Hampi - Beauty amidst Ruins
Hampi - a place often referred to as the City of Ruins covers 26 sq km land comprising 2000 temples, 3000 mandaps. If you were to scientifically view them all, it would take about 3 months to cover everything.
There really is something magical about Hampi that I just can’t describe, there’s a good reason why this place is very much on the backpacker trail in India.
Perhaps it is the surreal boulder strewn landscape, interspersed by bright emerald paddy fields, perhaps it is the amazing ruins of temples, or the magical stories of myths and legends and gods and goddesses or the surrounding countryside that is almost frozen in time. Perhaps it’s a combination of all these things that make Hampi so special.
Hampi features in Ramayana, the Hindu epic. Hampi is known as Kishkinda, and is the place where Rama mets the monkey king Hanuman, who helps him to rescue his wife Sita from the demon who has taken her away to Sri Lanka.
Hampi also finds fame and fortune as it became the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire, one of the largest and most important in Indian history. In the 16th century Hampi was a buzzing and important metropolis of half a million people with bazaars thriving in the trade of precious stones and other riches that attracted merchants from all over the world. All this came to an end in 1565 when the Deccan sultanates razed Vijayanagar to the ground leaving just the captivating legends and atmospheric ruins that we explore today.
Hampi is steeped in history and it was inhabited as far back as 10,000 years ago as we could see on some ancient rock paintings.
The Virupaksha Temple
The Virupaksha Temple which you can’t miss as the tall gorpuam dominates the dusty little Hampi Bazaar. This is the only temple still in use because, unlike the others, the idol was never destroyed by the invading Deccans.
The Virupaksha Temple is famous because it was the place that the Hindu god Shiva and this wife Parvati were married and Megha really brought this to life, explaining the story behind it and all the meanings behind the rituals and the carvings in the temple.
The Vittala Temple
The highlight of Hampi’s temple architecture is the famous Vittala Temple. Even though it was never completed this temple still contains the most incredible. elaborate sculptural work and the famous stone chariot, which apparently used to be able to move.
The many other beauties amongst the Ruins.
You can also take an auto rickshaw to explore the further away sights in the Royal Enclosure, like the Queens bath, Lotus Mahal and the Elephant stables. Climb up to Hemakuta Hill and discover 2 large Ganesha statues and a huge 6.7 m Vishnu carved out of a single boulder with a head of a lion and a body of a man that lays under a 7 hooded serpent. Go in time to see the sunset over Hampi bazaar with the impressive gopuram surrounded by the stunning landscape all around.
How to get to Hampi
Hampi is located in Karnataka, roughly between Goa and Bangalore. From Goa you can take an overnight bus or my preferred option is to take a train from Margao. It takes about 8 hours and you will travel over India’s second highest waterfall – Dudhsagar Falls! From Bangalore you can also take an overnight bus.
From Bangalore, you can catch a bus from Majestic bus stand, tickets for which can be booked via KSRTC website. get down at Hospete and take a rickshaw which costs approximately Rs. 250 to Hampi.
You can also book a train till Hospete.
Where to Stay in Hampi
Once in Hampi you can find cheap accommodation either in Hampi Bazaar, near Virupaksha temple or cross the river and chill out in cute huts with views over the green paddy fields. A good option in Hampi Bazaar is Mayuram homestay but remember.
You can also simply Google Search for homestay in Hampi for cheap accomodation or if you prefer something better, there are options available for that too.
Transportation within Hampi
As I said, it takes more than a week if you really want to enjoy and immerse yourself in this historical place. Just speak to the owner of the homestay to arrange a 2 wheeler which you can get for Rs. 450 per day( excluding Petrol) which is the best way to explore. You can also hire Rickshaw for day tours.
That’s just what magical Hampi does to you! Go, linger for a while and soak up all the history, magic and myths and fall in love.
Do watch this video about my 6 day trip to Hampi where I was fortunate enough to cover almost all the places and do give this answer a Thumbs up :)
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