Before arriving in India, Hampi had been on my bucket list for a while…but, I couldn’t tell you why. For some unknown reason, it was one of the few places I could name in India. Perhaps I’d heard wonderful whispers about Hampi without really taking them in. While I knew I wanted to visit this mysterious place, I didn’t have a clue what made it special. So, as Ben and I approached this tourist Mecca, I tucked into some research. Here are a few insights which caught my attention:
- Hampi, which means “champion”, is located within the infamous ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.
- The ruins are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Hampi formed one of the core areas of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1343 to 1565. It was chosen because of its strategic location, bounded by the torrential Tungabhadra River on one side and surrounded by defensible hills on its other three sides.
- Hampi continues to be a significant historical, architectural and religious site. It’s home to many notable Hindu temples, some of which are still active places of worship.
- The extant monuments of Vijayanagara (or Hampi) can be divided into Religious, Civil and Military buildings.
- While most of the monuments in Hampi are from the Vijayanagara period, a small proportion have been assigned to pre-Vijayanagara times. The first historical settlements in Hampi date back to 1CE!
While these insights were certainly fascinating, it wasn’t until Ben and I arrived in Hampi that we understood why it was a major pit stop on the traveller circuit. We were spellbound from the moment we laid eyes on the mars-like landscape. It was so different to anything we’d seen before – a sea of giant boulders perched precariously over miles of undulated terrain, their rusty hues offset by zesty green palm groves, banana plantations and paddy fields. A perfect azure sky, peppered with fluffy white Simpson’s clouds, enhanced the epic atmosphere. The forlorn ruins seemed scattered across Hampi’s dramatic scenery, their former beauty still glimmering through the harsh destruction of time.
Before long, Ben and I had lost ourselves to the ancient relics. With only a half day available to explore Hampi, we stuck to the area’s main attractions, including the Vittala Temple and its iconic stone chariot, market corridors and musical pillars. Wandering through the mammoth temple entrance, we were transported to a bygone era. It’s ornate walls oozed secrets from the past – the architecture was mesmerising.
As Ben and I wrapped up our time in Hampi and started our journey to Goa, we watched the legendary landscape fly past our car windows in distracted silence. It was amazing to see how millions of years of volcanic activity and erosion could result in a beautifully bewitching backdrop. If only we’d had time to linger a little longer.