Hampi is a small town in Karnataka known for its UNESCO world heritage site. The ruins of temples, palaces, and monuments are scattered across Hampi. I planned my trip and made a list of the best things to do in Hampi during my 3 days trip. Once I started exploring Hampi I was awestruck. There is history at every corner of Hampi and whatever is your read or see on the internet is not enough. For me, Hampi was an amazing and altogether different experience. If you are a history buff and love to see monuments then Hampi is “the” place for you.
There is so much to see and several things to do in Hampi that it was difficult to squeeze everything into a trip. Somehow I managed to visit most of the places in Hampi but it made me craving for more time. So, after a gap of a year, I took another short trip to Hampi.
I understand that a few days are not enough to explore Hampi but then most of the travelers can’t manage long holidays. There are personal and professional commitments in life, which are important. So, I am going to list some of the best things to see and experience in Hampi if you are on a short trip. If you have more time than also you can see these places and things but spread these as you like.
In this post, I am giving information regarding the best things to do & places to visit in Hampi, the places to eat & stay, the best time to visit, how to travel when you are in Hampi and most importantly how to travel to Hampi.
Must do things and best places to visit in Hampi, Karnataka
Visit the popular temples of Hampi
There are hundreds of small and big temples scattered in and around the Hampi. Worship is done in a few temples and most of the temples are now historical monuments.
The temples are on the bazaar side of the Hampi. Virupaksha Temple and Vitthala temple complex are the most popular among all of them.
Virupaksha temple is in the Hampi Bazaar on the banks of the Tungabhadra river.
Vittala Temple is around 9 Km from the main bazaar of Hampi. This temple complex is protected by walls around it. The small hills on one side of the temple complex give it a distinct look.
Other popular temples of Hampi are Achyutaraya Temple, Kadalekalu Ganesha, Ugra Narasimha Temple, Hazara Rama Temple, Underground Shiva temple, and Badavilinga Temple.
Virupaksha temple, Ganesh temple, Badavilinga temple, and Ugra Narsimha temples are within walking distance of the Hampi Bazaar area. While for other temples you need a vehicle.
There are few other temples in Hampi, which are located on hilltops. The most popular of them is the Hanuman Temple on top of Anjaneya Hill on the Hippie island.
Other important monuments in Hampi
Queen’s bath complex
It is an enclosed compound and was used by the queens for bathing as the name suggests. There is a small tank in and enclosed by arched walls. Small passage between outer walls and arched walls around the tank served as the sitting area.
This bath is a few hundred meters from the queen’s bath. This bathing area is octagonal as the name suggest and a tank is surrounded by pillars. This was supposed to be used by nobles of the royal family.
Royal encloser of Hampi
Royal encloser is one of the biggest groups of monuments in Hampi. It is approximately 3.5 Km from the Virupaksha temple.
The Royal encloser is at a walkable distance from the queen’s bath. The walls of the royal encloser are very high and it is not possible to sense what is behind the walls.
I rented an autorickshaw for the whole day so instead of walking, we used it from the Octagonal bath to Royal encloser gate. When I entered the royal encloser, I was surprised to see the grand structures inside the compound.
There are big structures and ruins all around the complex. Broken walls, gates, public bath area, and the great platform are the main attraction here.
Pushkarani Tank in Royal enclosure
It is a stepped tank and it was an important source of water for the royal encloser. There is still some water in it but it was not clean. This tank reminded me of the stepped tanks in the Modhera sun temple complex near Ahmedabad.
The great platform in Royal enclosure
This was the most imposing structure in the compound. Royal platform’s height is 10 meter and the width is 38 meters. It is a square structure.
It is popularly known as Mahanavmi Dibba or Victory platform. According to the records, Raja Krishandevraya ascended on this platform during the Navami festival. There was a makeshift temple on the top of the platform. He used to perform puja in the temple and then watched the procession & dance program from here.
The Great platform is also known as Dibba and it has sculptures. The platform is made in 3 layers and has stairs on two sides of it for climbing to the top. There is nothing on the top except for the view of the surrounding areas.
Public bath in the royal encloser
At the far end of the royal encloser is the public bath area. I think it is strange that the royal encloser has a public bath area, whereas the queen’s bath and octagonal baths are outside. The guide also doesn’t know the reason but it’s an interesting fact.
