A kaleidoscopic cloud hangs in the sky and is about to burst! At the approach of the spring equinox, on Phalguna Purnima, the sound of chartbusters like ‘O rang barse bheege chunar waali rang barse’ and ‘Balam Pichkari’ can be heard on every street corner. You see people dressed in white leave their homes to brighten up the neighborhood. They celebrate with friends by colouring every piece of cloth and extending the truce to their enemies by colouring their faces. You see foreigners carrying local children on their shoulders and throwing gulal at everyone. The joy of playing with colours becomes even more magical in the backdrop of mountains and ancient temple ruins.
This is a snapshot of Holi in Hampi, a vibrant experience in the village of architecture, mythology, and heritage.
Even though Holi is not widely celebrated in South India, Hampi, also known as the ‘City of Ruins,’ drenches itself in colours on this day. Hampi is best known for its stunning Vijayanagara ruins and temples, as well as its distinctive rocky landscape. The Holi celebrations in this small town are worth seeing and participating in.
The people of Hampi celebrate spring by drumming and dancing with zeal. They dress up in white and gather along the banks of the Tungabhadra River to enjoy the festivities. The city reflects the charm of an era gone by, as one is transported back to the middle ages when one sees Holi played in the ruins of the Vijayanagara Kingdom.
[Also read: Hampi – An Essential Sanctum for the History Lover]
Hampi Holi in History
Holi has been the only festival whose purpose has changed over the years, and the only festival that has single-handedly built a culture of art, social equilibrium, and brotherhood. It was Holi that enabled the forward-thinking Krishnadevraya, emperor of the Vijayanagara empire, to give the king a platform to connect with his subjects, informally. In the Indian Museum, one can find a granite relief dating back to the 15th century, depicting the Holi festival from Hampi, Karnataka. In describing the relief, an Italian traveller of King Devaraya’s time, Niccolo De Conti wrote in his travelogue:
“There are also three other festival days, during which they sprinkle all passers-by, even the king and queen themselves, with saffron water, placed for that purpose by the wayside. This is received with much laughter.”Niccolo De Conti
Here’s a picture of the relief. You can see the prince and princess being sprayed with water from pichkaris (water guns filled with coloured water) by the dancers.
Holi in Hampi Today
Hampi is one of the best places to visit in South India for Holi celebrations. For two days, Hampi celebrates Holi with a sport of tones and shades. The vibrant environment, free-flowing colours, music, and dance create a wave that draws people from all over the world.
The festival begins the night before with a bonfire, in which a large effigy of the demonic Holika is burned to symbolise the annihilation of evil. The next day, people smear bright powders and paints on each other in the colourful streets. Colours are used to decorate temples where Holi celebrations are held. The whole town turns out to play Holi in the morning, amid drumming, dancing, and the evocative ruins of the grand Vijayanagar empire are alive with colours.
The day of Holi becomes a beautiful sight of people splashing colours and dancing to drum beats against the backdrop of the ruins of the Vijayanagar empire. Its mesmerising boulder-strewn landscape, interspersed with enchanting ruins and temples, evokes a sense of surrealism and timelessness. By the end of the festival, the locals are drenched in water colours. It is also customary to wash those colours off the body by jumping in the river. After a long day of dancing, singing, and splashing around, people like to spend the evening stargazing with a cold beverage in hand!
Holi in Hampi is the epitome of India’s unity and diversity. It is a perfect amalgamation of different cultures and lifestyles on the same platform, with people coming from all over the country and the world. It is regarded as a new beginning, a brotherhood of all races, cultures, and religions. During the Holi festival, there is a spirit of togetherness and equality as people from all backgrounds and walks of life celebrate and have fun together. When Indians and foreigners throw gulal on each other, going from place to place while laughing and chuckling out loud, it appears as if they have known each other for years. When all language barriers are forgotten, mutual smearing with a thick brew of paint and water results in an instant friendship. Through colours, arts and music, explorations and gatherings, Holi in Hampi will truly allow you to unravel the mystique and soak in the magic of the place.
[Also Read: Holi Celebrations in Mathura & Vrindavan]
When is Holi celebrated in Hampi?
Holi in Hampi will be celebrated on March 17 and 18, 2022. Make the most of the upcoming long Holi weekend by heading to Hampi for Holi!
Where can you celebrate Holi in Hampi?
In Hampi, Holi is celebrated primarily on and around the banks of the river Tungabhadra.
How to Reach Hampi from Bangalore
Hampi is well-connected to Bangalore by road via NH 48 & NH 50. The road from Bangalore to Hampi lets you slowly escaping from the city into pure nature. The distance between Bangalore and Hampi on this route is somewhere around 350 KM and takes less than 6 hours. You can opt for a Bangalore to Hampi cab for an amazing road trip experience. And if you wish to explore more of Hampi, hire a reliable car rental with a driver in Hampi to take you around.
There is no direct flight service between Bangalore to Hampi. There are two airports nearby – Bellary Airport (BEP) at 60 KM and JSW Vidyanagar Airport (VDY) at 40 KM away. There are also no regular flights but only 4 weekly flights between Bangalore and these cities. You can book a flight to either of these places from Bangalore to Hampi. For your Bangalore to Hampi flight booking, visit any online travel portal or check with airline’s direct website.
You can also travel from Bangalore to Hampi by train. The nearest railhead is in Hosapete/Hospet. There are a total of 5 trains, of which 2 are daily trains that run from Bangalore to Hampi. The train distance from Bangalore to Hampi is about 406 KM and could take between 8 to 12 hours, depending on the train. The fastest train is MYSORE-SAINAGAR SHIRDI EXPRESS (16217). For all train bookings from Bangalore to Hampi, visit any online travel portal or Indian Railways’ website for latest information.
How to Reach Hampi from Hyderabad
Hampi is well-connected to Hyderabad by road via NH167 and Raichur Rd. The distance between Hyderabad and Hampi on this route is somewhere around 378 KM and takes a little over 8 hours. You can opt for a Hyderabad to Hampi cab for an amazing road trip experience. And if you wish to explore more of Hampi, hire a reliable car rental with a driver in Hampi to take you around.
Nearest Airport in Hyderabad is Rajiv Gandhi International Airpor. Jindal Vijaynagar Airport (VDY) is a small airport near Hampi (35km from Hampi) with flights from Hyderabad. HYD – VJD flight is about about an hour. Fare are typically in the range of Rs 2000 – Rs 3000. For your Hyderabad to Hampi flight booking, visit any online travel portal or check with airline’s direct website.
You can also travel from Hyderabad to Hampi by train. The nearest railhead is in Hosapete/Hospet. There are a total of 2 trains that run from Hyderabad to Hampi. The train distance from Hyderabad to Hampi is about 312 KM and could take between 9 to 14 hours, depending on the train. The fastest train is Hyderabad-Kolhapur Express (11303). For all train bookings from Hyderabad to Hampi, visit any online travel portal or Indian Railways’ website for latest information.