1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hampi Travel Guide

Discussion in 'Destination Guides' started by Debapriya Deb, Sep 4, 2015.

  1. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    Hampi is a place where the stones tell the story of its glorious past. It is home to some of the finest rock carvings of all time. Hampi boasts of several exceptional architectural marvels that were crafted to perfection. A visit to the ruins of Hampi can take you back in to the sprawling medieval city that used to be the capital of Vijaynagar Empire in the 14th century. All the historical structures at Hampi are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

    Hampi is located in the central part of Karnataka. It is set up on a huge valley spanning the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Hampi's arid landscape with heaps of giant rocks nestled precariously over miles of undulating terrain will leave you spellbound. Spread across an area of over 25 square kilometers, Hampi is packed with an abundance of ancient monuments which include gigantic temples, sublime palaces, rock palisades and stone-carved structures of various size and shape.

    To put it simply, the ruins of Hampi is more or less an open museum of history, architecture and religion.

    Did You Know? Hampi has been declared as a 'World Heritage Site' by the UNESCO and it features in ASI's list of 'Top-10 Historical Places to Visit in India'.

    Best Season to Visit Hampi:

    Hampi typically has a dry and hot weather. November to February is the colder period when majority of tourists visit Hampi. During this period, the day temperature ranges between 20-25 degree celsius. March to June is the summer season when the Mercury level touches the 40 degree celsius mark. Monsoon brings some respite during July and August.

    Intermittent rain is expected in September and October as well.
    Tourist volume drops considerably during the summer and rainy seasons, but if you are looking for an economic deal, then that's the time when you should be planning your Hampi trip.

    How to reach Hampi?

    By Road:

    The primary connectivity to Hampi is by road. Hospet, a town located at a distance of around 12 KM, is the gateway to Hampi. There are frequent local buses from Hospet for arriving at Hampi. A number of buses run by KSRTC ply between Hospet and all other major places within Karnataka including Bangalore, Bijapur, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Hubli, Gadag, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Mysore and Bellary.

    Hospet also has bus connectivity across the state borders to Hyderabad, Mumbai and Vasco da Gama (Goa). Typically it is an overnight bus journey from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa.

    You can also hire a taxi from the above mentioned places to reach Hampi. The roads are generally in good condition, so it wouldn't be an issue if you are travelling by own car or a self-drive vehicle.

    Driving Direction From Bangalore (343 KM): Bangalore - Tumkur - Hiriyur - Chitradurga - Hospet - Hampi.

    Driving Direction From Hyderabad (380 KM): Hyderabad - Mahbubnagar - Raichur - Sindhanur - Gangavathi - Hampi.

    Driving Direction From Goa (320 KM): Goa - Dharwad - Hubli - Gadag - Koppal - Hospet - Hampi.

    By Train:

    Hospet (HPT) is again the nearest railway station to Hampi. Hospet is connected byexpress trains to other important towns like Bangalore, Bijapur, Hubli , Guntakal, Hyderabad and Vasco Da Gama (Goa). There are several other passenger trains from the nearby major stations. Train is the most preferred mode of travel for distant travellers. On arrival at Hospet Railway Station, you can hire an auto-rickshaw or a taxi to Hampi. Alternatively, you may also avail the local bus service - which is the cheapest mode of transport. Hospet to Hampi travel duration is less than half-an-hour.

    Few direct trains to Hospet station are listed below -

    1. Hampi Express (16591): Mysore - Bangalore - Hospet - Hubli.

    2. Amaravathi Express (18047): Goa – Hubli – Hospet - Vijayawada – Vizag – Bhubaneswar - Howrah.

    3. Haripriya Express (17415): Kolhapur – Belgaum- Hubli – Hospet – Guntakal – Tirupati.

    4. Garib Nawaz Express (16531): Bangalore – Guntakal – Hospet – Hubli – Belgaum – Pune – Kalyan – Surat – Baroda – Ahmedabad – Ajmer.

    5. Hyderabad–Kolhapur Express (11303): Kolhapur – Belgaum – Hubli – Hospet – Guntakal – Raichur – Hyderabad.

    An alternative railway hub to Hampi is the Hubli Junction (UBL). You can also look for connecting trains from your place to Guntakal Junction (GTL). Hubli and Guntakal are two major railway junctions located on either side of Hampi towards the Eastern and Western side. Both Hubli and Guntakal stations are connected to Hospet by passenger trains.

    By Air:

    The nearest airport to Hampi is Bellary 61 KM away, but that's a small airbase with limited flights. Hubli airport, at a distance of 170 KM, is an alternative. Visitors from the Southern & Western parts of India hardly travel by air to Hampi. People from North, East and North Eastern states can make use of the flight service to Bellari or Hubli and avail road transport from there to arrive at Hampi.

    If you are coming from abroad, then it makes sense to get air-dropped in Bangalore and subsequently catch either bus or train to Hampi.

