Escape to the Magical Hampi
According to some Hindu traditions, Hampi is the site of Kishkinda from the epic Ramayana, the forested home of the monkeys who helped Rama’s wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. More recently it was the capital of the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire, which flourished in the mid-14th to mid-16th century. Hampi was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime. The empire boasted a massive army comprising close to a million men. It was abandoned following defeat of the Vijayanagar kings to the Deccan sultanates in 1565.The site is significant historically and architecturally, and one of exceptionalruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is simply gorgeous, surrounded by water, hills and huge boulders of stone.
How to Reach Hampi : The nearest international airport is in Bangalore which is around 350km. The nearest railway station from Hampi is Hospet that is at a distance of 13km.
Best time to visit- During Monsoon(June to August) and winters (November to February).Things to do and Places to Visit-
Hampi has so many temples and it can be daunting to visit all of them. To see main attractions three days are sufficient.
Note: It gets very hot during daytime. So avoid going out in the afternoon. It’s better to stay at your guest house and chill at riverside cafes during the day time. For sightseeing start early in the morning and step out in the evening.
Day 1- Visit Vitthala temple in the morning and Virupaksha temple and the sacred centre around Virupaksha temple in the evening and end the day by watching sunset at Hemkuta hill.
Day 2- Visit the Royal Centre covering underground Shiva Temple, Hazara Rama Temple, Pushkarani, Elephant stables, Lotus Mahal.
Day 3- Visit Sanapur Lake, Anegondi Village in the morning and end your day by watching sunset from Matanga hill.
Places of interest:
1) Virupaksha Temple – Virupaksha Temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi, and has been considered the most sacred sanctuary over the centuries. It is intact among the surrounding ruins and is still used in worship. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksha, as the consort of the local goddess Pampa who is associated with the Tungabhadra River.
2)Sunset at Matanga Hill or Anjeyandari Hill – The Anjeyandari hill lies in the centre of Anegondi area. It is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman ( The monkey warrior God). According to Hindu mythology, Hanuman was born to Anjana and thus Hanuman was also called as Anjaneya, and his birthplace Anjeyandari (Anjana’s Hill).
The hill has a white washed Hanuman temple at the top. It has about 570 steps. The view from the top is breathtaking as you see patches of paddy fields and the Hampi city ruins around.
The temple has a rock carved idol of Lord Hanuman. There are also shrines of Lord Ram and his consort Sita and Anjana Devi temple in the same vicinity.
3) Sunset at Hemkuta Hill- Reliefs of Jain temples are present in this area that includes Hemkut Jain temples, Ratnantraykut, Parsvanath Charan and Ganigatti jain temple. Most of the idols are now missing from these temples. Ruins suggest that these temples belong to 14th century.
4) Sanapur Lake- The road leading to the lake offers spectacular views of paddy fields and boulder city. Best way to enjoy the beauty is by riding a scooty. You can rent a scooty from the shops across the Tungabhadra river.
5) Lotus Mahal: Lotus Mahal, also known as Kamal Mahal or Chitrangini Mahal is situated in the Zenana Enclosure of the monuments. It is a ticketed monument and a single ticket would let you into the Zenana Enclosure covering several monuments including Elephant Stables. The term Zenana refers to the Women and Zenana Enclosure in general would refer to the Queens’ enclosure along with the servants’ quarters around and private temples.
6) Elephant Stables: A set of large stables, to house the ceremonial elephants of the royal household. The area in front of them was a parade ground for the elephants, and for troops. This is another structure that shows Islamic influence in its domes and arched gateways. The guards’ barracks are located right next to the elephant stables.
Where to Stay : There are many guest houses across the Tungabhadra river. I stayed in Laughing Buddha guest house. Price was 400-500 per night for a cottage.
Where to Eat- Laughing Budda Cafe, Mango Tree restaurant