hampi, Karnataka

Home to bygone ruins, rusty colors, and a breathtaking landscape, Hampi, the city of ruins, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the depths of hills and valleys in Karnataka. A delight for history buffs and architecture lovers, Hampi has over 500 ancient monuments, stunning temples, chaotic street bazaars, treasury building, and the fascinating ruins of the Vijayanagar empire. It is like a museum but an open one with 100 plus locations, which you can explore through a walk or a bicycle ride.

Hampi has its associations to olden times dating back to the mythological era of Ramayana and Mahabharat. It was the capital of the famous Vijayanagar Empire during the 1500 AD and the second largest city in the world during that time. It was also a major part of the Mauryan empire, the evidence for which can be seen through the architectures. Over a period, Hampi grew out of significance and is no more than a city in ruins now which can be explored all day.

The city is mysteriously enclosed by huge boulders on all sides which can be climbed with some efforts to get a magnificent view of the entire landscape. Hampi is located on the banks of Tungabhadra River and is renowned for its intricately carved temples and edifices such as the Virupaksha Temple, devoted to the patron deity of the empire. Some remains of the old aqueducts, canals, military barracks, and stables can also be found here. The city was designated as a UNESCO site in 1986 and still gives authentic vibes of the bygone era as very limited modern establishments have been allowed near the area. A must place to visit for all the history, architecture, arts, and travel lovers.

Hampi History

The city of ruins and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi has officially been in existence since the Mauryan empire,but mythical folklores take it back to the age of Ramayana and Mahabharat. The area was earlier known as Pampa Kshetra or KishkindhaKshetrawhich was derived from the old name of Tungabhadra River, Pampa. So, Hampi is basically an anglicized form of the Kannada name Hampe.

The first settlements of Hampi dates to the 1st century AD, and numerous Buddhist sites concerning to that time have been discovered nearby. Hampi had been a significant part of the Mauryan empire during the 3rd century BC for which there are several evidence. The rock monuments found in the Bellary district were commonly used for recording information during the period of Ashoka. Vijayanagar City came into existence in 1336 AD and was ruled by four different dynasties, for which Hampi had been the capital for all of them. The Vijayanagar empire rose to prestigious heights under the rule of King Krishnadeva Raya of the Tuluva dynasty.

Hampi Vijayanagar Empire:

Also known as Karnata Rajya, the Vijayanagar Empire was established in 1336 AD by Harihra I and Bukka Raya I of the Sangama Dynasty. The empire rose to power by fighting off Islamic invasion towards the end of the 13th century. Vijayanagar Empire was known for its efficient governance and strong trade connections abroad which helped Southern India rise to new heights in both technology and fine arts. Several architectural specimens in the form of temples and palaces to showcase their mastery can be seen in Hampi. Intricate engravings of horses or yali (hippogryphs) can be found standing around 8 feet tall on temple pillars are some of the architectural elements of the Vijayanagar empire. The ruins, the concert halls, bazaars, and stones speak of the excellence of Vijayanagar Empire.

Some Mythological Associations of Hampi :

  • Hampi is also associated with the epic Ramayana that says when Lord Ram and Lord Lakshman reached the Land of Monkeys known as Kishkindha, the place is believed to be Hampi.
  • It also has a huge temple known as Lakshmi Narasimha Temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. The intricately designed pillars showcase different phases of Prahalad’s life, who was afervent devotee of Lord Vishnu and whose demon father was killed by Lord Narasimha. Lord Narasimha’s killing of demon king Hiranyakashyap is depicted here in the form of eloquent carvings.
  • Hampi is also associated with the Mahabharat character Bheema when he was on his way to a pond to get some flowers but was interrupted by a big old money. When prodded, Bheem couldn’t move its tail and realized that its Lord Hanuman himself. There is a gate called Bheem’s Gate in Hampi which depicts the incident took place somewhere in the area.

Hampi Archaeological Ruins

Sprawled in an area of 30 square kilometers, there are several archaeological ruins and monuments in Hampi that are preserved in ideal condition and are visited by numerous travelers from across the globe. Monuments such as Virupaksha and Vitthala temples are one of the most famous and visited monuments but one stroll through the city and you will witness several other not so popular temples and palaces that are equally fascinating. Mostly the archaeological ruins of Hampi are in the northern part of the city while the rest of them are scattered across the city.

Places to Visit in Hampi

The major tourist spots here can be divided into two parts – Hampi Bazar area and the Royal Center near Kamalapuram.