    Getting Around:

    Walking around from one rock to another brings you the real pleasure in exploring Hampi. It will help you to spend adequate time to thoroughly visit every single monument. You can even get a bicycle from the State Tourism Center inside the premises of Virupaksha Temple to wander around the ruins.

    Besides, there are a few places in the town center from where you can rent bicycles for around INR 50 per day. Hired motorcycle is another option for you. A 100 CC bike would cost you around INR 200 per day. Fuel cost is additional. Two litres of petrol will be sufficient to cover the entire Hampi ruins.

    Another convenient mode to travel around Hampi is by auto-rickshaw. Bargain hard with the auto driver to get a fair rate.

    Tourist Attractions at Hampi:

    Virupaksha Temple:

    When you turn back to the by-gone era, the history of Hampi originates from the establishment of Virupaksha temple. Virupaksha temple is a gigantic craftwork of rock carvings dedicated to the destructive avatar of Lord Shiva. Equally admired by the tourists as well as the pilgrims, it is located on the bank of Tungabhadra River.

    Believed to be constructed around the 7th century, Virupaksha temple is one of the oldest temples in India which is still functional. The entire temple structure is made of bricks and mortars. The East-facing temple complex can be divided in to three distinct sections - giant towers at the entrance, main sanctum and the 100 pillared halls. The exterior is decorated with various erotic figures of the amorous couples engraved on stones. Kindly note that photography is not permitted inside the sanctum area.

    Vittala Temple:

    Dedicated to Vittala, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, Vittala Temple is a marvel of the then Vijayanagar Kingdom constructed in the 15th century. The epicenter of Hampi's tourist attractions, this time-tested structure is the most extravagant architectural showpiece at Hampi. The temple complex consists of several halls and shrines decorated with minute art-work grafted on stones and boulders. The main hall is noted for its intricately designed pillars with animated carvings. It features a unique set of pillars, known as the ‘musical pillars,’ which resonate when tapped.

    There is also a huge chariot standing in front of the main temple. In-fact, this is actually a shrine built in the form of a chariot. Dedicated to the Hindu God Garuda, all the elements of this chariot, including the wheels and the base, are carved out of stone. There are two elephants positioned in front of the chariot, which give an impression of the chariot being pulled by the duo. The surrounding area is packed with numerous smaller but equally well-crafted temple structures. You can even see the remains of Vittalapura township that existed around this temple a few centuries ago.

    Riverside Ruins:

    The path that connects the Vittala temple to the ancient Hampi Bazaar is dotted with several rock carved artifacts. The remains of ancient shrines are scattered all along the pathway. The highlight of riverside ruins are the 1008 Siva Linga structures crafted in a matrix like symmetrical pattern on a huge boulder at the shore of the Thungabhadra river. Make sure to include the riverside ruins in your tour plan, preferrably with a well-versed guide to explain the historical significance. No tour to Hampi is complete without a trek along the riverside ruins.

    Royal Enclosure:

    The Royal Enclosure is a fortified palace of the Vijayanagar Kingdom. A sprawling campus with the ruins of several palace pillars, underground temples and aquatic structures. The highlight of this enclosure is the Mahanavami Dibba. It was the platform from which the Emperor used to witness the annual parade of his military forces during the Dassera festival.

    The North-West side features the ‘House of Victory' - a colossal hall where the King used to meet his visitors. Next to it is a huge swimming pool which once used to be a bathing area. There is an underground Shiva temple below the 100 pillared hall. Entry to Royal Enclosure is free and you are also allowed to take photographs.

    Hemakuta Hill Temples:

    Located in close proximity to the Virupaksha Temple, Hemakuta is a rocky hillock that holds a large number of temples from the pre-Vijayanagara era. You can catch a splendid view of the sprawling ruins site from the hill-top. A collection of triple-chambered temples with granite roofs resembling the structure of Egyptian pyramids are the main attractions here. Kadalekalu Ganesha and Sasivekalu Ganesha temples located on the slopes of the hills also attract huge number of tourists.

    It is also a favorite spot for the tourists to view the sunrise and sunset. Hemakuta Hills is an important mythological site in the local folklore. There is no entry fee required for accessing this place. Photography enthusiasts would love to capture the ruins of Hemakuta Hills with their lenses.

    Lakshmi Narasimha Statue:

    This giant statue of Lord Vishnu's lion-faced avatar in cross-legged (yoga) seated position is the largest monolithic granite structure in Hampi. It is sometimes referred to as 'Ugra Narasimha' also. The ancient structure originally had Devi Lakshmi sitting on Narasimha's lap, however time took its toll on the statue and it got destroyed partially. At present, you can only see a hand of the Goddess reclining on Narasimha's waist. It does not require any entry fee and photography is allowed here.

    Badavilinga Temple:

    A short walk from the Lakshmi Narasimha statue can take you to Badavilinga Temple, which has the largest Shiva Linga in and around Hampi region. The Linga is quite different from the usual replicas in the sense that it has Shiva's three eyes (trinayan) engraved on the Linga. A water stream flows through the main sanctum, as a result it always remains dipped in water.

