Ten places you can visit and see in and around Hampi ,Karnataka
February 15, 2019
While a country like India with an ancient civilization can offer many places to see, ruins of old kingdoms are one of the best she can offer. If ruins of old kingdoms are your preferred destination, then nothing can beat this place Hampi in the Bellary district of Karnataka, India. UNESCO has declared it as a ‘World Heritage site’. It was the capital of the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th century. Hampi was found on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. It was a prosperous and wealthy city teaming with many temples, water tanks, markets, and public spaces. This flourishing city was attacked by Muslim Sultanates in 1565 and Hampi has been in ruins ever since. During its heyday, travelers and traders came from Europe and Persia and trade was carried out in gold and precious items.
How to reach Hampi in Karnataka
The ruins of old kingdom of Hampi can be visited from both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. You can reach Bangalore and take the overnight train to Hospet which is what I did. Distance from Bangalore to Hampi is about 350 km. The nearest airport is in Bellary which is 64 km. From here, you can reach Hampi by taxi or bus.
Where to stay
In Hospet, you will find many hotels to stay according to your budget. But preferably stay near the bus stand. There are many good restaurants also nearby. However, one can also stay on the other side of the Tungabhadra river where I found lots of foreigners staying. It provides another experience as the locale is very calm and soothing unlike the area near the bus stand. From your hotel, you must arrange a taxi or an autorickshaw to take you around as the ruins of the old kingdom are spread over a vast area. There is also a bus plying which will drop you near the starting point of the ruins.
What to see in the ruins of the old kingdom
1.Ruins near the Tungabhadra river
You can begin by taking a walk through the meandering Tungabhadra river, on the banks of which most of the ruins of the old kingdom of Hampi in Karnataka in various forms can be found. As you walk along the narrow path, you will find many slabs lying across with sculpted figures in high relief on them pointing to an era of excellence in art and aesthetics in India. Many structures of destroyed temples which are no longer in use and lots of huge boulders lying on the hillocks and near the banks can be seen. You can feast your eyes on so many things, that you will be left in awe by the end of the day. At times, you come across a majestic temple entrance structure, but as you enter, you have already exited as there is nothing beyond that.
2. Virupaksha temple
Near the ruins of Hampi in Karnataka, you will come across many temples and the most important and interesting one is the Virupaksha temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which is believed to have been built in the 7th century. Despite many of the other structures getting destroyed during subsequent invasions, this temple has remained intact and is still in use. The temple has many entryways, pillared halls, main shrine, and courtyards. The Eastern gateway is majestic and very precisely constructed. The structure consisting of nine tiers has been built with brick and mortar. On this structure, one may find many stucco figures throughout while on the southern side, there are many sculpted figures of erotic couples. The surrounding pillars are profusely decorated with mythological characters.
3. Badavilinga temple
This Shiva temple is immersed in water and you have to wade through ankle deep water to reach the sanctum. The lingam kept in the shrine is partially underwater. A board placed nearby mentions that it was commissioned by a poor woman.
4. Hazara Rama temple
This temple is located within the royal palace complex and hence must have been a private one. The outer walls of the temple are decorated with bas relief sculptures depicting stories from the life of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. They also portray processions of animals like elephants, horses and dancing girls perhaps taking part in a festival.
5. Vittala temple
Another interesting temple is the Vittala temple which is architecturally superior and consists of the stone chariot and musical pillars.
6.Statue of Kadalekalu Ganesha
On one of the slopes of Hemkuta hills, we come across a monolithic statue of Lord Ganesha, which is quite huge. According to an inscription found there, “the monolithic sculpture is so called for the closeness in the appearance of the shape of its belly to the unsplit Bengal gram.” Bengal gram is a lentil commonly found in India.
7.Statue of Narasimha
Beyond the ruins of the Krishna temple, there is a very big monolithic statue of Lakshmi Narasimha avatar of Vishnu seated in a yogic posture. Although the beautiful statue had been damaged, it has been restored and still retains its charm.
8.Ruins of the royal enclosure
You should not miss seeing the ruins of the royal enclosure. Firstly, it is a vast area and seeing the huge enclosures with steps leading to the stage, one can visualize the grandeur. The great platform called ‘The Mahanavami’ is a grand structure. It has three stages culminating in a large square platform. This area houses the Hazara Rama temple, zenana(ladies) enclosure, and an underground water tank with beautiful steps leading down to it.
9. Hemkuta hills
Hemkuta hill is easy to climb and is dotted with ruins of old kingdom like temples, archways, and huge boulders and ruins of the old kingdom. Hemkuta hill provides a good view of the sunset over the hills beside a good view of Hampi ruins and the Virupaksha temple.
10. Anjaneya hills
For visiting the Anjaneya hill which is near Hampi in Karnataka, we have to cross the river by taking the boat ride. From there, it is a good climb up a flight of stairs and finally, we reach the white temple of the monkey god, Hanuman. On the top, we get a panoramic view of the entire surrounding areas. The image of the god Hanuman is carved on a rock.
I would reiterate that if you are planning to make a trip to the Southern part of India, then do include a visit to the famed ‘ruins’ of Hampi of the erstwhile Vijayanagara kingdom apart from the usual ones.From the ruins of the old kingdom, you can also visit the Badami caves, Pattadakkal and Aihole temples little further away.