THE 10 HAMPI RUINS YOU MUST NOT MISS!

"hampi photo gallery"

Exploring the city of Hampi in India feels like stepping back in time to a prehistoric world.  The remains of sacred temples, shrines, and monuments, stand proudly among towering boulders, signifying some of India’s most momentous history.  Adorned with intricate carvings of Hindu gods & demons, the Hampi ruins are a product of exquisite artistry.  In this article, we explain which of the Hampi Ruins are most important to see, where you can find them, and how you can get there.

Although exploring the Hampi Ruins is an essential thing to do in the city, it can also be an overwhelming task.  There are approximately 1600 surviving ruins spread across an area of 16 square miles! The first question we asked upon arrival was ‘which are the most important to see’?  You can be sure that the local rickshaw drivers will make it sound a lot more complicated than it actually is.  This is so they can charge you a premium for a guided tour.  The Hampi Ruins are one of our top Instagram spots in India. (Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here!)

So without further ado, here are 10 Hampi Ruins you must see. We also include opening times, map links, where to stay and top tips for exploring the city.

THE 10 HAMPI RUINS YOU MUST NOT MISS!

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TOP 5 HAMPI RUINS NEAR TO HAMPI BAZAAR

First of all, we will share the most impressive Hampi ruins within walking distance of Hampi Bazaar.  By this, I mean a maximum of 20-minutes by foot from the main town.  It is also quite pleasant to rent a bicycle to explore this area; however, come prepared with a lock as you will need to leave it unattended at times.  Although it is possible to cover all of the below in the one day, it would be more comfortable to spread over two.

1. VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE

The Virupaksha Temple towers over Hampi Bazaar, dominating the town with its captivating beauty.  The original structure is said to date back as far as the 7th century and was dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism.  It remains the only place of worship still in use by the residents of Hampi and attracts huge crowds of visitors every day.

Although it is possible to admire the striking external features of the temple from anywhere in town, you should also take the time to visit inside.  It is an empowering experience to witness Hindu devotees worshipping their Lord Shiva – also known as the ‘destroyer and the transformer’.

Opening Hours:  Daily 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Price:  Free 

2. ACHYUTARAYA TEMPLE COMPLEX

The Achyutaraya Complex, is probably one of the most visually striking ruin sites throughout all of Hampi.  The temple itself, with its prodigious structure and intricate detail, is an awe-inspiring example of Vijayanagara architecture.  While the derelict area surrounding the bazaar, eerily transports you to a time quite unfathomable to the imagination.  

Despite being exposed to the relentless forces of nature for the past 4 centuries, the complex has remarkably maintained its exquisite beauty.  Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped it from being one of the least visited sites in Hampi.  Why?  We can’t really say, but its solitude only makes it all the more exciting to explore in our opinion.

Opening Hours: Open all hours, however, avoid in darkness.

Price:  Free

Hampi Ruins
hampi temple photos

3. VITTHALA TEMPLE

Out of all the magnificent sites in Hampi, Vitthala Temple is one of the most architecturally impressive.  An abundance of strategically aligned pillars support thestructure of the main temple, whereby every last detail adorns carved adaptations of Hindu legends.  We found ourselves marvelling for over an hour at the incredible artistry, in an attempt to decipher the story behind each of the markings.    

Another impressive monument located within the Vitthala Temple is the iconic Stone Chariot.  The striking sculpture is said to have been built to represent all of the beautiful architecture that once made up the almighty Vijayanagara empire.  This is a popular spot among tourists, therefore we recommend getting there early for the best experience.

Opening Hours:  Daily 8.30 AM – 5.00 PM

Price:  Free

THINGS TO DO IN HAMPI INDIA
Being in the Hampi Ruins felt like being in Tomb Raider

4. MATANGA HILL

Matanga Hill, formed from a mound of towering boulders, is one of the highest points to be discovered in Hampi.  As well as providing awe-inspiring views over the entire city, there are a number of fascinating ruin sites to be explored here.  A stair case engineered into the side of the tower leads visitors through various structures of ancient monuments which have been inconceivably built within the rock formations. 

As well as hosting some of our favourite ruins in Hampi, it’s also a great spot for sunrise and sunset.  Watching the sunrise & fall over the mystical landscapes of Hampi is always an enchanting experience; however, this spot was our favourite. 

Read full blog post: Matanga Hill – The best sunset spot in Hampi!

Opening Hours:  Open all hours, however, avoid in darkness.

Price:   Free

5.  HEMAKUTA HILL

Hemakuta Hill requires a little less energy to climb than the aforementioned Matanga Hill and also boasts a number of interesting ruin sites.  The remains of exquisite temples, majestical monuments and charming archways are in abundance on this hill located just minutes away from Hampi Bazaar.

As well as captivating views over the surrounding area, the peak is an excellent spot for sunrise and sunset.  You will also avoid the crowds if you visit around these times too… Double WIN! 

Opening Hours:  Open all hours, however, avoid in darkness.

Price:   Free

sunset in hampi india
MAP LOCATION OF TOP 5 SITES WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF HAMPI BAZAAR

TOP 5 HAMPI RUINS TO VISIT AROUND THE CITY

Now we will share our favourite Hampi ruins that are a little further afield from Hampi Bazaar.  To get to these sites, you may wish to rent a scooter, or alternatively hire a rickshaw.  Or if you’re feeling adventurous, we recommend you walk, as we did. We crossed through rivers, banana plantations & farmers fields, as well as encountering intriguing locals & unique species of wild life!  Not only that, but we stumbled upon a number of other interesting ruins along the way. 

Whichever way you choose to get there, it makes sense to visit all of the below on the same day.