Hampi Bazaar Area:

  • Virupaksha Temple - This 15th century temple is in HampiBazaarand one of the ancient monuments in the city. The temple is 50 meter high and is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva and the main deity of the empire.
  • Hemakuta Hill - Located south of Virupaksha temple and houses ancient ruins, Jain temples, and gigantic sculptures of Lord Vishnu and Lord Narasimha. The hill also offers an excellent view of the Hampi Bazaar.
  • Vittal Temple - Constructed in the 16th century, Vittal Temple is known for its carvings and designs which givesa glimpse into the Vijayanagar architecture. The outer pillars in the temple are known for producing sound when tapped and hence, they are called as musical pillars.
  • Achyutaraya Temple - Located between Hampi Bazaar and Vittal Temple, the deserted Sule Bazaar and the majestic Achyutaraya temple is situated.
  • The Royal Center:

    • Lotus Mahal - This is a detailed designed pavilion within a walled compound, called the Zenana Enclosure. Depicting a blend of Indo-Islamic architecture with the lotus bud carved on its domed and vaulted ceiling, which gets it its name.
    • The Elephant Quarter - It is adjacent to the Zenana Enclosure and is a domes shaped structure which housed royal elephants at medieval times.
    • Archaeological Museum - Showcases relics belonging to the Vijayanagar empire such as sculptures and even utensils of that time.

    Anegundi is another famous tourist area which is a fortified place north of Hampi Bazaar and has several ancient temples around it. Some other attractions in Hampi that must also be visited are:

    • Daroji Bear Sanctuary - A protected forest area which is the primary habitat of the Indian Sloth bears.
    • Tungabhadra Dam -  A picturesque dam on the nearby Tungabhadra River; the place has many flamingoes and lots of greenery.
    • Hippie Island -  A nearby island, with lovely sandy beach, sunset views, and restaurants with live music.
    • Sanapur Lake -  A beautiful lake surrounded by rocks and boulders.
  • Hampi Utsav – Also known as Vijaya Utsav, this is a festival honouring the cultural richness of Hampi, and is usually celebrated during the first week of November, for 3 days across the city
  • Maha Shivaratri – A festival dedicated to Lord Shiva
  • Ganesh Chaturthi – A festival where Lord Ganesh – the elephant headed God (who is also the son of Lord Shiva) is worshipped
  • Navrathri – A 10-day Hindu festival, where Goddess Durga is worshipped
  • Deepavali – The festival of Lights; India’s most popular and widely celebrated festival
  • Naga Panchami – Where snakes are worshipped and offered milk; a tribute to Snake deity/God

Following is a list of some of best restaurants in Hampi to try the local delicacies as well as sumptuous meals:

  • Mango Tree Restaurant
  • Laughing Buddha
  • Funky Monkey Restaurant
  • Ganesh Old Chillout
  • Hampi Roof Restaurant
  • Gauthami Restaurant
  • Suresh Restaurant
How to Reach
  • By Air: The nearest airport from Hampi is in Bellari Vidyanagar at 35km away but it has limited flights. Hubballi is the next nearest airport at 217km away, but Bengaluru is the major international airport connection all cities in India.
  • By Train: Hospet is the nearest railway station at 12km away offering access to all cities in Karnataka. Bellari city also has train connectivity from other neighboring cities as well.
  • By Road: Hampi can be reached through all cities in Karnataka via state-run buses. You can also hire taxis directly to Hampi and rental service is there at Hampi for two and four wheelers.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Why is Hampi famous?

Hampi is a UNESCO heritage site and is a well-preserved tourists spot of olden ruins. Several ancient monuments and temples from the Mauryan and Vijayanagar empire can be seen here, and the city still hold the charm of the bygone days with a serene atmosphere and stunning landscape.

What are the top places to see in Hampi?

Some of the top places to visit in Hampi are: Virupaksha temple, Vithala temple, Lotus Palace, Yantrodharaka Hanuman Temple, Hampi Bazaar, and Hippie Island.

Hampi is in which state?

Hampi is in the southern state of Karnataka.

Who built Hampi?

Hampi was founded by Harihra I and Bukka Raya I of the Sangama Dynasty in 1336 AD.

Where to stay in Hampi?

There are numerous hotels and heritage resorts near Hampi where you can stay during your tour.

Who destroyed Hampi?

Hampi was destroyed during the battle of Talikota in 1565, which was a coalition of Muslim Sultanates with the Vijayanagar empire. They caught and beheaded the king Aliya Rama Raya and demolished a major portion of the architecture and infrastructure fabric of Hampi and the metropolitan Vijayanagar.

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