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Tourist Places To Visit In Hampi
Hampi was the capital of the southern kingdom of Vijaynagar that ruled the Deccan between 14th and 16th century A.D. Today even in its ruins Hampi is majestic and charismatic, towering over the extraordinary landscape which is defined by gigantic boulders, coconut and banana trees and sugarcane plantations. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the group of monuments at Hampi is a repository of artistic, architectural and historical wealth unparalleled in its spread and magnitude. Untouched and unscathed by the ravages of the modern world, Hampi offers a refuge for the worn out souls and is a solace for the heart. Here are some of the best tourist places to visit in Hampi, from Virupaksha Temple to Stone Chariot to Elephant stables and more.
Virupakha temple also known as Pampapati temple is considered the most sacred of the temples at Hampi. Situated on the southern bank of Tungabhadra and north of the Hemakuta hill, the temple complex is a long rectangular enclosure. There is an outer and inner gopura (entrance of a temple), with the latter giving way to the inner court where the vimana (temple or shrine)and subsidiary shrines are located. The mandapa (pillared outdoor hall) and ardhamandapa have intrinsically curved pillars, a common feature of all temples at Hampi. The garbhagriha or the sanctum enshrines the Virupakha linga (representation of Hindu Lord Shiva).
Hemakuta Hill And Temples
The sacred Hemakuta Hill is dotted with numerous shrines and mandapas most of which are in ruins today. It has three shrines facing east, west and north with a common ardhamandapa. The best time to visit Hemakuta Hill is at sunset. The stone structures against the setting sun give the place a silhouetted look.
Perhaps no other structure or building in Hampi can compare with Vitthala temple in terms of its magnificence. It is the culmination of the Vijaynagar style of art and architecture. It is situated inside a rectangular enclosure and all along the enclosure walls are pillared colonnades. The gopura, the hundred-pillared mandapa, indeed, each structure within the complex are exquisite displays of craftsmanship.
The stone chariot at the Vitthala temple is a remarkable structure and in many ways symbolises the architectural brilliance and perseverance of the artists at Hampi. The intricate and delicate carvings which one comes across in a wooden ratha or chariot are to be found in the stone chariot. The image of Garuda is placed within it.
Pillared Mandapa of Hazara Rama Temple
At the centre of the ardhamandapa of the Hazara Rama temple there are four ornately and exquisitely carved pillars of black stone. They are cubical pillars with bas reliefs of Ganesha, Hanuman, Mahishasurmardini and different forms of Vishnu.
Ugra Narasimha or Lakshmi Narasimha Statue
This 6.7 metres high monolithic statue is an awe-inspiring piece of art. Structured out of a single granite boulder, the statue is a four-armed seated figure of Narasimha which are all broken now. It has a seven-hooded naga (snake) curling above its head. Though mammoth in size, the carving is neat and intricate. Today it stands as one of the most striking remnants of a time which witnessed attainment of a very high degree of artistic excellence. Among other monolith structures at Hampi worth mentioning are the Sasivekalu and the Kadalekalu Ganesa statues on the slope of Hemakuta hill.
Located right next to the Lakshmi Narasimha statue is a small Shiva temple containing an enormous linga. It is 3 metres high and has its base permanently submerged in water.
This is a long building with eleven chambers with beautifully arched entrances. The domical ceiling of the chambers have lotus motifs, however the domes differ from each in design. Some are circular, some octagonal while others are ribbed. Originally it was constructed for the elephants. Later however it may have been used as a secretariat building during the reign of Rama Raya.
An interesting feature of Vijaynagar architecture is the presence of secular structures with strong Islamic architectural influences. One such example is the Lotus Mahal within the Zanana Enclosure. The structure has arches supported by twenty-four square pillars. It also consists of nine pyramidal shikharas (towers) of different shapes with the central one being the tallest. The interior of the building is however unusually plain compared to the intrinsic carvings which characterises other Hampi monuments.
This is believed to be the frame for a massive set of balance. The Vijaynagar kings were weighed on this against gold and precious gems on auspicious occasions. The pillars are made of carved granite stones.
Made of well-dressed schist blocks, a square stepped tank has been unearthed at Hampi. It has five landings connected by ornamental steps.
A visit to Hampi is not complete without a climb to the top of the Matunga hill. As the highest point in Hampi, the hill offers an aerial view of the ruins and its surroundings. Watching the sun setting over the ruins or rising from the Matunga hill is an absolute treat to the eyes.
