5 BEST things to do in Hampi
Now here is a place that is almost legendary among travellers but what exactly are the best things to do in Hampi? It is a very important question as most of us only have a limited amount of time in any one destination on our journeys. Here you will find out everything you need to know about maximising your resources. I have read a few blogs with similar titles, and some say things like visiting the sacred centre and visiting the temples. That is the same thing!
I promise I won’t waste your time making this blog longer than it needs to be. I will only talk about the 5 very best things to do in Hampi, and there is so much to choose from. You will only have limited time so it is important to use it the best you can.
Aside from the obvious massive ruins of Hampi, there are opportunities to try many activities. These include cooking classes, rock climbing, bird watching, otter watching, cycling, hiking and an awesome bear sanctuary to checkout. When I came here. Hampi can keep tourists busy for far longer than you will probably anticipate.
When I came here, I only planned on staying a couple of days, and just like that, ten days later, I was on the bus out. So just be warned that you should budget a decent amount of time for this place. I will now walk you through what I think are the five best things to do in Hampi. I will start at the very beginning and go with the reasons why we all initially came here.
The ruins of Hampi.
The ruins of Hampi has to be at the top of the list and for an excellent reason. Even after Over 500 years since the fall of the city, it is still not hard to visualise what a Grand place must have been. The city has suffered extensive damage and been subject to the ravages of time, yet this place remains magnificent. The Archaeological Survey Of India is doing continuous restoration work to preserve what is left, and your tickets help fund these expensive projects.
The Ticket for foreigners is currently 600 rupees and 40 rupees for Indian nationals. Yes, that’s a huge difference! It is valid for the day and will get you into most of the paid sights, so don’t lose it. It is not reasonably possible to see everything in one day, and I wouldn’t even try. Take your time and soak it all in. After all, you may as well as you would have put in so much effort to get here in the beginning, and there is so much to see.
Not to mention that while walking around, you will have plenty of opportunities to see a little of Hampi’s incredible biodiversity. In truth, tourism around the area has had a significant impact on its wildlife and is a source of controversy between conservationists and the local business.
The sacred centre
There are two key sites in the Sacred Centre. the Virupaksha temple and the iconic Vittala temple. The 7th century Virupaksha Temple is both visually stunning and an active place of worship. It is close to Hampi Bizzare, so it is tough to miss given its massive size. The central tower was constructed in 1442 and is beautifully carved from top to bottom.
The 16th-century Vittala temple was never completed before the fall of the city. It is, however, the epitome of fine art. one can not help but stare in wonder at this intricate labour of love. The stone chariot that creates the centrepiece of the temple represents Vishnu’s vehicle. There is an image of Garuda (Vishnu’s classic mode of transport in Hindu mythology that’s half man and half bird) on the inside. The temple is 2 km from the main bizarre and one of my favourite walk in the whole of Hampi.
Another fantastic thing to do is just at the end of the main Bazaar. If you look up, you will see Hemakuta hill. To get there, follow the signs to the top of the mountainside for a beautiful sunset if the weather permits.
The Sule Bazaar, not far from Virupaksha temple, was once the centre of all that trade and believed to be the red light district for this ancient city and why not? It was where are the money was coming in and out of the city, after all.
The royal centre.
These sights are quite spread out in the Royal Centre. It is definitely worth investing in some kind of transport to get the most out of your time. In addition, some of Hampi’s most important pieces of architecture can be found in this group.
The queen’s bath is very grand and my favourite part of this group. The Indo Islamic architecture puts it in a league of its own despite it looking a bit bland from the outside.
The Hazarama temple is another example of Vijayanagara craftmanship and is exquisitely carved, making this a delight to visit. The artwork depicts scenes from the Ramayana (one of the sacred Vadas of the Hindu faith.)
Zenana Enclosure is the part of the city that was just for the ladies of high status, hence the high walls. Inside you will find the Lotus Mahal (lotus Palace) and Elephant stables. Of course, it would help if you had a bit of imagination to picture what it was once like in its heyday, but still, it is a delight to visit.
The Mahanavami – Dibba is a three-tiered structure that offers some decent views of the countryside, and ironically, that is why it was initially built. It was constructed for the king to observe the festivities in his city, and you can still benefit from that today. Your Ticket also covers the archaeological museum, and it is well worth a visit as it houses a few treasures the looters missed.
This list is far from exhaustive, so take your time and enjoy the historical wonders of the Vijayanagara empire. There are countless monuments scattered around the area, and it would take me all day to list them all. So for all those history buffs interested in this incredible place, check out the Wikipedia page as it is beautifully written and gives a good breakdown of every primary site.
Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary in Hampi.
The charming little Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary in Hampi is an 83 square kilometre stretch of scrubland that lies about 20 km from the main bazaar. It was declared a protected zone in 1994 with the sole intent of protecting the Karnatikas Sloth bear population. These shaggy animals are normally very hard to spot but this relatively small area has a stable community that make them more conspicuous.
There is a viewing tower that is open between 2 pm and 6 pm where you can easily observe these shy creatures. The rangers baste the rocks with honey and with an adorable Winnie, The Pooh vibe they come out of hiding to feast on the sticky treats.
