Hampi, the seat of the famed Vijayanagara empire was the capital of the largest empire in
post-mogul India, covering several states. The empire reigned supreme under Krishnadevaraya, the Emperor.
The Vijayanagara empire stretched over at least three states - Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh.
The destruction of Vijayanagar by marauding Moghul invaders was sudden, shocking and absolute.
They reduced the city to ruins amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beggaring description.
Although in ruins today, this capital city once boasted riches known far beyond the shores of India.
The ruins of Hampi of the 14th Century lies scattered in about 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation.
Strewn over a large area (about nine square miles) the ruins at Hampi offers to the tourist a
remainder of the greatest land in the whole world. Every rock, every path and every
monument at Hampi speak the same language; a language of glory and beauty.
In March 2002, the Government of India has announced that Hampi would be developed as an international destination centre.
The State Govt will constitute a Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority for integrated development and conservation of Hampi.
The Virupaksha Temple rises majestically at the western end of the famous Hampi Bazaar.
The temple has a 120 feet tall tower on its eastern entrance.
The temple contains the shrines of Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneswari.
Parts of this temple are older than the Vijayanagar kingdom itself.
The work of this style dates back to the 11th or 12th century.
In front of the temple is The Hampi Bazaar, 35 yards wide and nearly 800 yards long
and was known to be a "very beautiful street with very beautiful houses".
The most splendid monument of Hampi is undoubtedly the Vithala Temple Complex with its 56 musical pillars.
To the east of the hall is the famous Stone Chariot with stone wheels that actually revolve.
In front of the shrine stands the great mantapa. Resting on a richly sculpted basement,
its roof is supported by huge pillars of granite, about 15 feet in height, each consisting
of a central pillar surrounded by detached shafts, all cut from one single block of stone.
Nearby is the 'Purandra Dasara Mantapa' which has been also declared a protected monument.
Being worked on
A wedding precession near The Taj Mahal, the groom rides upon a decorated
horse slowly traveling down the road as people dance and a band plays leading
the way. Behind him 4 men carry a large decoration of colorful flashing lights.
Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation operates daily buses to Hospet from Bangalore,
Mysore and Gokarna. From Hospet you can go to Hampi on a local bus for Rs. 10.
There are private bus companies operating from most places in Goa and from Gokarna
which run an overnight service to Hampi. Unfortunately, there is no direct return
so you take a local bus (or taxi) to Hospet and take it from there.
Overnight trains run several times a week from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa.
The trains are a much cheaper and more comfortable route than the tourist buses
most people are led into. (2 AC - bed with linen - costs 750Rs from Bangalore to Hamp
From Bangalore, 350 km. Drive till Chitradurga on NH-4, take a
right turn on NH-13 towards Sholapur till Hospet, and then drive another 13 km
to reach Hampi (direction towards Hampi is well marked). The road is in excellent
condition till Chitradurga but then deteriorates rapidly. You are also likely to
encounter traffic jams due to ore-laden trucks plying on NH-13.
Hubli, 150 km
Hospet, 13 km
Hyderabad, 360 km. Take NH-7 till Jadcharla X-Road, turn right
towards Mahboobnagar and carry on till Raichur. From Raichur, take Karnataka State
Highway 20 towards Lingasugar, turn left at 10 km after Raichur onto Karnataka
State Highway 23 to Sindhanoor. The road on the last 15-25 km stretch, after
Gangavati, is not so bad. Lots of speed breakers in Karnataka. The 5-10 km stretch
just before the Andhra Pradesh - Karnataka States Border on Andhra Pradesh side
is full of potholes.
Motorcycle/Scooter/Moped - It can be a very hot dry heat. The walk between some
sites can be at least 5 km. Plus, the surrounding area is quite breathtaking to ride
around and you can explore some parts that no auto rickshaws will take you. Guides are
willing to ride on the back with you as well. This is a more expensive option than
the auto rickshaw but it gives you more freedom and you
can cover more in one day without rushing it. Take a guide with you one day, then
do it all again by yourself the next.
When renting a scooter fuel costs extra. Two litres will get you to the major sites
around Royal Centre and back, but three or four litres is a safer option.
Bicycles - Even though everywhere, you can rent a bicycle very cheep, but it's not such
a good choice to cycle in the heat of the day up and down hills.
Auto Rikshaw and official guides are a convient way to see all the sights without
climbing the hills. At the tourist office, they have fixed rates: 4h - 500Rs, 8h - 800Rs.
The ruins of Hampi are located within a 30 sq km area. While most of the famous places
have motorable roads leading upto them, the real pleasure in exploring Hampi comes from on
the bicycle or by walking around. Virtually every rock in Hampi has a story to say.
This story is best heard if you give it time and walk around from rock to rock.