Also Read - India Travels: How to Reach Hampi From Mumbai by Road, Train And Flight
Hampi, a village in northern Karnataka is popular for the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. The ruins of Hampi are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi. Hampi is a great place for a getaway over the long weekend and to discover its rich and vibrant history. Also Read - The Fascinating History And Story of Hampi And Vijayanagara Empire
There are several sites to visit in and around Hampi, which include, Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, Monolith Bull, Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Hemakuta Hill temples, Big Shivlinga, Royal Enclosures, Queen’s Bath, Zanana Enclosure and Elephant Stables among others. If you are based in Bengaluru and have been planning this trip for long, you can take a road trip to Hampi. Also Read - 9 lesser known facts about Hampi!
Hampi is about 343 km away from Bengaluru and can be reached in five to six hours, depending on the flow of traffic. One can opt to travel via NH7 and Bellary road Anantapur Road or via NH4 and Bellary Hiriyur Road. We must add that it’s a fun drive from Bengaluru to Hampi, however, note that the road from Anantapur to Bellary is not in a great condition. Meanwhile, the road from Bellary to Hiriyur is in excellent condition.
If you aren’t keen on driving yourself, you can hire a cab. However, if you want a pocket-friendly journey, it’s best to travel by bus. There are plenty of bus services available for this route. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation operates daily buses to Hospet from Bengaluru. From Hospet, one can travel to Hampi by hopping onto a local bus. It is advisable to book your tickets in advance if you want an air-conditioned bus book as the buses are generally flocked by tourists.
What to see in Hampi
Hampi is a perfect place for history lovers and adventure seekers. In its heyday, it is said that rubies and diamonds were sold on the streets and gold and silver coins were used for currency. There was even a street called pan supari where diamonds were sold. Travelers from all around the world, including Italians, Arabs and Portuguese would come to admire the streets and architectural beauty of the empire. The city was ruled by four major dynasties and they built over 500 monuments. Today, the ones that survived are up for display and tourists come from near and far to see them. Hampi is also called the biggest open museum for its ruins. But these are not the only attractions in this city. Here’s what all you can do in Hampi.
Located on the banks of Tungabhadra River, Virupaksha Temple falls under the group of monuments that are designated under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is dedicated to Shiva and has inscriptions that date back to the 9th and 10th centuries. This is one of the few structures in Hampi that have survived over the years and still stand strong. From shrines, gateways, courtyards, pillars and chambers, the temple still has it all and is a beautiful spectacle.
The first museum to be established by the Archaeological Survey of India, this museum in Hampi is a must-visit for anyone interested to know more about the history of this city. It houses artefacts, gold and silver coins metal objects and even sculptures of deities from the Vijaynagara Era. It also has several galleries that display the history of Hampi beautifully. There is an entry fee to visit the Archaeological Museum. It is worth visiting for any history buff. The museum stays open from 10 am to 5 pm on all days of the week.
Daroji Bear Sanctuary
Even though Daroji Bear Sanctuary is not really in Hampi, it is about 15 km away and should not be missed. It is home to sloth bears who roam around in abundance and survive on the dense vegetation that grows here. The sanctuary is also home to hyenas, jackals, leopards and about 90 different species of birds. Daroji Bear Sanctuary is open from 6 am to 6 pm.
Another one of the structures that remained undamaged in Hampi is the Lotus Palace that was used by the ladies. It gets its name from its lotus-shaped dome on the top and is also called the Kamal Mahal and Chitragani Mahal. If you observe the architecture closely, you will realize that it is Indo-Islamic in style. The palace is two-storyed and has beautiful archways. You can visit the palace from 8 am to 6 pm on any day of the week.
The lavish area reserved for the royal baths of the kings and queens of Vijaynagara is still intact and you can see for yourself just how indulgent the people of that era were. There is a six feet deep rectangular pool along with balconies and beautiful windows that surround the bathing area. Visit it between 8.30 am to 5.30 pm on any day of the week.
Vijaya Vittala Temple
This is one of the main attractions of Hampi and is dedicated to Vittala, an incarnation of Vishnu. The grandeur and craftsmanship can be seen in its architecture from its gateway towers to its pillars and the famous stone chariot which is a shrine dedicated to Garuda, the Eagle God. Admire the intricate carvings on the pillars and the sculptures that dot the Vijaya Vittala Temple. It is truly a treat for history and architecture lovers. There is no entry fee and you can pay a visit to the temple between 8.30 am to 5 pm.
These are only a few of the main attractions of Hampi. Visit the town and discover more of its splendour when you are here. It is truly one of the most underrated tourist destinations and should definitely be on your bucket list. Hampi is known as being the largest open museum in the world and a trip to this place will prove why!