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Hampi :The abode of bygone ruins, rusty colors and fascinating landscape

Hampi, the city of ruins, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in the shadowed depth of hills and valleys in the state of Karnataka, this place is a historical delight for travellers. Surrounded by 500 ancient monuments, beautiful temples, bustling street markets, bastions, treasury building and captivating remains of Vijayanagar Empire, Hampi is a backpacker’s delight. Hampi is an open museum with 100+ locations to explore and a favourite way to see the city from the perspective of its history.

Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar empire around 1500 AD, and by some accounts, the second largest city in the world at that time. Over the next centuries it fell out of importance, and now you can explore the ruins of a lot of temples and other structures spread out over a vast area. The terrain around Hampi is as mysterious as the ruins itself – the city is surrounded by boulders of different sizes, and you can climb to the top of them with a little effort to get a stunning view of the entire city and the geography. It is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Famous for its massive, beautifully carved temples, especially the virupaksha temple, dedicated to the patron deity of the empire. You can also find remains of the old aqueducts, canals and military barracks and stables here. Hampi was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986 and many efforts have been taken to restore the lost glory of the place – very limited (if any) modern establishments are allowed in the main area, which gives an authentic feel to the ruins.

Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha Temple

The Virupaksha temple (or Prasanna Virupaksha temple) is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra river at Hampi, Karnataka. Built during the 7th century, the beautiful architecture and history of the temple has made it a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple is abode to one of the forms of Lord Shiva called Lord Virupaksha. While it is located at present day Hampi, it was once a smaller shrine in the middle of the ancient and majestic Vijayanagara empire. You will find beautiful stone inscriptions dating back to the 7th century on the walls of the temple as proof of its rich heritage. Architecture-lovers and history-buffs, do visit the temple when you are in Hampi!

The temple has tall towers or gopurams acting as gateways to the inner sanctums, as is usually seen in temples of south Indian style architecture. The gopurams lead to many inner corridors and halls, all decorated with ornate stone-work. The sculptures depict mythological stories of numerous Gods and Goddesses. The main deity of the temple is Lord Virupaksha, but it is also abode to few other Hindu deities too. While many devotees visit the temple during festival seasons, it is otherwise less crowded.

Vithala Temple

Vithala Temple

The most impressive structure in Hampi, the Vithala Temple dates back to the 16th century and is a truly splendid example of rich architecture. The famous stone chariot, which has become an iconic symbol of the architecture of Hampi, is located inside the premises of this temple.

The temple complex is spread over a huge area. The main gate has an impressive arch with carvings, and opens in a large courtyard which has the famous stone chariot in the center. The main temple is located just behind the chariot and has beautiful carvings. There are also several other smaller temples inside the courtyard, all of which are definitely worth a visit. The carvings on the walls/pillars of these structures depict various gods in different forms.

Lotus Palace

Lotus Palace

Close to the Zenana Enclosure, is a monument that stands out in its design and style from most of the structures of Hampi. Another complex, for royal women, this one gets its name from the lotus-like dome

Hampi Bazaar

Hampi Bazaar

This bazaar is facing the Virupaksha temple and hence is also known as the Virupaksha Bazaar.

Various artifacts are available here including antique coins, shawls, bags etc. Most tourists purchase souvenirs here.

Hippie Island

Hippie Island

Coracle Ride

Coracle Ride

When in Hampi, you absolutely have to get hold of a coracle and ride in one. It is one of the few places in the country where you can get such an experience and we gurantee that it is going to be a lot of fun. You can rent a coracle at really economic rates and cross the rates in the ferry that looks exactly like the one in olden days. This is one of the most exciting experiences and things to do in Hampi.

Queen’s Bath

Queen’s Bath

A part of the Royal Enclosure, this aquatic enclosure was the Royal bath during the times of the Vijayanagra Empire. It was built in such a way that no outsiders could enter the bath, and has lost much to ruins at the date.

Matanga Hill

Matanga Hill

This hill is described as the location of the hermiatge of the Saint Matanga during the Ramayana, hence is appropriately named.

This is an ideal spot for those looking for some trekking excitement, as it is the highest peak in Hampi.

Elephant Stables

Elephant Stables

The Elephant Stables served as an enclosure for royal elephants back in the day of the Vijayanagra Empire.

Eleven domed chambers are seen here with a particularly decorated one which served as an enclosure for the musicians during any performances.

Monolith Bull

Monolith Bull

The ride of Lord Shiva, the bull is represented here as a sculpture placed on a high platform. It is partially ruined, but is a major attraction owing to its huge size.

Big Shivlinga

Big Shivlinga

Carved out of a single boulder, this Shivlinga stands at a height 3m amidst water. It is a major attraction in Hampi.

Zenana Enclosure

Zenana Enclosure

The Zenana Enclosure was primarily the Women’s Quarters. A part of the Royal Enclosure, this was a place especially for the Royal women i.e. the Queen and her friends and companions.

This palace is the biggest excavation that has been done in Hampi. The south east corner has the Lotus Mahal.

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