Hampi – Kingdom destroyed

Having free time with nothing to do prompted me to surf through the list of posts and I was surprised to see that I had not written about few places that are worth mentioning. Topping the list was Hampi.

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 destruction of Vijayanagar by marauding Moghul invaders was sudden, shocking and absolute. They reduced the city to ruins .

About the place

The ruins of Hampi of the 14th Century lies scattered in about 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation. Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, the ruins silently narrate the story of grandeur splendor and fabulous wealth. The splendid remains of palaces and gateways of the broken city tells a tale of men infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction.

Getting there
The nearest railway station (13 kms) to Hampi is Hospet, which is around 350 kms from Bangalore. The best option would be to take the Hampi link express from Bangalore (Dep: 10.20 PM), reaches Hospet around 7.45 AM.

Hospet is well connected to major cities through national highways that pass thrugh Chitradurga and Bellary.

Places to stay
Hospet offers a decent variety of staying options. We stayed at Hotel Priyadarshini, a decent option that would fit most kinds of budget. Another option is Hotel Malligi.

Hotel Priyadarshini has 2 restaurants attached to it. One of them is a family restaurant with a bar :-). The other one is a normal darshini-type (*.Sagar) restaurant.

The appropriate time to visit Hampi is between October and February. We had been there in January and could already feel the day-time heat on us.

Places of interest
One would require 2 days to do justice to Hampi. A relatively small place but it has a lot to offer for every traveller. For local sight-seeing and getting around, a cab can be hired. Usually one can find many cabbies along the station road.

Here are some of the places that are worth visiting to put on that been-there-done-that thingie.. Oh, I almost forgot.. Its a very good idea to take along a tourist guide in Hampi.

A word of caution: We were approached by a person, Jathiah, who claimed to be a guide, but later we came to know that his license was barred. So, watch out for phony guides.

The drive to Hampi from Hospet is about half an hour. One of the first places that we came across was

Virupaksha Temple

The Virupaksha or the Pampapathi temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi. It is fully intact, and it incorporates some earlier structures. This temple has three towers. The Eastern tower has been built such that an inverted shadow of this huge tower falls on the western wall of the temple through a small hole behind the sanctum.The presiding deity here is Virupaksheshwara or Pampapathi. The inner prakaram consists of shrines and pillars dating back to the 12th century.

In the vicinity of the Virupaksha temple are several dilapidated mandapams. In front of the temple was once an ancient shopping center lined with mandapams, the ruins of which stand today.

Achutaraya temple is on a small hillock besides the Virupaksha temple.

18 feet Ganesha

Hampi, being a small place does not involve much of travelling around (well.. a lot of walking around is required). At a stone’s throw distance from the Virupaksha temple is a temple of Ganesha. This Ganesha statue is 18 feet tall and is made of a monolithic rock. Since the statue is broken, there is no worship done here. Localites refer this Ganesha as “Kadale Kalu Ganesha”(Groundnut seed Ganesha)

Another Ganesha statues near the “kadale kalu ganesha” is called “Sasive Kalu Ganesha” (Mustard Seed Ganesha). It is in an open Mantapa or Pavilion. The 2.5 meters tall, four armed image holds “Ankusha” or Goad and “Pasha” or Noose in the upper hands. The lower right hand holds a Tusk, while the lower left, which is damaged, once held a sweet ball or “Modaka”. The belly is tied with a snake. This Ganesha is fashioned out of a boulder in sitting position. Another landmark temple in the erstwhile kingdom of Vijayanagar is the Vittala Temple. It is one of the largest temple of that period built by Devaraya II , and more addition were done by Krishnadevaraya later.

The composite pillars, which are designed as cluster of slendar pillars have been carved out of a single granite blocks. Some of them, when tapped gently, produce musical sounds. The ASI, has restricted public from touching the pillars, in the better interest of the structure.

The Stone chariot, at the entrance, is a reproduction of the processional wooden chariot. It is a stunning piece of art. It houses an image of Garuda, vehicle of Lord Vishnu.

Close-by to the temple, flows the Tungabhadra river, a river formed by the confluence of 2 rivers, Tunga and Bhadra. One can spend some time sitting on the rocks in the river, but beware, the rocks are slippery. Also, there are coracles available for hire.

TB Dam
As the name suggests, this is a dam built on the river Tungabhadra. As with every other dam, this is also a source of generating hydro-electric power.

