Hampi: Beyond the Ruins

I had heard a lot about Hampi from many travelers that I got really curious about the place. Everyone had a different view. Some liked the food, some liked the ruins, for some it was just a place to chill, and for some others it was a family vacation. It was my time to explore

Hampi is a small town in the north of Karnataka towards the border of Andhra Pradesh. In the medieval years, it was the grand capital of the famous South Indian emperor Krishnadeva Raya and to this day Hampi invites travelers to admire the grandeur of cultural empire. The famous architectural sites and monuments are on one bank of Tungabhadra river and the other bank hosts the holidaymakers in guest houses and restaurants.

During the first visit, I delved the rocks and studied the history, but I realized the town has lot more to offer. And I was down the road again the next month. Here are my list of eight things I enjoyed the most in my second.

  1. Refreshing morning dip: Most travelers arrive in Hampi by overnight buses and have to cross the river to reach their guesthouse. Clear flowing water of Tungabhadra and the sight of local kids playing and splashing water might be a great start to the day. Well, you are checking into the accommodation anyway. So wet your feet or take a dip in the river. The cool water will surely revitalize your senses.
  2. Enjoy local food: The central road of Hampi town has local restaurants serving hot idlis and mirchi bajji with chutney for breakfast. If you are passing by, the aroma of freshly cooked food is surely going to tempt you. Try Khanawali restaurant that serves north Karnataka cuisine. And the meals they cook are locally grown vegetables curry (nutrition masters alert!), complete with lentils (yes, I got the proteins) served with jowar roti and rice. That was one of the best food I ever ate. As I stepped out in burping satisfaction, I noticed their nameplate said they were featured in many guidebooks. All for a minimum price of seventy-five rupees.
  3. Bike it up: Present day Hampi is small town with architectural sites spread around 10 kilometer radius. Most of the sites are short hops from each other but not easily walkable. Bicycles are available for rent and a great way to get around while enjoying the scenic country-side. Don’t forget your sunglasses and water-bottle.
  4. Architectural wonder: Exactly why you came to Hampi. To see the ruins of Vijayanagara empire. There are plenty of UNESCO World heritage sites in and around Hampi and the most famous are Virupaksha temple, Vittala Temple, Purandara mantapa, Hemakuta, the Monolithic Bull, Sasvekalu Ganesha (Mustard Ganesha) and Mahanavami Dibba. These are easy to spot on the map and reachable on bicycles.
  5. Climb a hill to watch the sunset: Sun sets around 5.40 pm and extends for about half hour. This is the best time to walk up any of the hills, Hemakuta is the most popular. Lots of shutterbugs and photographers can be spotted with their equipment. And there is no best spot. Each view is unique. Whether its hill, river or rocks, Hampi sunsets have it all.
  6. Look around: That’s right. Other than the ruins, Hampi is hot and blazing for a reason. The rocks. Free rock climbing is picking up with the young travelers just as trekking is already popular in the surrounding hills. Virupapur Gaddi has lots green fields and in mid-August when the tourist season starts these green carpets are all welcoming travelers. What better countryside experience than a walk in the fields with herons and cows for company?
  7. Shop: Shopping is definitely on my list every time I am in Hampi. The garments are all community trade cotton and made with bright contemporary prints to suit the young contemporary traveler’s minds. If you are staying for a couple of days, you could also consider buying cloth and getting custom Indian clothes stitched. Balloon pants or Harlem pants are very popular among the stores and come in various colors and unisex fittings.
  8. Spa, Yoga, Meditation: Take a deep breath. Relax. That’s why many guesthouses offer Yoga and Meditation classes. Some also have an in-house Ayurvedic spa and offer massages. No one can vouch for the masseur’s training. But it seems like a great idea to relax your holiday with some meditation techniques. Isn’t that what we all want in a holiday?

Author: Sneha Divakar


  1. I have been to Bangalore several times, but never visited Hampi, It is interesting, I hope to visit this place during my next trip to India.

  2. I visited Hampi some time back, nice place to cool-off from the city life. I’d like to visit the place again soon.

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