By Paul D’Souza
What are the Group of Monuments at Hampi?
Hampi is a small village situated in the state of Karnataka in India. The group of monuments of Hampi are what remain of the great capital of the Vijayanagara empire, which ruled the area over 500 years ago. This includes over 1600 monuments spread out over an area of over 41 square kilometers (16 square miles).
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Why are the Group of Monuments at Hampi a World Heritage site?
According to UNESCO, Hampi is a UNESCO site partly because “the remarkable integration between the planned and defended city of Hampi with its exemplary temple architecture and its spectacular natural setting represent a unique artistic creation.” It represents the vanished Vijayanagara kingdom, and testifies to the destruction of the kingdom in 1565, when it was defeated in the Battle of Talikota.
The former glorious city was set along the Tungabhadra River in a special geological area. Large round rocks add to the mysterious setting, and the stunning architectural marvels are partially well-preserved. The Archeological Survey of India has been maintaining the area and excavations are still in progress in certain places. Different types of building periods are visible in this vast setting. The oldest temple is still active and a popular religious pilgrimage site. The sheer number of buildings and temples to discover make this a special heritage site.
What can you expect on a visit to Hampi?
Most visitors enter through the Hampi Bazaar, which is what remains of the original bazaar from the 16th century. From here you can walk to some main buildings, such as the Virupaksha Temple and to the Chakra Tirtha area. You can expect to walk a lot to get to the most nearby monuments. There are plenty of signboards and you can easily find all the major sights, but a guide might be helpful if you want to learn more about the kingdom and its significance.
Certain monuments are further away, such as the Queen’s Bath, so you will require a taxi or rickshaw to get around. Temperatures are very hot all year round, and therefore I advise visiting monuments in the early morning hours and during sunset only. You will most definitely require a written Guide to Hampi to plan your trip thoroughly.
Is Hampi worth visiting?
Yes, absolutely! I have visited Hampi three times now, and I always discover new, unknown to me, monuments. It’s a gigantic area, and it truly doesn’t disappoint.
As you plan your trip, make sure to check what other UNESCO sites in India you might want to visit.
What sorts of travelers would like the Group of Monuments at Hampi?
Adventure travelers and people who seek to understand ancient Indian cultures will appreciate a visit to this mesmerizing place in the middle of nowhere. So will anyone interested in Indian history, architecture or religion.
Tips for visiting the Group of Monuments at Hampi
Organize getting around via rickshaw or car because monuments are at times far from each other and by 10 am it gets far too hot to walk or cycle around.
Prepare for the heat by carrying water with you and wearing a sunhat and sunscreen.
Most sites can be accessed freely any time of the day. Only the Lotus Mahal with Elephant Stables, the Vijaya Vitthala Temple and the Archeological Museum require a ticket. Tickets can be purchased just outside the enclosures and are valid for all three areas.
Because of the incredible size of the UNESCO World Heritage site, hotels are located outside the heritage perimeter. You might come across simple room options in the Hampi village, but I don’t recommend them. These rooms may seem like a good idea (the stunning rice field view) but they come with rodents and poor hygienic conditions. You can find 3 to 5-star accommodations near Hampi.
Look for accommodations here or use the map below:
Where are the Group of Monuments at Hampi?
Most people visit Hampi while on a trip to Goa. Goa is a neighboring state of Karnataka.
To get from Goa to Hampi can take 8 to 10 hours by car or bus. The highway system has been updated and travel to Hampi has never been easier. When planning a visit there, plan to stay at least 2–3 nights to make it worth your time. You can also get a seat on an overnight sleeper bus, which is organized by private bus companies, but I recommend booking a more comfortable taxi with an out-of-state taxi license instead.
For more information about the opening hours and admission fees, see Hampi’s official website. Note that entrance fees for Indian nationals and citizens are different from for foreigners.
Text and photos provided by Paul D’Souza of Paulmarina.com. Paul travels with his wife to Europe and Asia. Paulmarina is for all those seeking off the beaten path places and historical destinations.
Have you been to the Hampi monuments? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!