Last weekend we visited Hampi – the village within the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire. The magnificent ruins have made Hampi – a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’. On the internet, you will find a lot of information on places to visit in and around Hampi. Hence, I am sharing only my experiences here with some tips for you when you plan your trip!
- There are a lot of beautiful temples and each provides you an understanding of the sculpture/ architecture of that time. We enjoyed Vittala temple, Virupakshi temple, Hazari Rama temple and Krishna temple, the most.
- We spent a lot of time at the Royal Enclosure which has the Mahanavami Dibba. The royal family lived here. The dibba is a high-rise platform with its stone walls depicting interesting stories/ art through sculpture. Here, Krishnedevaraya, the king of the empire, celebrated Dasara on a grand scale for 9 days every year! Obviously , it had to inspire some festive mood in us! We took to dancing and photography for a good 2 hours here! The near-by Queens’ bath is in a dilapidated state. However, you can still see glimpses of good sculpture there.
- The ruins of the 7 bazaars (markets) of the empire are still in pretty good state. They were dedicated bazaars for each commodity -diamonds, vegetables and fruits, clothes, animals, paan etc. Most of the bazaars are near one temple or other. As we walked through the bazaars, it was interesting to imagine the evenings at these markets in those days – localities in their regional dress (men in kacche panche, women in ilkal sareeand children in half saree/ kurta) visiting the temple and then shopping at the bazaar at twilight! The fresh goods must have shimmered under the light of kerosene lamps to attract enough window shoppers!
- The statue of Ugra Narasimha sculpted in one stone with perfect human body measurements make it a must-see.
- Beside the ruins, Hampi in itself is beautiful with rocky mountains and lush green paddy and sugarcane fields. Make sure you have sometime to laze around here. The Tungabhadra river that flows beside Hampi adds a serene touch to the scenary among the rocky mountains. A climb a flight of 560 steps on a rocky mountain takes you to Hanuman temple which gives some more breath-taking views of the ruins as well as the natural beauty.
- On the other side of TB river, at a short distance, there are some beautiful places like Pampasarova and Anegundi. Pampasarovara is a pond full of lotus! It has a small temple too. However, we spent all our time here next to the lotus :) At Anegundi, the local Kishkinda Trust runs an SMB employing local village women. They crochet beautiful accessories out of the locally available natural fibers such as banana, water hyacinth and river grass. Since I am interested in knitting/ crocheting, I had to visit this place! Here, you can not only buy the accessories but also some yarn in beautiful colours to experiment!
- The people of Hampi are simple and nature loving :) he good rains, river and tourists keep them quite happy in Hampi :) Though there are a lot of foreign tourists here who would tip them really well, the villagers are equally hospitable to Indians, as one would expect. Also, the local dialect of Kannada is quite different from that spoken in Bangalore!
- The Ganesha temples in Hampi – Kadlekaalu Ganesha and Saasvekaalu Ganesha are majestic! They are set on small rocky mountains and each of them provides beautiful views and draws your mind to relaxation.
The tourist season in Hampi is from Nov to Feb/ March. Since we went in off-season, most of the places were comparatively less crowded/ deserted! We could spend a lot of quiet time here, just the two of us :) It was nice to indulge in photography, dance, music and just muse about life :)
Here are some tips for you if you are planning a trip to Hampi
- There are 85 places of archeolofical importance in Hampi. Hence, do your research before you visit. Plan for atleast a 3 day trip. Plan for ruins to visit w.r.t. your time than just relying on the guide to take you all around. Most of the places to visit are within a couple of kms. You can take a cab/ auto or go around in bikes. Bike/ auto/ walk would definitely be more fun! Also, keep sometime to visit places of natural beauty. The localities will guide you.
- Make sure you take accommodation on the same side of TB river as Hampi. This will give you enough time to explore as the last boat ride to cross the TB river is as early as 6pm!
- It is extremely windy and most of the time sunny. Keep half a day’s lazing around for every 1.5-2 days of sight-seeing. This will rejuvenate you and help you enjoy Hampi completely. Also, you will find vendors with tender coconut water almost everywhere! Drink as much tender coconut water as you can! They will restore the electrolytes in the body that are lost due to dehydration.
- Network signals (except that of BSNL) are weak here. Be prepared to be disconnected from the outside world!
- Top up all the sight seeing with meals at Mango Tree restaurant! Though it doesn’t offer the regional varieties, it will still satisfy your stomach with tasty meals at reasonable prices!
Hope this proves useful. Enjoy and ping me about your trip when you are back!
PS: The archaeology department is still restoring the ruins. In a couple of years’ time, you should be able to see the restored Hampi, that too – both at day and at night!