Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Karnataka stands as a mesmerizing testament to the grandeur of the Vijayanagara Empire. This archaeological wonder unfolds a rich tapestry of history, culture, and architectural brilliance amid its sprawling ruins. For travelers seeking a blend of cultural immersion, architectural marvels, and breathtaking landscapes, Hampi is an unparalleled journey back in time, inviting exploration and contemplation.
Here’s the list of best places to visit in Hampi
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
Situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra river in Hampi, the Virupaksha temple, also known as the Prasanna Virupaksha temple, dates back to the 7th century. Renowned for its captivating architecture and rich history, the temple holds the esteemed status of being a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva, the temple was originally a modest shrine within the expansive Vijayanagara empire.
Although presently located in Hampi, the temple’s origins trace back to a smaller structure in the heart of the ancient Vijayanagara empire. The temple walls bear testimony to its illustrious heritage through intricately carved stone inscriptions dating back to the 7th century. For enthusiasts of architecture and history, a visit to this temple is highly recommended when in Hampi.
Vithala Temple, Hampi
Dating back to the 16th century, the Vithala Temple stands out as the most remarkable structure in Hampi, showcasing exquisite architecture. Situated within its premises is the renowned stone chariot, now an iconic symbol of Hampi’s architectural prowess.
Encompassing a vast area, the temple complex features a grand entrance adorned with intricate carvings, leading to a spacious courtyard where the famous stone chariot takes center stage. Positioned just behind the chariot is the main temple, adorned with captivating carvings. Within the courtyard, several smaller temples beckon visitors with their unique charm, each deserving of exploration. The walls and pillars of these structures are adorned with carvings depicting various gods in diverse forms.
The Lotus Palace stands as a prominent landmark in Hampi, renowned for its distinctive appearance resembling a blooming lotus. Situated within the Zenana Enclosure, this palace served as the designated space for the royal women of the Vijayanagara Empire. Noteworthy for being one of the rare structures in Hampi to have withstood both Mughal raids and the passage of time, the Lotus Mahal stands proudly within its courtyard.
The Hampi Bazaar also called as Virupaksha Bazaar is the ideal destination for acquiring mementos, souvenirs, affordable clothing, and keepsakes to commemorate your visit to Hampi. Positioned directly in front of the Virupaksha Temple, earning it its alternative name, this bustling market spans over a kilometer and stands out as a key landmark in Hampi. Offering a diverse range of items, from embroidered shawls and fiber handicrafts to intricate stone carvings, it serves as the go-to place for anything related to Hampi. Noteworthy is the Hampi Utsav held every November, attracting a significant number of tourists and deserving special consideration.
Functioning as a residence for royal elephants during the era of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Elephant Stables are among the few structures in Hampi that managed to withstand the Mughal onslaught. Featuring eleven domed chambers, one of them stands out with intricate decorations, serving as a space for musicians during performances. Erected in the 15th century, the entire structure was dedicated to housing the esteemed elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
In Hampi, this temple showcases the largest statue, portraying Narasimha seated on SeshaNaag, the seven-headed snake serving as his shelter. Alongside Narasimha, the idol of Goddess Lakshmi is also enshrined. Regarded as the most colossal monolithic statue in Hampi, it was constructed in 1528 AD during the rule of Vijayanagara monarch Krishnadevaraya. Subsequently, the statue, which suffered damage during the Mughal invasion of Hampi, is currently housed in the Archaeological Museum at Kamalapura.
Constructed in the year 1534 AD, the Achyuta Raya Temple stands as a significant religious edifice in Hampi. Also recognized as the Tiruvengalanatha Temple, named after its primary deity, a manifestation of Lord Shiva, it holds the distinction of being one of the final temples erected during the Vijayanagara Empire. Nestled between the Gandhamadana and Matanga hills, the temple, unfortunately, remains mostly in a state of disrepair due to attacks by the Bahamani Kingdom.
Distinguished by its more contemporary architectural style compared to other temples in Hampi, the Achyuta Raya Temple features numerous carvings portraying mythological tales embellishing pillars, walls, and monolithic blocks.
Located in proximity to the Vittala Temple, the King’s Balance is a historic 15th-century weighing scale employed for the annual ritual of weighing the king adorned with royal jewels during special occasions. Subsequently, these jewels were bestowed upon the temple priests. The structure boasts intricately carved pillars and is constructed from granite, with these pillars providing support to a stone beam featuring hoops utilized for suspending the balance.
Interestingly, the unique tradition involved the king indulging in rich and fatty foods while minimizing physical activity. This deliberate lifestyle was aimed at ensuring that the scale registered a few extra kilos, thereby facilitating the donation of more jewels to the temple priests.
The Old Palace:
The Old Palace, also recognized as Gagan Palace, stands within a fort and currently lies in a state of decay. Once the residence of the rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire and situated in Anegondi, it has been repurposed as the local administration building in Hampi. Erected in the 16th century, this exquisite structure, akin to many others in Hampi, suffered destruction during the Mughal raids of 1565 when Hampi succumbed to Mughal invaders. Despite being over 500 years old, a significant portion of the building is regrettably in ruins; nevertheless, it remains a popular tourist attraction.