February 7, 2015
Hampi was the center of the Vijayanagara Hindu Empire, 1343-1565. The 16th century was the golden age of Hampi when merchants from all over the civilized world came to Hampi to trade. Horse trading reigned supreme and many of the temples reflect their importance in the carvings.
While most of the immense complex has been destroyed – little is left of the palace grounds – and large portions of some temples have been rebuilt, the granite carvings, story boards and columns are a delight. Also be sure not to miss the painted story on the ceiling of the Virupaksha temple.
The palace grounds and temples surrounding the town of Hampi cover an extensive area, much too large to simply wander by yourself without a guide or map. However, the surrounding landscape of gigantict granite boulders entices you to do just that, especially late in the day when the sun is low and most of the tourists have gone home.
If you really want to see the key sights in a reasonable amount of time it is best to hire a guide. Good local guides are highly trained in local history and culture and can bring the ruins to life. Our guide’s English was good enough to get his point across albeit with a few difficulties. We paid 1500 rupees for a full day, probably a bit more than we should have, but we were happy with his professionalism and passion for his subject.
I have to admit that in the heat of the afternoon the ruins start to run together and the guide’s stories seem to go on forever. It would be more pleasant to plan a couple of half day guided tours, relax during the hottest part of the day and maybe stroll sections of the ruins in low light of the late afternoon.
Day 1 – The guided tour of Hampi started at the village road east of town to Vittala Temple
Pool on the way to entrance
Vittala Temple – The day of our visit they were filming a Bollywood movie.