The temples and boulders strewn around town are some of the best places to visit in Hampi.

Down the centuries, northeast Karnataka has been host to a profusion of Deccani rulers. Hampi, site of the capital city of the Vijayanagar Hindu empire that rose to conquer the entire south in the 14th century, is the region’s most famous, and is an extraordinary site of desolate temples, compounds, stables and pleasure baths, surrounded by a stunning boulder-strewn landscape. The two most important places to visit in Hampi are the Sacred Centre, around Hampi Bazaar, and the Royal Centre, towards Kamalapuram, both of which are separated by a small valley, now consisting of agricultural fields, and which carries irrigation canals or streams that join the Tungabhadra River opposite the historic village of Anegondi.

The Sacred Centre, on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra River, is dominated by the impressive Virupaksha Temple and the highlight of the Hampi ruins, Vittala Temple. As one walks along the boulder strewn pathway, the ruins of other Hampi Temples can be seen including the Temple of Achyuta Raya, one of the major Hindu complexes at Hampi.

The Royal Centre is enclosed within a fortified wall. The core of the Royal Centre is the impressive Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stables and the superb Hazara Rama Temple, built by Deva Raya I, a Vijayanagar king of the 15th century. Around the temple are excavated remains of palaces, baths and a hundred-columned audience hall.

One of the best things to do in Hampi is to explore the Hampi attractions on a bicycle or simply by walking around. Virtually every rock in Hampi has a story to tell. This story is best heard if you allow time for walking amongst the Hampi Boulders. No two Hampi tourist places are the same.

A bicycle is the best way to explore Hampi if you enjoy history, culture and nature. It usually costs about Rs 100 per day. A helmet and a lock are included in the price. Some walking is still required for exploring inside the sites.

Below is a list of popular places to visit in Hampi.


1. Hampi Boulders

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It’s difficult to say what’s more charming in Hampi – whether it’s the amazing architecture or the bizarre looking landscape. Heaps of giant Hampi boulders perch precariously over miles of undulated terrain, their rusty hues off set by jade-green palm groves, banana plantations and paddy fields. A World Heritage Site, Hampi is a place where you can lose yourself among the ruins.


2. Hampi Temples

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Climb any boulder-toppled mountain around the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire and you will see the dizzying scale of the Hindu conquerors’ glory. This site of desolate Hampi temples, compounds, stables and pleasure baths, surrounded by a stunning boulder-strewn landscape will surely impress.


3. Virupaksha Temple Hampi

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Located in the centre of Hampi Bazaar, Virupaksha Temple is one of the oldest structures in Hampi. Dedicated to Virupaksha, an incarnation of Shiva, this temple is fully intact among the surrounding ruins. It’s worth paying a visit here just to see Lakshmi, the temple elephant, who will give you a blessing in exchange for a coin donation.


4. Vittala Temple Hampi

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Vittala Temple is the undisputed highlight of the Hampi ruins and the grandest of all the religious monuments in the Sacred Centre. Now a World Heritage Monument, this 15th century temple represents the high point of Vijayanagar art and architecture. The centrepiece of this site is a stone chariot with spinning wheels.


5. Lotus Mahal & Royal Centre Hampi

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The Royal Centre contains the ruins of palace, administrative buildings, and some temples directly associated with royalty. Most notable among the ruins is the Ramachandra or Hazara Rama Temple, the impressive Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stables, Mahanavami Dibba, the Underground Shiva Temple, Queen’s Bath and Octagonal Water Pavillion.


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