If you are backpacking India, the ancient city of Hampi is a must-see. There are a wealth of wonderful temples, statues and ruins to explore in this iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site. From North Goa you can take an overnight bus ride to the state of Karnataka to see this fascinating historic city. Read on to discover the best Hampi itinerary for 2 days and all the top .
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The history of Hampi
First, the history bit. Hampi, known as the City of Victory, was the proud capital of the medieval Vijayanagara empire, which ruled over a large part of Southern India for more than two centuries.
The landscape’s craggy hills, wide Tungabhandra river and massive boulders provided natural defences. Inside the city walls, a series of kings built ostentatious statues and temples to showcase their wealth and power.
When the city was finally defeated by a combined might of armies in 1565, it was robbed, pillaged and left desolate. What remains is a host of ruins, displaying some of the finest examples of medieval Indian architecture. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
How to get around Hampi
I spent two days exploring this city, testing out different ways to get around. The first was a tour by rickshaw, then the next day I hired a bicycle and made my own way around, which was great fun. Both options allow you to see all the sites in one day.
This is the first view you get of Hampi from across the river where many of the guest houses are. A couple of guys with a boat carry people, scooters and bikes across.
Here are all the ancient and amazing places you can visit in Hampi on your first day. The city is well worth a visit, as its structures and ruins are so memorable.
The majestic 7th century Virupaksha Temple is one of the most visible places to visit in Hampi. Built during the Vijayanagara Empire, it towers over the river bank and is the city’s primary centre of pilgrimage for Hindus.
Kadelakalu Ganesha is not far away by bike or rickshaw. It is an ornate structure housing an enormous statue of the multi-limbed, elephant-headed Ganesha. This Hindu god is revered as the remover of obstacles. He is also known as the patron of arts and sciences, the god of intellect and wisdom, and the Lord of new beginnings.
Standing at 6.7 metres, Lakshmi-Narasimha is one of Hampi’s most important monuments and examples of Vijayanagara architecture. It was created in 1528 from a single boulder of granite. According to Hindu mythology, Narasimha, an incarnation of Hindu deity Vishnu, has the face of a lion and the body of a human. Originally, a small figure of Goddess Lakshmi sat in Narasimha’s lap, but it was removed during vandalism in a 1565 raid that led to the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire.
The Sister Stones
Legend has it, they were two women cast into stone when they badmouthed Hampi. For the record, I really liked the place.
This statue is located at the Mahanavami Dibba, a beautiful stone platform in the Royal Enclosure of Hampi.
The Lotus Mahal
The pretty pink-hued Lotus Mahal is another one of the essential places to visit in Hampi. It is a beautifully designed palace within the Zenana Enclosure, a segregated area that was used by the royal women of the Vijayanagara Dynasty. It is one of the few structures that survived the 1565 attacks. There is a small charge for foreign visitors but it’s well worth it.
The Elephant Stables
Nearby, just outside the same enclosure, are the Elephant stables, which used to house the royal elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire. It’s incredible to imagine the elephants strolling in and out of this huge structure. Like the Lotus Mahal, there is a small fee to access this area.
The Vitthala temple, in the north east of the city, is definitely one of the must-see places to visit in Hampi. The intricacy of its architecture and design is unparalleled.
The temple has a musical secret. If you strike the temple’s pillars with your fingers, they make a twinkly melodic sound, each with a different note. The large temple complex contains structures including the shrine of the Goddess (Devi shrine) and the famous Stone Chariot.
The Stone Chariot
The stone chariot here at the Vitthala temple is another shrine and one of three famous stone chariots in India. Originally, the wheels could turn.
Day two of your Hampi itinerary is an ideal time to revisit any of the ancient sites you may have missed or you can choose a different way to explore them. I decided to hire a bike and had a fantastic day cycling around the area.
Alternatively, you can choose to simply relax in Hampi’s Hippie Island backpacker area, take in the views of the rice paddy fields and feast on the delicious food on offer here.
Anjanadri Hill Temple
On your second day in Hampi, make sure you visit the Anjanadri Hill Temple, otherwise known as the monkey temple. Here you can climb the 575 steps to the top of the hill, where you can enjoy incredible views over the area. It’s a great place to go at sunset.
Don’t be tempted to feed the monkeys though and keep your electronics hidden, as despite their cute faces, they won’t be afraid to jump on you if they see something they want!
The best places to stay in Hampi
One of the most popular homestays in Hampi is the Shankar Homestay, which has garden views, free WiFi, air conditioning and excellent amenities in the rooms. Alternatively, the beautifully furnished Lotus Riya homestay is loved for its fantastic hosts, who serve up a delicious cooked breakfast every morning.
If price is your main concern, try the Little Banana Homestay, which has rustic rooms with a lovely boho vibe. As the name suggests, it’s located close to a little banana farm, so the surroundings are peaceful. For hostels in Hampi, try the Happy Treat Hostel & Cafe, which is spacious and clean, with a friendly vibe and a mixed or female-only dorm room available.
Final thoughts on a Hampi itinerary for 2 days
Even though I only spent a couple of days in Hampi, it was definitely a highlight of my month in India. Exploring the temples, ruins and statues, whether with a rickshaw guide or by bicycle, will inspire you and leave you with a lifetime of memories.
Now, if you are a solo traveller, read my top tips for backpacking in Goa and all the best places to go.