The royal enclosure compound has a well-maintained garden area.
Royal encloser extension
A few hundred meters from the royal encloser after passing Haajar Rama temple is another interesting compound. Zanana encloser, Lotus Mahal, Watchtower, Elephant stable, and Jain temples are the main attraction in this closure.
It was a private building for royal women. This palace is the biggest among the ruins of Hampi. Though some archaeologists suggest it was the king’s palace due to its proximity to the elephant stable but it is named Zanana.
The name of this place came from the shape of it. Lotus Mahal is surrounded by a well-maintained garden area.
There are two theories regarding the use of the Lotus Mahal. According to one, it was used by the king for relaxing and recreation. While others believe it was used by the king to conduct the meeting with members of his council.
The watchtowers are two-story towers on the side of the Zanana encloser and Lotus Mahal. According to some stories, eunuchs guarded these towers instead of soldiers because of their proximity to the Zanana encloser.
Whatever is the fact, these towers were used for the protection of the Royal encloser.
At the end of the garden is a long row of arched building. This is the elephant stable and royal elephants were kept here.
Visit Hemkunta hill
Hemkunta hill is located next to the Virupaksha temple at the end of the market area of Hampi. Climb to the Hemkunta hill is easy and it is not as difficult as Matunga hill.
According to the mythology Lord Shiva penance here before marrying the Goddess Pampa. There are several temples and pavilions on the Hemkunta hill which are dedicated to Shiva.
Hemkunta hill is one of the best and convenient place to watch the sunrise and sunset in Hampi. A lot of people climb to Mataga Hill but the climb is not convenient for everyone this is the best place for them. It is easy to climb and if you are staying near Virupaksha temple then it is within walking distance.
There are monkeys on the top parts of the hill but they don’t disturb people. Don’t eat if they are around and you will be fine. One of my favorite places to relax and see the Hampi from distance.
Hampi old bazaar / Krishna Bazaar
This was once a flourishing market place of the Vijayanagara empire. It is opposite the Ganesha temple and now mostly ruins. The rows of ruins on both sides of the big open area as we got down the steps. It is fun exploring ruins but watches your steps. The area is full of shrubs and grass, chances are that snakes or inspects are hidden below these.
Krishna Bazaar is one of my favorite places in Hampi to watch the sunrise. There was no tourist and we saw the most peaceful sunrise, where people were not hustling for space. The sunrises behind the hills and we sat on the steps while savoring the nature magic.
Climb Matanga hill for a bird-eye view
It is one of the most popular places in Hampi since it’s the highest point in the town. There is a small temple on the top of Matanga Hill. A small Cave on the way to the top is believed to be the one where Sugriva, ruler of Kishkinda hidden from his brother.
From the top of the hill, you can view the Achyutaraya Temple, Tungabhadra River, Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, and the surrounding areas. It is the most popular point to watch the sunrise as well as the sunset in Hampi.
The climb is slippery and rough at points so wear good walking shoes. Also, carry water because there are no facilities at the top.
From the east end of Hampi Bazaar Street leads the most popular trail to Matanga hill. Another one is from the east side which is close to the Kadalekalu Ganesha temple.
I didn’t climb Matanga hill because my travel companion had a problem walking uphill and the second time I was short of time.
Visit Archaeological Museum in Hampi
The museum is near the royal encloser. The artifacts obtained during different excavations are kept in the museum.
If you are history buff and like to read or know in details then visit it. Otherwise, there is so much to see in Hampi that you can skip it.
Take a coracle ride in Pampa/Tungabhadra river
The original name of Tungabhadra is the Pampa river. The river got its name after goddess Pampa, another name of Goddess Parvati.
In ancient days bamboo coracles were used to cross the river. Nowadays boats with motor operate from one side to another, which are fast as well economical.
Still, there is an old-world charm in coracles ride. It is fun things to experience when in Hampi.
Don’t miss Hippie Island when in Hampi
Virapapur Gadde is popularly known as Hippie Island and it is on the other side of the Tungabhadra river. This name came because most of the backpackers stay in this area. The hotels, huts, and homestays in Hippie Island are very cheap. Here you will see maximum western travelers and most of them stay for a week or more.