River Tungabhadra and Coracles
The ruins of Hampi overlook the Tungabhadra River. It’s another instance of how the harmonious blend of the unbridled beauty of nature and history creates a lasting impression, pervading the aesthetic consciousness of man. Sitting on one of those boulders on the river, watching the setting sun cast its last rays on Hampi can be a thought provoking experience. Intrinsically woven with Hampi and Tungabhadra are the coracles. These small round shaped boats are used for crossing the river. A coracle boat ride on Tungabhadra is a must!
Hampi Opening Hours / Entry Fees
Opening Hours: The ruins can be explored and viewed at leisure. However there are some monuments like Vitthala temple which remains open between 8.30 A.M and 5.30 P.M. The Elephant Stables are open from 8 A.M to 6 P.M. The Archaeological Museum is open to public from Saturday to Monday between 10 A.M. and 5 P.M. It is advisable to head back to hotel by 6 P.M as darkness sets in and is easy to lose way amidst the ruins.
Entry Fees: There is no entry fee for entering Hampi. A nominal fee is however charged for three monuments, namely, Vitthala temple, Elephant Stables and Zenana Enclosure and the ticket remains valid for the whole day. For Indian citizens it is Rs. 10, for foreign citizens it is $5 and for children below the age of 12 it is free. An entry fee of Rs. 5 has to be paid for the Archaeological Museum.
Other Costs: Among other costs, a camera fee is charged at some monuments like Virupaksha temple and Vitthala temple. Guides are also available on full day and half day basis. Guide fees for tour of a single monument (half an hour) is Rs. 50; guide fees of Rs. 600 is charged for a whole day tour of the ruins while the charge for half day guide is between Rs. 200 - Rs. 300.
Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary
Hampi and sloth bears? Yes, weird combination but real nonetheless.
Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary is where you will find these lazy, cute bears that sleep on branches with an ‘i-dont-have-a-care-in-the-world’ attitude. More than a 100 sloth bears are found here in any given season, enjoying their natural habitat of boulders and hills and trees. Aside from these bears, animals like pangolins, mongooses, leopards, tigers etc. are also found here. There are many butterfly species and bird species to be found here as well! If you don’t wish to move around much, you can go to the watch tower at the centre of the sanctuary, climb up, and enjoy the view.
Yantrodharaka Hanuman Temple
Only 2 km away from Virupaksha Mandir, Yantrodharaka Hanuman Temple is located inside a cave on top of a hill. As the name suggests, Lord Hanuman is worshipped here in this temple. It is said that Hanumanji meditated here in this cave, by the Tungabhadra river. A little walk away there is another holy place where the temple is built in honour of Lord Srinavasa. Tourists visit here in hoards, pray in the cave, then pick up handy snacks like cucumbers, mangoes and biscuits from the stalls and munch on them as they climb down.
Zanana means ‘womenfolk.’ Hence the name signifies a chamber of the ladies where the men are prohibited. During the Vijayanagar Empire, the Zanana Enclosure was a large property with very tall, almost unscalable walls. The Lotus Mahal siting in the centre of the enclosure served as a place to revel and enjoy by the women together. You can see this palace, as well as the three watch towers at north, south and east of the place. The Indo-Islamic architecture, coupled with water pavilions and royal gardens make this place a must visit.
Vijayanagar Empire’s royal Bath for the royal ladies, the Queen’s bath is magnificent and completely luxurious in its architecture. Almost 500 years old, the bath is still standing in perfect condition, with most of its amenities and structures intact. The outside is simple, while the interiors are done up in rich ornate embellishments. The sunken bath in the interiors is worth seeing, as are the arched corridors around the main sanctum.
If you thought Hampi was all temples and ruins and museums, then think again! The Virapapur Gadde or Hippie Island as it is popularly called, is one of the most fun places in Hampi. It is situated across River Tungabhadra, and is known for its hub of backpackers who come here to lay back and enjoy the restaurants, cottages, cafes and rice paddy farms that stretch around on all sides. Some wanderer musicians and bands jam together at sunset, some cafes reverberate with open mics. This is that kind of place.
Oh well, shopping is just another inevitable activity of travelling. When in Hampi, you have to reserve at least half a day to explore the fun Hampi Bazar. The road runs along for a kilometre, with shops dotting it on both sides. Pavilions and closed markets also extend from time to time, selling everything from hippy clothes to Indian wear, jewellery to souvenirs to local perfumes.
Laughing Buddha Cafe
Oh, did we forget to mention this cafe in Hippie Island? Well that’s because it needs a position of pride of its own. The Laughing Buddha Café with its colourful and lively interiors and delicious European, Indian and pan-Asian food is the best kind of place there is. Not only to eat, but to chill and chat and even work (if you are one of the those) in Hampi. You get to enjoy the gorgeous view of Tungabhadra flowing by as scents of fresh pizzas, burgers, sizzlers and curries continue to waft by.