Hampi, in the Bellary District of North Karnataka, was once part of the 'Vijayanagara Empire' the capital of one of the last
Hindu Kingdoms, before it was occupied by the Deccan Muslim Confederacy. The ruins here are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This special recognition gives the place importance to the common heritage of humanity, and hence the local community has
an obligation to preserve such a site. Hampi is built on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, and is known as 'Hampe' in Kannada.
It is surrounded by hills on the other three sides. Due to its strategic location, it was chosen as the capital of the Empire from
1336 to 1565.
The closest town, 'Hospet' is located 13km away and is also the nearest railway station. Bellary is another major town at driving distance from Hampi, and is around 74km away. The capital of Karnataka, Bangalore is around 353km from this abode of history and architecture. The best way to reach Hampi is by road. The next option is by rail with Guntakal a major train junction offering connections from different parts of the state/ country. The closest airport is in Bellary a 1 hour drive from Hospet. Many tours are present which can take you to the place at a convenient pace.
Spread over an area of more than 25 square kilometers, the Hampi ruins has a range of buildings from temples and palaces, to forts,
markets and aquatic structures. The big boulders, scattered like marbles across the landscape, creates a mystic aura about the place.
There are more than 500 monuments in this ancient land, and can be a backpackers delight with the numerous small inviting paths waiting to be discovered. Various rental options are available on rent, though having your own vehicle makes a big difference when traveling especially during the hot summer months.
Hampi itself can be divided into smaller clusters and villages; they are typically a few kilometers apart and connected by road or in some places by ferries, in the form of coracles (large round bamboo baskets which can seat upto 4 people). The zones are:
Don't expect much in terms of shopping here. There are many small souvenirs and knick-knacks that one can purchase while in
Hampi, very typical of a small town which has grown in stature due to its historic significance. Other major shopping should be
left to the cities nearby like Bellary and Bangalore.
Being a small town, much of the eateries are concentrated around the Hampi market place/ bazaar located in the Sacred Centre. Typical South Indian fare are available including Thalis (complete rice meals with assorted side dishes), Idli and Dosas. A word of caution though about what you eat and where, as cleanliness and hygiene might not be guaranteed at all places. Carry your own water bottle during your trip as it is also useful during the walks around the ancient land.
There are a number of restaurants close to the Virupaksha and Vittala Temples as well. Most of the eateries are located on the Hampi side of the river. There might not be too much of a choice when you cross over to the other side. Plan your trip accordingly.
The weather here is typically hot and dry. Make sure you carry your sunscreen and a good hardy hat. Having an umbrella is always handy too,
especially during the summer months from March to June, where temperatures can go upto 40 deg C. Monsoon weather brings its share of wet
weather from late June to early August. Hence these two seasons see a low influx of tourists. If you can brave the heat (and rain) then
this is a good time to visit, as prices come down and the places are less crowded. The rivers swell during the rainy season, so be careful
near the rivers edge, as the current and depth can be unpredictable. Swimming is not allowed in this area. The best time to visit is from
November to February, when the temperatures can be in the 20's.
For those who have frequently travelled around India, they will know that where there are temple complexes, there will be monkeys. Pay heed to them, don't tease or try to feed them, unless you are ready to face the consequences.
Bicycles and mopeds are available for rent to travel locally, though most of the effort would be made on foot. Having your own transportation is a big plus as it will give you the advantage of travelling from one location to another across the 25km expanse of the land.
Hampi car rentals can be arranged by BookCab which is a reliable rental service. They have a range of vehicles to choose from: economy cars like Indica to midsize cars like Ford Fiesta, Honda City, and from SUV, MUV vehicles like Toyota Fortuner, Qualis and Innova to Premium cars like Toyota Corolla, Mercedes and BMW. Bus and vans too can be arranged depending on your requirement. They provide an easy online booking option and can be reached 24x7 on (092) 4100 4100.
Book your travels in advance, be it accommodation or transportation to ensure your trip is as hassle free as possible.
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