I always dreamt of days wondering across the mythical landscape of Hampi and now “the best-provided city in the world” is my favourite destination to follow my wanderlust worth of every second and visit.
The ruined city of Vijaynagara which was once south India’s largest, wealthiest and the most powerful kingdom is a destination in itself. Littered with massive granite boulders balanced dubiously on top of each other are full of mythological tales and anecdotes. The Tungabhadra river splits Hampi with ruins to its one side and the hippie island to the other. This land of fantasy still houses many beautiful structures that stand testimony to its glory.
Local legend has it that the two local chieftains were on a hunting expedition to the nearby hill when they sighted a large hare and set their hunting dogs on him. Surprisingly the hare courageously chased down the hunting dogs. Later on, the chieftains narrated this episode to their Guru who went back with them to the spot. The Guru advised them to establish the capital of their new kingdom here as the place is sacred. This is how the seed of an empire was sown and Hampi was the capital for the four dynasties that ruled the Vijaynagara empire over the next 200 years (1336-1565).
Inside the ruined complex, the key highlights that will grab your attention are;
• Musical temple of Vijaya Vittala (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu): Famous moving stone chariot and the mysterious 56 musical pillars make this temple the epicenter of the ruined town.
• The tale of the elephant Laxmi at Virupaksha temple: Stepping into the oldest functioning temples of India dedicated to Lord Shiva is a rejuvenating experience. I recommend paying your visit in the golden hours when the elephant named Lakshmi takes her daily bath in the river and experience the morning aarti ceremony.
• A mesmerizing sunrise at Matanga Hill: Reaching this stunning viewpoint is the easiest and the shortest hiking hill of around 1 hour. The first ray of the sun makes the bird’s eye view of giant scattered boulders a breath-taking experience.
A coracle ride in the Tungabhadra river with a visit to the relaxing hippie island, a visit to Lotus Temple, stepwell, queen’s bath, and the royal elephant stables are not to be missed though.