Hampi - Ruins of Vijaynagar Empire

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As Dalai Lama puts it, Once a year, go some place you've never been before.

Travelling is all about exploring the new places. So however inviting your usual vacation spot is, it is always thrilling to be to a different destination.

Photo by Dineshkannambadi

Speaking about different, Hampi - a hamlet in Karnataka, India is emerging as a popular tourist destination among the enthusiastic travellers.  Travelling to Hampi is like a boarding on a time machine! Hampi was the once a part of the ancient capital of the legendary Vijayanagara Empire and hence is bestowed with valued structures like rock-solid pillars that produce melodious music and gigantic stone chariots, enchanting temples, monuments and fascinating archaeological sites that will blow away your mind. The ruins of this hidden gem are spread over 24 square kilometres and needless to say are a UNESCO world heritage site.

What sets Hampi apart from the other tourist destinations in India is its liberal environment for tourists.  Unlike other Indian tourist destinations, Hampi can be casually explored on a bike. Buy a local map and get going! Every rock in Hampi has a tale to describe and moving on your own pace listening to these stories will enrich your Hampi tour.

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Hampi has a distinct illustration of nature. Rocky landscapes with few pleasant exceptions of Mango and Palm trees, the serene Tungabdhadra River and the bewitching ruins of around 500 monuments belonging to a majestic Empire add to the magnetism of the view every time you look at it.

The town is divided into two broader sections- The sacred centre and the Royal centre.

The scared centre is the assortment of religious monuments and temples in Hampi. The Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Hemakuta Hill temples, Big Shivlinga, Hazara Rama Temple; the list goes on.

But most striking are The Virupaksha Temple- where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are believed to be married and The Vitthala Temple which is home to the gigantic Stone chariot and the musical pillars. The stone chariot in the Vitthala temple has myths and tales surrounding it and has been a point of curiosity for archaeologists and historians for years. A chariot or a shrine- this is undeniably one of the most iconic structures in Hampi. Another attention-grabbing element of the Vithtala temple is Musical pillars in Mahamandapam. These architectural marvels produce melodious sounds; some of them sounding exactly like musical instruments. There have been several examinations of these phenomena and the researchers marvel at the skills of the craftsmen whose skilful design results into a striking sound every time you tap the pillars.

What strikes you when you visit these temples is not just the magnificent architecture, the intricate design work but the ripple of spirituality it creates within your soul. The temples are dedicated to the Hindu deities but the awe is universal.

The Hampi Bazaar which was a market in ancient times is another example of fine governance. It is a kilometre long complex which served as the market place with both the sides lined with two-storied pavilions. You can take a walk in the Hampi Bazaar from the Virupkasha temple leading to the foot hills of Matang hill.

Matanga hill offers a panoramic view of Hampi, hike to the top and enjoy the golden rays illuminating the ruins as the sun sets.

Photo by Adam63

The Royal centre comprises of the Royal Enclosures of Vijayanagara Empire, Queen's Bath, Zanana Enclosure (which also houses the Lotus Mahal), Elephant Stables, Mahanavmi Dibba, the Stepped Bath are places worth including in the itinerary. The history behind each of these structures is captivating and you can either look up in the guide book or hire a guide to know the details.

Hampi is ideal for short breaks and weekend getaways, but if want to linger for a while, there are plenty of other activities to do. Hampi cherishes a blend of different cultures. And it is also considered to be the hippies hot-spot.

Hippies and travellers from all over the world pour into this hamlet and are a friendly community in general. You have to take a boat ride to the other side of the Tungabhadra River to Virupapur gadde which is the Hippie hub. There are lot of hitch-hikers and backpackers that gather here and you can explore the quieter yet amusing side of this town. Share the stories of your lives over a bon-fire, catch a jam session, be a part of drum circles, try your hand at dread-lock making or simply jump of the cliff in the splashing water of Kamalapur lake- possibilities are endless!

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This side of Hampi also has some great options in accommodation. Imagine staying right in the middle of rice fields! Yes, Hampi has some cosy resorts located in the rice paddies- Shanti guest house is one of the popular options. There are plenty of resorts and hotels that will suit your budget and people gather outside the hotels to camp together at night. Under the skies, it all seems like just old friends catching up!

Photo by Mariko Bhakti Hirakawa

With these exciting things in store, this hidden gem is gaining popularity all around the world. Because familiar is good; but new is exciting! Travel to Hampi on your next holidays and know why! Plan your trip to hampi with our online trip maker .

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