    Krishna Temple:

    A must visit attraction at Hampi dedicated to Lord Krishna, the main deity at this temple is the infant Krishna (Gopal). The temple walls and pillars are decorated with art-works of mythological characters. The complex consists of the main shrine dedicated to Krishna, a series of adjacent shrines for other Hindu Gods/Goddesses, a chariot street and a water tank.

    Hazara Rama Temple:

    This was a private temple of the Vijaynagar rulers. The highlight of Hazara Rama temple is its exceptionally carved outer walls portraying the story of Ramayana. This is an unusual feature which is totally absent in any of the other Vijayanagar temples. You will be dumbstruck by the impressive stone carving skills on display here. The main shrine contains four polished pillars with detailed carvings of mythological characters.

    Lotus Mahal:

    The Lotus Mohal, also known as Chitragani Mahal and Kamal Mahal, is a two-storied palace-esque structure used as a pleasure retreat by the queens and other royal family members. It is distinctly different from the typical Hampi-style architecture.

    The archways and the domed balcony resemble a semi-bloomed lotus bud. The palace exhibits a unique blend of both traditional Hindu as well as the Islamic architecture styles. The pillars and arches are designed in Islamic style, while the floor and the roof resemble typical Hindu temples. The Lotus Mahal is flanked by an imposing watch-tower.

    The spectacular sight of an illuminated Lotus Mahal at night is one of the major attractions for the shutterbugs.

    Elephant Stables:

    This is a long straight building having a row of adjacent chambers and a central hall with domical roofs. This imposing structure is made of lime mortar and brick conposition. It used to provide shelter for the royal elephants. Elephant Stables, alongwith the Lotus Mahal, are two of the very few historical structures in Hampi which are in almost undamaged condition.

    Queen’s Bath:

    This is an indoor aquatic complex with protruding balconies all around the central water pool. The square shaped structure is bounded by arched pillars. Like Lotus Mahal, it is another example of the Indo-Sarasanic hybrid architecture in Hampi.

    Sugreeva's Cave:

    It’s believed to be the place where Sugreeva, the monkey king from Ramayana who had helped Ram with his troop of monkey warriors, used to live. Located on the Thungabhadra river shore, Sugreeva's cave is a natural cave formed by huge boulders leaning one over another. The cave stands at the edge of a rocky cliff. You need to climb down the flat rock to arrive at the cave entrance.

    Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary:

    Located in Hampi, this wildlife sanctuary is specifically set up for the endangered sloth bears species. The sanctuary is situated on a rugged and rocky terrain ideal for housing the bears. It is an opportunity for you to spot the otherwise nocturnal and camera shy animal in their natural habitat.

    Archaeological Museum:

    The Archaeological Museum houses a collection of artifacts belonging to the Vijayanagar Empire. Widely admired artifacts available in the museum include sculptures dating back to the 7th century. A few centuries old brass plates, gold and copper coins, iron objects, limestone panels, Buddhist sculptures, Jain Thirthankaras and scultures of Ganesha, Hanuman, Lakshmi and Garuda are the highlights of this museum. The museum remains closed on every Friday.

    Festival Celebrations:

    1. Organized by the State Government, Hampi Festival is held in November for celebrating the glorious past of the ancient Vijayanagar Empire. The occasion is marked by dance, drama, music, puppet shows and processions.

    2. Purandara Festival is another important festival at Humpi held in the month of January-February. It is organized by the Vittal temple committee. The festival celebrates the birth anniversary of the medieval poet-composer, Purandar.

    Where to Stay at Hampi?

    Hampi has several hotels and guest houses for low to mid budget tourists. If you are looking for luxury, then probably Hospet is the right place for you. During peak-season, it may get difficult to find an accommodation at Hampi. In that case, you may consider staying in and around Hospet which has higher number of hotels. Hospet to Hampi is only around 12 KM and the journey by local bus takes just 30 minutes approximately.

    Listed below are a few reliable accommodation options in and around Hampi with their respective contact details.

    NoHotelLocationMinimum TariffContact
    1Mowgli Guest HouseVirupapura Gadda, HampiINR 700(+91) 85332 87033
    2Hotel Rainbow ResidencyHampi Road, HospetINR 900(+91) 83942 25295
    3Gowri ResortReservoir Road, HampiINR 1200(+91) 85332 87014
    4Lakshmi HeritageRiver Rd, HampiINR 1500(+91) 94496 33839
    5Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari Kamalpur, HampiINR 2000(+91) 83942 41574
    6Kishkinda Heritage ResortSanapur, HampiINR 2500(+91) 85332 87036
    7Hyatt Place HampiVidyanagar TownshipINR 4000(+91) 83956 61234
    In Hampi, at every turn there is a sculpture and a story behind its existence. With its vast stretches of archaeological ruins, Hampi offers you the riches of heritage on a unique backdrop of boulder-strewn hills dotted with numerous monuments of the bygone era.