Hippie Island is a popular backpackers hub and things are a bit different on this side. The non-vegetarian food is allowed on this side of the Hampi.
The green paddy fields and bouldering are the main attraction of Hippie Island. There are few monuments on this site and the most prominent ones are Pampa Sarovar, Anjaneya temple, Anegondi Palace and Durga temple.
This area is the place if you don’t want to go for sightseeing and just want to relax in the middle of nature.
Food in Hampi – Where to eat
On the Bazaar side of Hampi, you will get only vegetarian food as there are several temples in the area. You will get a wide variety of Indian, Italian, Chinese, Asian and Vegan food options. The mango tree is the most popular and my favorite restaurant in the Bazaar side of Hampi. Other popular places are Funky monkey, Suresh restaurant and moonlight.
Also, look out for the small street stalls for south Indian breakfast. I have noticed that these food joints operated by women from a small shack or homes. Here they only serve breakfast and evening snacks.
On Hippie Island you will also get non-vegetarian food added to a wide variety of vegetarian cuisine. The most popular restaurant in Hippie Island is the laughing Buddha. Other good places are Gopi Island, German bakery, Shanthi guest house, and Hampi resort.
Places to stay in Hampi
Hampi is popularly known as a backpacker’s paradise because it provides several economical options for people traveling on a tight budget. There is accommodation for every type of travelers. If you are looking for a luxury stay then there are limited options and they may not match the standard of hotels/resorts across India but are quite nice.
Here are some of the recommendations for staying in Hampi.
If you are looking for a luxury resort then Evolve Back Hampi in Hallekeri village is a good option. Heritage Resort Hampi is another good option for a leisurely stay. These resorts are around 5 Km from the main tourist area in Hampi so you need a vehicle for moving around.
If you are on a medium budget then stay in Hotel Clarks Inn near ASI Museum.
Best time to visit Hampi
Hampi is hot and dry from March to June. During this time it is very difficult to go out and visit monuments because the sun is unbearably hot.
The best time to visit between November to mid-February when the weather is pleasant.
During monsoon months Hampi is lush green and beautiful. If you are looking to trek the hills then it gets slippery to trek. Bouldering is also not possible due to the same reason. Mud paths leading to some monuments become muddy and it is messy to walk around. If you want to relax and don’t want to run around seeing monuments then this is a good time.
I advise visiting in October and February because the weather starts getting cool. Moreover its shoulder season so lesser tourists. Avoid long weekends because at that time people from big cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, and Hyderabad come to Hampi for short breaks.
How to travel in Hampi
Most of the places in Hampi are close to the Bazaar area. There are few temples and monuments like the Vittala temple and Royal enclosers are at some distance.
Autorickshaws are the most convenient and fast mode of transport to travel from one place to another. For a day’s sightseeing trip of Hampi, they charge around 600 to 700 INR.
You can also rent a Moped (Similar to Bike) for around 200 to 250 INR.
Bicycles are also available for 100 INR per day. Keep in mind it gets hot during the day so keep a hat to cover your head.
How to travel to Hampi
Hampi is a small town in Karnataka and it’s situated in the middle of nowhere. The nearest railway station of Hospet is 12 Km from Hampi.
Goa to Hospet is 340 Km and there are direct trains between two. Buses are also available but the trains are much more convenient.
Hyderabad to Hospet is 375 Km and there are direct trains between two.
Bangalore to Hospet is 340 Km and again there are direct trains as well as buses between two cities.
Mumbai to Hospet is 735 Km and there are no direct trains between two. Though there are direct overnight sleeper buses between two cities.
All the trains and buses drop at Hospet. There are direct buses from Hospet to Hampi but you have to wait for them. Autorickshaws are the most convenient option and they are not expensive. They charge between 150 to 200 INR from Hospet to Hampi and take around 30 minutes.
If you are staying in Hippie Island then after crossing Hampi Bazaar you have to take a boat from the Tungabhadra river. A motorized boat cost 10 INR and a coracle cost around 100 INR. Boats operate between 9.00 AM to 6.00 PM only.
These are some of the best things to do in Hampi. It is possible to visit these places in 3 to 4 days as these places are within a few Kms. If you think there are more things to do while in Hampi, please feel free to give your feedback.