Vijaya Vitthala Temple Hampi India

Explore Hampi in South India: The Largest Open-Air Museum in the World

Temple in Hampi India with text overlay Women with flowers in their hair in India with text overlay Women with flowers in their hair in India with text overlay Temple in Hampi India with text overlay Monkey at a temple in Hampi India with text overlay Lotus Mahal in Hampi India with text overlay

Once the capital of a flourishing civilization, Hampi is home to dozens of ancient ruins. Read on for incredible places to see in Hampi!

Hampi is widely considered to be the largest open-air museum in the world and was the capital of the flourishing Vijayanagara Empire. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations in South India as it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a jewel in the crown of Karnataka state’s many tourist attractions.

Hema Kuta Hill in Hampi South India

The ruins of Hampi are spread over approximately 4100 hectares and features forts, temples, stables, shrines, and more. In fact, the Golden Chariot luxury train is named after the stone Golden Chariot within the Vitthala temple complex! Much like the ruins of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka and Angkor in Cambodia, wandering around the vast Hampi ruins complex gives you a glimpse into the rich history & culture of an age of kings. Read on for the best places to visit in Hampi!

You may also like: 13 amazing places you can’t miss in Karnataka

How to get around Karnataka

Golden Chariot Luxury Train in India

Bangalore Airport is the nearest international airport which is about 350 KM from Hampi (a 6 hour drive). Alternatively, make the most of your time in South India and bask in luxury aboard the Golden Chariot train which departs from Bangalore. To learn more about the Golden Chariot, click here for 12 things you should know before traveling aboard a luxury train in India.

Luxury train in India

Alternatively, the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation also offers various bus tour packages (including female-only ones) to visit places including Hampi, Mysore, Bangalore and Belur. Click here to check out the bus tour package options. On a budget? The state is fairly well-connected by railway so you can also hop on local trains to get from place to place – you’ll want to head to Hospet station which is located about 12 KM from Hampi.

Headed to the Golden Triangle? Click here for a complete guide to visiting Delhi, Agra and Jaipur for first time visitors to India!

How to get around Hampi

It gets really, really hot in this part of India, so I would not recommend walking. The best way to see the ancient city, especially if you only have 1 day to see it all, is by (air conditioned) car or tuk tuk. If you are on a budget, you can rent bicycles to get from site to site. Google Maps is fairly accurate when it comes to the individual sights, but you’ll want to slather on the sun screen and wear a hat.

The best time to visit Hampi

Grasslands in Hampi in South India

The best time to visit Hampi is during the “winter” months from December to February as the other seasons can be hot and even rainy. When we were there in February, it was scorching hot – 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and upwards!

How much time to spend at Hampi

The Hampi complex is sprawling and there is a LOT to see. It’s fairly hard to visit Hampi as a day trip given how far it is from Mysore and Bangalore (unless you’re traveling by the Golden Chariot luxury train), so you should plan to spend a minimum of 1 night in Hampi. In general, most of the sights in Hampi are open from sunrise to sunset and don’t have entrance fees.

Wondering where to stay in Hampi? Here are some highly-rated accommodation options in Hampi.

What to see in Hampi

Hampi was founded in the early 14th century and fell to the rulers of Northern India in 1565; though it has subsequently lapsed into abandonment and sits in ruins, you can experience the heritage of Hampi by exploring the remains of opulent palaces, temples, fortifications, markets and much more. Here are some of the top attractions in Hampi that you can’t miss.

1. Hema Kuta Hill

Hema Kuta Hill in Hampi South India

Start your Hampi adventure at Hema Kuta Hill. The Hema Kuta Hill overlooks a portion of the complex and has traces of fortification and the ruins of more than 30 smaller temples.

You can wander freely across the top of the hill for some incredible photo opportunities and a stunning view from above.

2. Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha Temple in Hampi India

The Virupaksha Temple sits at the base of Hema Kuta Hill and is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Pampadevi. It is a living temple, which means that it is still used for worship to this day.

Virupaksha Temple in Hampi India

You must remove your shoes to enter the temple, and there are tons of monkeys within the complex – so watch your stuff! When we visited a naughty monkey ran off with another tourists’ battery pack.

Virupaksha Temple in Hampi India

You’ll love the vibrant colours at the Virupaksha Temple – make sure it’s on your Hampi itinerary!

3. Lakshmi Narasimha Statue

Lakshmi Narasimha Statue in Hampi South India

This large stone statue was built in the early 16th century and stands at nearly 7 meters high. It is dedicated to the god Vishnu and the goddess Lakshmi. The statue has the face of a lion and a human body as it is one of the manifestations of Lord Vishnu.

4. Badavilinga Temple

Shiva Lingam in Hampi India

Located right next to the Lakshmi Narasimha statue is this small temple dedicated to lord Shiva that many people overlook and skip on their Hampi itinerary – I recommend making a quick pit stop and checking it out. It features a large black stone Shiva Linga within a small chamber – the Lingam stands permanently in water.

5. The Queen’s Bath

The Queens Bath in Hampi India
Photo credit: Sanga Park / Shutterstock

The Queen’s Bath is an ornate bath structure that was once used to wash the ladies of the court as well as the royal family. It is located just outside of the Royal Enclosure and is one of the most popular Hampi monuments for tourists to visit.

6. The Royal Enclosure and Hazara Rama Temple

The Royal Enclosure in Hampi India

Though it is mostly flat and the walls have come down, the royal enclosure includes two major platform structures, an underground chamber (treasury or private audience hall), several minor platforms as well as a stepped tank.

The Royal Enclosure Stepped Tank in Hampi India
Photo credit: Bishnu Sarangi / Pixabay

Adjacent to the enclosure is the Hazara Rama Temple which features absolutely fascinating reliefs carved into the temple walls.

Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi India

7. The Lotus Mahal

The Lotus Mahal in Hampi India

Probably my personal favorite, the unassuming double-tiered lotus mahal in Hampi features stunning arches that resemble lotus petals. If you have a thing for symmetry, you’re going to love this monument in Hampi!

8. The Elephant Stables

The Elephant Stables in Hampi India

The Elephant Stables are where the royals once housed their elephants. It is remarkably well preserved and features a long and narrow interior corridor and a number of protruding domes above.

9. Vijaya Vitthala Temple

Vijaya Vitthala Temple in Hampi India

To get to this temple, you will need to take a small bus or walk 15 minutes in the scorching sun, but it’s worth it and one of the top Hampi attractions in the complex.

The Stone Chariot in Hampi India

Dating back to the 15th century, the Vijaya Vitthala Temple is perhaps the most well known of all the temples in Hampi and the large complex features a number of shrines as well as the famous stone chariot in the main courtyard.

10. The Tungabhadra River

The Tungabhadra River in Hampi India

To the left of the entrance of the Vijaya Vitthala Temple is a path that leads to the edge of the Tungabhadra River. This is a great place to end a busy day of sightseeing and to catch the sunset in Hampi!

Ready for your Hampi adventure? Here are some highly-rated accommodation options in Hampi.

I hope this Hampi travel guide has inspired you to visit this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. Have you visited any of these 10 places to see in Hampi? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

Looking for even more India travel tips and destination guides? You might want to read these guides:

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I visited Karnataka twice over the course of 2 years – the first time as an independent traveler in 2017, and again as a guest of the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation / India’s Ministry of Tourism in 2018. No compensation was received for this review, and as always, the opinions on Yogawinetravel.com are (and always will be) my own!

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, Looks amazing place to explore such great attractions with open-air. I have been to Bengaluru a few years back for a trip. But we didn’t pick this beautiful spot. Will Plan for next vacation. Thanks for sharing

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