Hampi: The beautiful town of ruins and stories
January 1, 1970
by Mihika Chaudhuri
The south Indian town of Hampi situated near the town of Hospet, in the Bellary district of northern Karnataka boasts of being one of the most visited places in Karnataka, especially for those who are looking for an adventure in the midst of beauty and timeless ruins. Steeped in history, Hampi’s existence can be traced way back in time to ancient India. Hampi is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is situated amidst the ruins of the world famous Vijayanagar dynasty.
Easily accessible by both trains and buses from Bangalore or Chennai which will drop you of in Hospet the town next to Hampi and is also the hub for various transport options to and from Hampi to other places, it is an ideal weekend getaway. The landscape of Hampi is mesmerising, situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, the scene is a combination of ancient ruins, temples, beautiful paddy fields, palm trees and a host of boulders precariously placed and balanced on top of each other. You somehow get transported to Fred Flintstones land.
Hampi bazaar is the more popular place to stay in because of its proximity to the ruins and monuments and of course due to a host of budget hotels, eateries and shops, Virupapur Gaddi situated on the opposite bank of the river has gained great popularity due to its peaceful location away from the hustle and bustle of the market place and has great places to stay as well. Once can get across the river on ferry’s or quaint coracle boats that leave every few minutes from the banks of the Tungabhadra to transport you in 10 minutes from one side to another. Hampi is best explored by renting an auto, scooter or bicycle, there are numerous rental shops on both the Hippie side and in and around Hampi Bazaar. Look out for quirky quotes scribbled at the back of the autos and pretty much everywhere. The heritage sites that define Hampi are all in close proximity to each other and the sure grandeur and vastness of the ruins can be experienced in just a day at a leisurely pace in a day. Hiring an Auto rickshaw is convenient for small families and often the drivers double up into guides as well.
Things to do in Hampi
Hiking and Cliff jumping
The boulder dotted landscape is perfect for fun things to do such, as hiking and Cliff jumping into the Hampi lake and the Tungabhadra river and swim around in the in the cool waters. Though the locals warn you about crocodiles in the water, there are loads of safe places to experience the thrill.
Exploring the ruins
The ruins of Hampi are absolutely fascinating and best time to set out to explore the ruins and visit the temples is between 8:00am and 11:00am, post which the sun is scorching. The sites are all clustered under various centres, the most visited are, The Sacred Centre, which is as the name suggests is where the ancient temples are located the most popular being the oldest temple Virupaksha Temple , the most visited temple in Hampi situated right next to the market place. The Royal Centre which has the Lotus temple, elephant stable, the Queen’s bath and the Hazara Rama Temple and forms the heart of the Vijayanagar dynasty. The ruins cover an extensive part of the landscape and are scattered over a large radius. Beautiful pillars of intricately carved horses, elephants and various depictions of scenes from history are found all over, the most unique thing about these carvings are that they all appear to be in motion and have awe inspiring dynamic appearance to them. The Vittala Temple is the most spectacular structure of all in Hampi; it covers acres of land and has a host on temples, gateways and halls within the same campus.
The coracles are the most curious looking boats, well they don’t actually look like boats at all. They are circular and looks like huge baskets instead, made out of bamboo and plastic outer cover of PVC. These are used by the locals to ferry themselves from one side of the river to the other and now are very popular for tourists wanting to float tranquilly down the Tungabhadra and to transport them from one side to another. It’s a lovely option, if you’re looking for relaxation and sightseeing.
Eating at the Mango Tree
The Mango tree is a quaint little restaurant located very close to the main temple. You meet people from all walks of life and can sit and chill sipping on mango lassi and the most delicious Nutella pancakes. The staff often sits and chats with customers and the service is prompt and excellent. The décor comprises of comfortable floor seating with low coffee tables and wooden benches and tables contributing to the ‘at home’ feeling the eatery is known for.
Watching the sun go down
Some of the most beautiful sunsets can be viewed from the sunset points at Hampi. The Hanuman Mandir is one of the most visited temples, though you have to climb 572 steps to reach the top, the view is every bit worth the climb. The mesmerising colours of the sunset, and the boulders silhouetted against the setting sun is a site to behold. An ideal place for avid photographers Matanga Hills is the highest point of Hampi and is also the most frequented. There are several trails that connect this point to the ruins and small treks that are conducted by certain operators for trekking enthusiasts. The sunset from this point is nothing short of spectacular.
The best time to visit
Hampi has a steady influx of tourists from India and many other parts of the world, the pure cultural heritage and the scenic beauty of the place is extremely alluring.The best time to Hampi is between November and February when the weather ranges from pleasant to chilly at times and is the time that the Hampi festival takes place. October to November is the most popular time for tourists to visit to witness the grand celebrations surrounding the festival of Dussehra. The summer months can get extremely hot and exploring the place during the day time can be an uncomfortable experience.
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