Hampi is a laid back village that was the last capital of Vijayanagar, one of the greatest Hindu kingdoms in India’s history. It has some extremely captivating ruins, intriguingly intermingled with large boulders
that rear up all over the landscape.
The ruins, which date back to the 14th century, stretch for just over 25 kilometers (10 miles) and comprise more than 500 monuments. The most striking monument is the Vittala Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Its main hall has 56 pillars that make musical sounds when struck.
Hampi is in central Karnataka, approximately 350 kilometers (217 miles) from Bangalore.
Getting to Hampi:
The closest railway station is in Hospet, around half an hour away. Private buses also operate from Bangalore and Goa, and will drop you in Hospet. From Hospet, take an autorickshaw to Hampi. The fare is around 100 rupees ($2.30).
Hampi Opening Hours:
The ruins can be explored at leisure. The Vittala Temple is open from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. daily, and it’s worth getting there as early as possible to beat the crowds. The Elephant Stables, which once housed the royal elephants, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
There’s no cost to explore most of the ruins. The Vittala Temple and Elephant Stables are two places that do charge an entrance fee of $US 5 each for foreigners. Children younger than 15 years are free.
If you enjoy culture, make sure you catch the three day Hampi Festival
(also known as the Vijaya Utsav) that's held in late January each year. Dance, drama, music, fireworks, and puppet shows all take place against the ruins of Hampi. Be prepared to battle the crowds though! Hampi also holds a Purandaradasa Aradhana classical music festival in January/February each year to celebrate the birthday of Purandaradasa, a poet who lived there. In March/April the largest religious festival in Hampi, the Virupaksha Car Festival, takes place to mark the annual marriage ritual of the gods and goddesses.
Hampi Travel Tips:
An incredible energy can be felt at Hampi. The sunrise and sunset over the village, viewed from atop the central Matanga Hill, are truly magical and are not to be missed. Be sure to have a comfortable pair of shoes with you as some of the ruins can only be accessed on foot and you’ll need to walk quite a distance in order to explore them. Try taking a ferry trip across the river to Anegondi and exploring the relics there. Alternatively, it's a good idea to hire a bicycle to get around. Night tours
are also possible. The best time to visit is from November to February. In March it starts getting unbearably hot.
Unfortunately, Hampi is lacking in quality hotels. If you want to stay in a place with more amenities, Hospet is a better choice, particularly with the new four star Royal Orchid Central Kireeti having opened up. It lacks Hampi's eerie charm though. Ambient, simply furnished guesthouses are plentiful in Hampi. There are two main areas to stay in Hampi -- near the bus stand and Main Bazaar, and on the other side of the river in Virupapur Gadde. Virupapur Gadde, with it's chilled out environment on the edge of paddy fields, attracts plenty of hippie types.
Here are 5 of the best Hampi hotels and guesthouses.