If you are a backpacker the miraculous ancient place on land of India, Hampi is a perfect place to include in your Travel List.
If you know not that you can be religious enough just explore the rocks of Hampi and the boulders with the different temples around. Something will force you to explore the different of your self. Enveloped with the evidences of history of its own, with rock cut temples and towering piles of the boulders, and the hotspots of Hampi has fascination of its own. Situated in the Northern region of Karnataka, the temple town is a protected world heritage site under UNESCO.
It is easily accessible from Goa and Bangalore as the connectivity is extremely good. The Backpack solo trip will be a fun as you will indulge your soul into an aeon age of experience.
A journey into the battles, kings life, magnificent monuments and stories that will make you feel proud to be born in India. The essence is more endearing than any religious place on earth, I think a visit will make you feel it.
History of the city :-
The history of the city inspires you to read the dynasties that flourished during that time in India. So there are evidences of the mythical Kishkinda Vanara kingdom from the Ramayana, the Chalukyas of Badami, Hoysalas, Yadavas. There were evidences of the relics of the Ashokan empire, so the Mauryan empire too had extended to this part. The place was established by two kings Harihara and Bukka raya, who were the disciples of Swami Vidyaranya. The village is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital city of Vijayanagara Empire. The name Vijayanagar empire was a commemoration of the Swami. So you would know a lot about the history of a long period of the country.Vijay nagar is the most historical palace.
Situated strategically beside the Tungabhadra River it was also influenced by the myth of Lord Shiva marrying the daughter of Brahama, Pampa. Pamap is ancient name of Hampi. The ancient archaeological structure adds of the beauty of the tourism of the Karnataka state of India.
How to reach Hampi :-
Not very far from the nearest railhead; Hospet- JUST 12 KMS, the ruins of Hampi can be reached in no time. This station is connected with Goa to Bangalore trains. From the Hospet station you need to hire a tuk-tuk which will take you to the destination of places where you can unpack your backpack for your stay.
You can also get to this place from Gokarna in a bus which directly drops you at this place.
The two sides of Hampi–
Hampi gives space to everyone- even if they love solitude or feel lively with people around. So there is the Hampi Bazaar which is on the mainland(crowd loving people) and a small island across the river called Virpapura Gadde, or the Hippie Island Hampi. You have to experience both the places. Both of them are connected through the river stream Tugabhadra. So hire a ferry or a boat and travel across both the places and enjoy your hampi stay.
Both the places provides you with its magnificence- Hippie Island is the backpacker hub while Hampi Bazaar is a bit more local market where you can get anything you wish to as memory of the place.
Places to visit in Hampi
Being an ancient heritage site Hampi has got a lot of site seeing places with ruins and towers of boulders having and architectural importance of its own. You will be amazed to know that The Music Pillars of Hampi produces music when struck perfectly. The temples are known for its carvings and the figurines engraved within it.
You might have heard of Temple Elephants if you might have read R.K.Narayan’s books. The Man-Eater of Malgudi has a description of the importance of the temple elephants and how they are religiously considered a divine manifestation of love. One thing to look out for at Virupaksha Temple is the Local Elephant inside the temple… He’s always there been there for many years now..
Here are few places to visit in Hampi that one should not miss out.
Pattadakal Place, a UNESCO world heritage site not just a 3 hour drive from Hampi but an extension of the Chalukyan Empire should be visited. It is situated in Bagalakote, has a collection of temple edifice build by queens and not kings. The Chalukyan rulers were crowned as kings at Pattadakal. Hampi’s Virupaksha temple is the largest of all the collections of the Pattadakal temples
1. Virupaksha Temple
Virupaksha Temple, ‘the one with the oblique eye’ reminds of the mythological god Lord Shiva. A religiously important temple at Hampi dating back to 7th century AD, lists in the Group of the monuments preserved by the UNESCO, achieves a place in the list of the famous Karnataka tourist destinations. It is famous for the shrine of Lord Shiva. It was established to celebrate the victory of king Vikramaditya II over the Pallava of Kanchipuram. So it closely resembles the Pallava temple of Kailasnath at Kanchipuram. The Queen Lokhamahadevi had proposed the idea of the temple and built it, famous for its Dravidian style.
It is the evidence of the native art, craft and culture of the 14th century. The renovation in the 19th century added to the beauty and elegance to it. It has an addition of towers and ceiling paintings. There are courtyards, a pillared monastery, few small shrines; and entrance ways surrounding the temple. The inscriptions add to the beauty of the architecture.
The best time to visit this place is during the chariot season which is during February when the festival is celebrated enthusiastically. Virupaksha Temple Hampi has been functional for centuries even it lost some of its parts during attack by invaders to Southern Empire from outside India.
2. Vittala Temple
Vittala an aspect of lord Vishnu, is a holy place is situated in the Northeast of Hampi. A part of UNESCO world heritage site. It has got many interested features. It was built in the 16th century with the world famous stone chariot or rath on which the temple’s upper structure is situated.
Vittala temple is one of the three famous stone chariots in India, the other two being in Konark and Mahabalipuram. The wheels could have been turned but the government of India in the recent years cemented it. This was done to protect the structure from being damaged.
YES there are musical pillars in this structure known as Hampi musical pillars!!! You can hear different notes when struck properly. Each pillar which supports the roof of the temple is again supported by the pillar which represent musical instrument and has a specific tune to it. So, there are seven minor pillars along with the large ones.
