Hampi: Stories etched in stones
Overview: Hampi, located on the banks of the river Tungabhadra, is one of the most popular heritage destinations in Karnataka. The vast area of the Heritage site also includes Kamalapur, Kampli, Anegundi and Hospet, and one needs at least a week’s time to explore the site.
Hampi, though inhabited and ruled since 2nd century AD, rose to prominence in the 15th century during the Vijayanagara Empire. According to legend, Hampi was also known as Pampa Kshetra or Kishkinda Kshetra, which was also the home to the monkey king Sugreeva, and also is the birthplace of Hanuman, who was born in the hills of Anjandri Betta, near Anegundi.
The main attraction that catches eyes is the Hampi Bazaar, which was the main shopping centre during Krishnadevaraya’s reign. Just next to Hampi Bazaar is the Virupaksha temple, where Lord Shiva is still worshipped. The main temple has exquisite paintings, with colours from organic extract. The Virupaksha temple stands on the banks of the river Pampa, which links Hampi to Kishkinda Kshetra.
The walking trail next to the Virupaksha temple takes one to the hillocks hosting ancient temples built in Kadamba style. The walk around the town of Hampi takes the visitors to another world, with different temples like Achutaraya Temple, Nandi temple, Hazara Rama temple, Krishna temple and several others.
A few eye catching temples are the Narasimha statue, which hosts a 6.7m high Ugra Narasimha statue, next to this stands the Badavalinga temple, which appears floating in a pool of water, which does not dry up. Another iconic temples is the Vittla temple, which is famous for the stone chariot, which is just one of the 3 similar structures in India, others being in Konark and Mahabalipuram.
Hampi can be explored in different ways, like walking by foot, by autorickshaws, and also by bicycles which can be hired on rent.
How to reach: From Bangalore, Hampi can be reached via NH4, take a deviation near Chitradurga to reach Hospet. Hampi is around 10 kms from Hospet. Plenty of buses ply from Bangalore to Hospet, and special Hampi buses frequently operate from Hospet.
Food/Accommodation: Good North Karnataka food can be tried at Khanavalis. Also other options available at Hospet town. Plenty of options for accommodations available at Hospet, and a few resorts can also be found between Hospet and Hampi.