A Day’s Itinerary – Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi was once the richest and largest cities in the world when it was ruled by the Vijayanagara Empire. Located on the banks of the River Tungabhadra, only the ruins remain of once a magnificent city. Hampi is located around 350kms from Bangalore and takes about 9-10 hours to reach as the road between Chitradurga and Hampi isn’t too well. You can also take the Hampi Express from Bangalore and reach Hospet by train, early morning. There after take a bus/auto/taxi and reach Hampi which is not more than 20 minutes away.
Dont forget to stop in between at the Tungabhadra Reservoir just before you enter Hospet. The atmosphere is serene and you cannot see the end to this enormous lake. You can spend a few minutes here and cool your feets in the waters.
Being a UNESCO World Heritage site Hampi doesn’t have any Hotels. You would either get them in Hospet or the other side of the river Tungabharda. Hampi has a variety of Guest Houses only but don’t expect anything close to even a 2-star property. The rooms in these Guest Houses vary and all of them are quite far from anything luxurious. Do have a look at your room before booking them. We stayed in 3 different Guest Houses as we didn’t find anyone having 3 vacant room on a busy weekend. The rooms in one the guest house was really bad and only had the basics, while the other 2 rooms were decent to stay.
It is very difficult to visit Hampi for a day and still cover all the places especially for an architectural enthusiast. The ruins are spread over a large area and only the glimpse can be covered in a day. The temperature soars as the day passes, so make sure you have plenty of water. You make also take the bicycle to visit the ruins but being in a rocky terrain it might be a little difficult. The city is spread around the Virupaksha Temple which is also the starting point for most of the visitors. You can take a autorickshaw who you take you for a ride all around the city.
We visited the Vittal Temple Complex which is a little far from the city and will take almost an hour or two to complete. The Vittal Temple Complex is one of the largest and most beautiful complexes in Hampi. We then went to see the Lakshmi Narasimha stone sculpture which is just enormous in size. The Elephant Stable and Lotus Mahal are also very beautiful. Laying in a beautiful green grass garden, the Elephant Stable gives a glimpse of the magnificent empire. You can end your tour at the Hemakuta Hill temples. This place is very famous to watch sunset’s. There are many ruins and temples on this hill especially the Ganesha Temple and a series of Jain Temples. The Hemakuta Hills would leave you back at the Virupaksha Temples.
Interestingly Hampi being one of the most famous and largest archeological sites in India doesn’t even have a basic protection or security around the ruins except for a few. The ruins are laid open before public to vandalize. Hampi is not far from being completely extinct. The other threat to Hampi is probably the fumes from the near-by iron-ore industries and excessive mining. The Governments should try and make Hampi tourist friendly by introducing decent places to stay and eat, hip-hop bus service; etc.