Hampi – a small village and temple town located in North Karnataka is a favourite amongst foreign visitors to India and a sacred pilgrim site for Hindus. At its prime during the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi was one of the largest and richest cities in the world.
It housed as many as 2,000 spectacular monuments and also functioned as a world centre for the ruby and diamond trade. A siege in 1565 by Muslim sultans from the south of India, however, saw Hampi endure months of riots and looting before it was eventually abandoned. Whilst its power may have been crushed forever, its beauty could not be destroyed.
Many of the ruins still stand today and in 1986, Hampi was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its sprawling landscape of enormous boulders, fascinating rock formations and incredible ancient palace and temple ruins make it an unmissable destination for every type of traveller. It’s also packed full of exciting things to do and see, making it the perfect place for both a weekend getaway or as part of a longer travel itinerary.
In recent years though, tensions between locals and authorities have threatened the future of Hampi, and its title as one of India’s most popular visitor spots hangs in the balance.
So if you’ve had Hampi on your travel wishlist for a while and never gotten around to going, or even if you haven’t, here are 10 reasons why you need to visit Hampi right now!
1. You can take a tour of Sri Virupaksha Temple, a devotion to Lord Shiva, the oldest temple in Hampi. It is also said to be the oldest functioning temple in all of India!
2. You can marvel at the striking landscape of Hampi covered with huge stone boulders and fascinating rock formations.
3. You can meet Lakshmi the temple elephant! Head down to the river in the morning and watch her taking her daily bath. After, you can follow her on her walk to the temple and see her giving blessings to the locals for their offerings of food.
4. You can leave an offering on one of the ancient and sacred trees at the Hanuman Temple on Anjaneya Hill.
5. You can lose yourself amongst the ruins of one of The World’s largest and richest kingdoms.
6.You can join the travellers on Matunga Hills for a sunset jam session. Instruments are often passed around giving everyone the opportunity to contribute.
7. You can book a stay at one of Hampi’s quirky and uber-relaxing guesthouses and chill out after a full day of exploring.
8. You can hang out with some of Hampi’s cheeky residents. Watch out if you have any food in your bag or you’re likely to lose it!
9. You can eat like royalty with a thali picnic in the gardens of the Queen’s palace.