An overnight bus ride from North Goa gets you to Karnataka and the tourist destination of Hampi. There is a wealth of temples, rocks and ruins to explore in this fascinating city. Here are the ancient and amazing places to visit in Hampi in one day.
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.
Getting 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.
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.
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 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.
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 here at the Vitthala temple is another shrine and one of three famous stone chariots in India. Originally, the wheels could turn.
Places to visit in Hampi in one day
This is just a brief round up of all the ancient and amazing places to visit in Hampi in one day. The city is well worth a visit, as its structures and ruins are so memorable. Enjoy!
If you are a solo female traveller, read my top tips for travel in nearby Goa here.