Hampi today is a small village better known for its ancient monuments. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi was once the seat the flourishing Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century and the second largest after Beijing. The city was an important link for international trade at that time. The city was laid waste by conquering Muslim hordes in 1565 and then never regained its glory. How grand it was can be gauged from more than 1600 relics in the form of temples, halls, and water tanks. The most famous temple here is the Virupaksha temple followed by the Krishna temple, Vitthala temple and others. Visiting Hampi is enlightening, a glimpse into the rich history of India.
How to reach Hampi from Bangalore
It takes about five to six hours to travel by road from Bangalore to Hampi. There are two options. One can go by NH 4 via Hellary and Hiriyur Road or take NH 7 and drive down the Bellary-Anantapura Road but this stretch is not easy to drive on. There are buses and taxis but the best way is to get into one of the self driven cars in Bangalore from Ziphop or rent a bike in Bangalore and enjoy the ride as well as the visit to Hampi. You can travel at your leisure with hired cars and bikes.
Things to do and see in Hampi
Hampi is spread out over several acres and there are plenty of interesting sites along the Tungabhadra River. Start with the Virupaksha temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, an ancient temple dating back to the 9th century. The Vitthala Temple, on the other hand, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his Vitthala incarnation and it is a beautiful monument with rich carvings and a stone chariot. You can then go on to the Archaeological Museum and study the sculptures, coins and artifacts on display that give you an understanding of the past glory of this royal city. The marvelous Lotus Palace will surely impress you. Built in the Indo-Islamic style, it was used by royal ladies and has beautifully carved archways. The royal ladies used to bathe in the Queen’s Bath, a large building with a rectangular pool in the middle and verandahs and halls all around. There are other places such as the Mahanavmi platform, the Pattabhirama temple, Hazara Ram temple and Hemakuta hill monuments that are worth a visit. Hampi also has Jain Ganagitti and other temples as well as the Ahmad Khan mosque and tomb in the vicinity. From here one can drive on to the Daroji Bear Sanctuary about 15 kms away after enjoying lunch.
Staying and dining in and around Hampi
KSTDC Mayura hotel is the best place with a good décor but the food is so-so. Some may find Clarks Inn has better food. Hospet is where one should dine, either at the Royal Orchid & Malligi or Shanbhag or Swathi Delicacy.
Plan on staying for 2-3 days because there are over 85 places to see in the Heritage Site and around it such as Anjaneya Hill