hubli ( 150 km ) or can be reached by train from Bangalore.

Alternately there are Volvo buses which run from Bangalore, Goa to Hampi and one can use that. In case one is coming from Mumbai, then the best bet is to reach Hospet/Hubli by train and then the remaining distance to be covered by road.

How to commute within Hampi. To see the top sights in Hampi we have two options, either hire an auto else to take a two-wheeler. I would suggest an auto as it is helpful and quick considering that time is of the essence to see the various places spread out all over. The GH will easily arrange for one, just tell them a day in advance.

Hampi Hotels

Where to Stay. I stayed at Gopi Guest House near the main street of Virupaksha Temple. There are sufficient Guest Houses available on the same street. Alternately one can stay at Hippie island and visit Hampi by crossing the river. Do book in advance before coming to Hampi. Please note all are basic stay options.

Hampi Weather

When to Visit Hampi. Well, my preference would be in winter or during the initial onset of Monsoons wherein the dramatic skies would present an alternate view of the monuments of Hampi.

Hampi places to eat

Where to Eat. One can eat the Guesthouse or hop into the next one if so desired. Also, my recommendations would be Mango Tree restaurant, Gopi GH café, as well as funky monkey café. I preferred to return to my GH for lunch as it was sumptuous and filling.

Essential Hampi Travel info

Mobile connectivity. It is patchy and sketchy. Jio was non-existent during my stay. However, Airtel supported me.

How many days are needed: Well, I have listed close to 24 monuments/locations to visit. These will easily take three days.  But having said that if you plan well and prioritise one can finish the major ones in two full days.  

Budget needed. Well, Hampi is cheap, and the only spend is the hotel charges coupled with meals. So I would say around 6000 INR would be a good bet.

Hampi tourism complete travel guide, additional practical tips

Book services of a guide through the GH. It is always preferable to have a guide when visiting the monuments.
No alcohol or meat is allowed within Hampi town.
Carry water bottle and some fruits along with some wet wipes as the day is going to be long.
Carry cash as cards do not work everywhere.
Hampi is safe fr everyone including solo women travellers.
Carry you own toiletries as well as medication as the hotels are all basic.
Comfortable shoes are a must along with cap and sunglasses.
All temples are closed from noon till three in evening.

In the end, I would only say that visit the top sights in Hampi else you will always wonder why does everyone rave about the monuments of Hampi or what is so special about witnessing a sunset/sunrise amidst the boulders of Hampi. Do also give a read about my visit to Badami out here

I hope the readers have found this Hampi tourism complete travel guide beneficial for them to plan their visit to Hampi.

In case you are interested in further visuals ranging from architecture to travel destinations , flora and fauna of India; so do click on below mentioned link

https://www.traveldreamsbysumit.com/

My recommended read on Kindle !!

An intimate account of self questioning and awareness with a focus to attain what the heart is yearning. This book by Radhanath Swami has been a delight to read everytime i turn the pages

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