Hampi, a village in northern Karnataka; was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime. Located 350 kms North of Bengaluru, the place now majorly comprises of ruins from the era, temples and natural beauty. It is rich in monolithic statues, monuments of significantly large dimensions, majestic pillars, and astounding depictions all over the place ranging from Ramayana to Mahabharata. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi.
The whole of Hampi is divided into two parts: The Sacred Center and the Royal Center. These clusters are about 3 kilometers apart. As the name indicates the Sacred Center has a large number of religious sites; and the palaces and associated royalty buildings are located at the Royal area. You need at least 3 days to have an abstract tour of the place. I can safely say that if you want to see & do everything there is worth watching and doing in Hampi, even 20 days won’t suffice. I’ve been to Hampi twice and I am still not satiated. Every time I go there, I find something new to do. The place has more charm than one can express in words.
There are several gems in its crown that attract people of varied interests here.
- Significant history (capital of Vijayanagara)
- Natural bounty (surrounded by hills on three sides and fronted by Tungabhadra on fourth)
- Magnificent Architecture ( 500 plus monuments)
- Religious sites ( Virupaksha Temple – Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this temple is going to be a delight for your eyes.)
The place also offers beautiful experiences; I have met people here from around the world who have cited various reasons apart from the obvious to visit the place. Some travel here for a true Backpacker experience, while others just to get away from their busy lives. The place offers amazing treks and rock-climbing experiences as well. Among the popular trekking destinations of Hampi are the Hemakuta Hill trek, the Matanga Hill trek, the Anjaneya Hill trek and the Malyavanta Hill trek. Each trek route offers mesmerizing view of the natural beauty of Hampi. The rocky landscape is heavenly for beginner & expert rock climbing enthusiasts alike as it is rich in boulders ranging from 4m to 60m in height.
The Coracle rides on Tungabhadra River, local street shopping experience, beautiful “Laxmi” of Virupaksha Temple, monkeys strolling all over the place like it’s their own, the Hippie Island. I literally can go on and on about this place, and if this all isn’t enough for you the place is also worth a visit for celebration on any of their festivals.
This is a sprawling ruins site covering at least 30 sq.km., so you need an itinerary and a plan within Hampi to make most of your time here and be at the right places on the right time (and preferably a guide to give you all the nitty-gritty facts and fascinating stories of the place, that otherwise you won’t hear of). The best way to explore the place is on a cycle or moped (yes you read it right, “moped”).
Since it gets really hot and arid here, the best time to visit Hampi is during the winters between November and February. You can plan an exotic stay in quality hotel or mingle more with the nature in one of the guest houses around the river, you can go fancy or go local (for me the Guest House experience was much more fun). Restaurants like Laughing Buddha Restaurant and Mango Tree will make sure they curb your hunger pangs at best with their mouthwatering food.
The locals are very friendly and helpful and this is one of the safest travel places to be. You will be spellbound and longing for more. Hampi was a maiden voyage for my travel and I hope likewise for you too.