The reserve was created for bears, but many more animals call this place home, such as the Ruddy Mongoose, Leopards, Monitor lizards, Pangolins, Star Tortoise, and of cause a wide variety of Hampi’s collection of birds. Both Bears and Leopards often roam around the ruins of Hampi at night, so don’t go for a wander after dark.
It is a very worthwhile excursion for any wildlife enthusiast, as in all my years in national parks I have only ever seen one of these shy creatures. They may be big and clumsy but they are also strangely elusive.
Now for the hard part. Getting to the park and away again is not easy. Quite frankly, it is close to impossible to do it independently. There are buses, but they are sporadic and stop at the entrance that’s several kilometres walk to the tower. Realistically you will have to hire a tuk-tuk or motorbike to make it practical. A tuk-tuk is about 600 to 700 rupees, including waiting time.
The entrance is 50 rupees for Indians and 300 rupees for foreigners. Plus 500 rupees for parking (no joke!) It is still well worth the money to see these furry beasts in their natural habitat to be fair.
Hampi Otter reserve.
Further upstream from the main bazaar is the Hampi otter reserve. It is a designated stretch of water that is now dedicated to preserving the local population of Smooth Coated Otters. This protected area runs for about 34 kilometres, and it is a refuge for all kinds of wildlife. However, numbers of Smooth Coated Otters are under pressure from the damming of the river, and the local fisherman sees them as a direct threat to their livelihood.
It is very unclear if there is any cost to enter the reserve and if there is any infrastructure. To access the area, get the public bus from Hospet to Bijapur, and it is just outside of town. I saw four otters in the river while walking around, so I can confirm there is a healthy population of these elegant fishermen. Even if you don’t get to see the stars of the show, there would be plenty more wildlife to come and feast your eyes on.
Bird watching in Hampi.
Bird watching in Hampi is immensely popular and people fly in from around the world to do it. In fact, if I were to write a post about the best things to do in Hampi and not mention the opportunity to go birding in one of India’s hotspots, well, that would be just rude, wouldn’t it? There are plenty of bright and bold birds that will catch your eyes here. For serious birders, the prime goal is to find the critically endangered and endemic Yellow-Throated Bul Bul.
For the more casual visitor who wants to enjoy the splendour of the natural world will just have to parodically crane your head up to the trees and enjoy the kaleidoscope of colours. There are over 200 species for you to marvel at, and even those who are not keen on birds will still undoubtedly be impressed at the sheer diversity.
To make sense of what you are seeing, either get a book or get in contact with the Kishkinda trust in Anegunde. Despite there being no formal anything on their website about birds, apparently, they offer information.
There is a book available in town on the birds of Hampi, but to save money, get a field guide to the whole subcontinent if you decide birds do it for you. I never knew they did it for me until I came to India, to be honest. Alternatively, I found Kolcuttabirds.com to be very informative so do check it out. The odds are once you take a look at how beautiful the wildlife is, you will want to know what you are looking at.
Rock climbing in Hampi.
As soon as you get close to Hampi, you begin to be aware the whole area is like a big bowl of stones. It is in prime bouldering country, and there are many quality companies to show you how. I have read complaints about the lack of safety equipment, but they seem to have everything you get in a climbing wall in England. Maybe I missing something but they all seem pretty kosha to me.
Even if you are only mildly interested in climbing, the views would be amazing. But, quite frankly, it is the only way you would be allowed to see those views. The hills are full of dangerous wildlife, and there have been incidences of the occasional mugging. What’s more, the local police are unlikely to be thrilled to find you wandering around here alone.
There are several companies that offer the chance for you to scale some pretty big stones. I would of course suggest that before committing to anything, look at the reviews, prices, etc. and make your own judgment. There seems to be a fair bit of competition in the bouldering world.
One of the better companies I have found was Tom and Jerry’s. They seem to offer just about everything from tuk-tuk tours to multi-day climbing jaunts. The prices are clear, and the reviews look good. Another decent choice would have to be The Goan corner. This is a hotel with a restaurant and climbing school. Again they seem to offer every conceivable service needed for a top-class stay in Hampi.
Both of these companies are in the main Bazaar and are not far from each other. In addition, I have found a website called bouldering in Hampi that covers a decent amount of information regarding how to get the most out of your bouldering experience.
In summary of the best things to do in Hampi.
As much as I wanted to cover everything about the best things to do in Hampi this post is already massive. It is unlikely many of my readers would have finished it if I had done a top ten post. I only covered what I think is the most rewarding for the casual visitor with a limited amount of time. If you do happen to have any more questions about activities in the area, I will be happy to help if I know the answer. Simply leave your comments below, and I will get back to you.
People come here primarily for the epic ruins. However, I think it is clear there is a lot more here, and I wholeheartedly recommend you budget a good amount of time to see this place in depth. Even the ruins alone can not be taken in properly in a single day no matter how early you start. If this was not enough and you want more information on what is so special about Hampi simply follow the link. With that said, I think it is enough for now, so I will see you in the next post.Follow me on social media 🙂