1. ELEPHANT STABLES

The grandeur structure of the Elephant Stables is one of the top tourist attractions in Hampi, and not without reason.  The magnificent building was once home to the Royal Elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire and is a wonderful example of the exquisite craftsmanship prevalent during that era.  

Located within the Zenana Enclosure,  the Elephant Stables form a part of the only ticketed area within Hampi.  It’s a little on the pricy side, for India anyway, but it is definitely worth the money. As it is a popular attraction, we recommend going early for the best experience.

Opening Hours:  Daily 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM 

Price:  600 INR entrance fee for the Zenana Enclosure

ELEPHANT STABLES HAMPI

2. LOTUS MAHAL 

The exquisite Lotus Mahal complex is a beautiful example of a more delicate & feminine architectural design used during this era.  The intricate masterpiece, resembling the shape of an open Lotus flower, is said to have been a segregated area used by the Royal Women of the Vijayanagara Dynasty.

Despite the obvious deterioration to the original structure, the Lotus Mahal has maintained its charm and elegance.  Located within the Zenana Enclosure,  Lotus Mahal forms part of the only ticketed area within Hampi.  It’s a little on the pricy side, for India anyway, but it is definitely worth the money. As it is a popular attraction, we recommend going early for the best experience.

Opening Hours:  Daily 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM 

Price:  600 INR entrance fee for the Zenana Enclosure

LOTUS MAHAL INDIA

3. STEPPED TANK

The various stepped tanks found throughout India have been used for a number of purposes throughout history; however, this tank is thought to have been used for religious purposes, such as bathing before prayer. 

The complex design is an alluring invitation to observe the structure up close, although unfortunately it is forbidden here.  The structure is said to be in a fragile condition, therefore guards are positioned nearby to refrain anybody from entering the tank itself.  The guard even refused an offering of a tip in order for us to get closer for a picture, so that is when you know it must be quite serious! 

Opening Hours:  Daily 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM

Price:  Free

STEPPED TANKS HAMPI INDIA

4. MAHANAVAMI DIBBA

The impressive structure of Mahanavami Dibba stands proudly as the tallest monument in all of the royal enclosure.  Tiers upon tiers of rectangle platforms make up the structure, while ornamentations & carvings depict scenes from the high glory days of the Vijayanagara Empire.

The structure has proved remarkably resilient to the unforgiving forces of nature in the past 4 centuries, therefore visitors are permitted to climb to the top of the structure.  

Opening Hours:  Daily 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM

Entry:  Free

Places to see in Hampi

5. QUEENS BATH

Upon entering the striking remains of the Queens Bath, my initial thought was ‘Wow, how big were these queens?” No, but on a serious note, the structure is another remarkable example of architectural brilliance prevailing in the era of Vijayanagara. 

Sadly, it is also an example of how centuries of neglect can result in irrevocable damage.  Although this didn’t stop us from marvelling over the striking features of the original design.  

Opening Hours:  Daily 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM

Entry:  Free

PLACES TO SEE IN HAMPI
MAP LOCATION OF TOP 5 SITES OUTSIDE OF HAMPI BAZAAR

HOW TO GET TO THE HAMPI RUINS

BY AIR – The closest airport to Hampi is Hubli Airport situated 144km away.

BY TRAIN – The closest railway station to Hampi is Hospet Junction situated 10km away.  Hospet is connected via train from across the region, however, booking trains in India can be tricky.  It is advised to book at least 3 days in advance and even then you aren’t always guaranteed a ticket.  For this reason, we always used the bus network in India. You can book trains up to 6 months in advance using 12go Asia.

BY BUS – Hampi is accessible by bus from a number of destinations across India.  To check routes, timetables and ticket prices we recommend using redbus.com.  In our experience, they are extremely reliable.  They are one of the few companies who will accept payment with an International card, and they are contactable by phone should you have any issues with your journey.

WHERE TO STAY NEAR HAMPI RUINS

One thing to be aware of when considering accommodation for Hampi is that there are ‘2 sides’ to the river.  The west side of the river, ‘Hampi Bazaar’, or the east side ‘Virupapur Gadde’ otherwise known as ‘Hippie Island’.  

HAMPI BAZAAR

The area surrounding Hampi Bazaar is where you can find the majority of ruins & main attractions in Hampi.  It is also considered to be the ‘Holy’ side of the river.  Consequently, you should not expect to find meat or alcohol readily available here (although the latter highly depends on who you know!).  There are a number of budget guesthouses dotted throughout the town; however, we can personally recommend Archana Guest House and Shambhu Guest House.

HIPPIE ISLAND 

As the name suggests, Hippie Island is the ‘relaxed’ side of the river.  Here you will find lush green rice fields, sweeping landscapes of towering boulders, and blazed backpackers soaking in the chilled vibes. You will want to find yourself a place to stay on Hippie Island with a hammock and a view. While only basic, we can recommend Shanthi Homestay.

There is not much in terms of hostels in Hampi or luxury resorts; however, for more places to stay in Hampi, check the latest prices here.

*Travellers Tip – In order to reach ‘Hippie Island’ you must take a short 5-minute boat journey to cross the river.  Otherwise, it takes around an hour to reach the other side by motor vehicle.  The first boat leaves around 7am in the morning, and the last boat is at 5.30pm.  The cost of the boat journey should be no more than 50 INR/pax.   

More on Hampi

Are you planning a trip to Hampi?  Check out our other articles to help plan your trip.

Did you enjoy our list of must see Hampi Ruins?

Well, that concludes the best of the Hampi Ruins.  Be sure to read about the history behind the ruins.  We hope you enjoy your time in this magical country. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here where we share further travel advice & inspiration.

Stay adventurous and Happy travels.

Charlotte & Natalie x

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