The 7 pillars, when struck, emanate the 7 notes from the representative instrument, varying in sound quality based on whether it represents a wind, string or percussion instrument.
British tried to know the reason behind the notes. But found it to be hollow.
3. Lakshmi Narasimha
The enormous rock cut idol of lord Narsimha, one of the avatars of Vishnu Narasimha is the structure without a temple. The edifice which covers the head of the idol is the Sesha Naag the vahana or the carrier of lord Vishnu. Parts of Narsimha are destroyed yet a significant one.
Other temples in the group are- Kodandarama Temple, Krishna Temple, Sugriva’s cave, Sasvekalu Ganesha & Kadalekalu Ganesha, Badava Linga Temple, Hanuman Temple make it a pilgrimage site for Hindus. The Monolithic Bull is an evidence of moniolithic and neolithic ages.
Ruins of palaces, administrative buildings, and some temples directly associated with aristocracy are appreciated by the tourists. It delineates a picture of the culture and taste prevalent at that period. It is helpful to know the standards of our ancestors.
1. Elephants Stable
Elephants have always been the symbol of the strong military force and the Vijay nagar empire build the enormous elegant elephant stables hampi. The ceremonial royal elephants lived in this. The dome structures cannot deny the influence of the Islamic architecture.
2. Lotus Mahal
You would think that women back in the days of yore did not chill out as we today. Then let me open up your mind. This lotus mahal monument with a lotus dome was a place for the royal women to relax. They along with their maids loved to pass their time alone in solitude. So if you want to know how it feels to be in such a place then you need to visit this place.
Lotus Mahal is also known as Kamal Mahal or Chitrangini Mahal which inside the Zenana Enclosure. So there are private rooms, temples and servant quarters for the women.
The Architecture is known for its Indo-Islamic influence. The impeccable carvings on pillar arches of birds and the delicate art work add on to the Aesthetics sense of the place.
This place had a peculiar security structurally and also as per the manual management. The popular practice to have Eunuchs holding guards at Queens’ Palaces was present here as well. So enjoy the and relax with an endearing overview you get when you enter.
Queen’s Bath of the ancient period, reminding me of the Agrasen ki baoli of Delhi is a stepped bathing place of the queens. Pushkarani was a royal enclosure so no one else could have taken bath.Queen’s bath hampi is the popular place of hampi.
4. Octagonal Bath
A public bath rare to be found after the Indus Valley Civilization. It is stepped structure which has a beauty of its own. The architecture induce a feeling of the collective living our ancestors used to have.
5. Zenana Enclosure
Zenana means women, and so the enclosure pertains to the women of that period. All the structure had a good security. So the zenith of experience adds to the experience when you realize that women had their own space then to live.
6. The Underground Shiv Temple
This religious spot has an antaral the core of the sanctum. For some reasons the temple was meters inside the earth surface and due to this core part is submerged in water. This royal place has its importance of its own. The plain pillars also attract the attention of the tourists.
7. Old Palace
Located in Anegondi, this palace served as the center of the kingdom for many years. The remains of the edifice has traces how the administrative meetings and records were held.
8. King;s Balance
Although a part of the Sacred Monuments the edifice was ceremoniously relevant. It is just outside the Vitthal temple. It was when scales were hung from the transom, and the Raya (the emperor) was ceremonially weighed against gold or jewels. These were then distributed amongst people of the kingdom.
Other hampi sightseeing places – The Hampi Bazaar, Mahanavami Dibba, Daroji Bird sanctuary famous for sloth conservation are few different places which can be added to the list when you visit Hampi.
Books to read to know about Hampi
- Hampi: Discover the Splendours of Vijay nagar
- Golden Boulders
- Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom
- Berlitz: India Pocket Guide
Activities to do
- Camping – Although there are good accommodations but some times some places gives you space to enjoy its beauty in a different way. Here one great spot, among plenty of others, is Matunga hill. Can check out the sunrise and the sunset with shopping market around down the hill.
- Bouldering – The ruins and the loads of rocks and boulders catches the attention of of the climbers and the tour freaks. November and December are the best times of the year for bouldering in Hampi. It’s better to avoid the rainy season.
- Coracle Ride to Other side of the River- The best experiences is a ride in the coracle / boat to the Anjaneya hills. These are boats of special type. So when ever you happen to be here do enjoy the navigation of the different kind. Anjaneya Hills is the birth place of Lord Hanuman.
- Watching the sunset at hill in vijayanagara
Places to stay/Hotels in Hampi
Hampi has accommodation of all ranges. So as per the budget of your trip you can rent your stay the way you want to. Here are few best hotels/stay in hampi which I can suggest :-
- Kishkinda Heritage Resort – At the banks of the Tugabhadra river this resort is a lavish one.
- Murali Guest House
- Gopi Guest House
- Clarks Inn Hampi
- White Elephant Guest House
What to eat
Being in Karnataka you should not forget to have the famous dishes of this place. But you will find a lot of Israeli and Italian food available. So you can try any thing you wish with the local food. There are cafes which provides good service with soothing music to let you engross in the ambiance of the place.
Ensure that you Insure your hampi trip because fun comes when you have a long visit to places you love. The solo trip will make you feel independent but the trip insurance will help you regulate your trip logistics.