Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the state of Karnataka, at the bank of the Tungabhadra River, which has gained good tourist footprint off late. A city steeped in history, Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire during the 14th century AD and in the 1500s it transformed into world’s second-largest and one of India’s richest cities. After incessant invasions by the Mughal sultanates who defeated the powerful Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi got converted to a land of ruins that exists till today as is.
Even though Hampi plunged into perpetual ruin, the city is still described as an “austere and grandiose site” by the UNESCO, owing to the myriad architectural wonders residing in this city. The ruins in Hampi are spread across a sprawling area of over 41 sq km and consist of more 1600 surviving structures that include temples, forts, mandapas, shrines, pillared halls, sacred and royal complexes, water structures and more.
The ruins and old structures scattered across Hampi will transport you to the golden era of 15th and 16th centuries when once it reigned as one of the richest and most powerful cities in South India. Hampi is also an important religious site as it houses the famous Virupaksha temple, a monastery linked to Adi-Shankara and other such structures that were once religiously significant.
Best Time to Visit Hampi
Hampi remains dry and moderate all year long. But the best time to visit Hampi is in the winters, that is, from October to March. Although the afternoons may be hot, mornings and evening remain cool enough for you to explore this World Heritage Site.
How to Reach Hampi
- By air: Bellary Airport (60kms) and Hubli Airport (143kms) are nearest to Hampi. From here you can book a cab or self-drive till Hampi.
- By train: Although Hosapete Junction (13kms) is the nearest railway station to Hampi, very few trains are available till here.
- By road: You can take a bus to Hosapete and then board another local bus or book a can to reach Hampi.
In this blog, we bring you a list of 12 best and important monuments in Hampi that you must explore if you plan a trip to Hampi. Sit back and scroll through our list and take a visual tour of the city’s pristine remains.
Monuments at the Sacred Centre
1. Hampi Bazaar
This bazaar street is also known as the Virupaksha Bazaar. It is located close to the Virupaksha and it was once a flourishing marketplace. Today, it is used as a residence for villagers and there are shops inside some of the old buildings. Visit to check out the ancient architecture and inscriptions on the walls. Entry to the Hamp Bazaar is free.
2. Achyuta Raya’s Temple
This temple in the Sacred Centre is famous for its Vijayanagara style of architecture. It was one of the last constructions of the Vijayanagara Empire before it was captured by enemies. It is located between the Matanga hills and Gandhamadana. Surprisingly, it is less crowded than the other tourist attractions in Hampi and is a great site to visit for those who love quietude.
3. Virupaksha Temple
The Virupaksha Temple is the main temple in Hampi. It was constructed in the 7th century is one of the most prominent sites in Hampi that is flocked by hundreds of tourists each year. With towering gopurams and spectacular stone inscriptions, Virupaksha Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is famous for its intricate South-Indian style architecture. Virupaksha Temple celebrates three major festivals – Betrothal of Lord Shiva, “Phalapuja” festival which is the marriage of Lord Shiva with Pampa and Shivaratri.
4. Courtesans’ Street
This street is located near Achyuta Raya’s Temple and was once a bustling street where elaborate markets selling gems, pearls, ivory and other things were present. Today, at this site, you will come across heaps and heaps of ruined pillars that are beautifully carved with intricate artwork. While most of the pillars at the site look complete, some of the pillars seem unfinished. Besides pillars, there is a small unfinished riverside path that was once used as a walkway to get to the temple.
5. Sasivekalu Ganesha
The Sasivekalu Ganesha is a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The statue of Ganesha here is one of the biggest statues in Hampi. Legend has it that the temple was built by a grain merchant as a thanksgiving gesture to Lord Ganesha. The statue in this temple is believed to be carved from a single block of stone and is about 2 1/2 m tall. You have to trek a little bit to reach the place and its best to go in the morning to watch the sunrise.
Monuments at the Royal Center
The Mahanavami Dibba lies at the site where royal functions were once conducted. Although it lies in ruins, the place is an important landmark and tourist attraction. There are two sets of stairs to the top of the Mahanavami Dibba and from the upper platform, you can soak in stunning views of Hampi. If you are observant, you will find many historic and important ruins all around the Mahanavami Dibba.
7. Hazara Rama Temple
The standout feature of the Hazara Rama Temple is the wonderful carvings on the wall. Most of the carvings are rooted in Hindu culture and mythology. You also have carvings of religious festivals like Dussehra and Holi on the walls as well as scenes from Ramayana. At this Dravidian temple, one can also see the strong influences of vimana architecture prevalent here.
8. Zenana Enclosure
The Zenana Enclosure once housed temples, elephant stables and the queen’s palace. It is an excellent place for a long stroll in the evening. For the best experience, you can book a guided tour that gives you a more in-depth insight into the history of the Zenana Enclosure.
9. Palace of Vira Harihara
The palace was the former home of the rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire. What remains of the palace today is the base of the structure. Many tourists visit to get a glance of the base and the numerous residential artefacts at the sight. To get to the palace ruins you need to enter via the Danaik’s Enclosure and follow a long trail.
The Granaries were storage rooms for grains and food. Today, most of the granaries lie in ruins. Some of the granaries can be found near the Hazara Rama Temple and the Danaik’s Enclosure. You can reach them by following a mud trail.
Monuments of the Riverside Ruins
11. Riverside Ruins
The Riverside Ruins are located near the Kodanda Rama Temple. At the site, travellers can see 108 Shiva Lingas and many other ruins such as pavilions and inscriptions on large boulders. Besides exploring the place, one can even enjoy boat rides on the river. Guided tours of the riverside ruins are available in Hampi.
12. Coracle Crossings
You would not call these monuments, but they were important parts of Hampi’s heritage. People of Hampi used to use these boats to travel across the river and back. At the site of the river ruins, travellers can take boat rides that are enjoyable. During the monsoon, due to the rough weather, Coracle boat rides are shut.
There are plenty of other monuments in Hampi as well, but the ones listed above are the best ones to see. We have included the Coracle Crossings in the list because it is a unique and amazing experience in Hampi. Whether you like history or are an architectural buff, you will love visiting these monuments in Hampi. To enjoy and experience the true essence of Hampi, it is best to take a guided tour. You can book one at Hampi or even choose one online from different websites.