October 5, 2017
Just in time for Diwali, after almost a decade without convenient air travel, Hampi will be seeing an influx of travelers thanks to a new route out of Hyderabad to Ballari, opening just last week.
As the region slowly modernizes and with Diwali and Hampi Ustav around the corner, travelers keen on the quiet, idyllic surroundings of Hampi would be well-advised to get in now.
With towering boulders and architecture with more than a millennia of history, the Hampi region is one of the most impressive travel areas in all of Karnataka. Now just an hour’s drive away from the new flight route – traveling past the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary – Hampi is sure to see improvements in its travel infrastructure.
The area already has some high-end accommodation options. The Hyatt Place found off of the newly serviced Vidyanagar Airport, is a little far from the sites, but perfectly adequate for a short trip to Hampi.
The Hampi Boulders, however, provides some of the best and most unique rooms in the area, with accommodations appearing to be carved into boulders and castle-like parapets on a 100-acre property. It’s also a short seven kilometer jaunt from Hampi.
History and Hampi
The most well-known of the Hampi sites is the Vijaya Nagara, the former capital of the Vijayannagara Empire. The first thing visitors will notice about this “City of Victory” – after walking through the Hampi Bazaar – is likely the Virupaksha Temple, which dates back to the 7th century. Visitors taking that plane from Hyderabad should note that the betrothal festivals in December and the chariot festival in February are some of the best times to visit Virupaksha.
In November, however, is the biggest festival of all for Hampi: Hampi Ustav. Elephants, horses, dancing, fireworks – the Hampi Ustav is a 3-day long carnival and one of the biggest celebrations in Karnataka. This year’s Hampi Ustav will also feature an added bonus of the Hampi by Night project – a five-hour guided tour project through Hampi lit up by flood lights.
There are dozens of temples and architectural spots to check out near the Virupaksha, including the Krishna temple, Hemukuta Hill, and the King’s Balance.
One might easily split a holiday between what is known as the Royal Center and the Sacred Center in Hampi. The former is found further south and features the Lotus Mahal, Hazara Rama Temple, and Underground Siva Temple – though the ancient elephant stables are always a favorite. Architecture and photography fans are also keen to check out the nearby stepwell.
North of the Tungabhadra River visitors will find more mythological sites of interest, including the 20-foot Lakshmi shrine and Shabari’s Ashram.
The wealth of sites hugging the Tungabhadra River is a testament to the region’s cultural importance, with a history that begins in the 3rd Century BCE. Travelers in the area can traverse the rocky but relatively flat terrain by car, motorcycle, or rickshaw.