Hampi in the state of Karnataka in India is a place that few have heard of. It was the centre of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire capital in the 14th century and a place of great wealth. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site you’ll find more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India and this continues to grow as more is unearthed.
Out of all the places that i visited in India, Hampi captured me heart and soul.
Here are 3 reasons why you should add Hampi to your bucket list
1. To be taken back in time
In Hampi you’ll find temples and monuments dating back to the 6th century. That’s over 1500 years ago. What’s spectacular is the amount of detail that you can still see in many of the structures. You could spend days exploring all the monuments but there are three in particular that you must see.
Virupaksha temple and bazaar
The Virupaksha temple is the oldest shrine and the main destination for pilgrims and tourists. It remains an active Hindu worship site, so you will see locals entering the temple. In front of the Virupaksha Temple unfolds a one-kilometre long street called the Hampi bazaar. On each side there are old pavilions which have recently been unearthed and re-erected. One day they hope to introduce traders back in, but for now it is empty.
Vitthala temple and market complex
It’s at the Vitthala temple that you’ll find the Garuda shrine in the form of stone chariot, which is quite often the image associated with Hampi. The Vitthala temple is found near the banks of the Tungabhadra River. It’s said to be the most artistically sophisticated Hindu temple in Hampi and part of the sacred centre of Vijayanagara.
Zenana enclosure and elephant stables
The Zenana Enclosure was an area reserved for the royal ladies of the Vijayanagara Empire. The highlight of the Zenana Enclosure is the Lotus Mahal, one of the most remarkable structures in Hampi.
Next to the Zenana Enclosure you’ll find the elephant stables.
2. To get away from the hustle and bustle
One of the things that surprised me about Hampi was how peaceful it was. I visited in October and there was next to nobody there. Quite often i found myself walking around temple complexes alone and able to completely take in the beauty that surrounded me.
3. To view a magnificent sunset
If you’re looking for a magical sunset then Hampi is the place. We walked from the Vitthala Temple along the river and back to the Hampi parking lot. We stopped half way to watch the sunset over the temples and the River Tungabhadra where people were taking a coracle ride.
Hampi is a truly spectacular place. You’ll find yourself mesmerised by the ruins and their sheer beauty. The surrounding landscape frames many of the structures making it an idyllic place for photography. I found myself in awe of the intricacy of many of the carvings in the ruins and it’s hard to believe how much has been preserved. Such a beautiful place and one worthy of your bucket list.