Hampi has stood as one of the finest capitals of the erstwhile Vijayanagara dynasty. Looking at the ruins, it is hard to imagine that at one point in time Hampi was the second largest city in the world. Today, Hampi is a UNESCO world heritage site with governments making continuous efforts to restore of whatever is left. Situated on the banks of Tungabhadra, Hampi is renowned for its beautifully carved temples. The town offers a peek into history with its palace ruins, markets, buildings, etc. The serenity and scenic beauty of this place will take you back in time.
According to Ramayana, Hindus believe that Hampi was earlier the Kingdom of Vanars (monkeys) then named Kishkinda dating back to around 1 CE, even before the rise of the Vijayanagara Kingdom. The Vijayanagara rulers were known for their absolute devotion to Lord Vishnu and their impeccable taste in art & architecture. The heritage sites and monuments in Hampi stand as a testament to this glorious vision of the Vijayanagara Kings.
Like an oasis amidst lawns and arid surroundings, the Zenana enclosure served as a dedicated place for the royal women. The enclosure has four structures, largest of which was meant for the Queen. The Zenana enclosure is situated on the northeastern side of the Royal Center which has two towers in the north and southeast.
The Bellary Gudda hill houses both the upper and the lower part of the Bellary fort. Hanumappa Nayaka built the upper fort during the time of the Vijayanagar rule. Later, a French architect under Hyder Ali’s rule built the lower fort and renovated the upper fort as well. The Kumbara Gudda, which is at a higher elevation to the Bellary Gudda, was seen as the biggest flaw in the construction of the Bellary fort as it gave away the secrets of Hyder Ali’s Royal Command. For this reason, it is said that Hyder Ali executed the French engineer and his grave is located in the fort’s eastern gate.
The Virupaksha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located on the banks of the Tunga River and is considered as one of the greatest architectural endeavours in Hampi. The temple has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site and the inscriptions inside the temple date back to 10th-12th century BC. Although most of the city’s fine monuments and temples have become ruins, the Virupaksha temple has not lost its grandeur and is fully intact. Hence, it is considered as one of the most important pilgrimage sites. The temple festival takes place every year in the month of December and February.
Vijaya Vittala Temple
Another magnificent monument in Hampi is the Vijaya Vittala temple of Lord Vishnu constructed by the Vijayanagar Empire. There is a stone chariot in the front of the temple and a shrine dedicated to the eagle god – Garuda. Some of the pillars in the temple are in ruins post the British era. Still, the temple stands as a perfect place to indulge in an artistic trance. Some of the other historically significant places to visit in Hampi include the King’s Balance, the Achyuta Raya Temple, the Archeological Museum, the Queen’s Bath, the Elephant Stables, the Hazara Ram Temple, and the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple.
Explore Hampi through the eyes of a hippie
Other than the historically significant sites, the hippie island is another famous tourist attraction in the city of Hampi. Virupapura Gadde is a small village along the banks of the Tungabhadra River where several foreign nationals visit, trek, relax and meet other people. A small motorboat ride will take you on the other side of the river and amidst a whole new experience. The locals in the village are fluent in English, and the stay is also pretty affordable. The guesthouses are not at par with their service, but the view is all that will matter.
If you’re looking to go on a road trip to Hampi, we recommend you book a Bangalore to Hampi cab. The shacks across the Tungabadhra river are extremely affordable, and some of them have nice gardens and space to lounge. If you’re looking for a nice lunch by the river, head to The Laughing Buddha. We recommend staying at Sunny’s – they offer clean rooms, good food and also have a solar water heater. On the temple side of Hampi, we highly recommend eating at Mango Tree Restaurant.