One of the most historic and pristine places in India, which not only holds the sacred monuments of the Vijayanagar Empire but also reproduces a divine and serene vibe, the moment you set foot in Hampi. The spectacular ruins of Hampi hold so many untold stories of the history that captivate many avid travellers to visit this place.
Hampi: Taking you Back in Time
I visited Hampi twice in the last 1 year and explored some of the most epic places that one needs to see in Hampi and being a small city, it can be done in just 3 days (may be 2 as well). More than just seeing the places, I spent some time exploring the “how” and “why” behind every temple and monument that I can across. Most of the places are scattered within a given span of area and hence it is easier to cover more ground in the matter of a few hours. In this article, I am going to offer you some of the best places, tips and things to do in Hampi in 3 days and going to tell you about so many things that you didn’t know about Hampi, all this while – you’re going to thank me for this 😉
A bit of History about the Ruins of Hampi
Did you know that Hampi was once upon a time one of the richest capital cities? Yes. It was, earlier, the centre of South India with marketplaces being known as the largest trading hubs in the world where a range of goods were sold to foreigners. Ruled under the Vijayanagar empire by Emperor Krishna Deva Raya, he built many temples around the 14th century until Hampi was eventually attacked by the invaders of 5 allied groups in 1565 and was totally left in ruins.
They say, some things never die and the beauty of Hampi, along with its divine essence rose again when Colin Mackenzie discovered the ruins of Hampi in 1800 where Hampi was eventually declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1986.
Things to do in Hampi in 3 Days
1. Visit Matanga Hill for Sunrise
I am leaving this point at the top of my list because I want you to experience what I did. Sunrise at the Matanga Hill (also known as Matuga) in Hampi is one of the most picturesque and fulfilling landscapes that you will see on your 3-day trip to Hampi. The best time to visit Matanga Hill in Hampi is during sunrise as it offers a bird’s eye view of the entire ruins which looks even more captivating during this time. It is an easy 30-min trek and apt for beginners as well. Halfway through, you would get a magnificent view of the Virupaksha Temple and as you arrive the highest point, your mind will be blown (just like mine :P) to see how unreal it looks to simply sit by the edge and watch the dark skies go from black to orange as the whole city it lit by the first emerging rays of the sunrise. A must-visit place in Hampi.
- 30 – 45 min trek, uphill
- Suitable for beginners
- Best time to visit in Sunrise
2. Lotus Mahal
The Lotus Mahal, also known as the Kamal Mahal was primarily used as a royal residence by the royal women of the Vijayanagar empire. It has beautiful architecture and depicts the shape of a lotus from all angles and hence the name. This is one of the spending Hindu architectures which was left untouched by the attack in Hampi.
The entire structure is symmetrical with splendid carvings along the arcs and looks pristine even from a distance. This place can be visited along with the Elephant Stable.
3. Elephant Stable
This symmetrically designed structure is defined by its name – Elephant Stable. History says that the royal elephants were parked in the 11 dome-shaped chambers, especially during festivals or any special occasions where the chamber in the middle is bigger than the others, probably used by the royals. An open ground in front of the Elephants stable allows you relax and spend some time around the location.
4. Virupaksha Temple
This is one of the temples in Hampi that I personally adore because of its intricate carvings and how beautifully the entrance of this temple has been thought of and designed. I mean, what the people of the old centuries did was truly magical. This temple lies in the Hampi Bazaar area and is a very prominent piece of architecture among the tourist and an extremely sacred place to the devotees of Lord Shiva. It is considered as one of the holiest temples in Hampi and a must-visit place for your 3-day trip to Hampi.
Don’t forget to greet and feed the elephant named Laxmi, on the left once you enter and minutely observe the happy monkeys running around the temple area in search of food. Keep proceeding to something that not everyone is aware of, which I’m going to share with you. Just behind the main temple, there is a small square-shaped opening from where you can see an inverted-reflection of the tall gate of the Virupaksha temple – so you can imagine how wonderfully the design and architecture of this monument was planned back then in the 14th century. These are things about Hampi that make me go “wow”.
5. Coracle Ride at Tungabhadra River
This is one of the most exclusive experiences one needs to opt for when in Hampi. Floating on the one and only Tungabhadra river, the coracles were the “boats” or medium of travel made of cane and covered with leather and were used to move people across the riverbanks in the good old days. Today, they are used for leisure purpose and sometimes by the local to traverse the river. Did you know that a coracle can hold upto 15 people or a horse at a time? The charge for an hour’s ride (when we visited) per coracle was around Rs.700 but we bargained to the lesser time limit and got it for Rs.400.
6. Hemakuta Hill Temples at Sunset
This is another scenic sunset view point (after the Anjeyanadri Hill) in Hampi which is located just on the left side facing the Virupaksha Temple, uphill. You could simply sit by the hill and watch the sun set by the horizon – truly satisfying and peaceful. Also, you can a wonderful side-view of the Virupaksha temple from this hill. We managed to get here just around sunset and were lucky enough to witness the beautiful orange shades of the sky contrasting with the might Virupaksha Temple in Hampi.
