Hampi in a Nutshel
You must have heard of the UNESCO World Heritage town, Hampi located in the state of Karnataka. Renowned as the capital of the infamous Vijaynagara kingdom, Hampi is prominent for its mind boggling architectural ruins, unique landscapes, fascinating geology and mythological references in epics like the Ramayana where it is mentioned as Kishtkinda.
Now “Ruin is defined as something which has been destroyed, reduced to a state of decay or collapsed”
What really bothers me is why we refer to the ancient architecture of this glorious Vijaynagara Kingdom (amidst many others) as the Ruins of Hampi. While we may debate about the technicality of the term, the negative connotation associated with a ruin is something I can never attach the magnificence and gorgeous architecture of this town representing cultural marvel!
Hampi for me is like a time machine which tosses you to the era of the grand dynasties of the 15th century and is definitely magical to those imaginative and dreamy souls out there! This little town has so much to offer. While the adventurers could indulge in activities like trekking and cliff jumping, there’s a lot of history for the cultural buffs! The “traveller for food” can choose to go on an eating spree at the numerous chill cafes, the nature lovers could just laze by the lakes or amidst a sea of boulders and soak in some vibes!
Here’s some of the activities you must do when you plan to visit Hampi-
1. Explore the Architecture of Hampi!
While the history of Hampi dates back to millenniums, most of the architecture of Hampi boasts of the Vijayanagara Empire. The grand Bazaar outside the Vijaya Vitthala temple, the influence of Mongolian and Chinese architecture, the grand royal enclosure and the numerous temples spread across and around the town, every one of these prove why it was called the richest kingdom of that era and you need at least 2 days to explore it all.
2. Witness the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets!
Surrounded by extraordinary and peculiar landscape, Hampi offers you breathtaking hues during the sunrise and sunsets. While there are many such points from where you can enjoy these views, Matanga hill remains a favourite, however it is a tough climb. You can also climb the Bala Hanuman temple stretch or visit the sunset point near Virupaksha temple to soak in serenity and some warmth!
3. Experience the fun basket boat coracle ride!
The Tungabhadra River is also known as the Red River and experiencing the beauty of the red waters surrounded by gorgeous architecture and large boulders in a swirly round basket is the best it can ever get! I was ecstatic like a kid who just found candy throughout the ride, extremely amazed at the beauty around. Please note, the boatman has to put in a lot of efforts to row you around, so please don’t bargain.
4. Enjoy lip smacking food at the numerous cafes and restaurants!
Hampi has a plethora of Cafes to chill and try good food at. Due its global footprint, Hampi attracts visitors of various nationalities which results in excellent global cuisine. From excellent Cinnamon Nutella pancakes to a wholesome minestrone soup, you get everything at these cool cafes with low seating and earthy feels.
5. Hire a bike and explore the off-beat on your own!
Riding amidst the musical waves created by unending rice paddies on narrow smooth lanes as the breeze hits you on your face and the sun warms your cold soul, you want that moment to freeze. You can easily hire a scooty or a motor bike in Hampi for as little as 200 INR per day. Just hop on the wheelie, fill in some fuel and embark on a warm beautiful journey.
6. Climb up the Hanuman/Monkey temple for outstanding views!
Located around 20 minutes from the main Hampi town, this temple in Anjaneya hills, is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. There are almost 600 extra steep stairs and if you are lazy like me, it isn’t going to be as easy as the locals or other travelers make it sound. But, trust me it’s absolutely worth the climb! You get an excellent 360 degrees view of the magical Hampi landscape and I would suggest you to conquer this before sunrise and witness a beautiful sunkissed morning!
7. Soak in the chill vibes at the Hippie Island!
Hippiness is happiness as you spend your evenings laughing away with people from across the globe playing drums and various instruments and dancing away to glory! Experience the quiet and a different side of Hampi while you chill at your hammocks and soak in the ambiance. You can plan to stay at any of the Homestay Huts at Virapapur Gaddi, famously called the Hippie island.
8. Indulge in the beauty of nothingness at Sanapur Lake!
Nothing can be as calming and beautiful as doing absolutely nothing! Sanapur Lake is surrounded by large cliffs and boulders. It’s an excellent beauty and you will hardly see people around which makes it perfect for meditating or some (a lot of) me-time. Some also say that it’s open for cliff jumping, but neither am I a dare-devil adventurist nor did I see someone do so.
9. Try your hands (and legs) at bouldering!
Blessed with an astounding Geology, Hampi is all about large stones and Boulders! It is the most popular bouldering/Rock Climbing destination in India for obvious reasons. So if listening to this gives you a spike in your adrenaline, make sure you book yourself a guided rock climbing session before your visit.
10. Binge on relish-able range of local cuisine!
Ah the good old South Indian cuisine! Ranging from a spicy “Banana flower” curry to hot smoked Idli, a refreshing “Lemonana” drink after a hot day to a “mirchi vada”. You ‘ll find a lot of women selling Idlis, Vadas, Dosas, Kesari Bath and a variety of other local food which you MUST try.
11. Go Picnicking at Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary!
Around 20 KMs from the Hampi town is the Indian Sloth bear Conservation centre and Sanctuary. With over 90 species of birds, animals such as hyenas, jackals, leopards and almost 100 sloth bears, this place is perfect for wildlife lovers and those seeking a little break from the touristy lanes of Hampi Bazaar.
12. Visit the Hampi museum!
While visiting a museum does sound pretty cliché and not-so-fun, the archaeological museum of Hampi would interest all the history buffs and is better if you visit after witnessing the “ruins”. Apart from a treasure of artifacts from the Vijaynagara Empire, the museum also houses proof of the Maurya empire and King Ashoka the great belonging to 300 BCE.