Located in north Karnataka, on the banks of the river Tungabhadra, is a city in ruins- Hampi. The erstwhile capital of Vijayanagara, Hampi today is a reminiscence of the glorious past of the wealthy Vijaynagara empire.
The city of Hampi and the city of Pompeii of the Roman Empire not only rhyme by names but also their status as ‘UNESCO World Heritage Sites’. Both are cities that have been devastated, one by nature and one by war.
The archaeological evidences of the ruins of Hampi mostly date between the 14th and 16th centuries. As one approaches the city, one can see structures cropping out of the green country side every now and then.
Hampi was the capital of the wealthy Vijayanagara kings who had fortified the capital as a defence from outside attacks. The city had as many as 7 concentric layers of walls around it, the outermost being about 15 kilometer from the center of the city.
However, the massive fortifications were unable to repulse the assault of the sultans of Deccan in the ‘Battle of Talikota, in 1565. The city was plundered over six months and then abandoned. Now only the innermost layer of the fortification is seen, some of which have been restored by the archaeological department.
The ruins of more than 1600 structures have survived the passage of time. These include forts, temples, market squares, shrines, defense check posts, water structures, memorial structures, etc.
The more imposing of the structures and buildings are the Vitthala temple, Virupaksha temple.
The Vitthla temple which is a fully developed temple with associated buildings within an enclosure with three entrance Gopurams, is the most exquisitely ornate structure on the site. A small monument of a chariot with two elephants located in the courtyards of the Vitthala temple, is probably the most photographed structure in Hampi. The other famous structure in Hampi, and one of the few temples in the area where prayers are still held, is the Virupaksha temple.
The Anjeyanadri Hill nearby, as per legend, is the ancient kingdom of Kishkinda- the birthplace of Hanuman from Ramayana.
The ruins of Hampi have been captivating visitors since decades. It is a grand open – air museum, with structures springing out of the greenery. It is difficult to explore Hampi in a day or two and hiring a guide is surely recommended, especially if you have an one day itinerary and dont have the leisure of time for self exploring. If you do have time in hand, hire a bicycle or bike and set out to explore the ruins on your own. Keep a day more to visit the the Daroji Bear Sanctuary, home to Indian sloth bears.
To reach : Overnight journey by train from Bangalore will take you to Hospet, the nearest station to Hampi. Hospet that is at a distance of 13 km from Hampi and taxis ply on this stretch.
- Evolve Back (earlier known as Orange County) offers the most luxurious stay at Hampi.
- Hampi’s Boulders and Heritage Resort Hampi have rooms in the range of INR 4000 – INR 6000 per night.
- Jungle lodges has a resort at Hampi that also comes with a packaged tour to the bear sanctuary. The tourism Department’s hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari, is located at Kamlapur, close to the Jungle Lodges.
- The Goan Corner and Gopi guest house are the most popular backpacker hotels here with budget rooms and great food.
Guide Map : A guide map of Hampi (courtesy : Hampi.in) may be downloaded here