7. Anjeyanadri Hill for Sunset
Also known as Anjani Parvat, this is one of the must-explore destinations to witness a blissful sunset in Hampi after a tiring day in the scorching sun (It’s always very hot in Hampi). This place another highest point in Hampi with over 550+ steps to reach the summit and is famous as the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. The view from here holds a picturesque landscape of paddy and plantain plantations along with the of a valley and the river flowing below – something that you could simply sit and view from up here and indulge in the unique charm and serenity. I remember how we had just 20 minutes to reach the summit before sunset – I almost got breathless as we rushed our way uphill. The Anjeyanadri Hill is a little ahead from the main Hampi city and other temples but you can visit this place while you head to the Vijaya Vittala temple.
- Moderate Trekking
- 30 minutes climb through 550+ stairs
- Great landscape view
- Best time to visit is Sunset
8. Vijaya Vittala Temple
The Vijaya Vittala (Vitthala) temple in Hampi is known for its unmatched intricate architecture and is considered as one of the largest structures in Hampi. This temple is dedicated to the incarnated form of Lord Vishnu, known as Lord Vitthala where history says that this was built for him, but he didn’t accept it as it was too grand for him. The structure says it all – the exceptional chariot carvings on the pillars and overall built of the temple portrays the brilliance possessed by the artisans and architects of the old times – so creative and firm.
Also, you will find the very popular Stone Chariot right here, in front of the temple which looks just as magical as it is on your 50 rupees note. Speaking about money, this place has an entry fee of about Rs. 30 – Rs. 50. You can either reach to this temple from the main entry point with your own vehicle (since it’s located at about a kilometre or two, from the main entry point) or you could buy a local open-van ticket that will drop and pick you back. You will also find a 1000-year-old tree which resides in the boundaries of the Vijaya Vittala Temple in Hampi.
If you visit this place, I will tell you one secret. Just besides (left side facing the temple) the Vijaya Vittala Temple, you will see a way that goes straight into the woods – keep walking, don’t worry! You will reach the East side of the Tungabhadra river where you will see a small temple-like structure which is actually a ‘Mandapa’ where the people of the old century used to marry. A part of this temple gets submerged under water during the monsoons. Great place to relax by the waters!
9. Dine at the Mango Tree Hotel
This is a very popular hotel in the heart of the Hampi city, just beside the Virupaksha temple. Pure veg. hotel serving authentic South Indian food! They have an extensive menu with variants of beverages, snacks, food, thalis and all that you could think of. It is a very popular spot among the foreigners and has a unique ambience – Indian classical music playing in the backdrop and the chatter of people conversing in all kinds of languages. They have two types of seating arrangement: The regular one with chairs-tables and a one where you can sit on the floor on a mattress with a low-legged table to dine on.
We asked for the South Indian Thali, North Indian Thali and a few snacks like the Veg Cheese Pakodas, Honey Buns and more. Everything tasted so good; I’m drooling as I speak about it. I’m sure this place won’t disappoint you. I’ve always recommended people to visit here and it has never let them down.
- Easy to Locate – Near the Virupaksha Temple
- Good Ambience
- Great Food for a good price (inexpensive)
- Recommended to try their Thalis
10. Breakfast at the Local Dhabas
Local Indian breakfast in close to my heart. If you are like me, then you definitely try the breakfast at these local dhabas in Hampi. You will find many as you approach the Virupaksha temple in Hampi. After we had a good time at Matanga Hill (which is just opposite the Virupaksha temple in Hampi), we walked down to find some good breakfast when we just hopped into one of these locals dhabas, being invited by the aroma of the hot ‘Mirchi’ being fried by an elderly couple who poured us a hot steaming cup of Chai and served a plate of Mirchi and Idli Sambar. Oh My – I’ve never found an authentic taste like this one.
Where to Stay in Hampi
When I visited, I wasn’t much aware about the accommodation so I put up at a hotel in the main city of Hospet which was a few kilometers away from all the sites and hence I wasted some time in travel. To avoid this, I suggest you look up for an accommodation in Hampi itself – you will find many hotels, homestays and hostels (this might not be a safe option during the pandemic). Bookings.com is the best place to look up for staying options in Hampi. You can also manage to get an accommodation on a direct visit, however it would take up some of your time, for which it is always safer to pre-book your room. You can get a decent enough room starting from Rs. 700/- per night.
More things to see in Hampi
Hampi has over 1000 temples and many wonderful places to sight. Here are some more places in addition to the above, you could visit as well on your 3-day trip to Hamp:
- Queen’s Bath
- Hippie Island
- Badavilinga Temple
- Zanana Enclosure
- Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
- Hazara Rama Temple
- Kadalekalu Ganesha
- Sanapur Lake
- Stepped Tank
- Sasivekalu Ganesha
The best part, you could always cover larger grounds since most of these places are neighbouring each other. Hampi is a small yet one of the most mystical and historic places in India. The accommodation and food aren’t much expensive and the best option to travel would be with your own vehicle. You could also reach Hampi by a bus from Goa and rent a bike to travel locally.
I hope this Hampi Guide would be helpful to you in some way or the other to make the best of your trip and explore the most beautiful places in Hampi. Remember, the essence of every place in this city lies in the history more than its appearance. Hampi proves that India has the most enthralling and remarkable mythology, history and some of the best and talented artisans who left behind these wonderful structures.
You can always reach out to me on Instagram or simply drop in your questions/review in the comments section below. Happy to help!