Since this dam in on the western part, it forms a perfect setting for a sunset. One can watch the sun go “down under the water” .

This place also houses a garden and a park. There are musical fountain shows in the evening.
For young ones, there is a deer park near the TB dam.


Anegundi is around 30 kms from the town of hospet, on the other side of the river Tungabadra.

A temple dedicated to the Hanuman, is situated on top of a hill. The hill is worth the climb. The steps are aplenty, steep at some places. It should take not more than 20 minutes to climb up. Lots of monkeys roam around as u get close to the summit. The view from the top of this hill is worth the climb. You can get a overall understanding of the layout of the erstwhile Vijayanagar kingdom.

One place that is worth mentioning is “The Mango Tree”. This is a restaurant of a different kind. This “restaurant” overlooks the river and is a nice place for relaxing. There are no conventional tables and chairs here. Its worth a visit here. Many local guides may discourage from going here, but personally I fell this is a great place to have food and relax :-). Here’s a pic from that place.

A short drive from the temple is a resort , Kishkinda resort.

It is more of a kids amusement park than anything else. If you are ordering lunch here and have a big group, its a good idea to order first, take a stroll and by the time you return , the food would be on its way :-). Oh.. you need to pay an entry fee to this place. In my opinion , this place could be skipped.

One final word about Hampi is that its a place that has lots to offer in terms of architecture. The places that are mentioned here are some of the places that are must-visit to have that “been-there-done-that” list. There are lots of other places which we could not cover due to various reasons.The list of places could be got from any local tourist guide or web-sites.

Happy touring..

So long then..




    KARTHIK, wonderful description of a place representing the glory of our incredible India,I believe very few people visit Hampi.Old story again!. My wife and I while travelling South visiting Meenakshi Temple and Tanjore and other places, we went to Hampi, as my brother from Water Power Commission, had been in charge of building the Tungabhadra dam and we got to stay in the Rest house near the dam. Why we wanted to see Hampi was to compare it with Pompei (Italy) which we had visted earlier, after Naples and Rome ,years back! Its pity that it never got the publicity it desrved for most of us to see the real heritage of our culture and history.Maybe its little tough to reach there,and there are only “ruins” as somebody said.Thanks for promoting it.
    I hope,Ghumakkars dont mind my rambling away old mens tale?

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks for taking us to the virtual tour of Hampi. Although I had heard about this ancient town, your well written narrative has provided a good deal of information about the beautiful structures.

    I have read somewhere – “if the dreams were made out of stone, it would be Hampi’.

    Your post has created an urge to visit the place.

  • nandanjha says:

    Very comprehensive. The tone in the beginning makes you feel that you can be done in jiffy but then one after the other, you get introduced to so many things.

    Thanks for sharing. My knowledge of history is also getting better by reading stuff here.

  • Was it Moghul? Or the Bahamani Sultans?

    • amit narain sinha says:

      I think that the city was destroyed after the battle of talikota in 1565

      Akbar was the king in fatehpur sikri and these events unfolded without his interference.

      it was left to the descendants of akbar to destroy the muslim kingdoms of south india and thereby pave the way for the rise of maratha power, the mughal armies being incapable of keeping the mountainous deccan terrain under control.


    • amit narain sinha says:

      at the battle of talikota the combined armies of the otherwise feuding deccan muslim kingdoms came together to defeat the vijaynagara army under rama raya.

  • Karthik says:

    Bahmani Sultans had a hand in weakening the Vijayanagar dynasty. Ultimately, they were also defeated by the Moghuls.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Fluid narrative but it leaves certain questions.

    Has nothing else survived barring a couple of temples? A palace, a fort perhaps?

    If Mughals defeated Vijayanagara empire, it has to be the largest empire in ‘pre-mogul’ India, hasn’t it?

    Wish the marauders were a little more sensible like the German General Dietrich von Choltitz who defied the order of Hitler and refused to burn down Paris.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Once I met a French in Grenoble. He had travelled extensively in India. I asked him , which place he liked the most in India and his answer was Undoubtedly its Hampi :)

    From that time its on my to visit list. Thanks Karthik for taking us to a short visit to this place :)

    Patrick: There was a difference, von Choltitz was aware that Hitler is losing and while these marauders were on the contrary faced a different situation. Had Hitler been winning and he had given the order, I am sure General Dietrich von Choltitz could not have defied it.

  • manish khamesra says:


    How one can ensure that a guide is genuine or not ?

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