Hampi - Kishkindha of Ramayana

For all of you who know my background and what I do for a living, it wouldn’t be a surprise that traveling automatically becomes a part of my life. Visiting different places, meeting people, understanding cultural and ethnic differences, it somehow brings out the best in me. Mostly what you will be reading here would be my endless rant and firsthand experience when visiting places. I am no expert critique but a normal person who likes to get the best out of his trip.

Southern India, especially Karnataka has some varied architectural styles. The Hoysala, the Dravidian, the Chalukya, the Vijaynagara and the Islamic style of architecture are just a few of them. When I travel to these places, I make it a point to read about the history behind it briefly, somehow it connects me to the place in terms of photographs that I take.

A trip to Hampi was on my mind for a really long period of time but no opportunity came by. The capital of the Vijaynagara Empire, Kishkindha of the Ramayana era, sprawls over such a wide area that, to explore it completely you need to have at least a week in hand. For me the opportunity came by as a road trip where we covered multiple places.

I did not have the time to cover the entire place, so finally based on suggestions by friends and some help from Google, I shortlisted Vijaya Vitthala Complex, Hazara Rama Temple, Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stables and the Stepped water tank or Pushkarni. And I would suggest others to not miss out on the Virupaksha temple, Underground Shivalaya and Narasimha statue.

The Vitthala complex is known for its musical pillars and the stone chariot. The main temple was dedicated to Vitthala a form of lord Krishna, while the chariot is actually a Garuda shrine. The road leading to the complex used to be a bazaar when the empire was in its prime. The remains are still seen when one is on the way to the temple. The pillars of the temple facing the stone chariot emit musical notes when tapped. Unfortunately certain people’s curiosity has damaged the pillars leading to a ban on tapping them. The Awe inspiring detailed sculpting leaves you in thought how would it have been achieved.

Vithala complex

Vithala complex

Golden Chariot

Golden Chariot

The detailed carvings

The detailed carvings

The Lotus Mahal which is one of the most notable structures in the Zenana enclosure is way different from the structures found in Hampi. A mix of Hindu and Islamic architecture, it is not dedicated to any deity and is not a typical stone structure but is made out of lime mortar and bricks. The two floored structure gets its name from the peculiar half open lotus bud shape. Probably it was a socializing place for the royal women of that era. A huge tree very close to it provides you ample shade to lie down on the lawn and gaze at the magnificence of the structure.

Lotus Mahal

Lotus Mahal

Lost in its splendor I kept walking ahead and turned into the Elephant stables. This was literally the parking for Elephants. Eleven huge dome shaped structures a few of them interconnected and with hooks on the ceiling to tie down the elephants can still be seen. Each compartment has an opening towards the back for the mahout to enter. The central compartment resembles temple like architecture while the others show predominant Islamic traits. Probably one of the least damaged structure apart from the central compartments temple like structure.

From this point on I just wandered out on a mud trail and reached Ranga temple known for its huge Craving of Lord Hanumana on a single stone slab. Usually people miss this because it’s a bit off the normal track. Walking on randomly towards another temple I saw, I landed into the Pan Supari Bazaar. Yes that’s actually the name of a busy street which has found a place in an inscription by Devaraya II.

The elephant stables

The elephant stables

The searing heat and humidity was getting to me; though it was overcast the humidity levels were extremely high and I had to keep myself well hydrated. After a brief pause I reached the temple I was heading towards which happened to be on my list and one of the most important structures in Hampi.. The Hazara Rama Temple.

This structure is not really large in comparison to others in Hampi but the most striking feature here are the carvings on the exterior of the temple walls. It depicts the scenes from Ramayana, stories which are carved in long arrays which makes it the only temple of its kind in Hampi. What’s more important though, is the fact that this was the king’s personal temple or probably meant for the royal family. Paths from most of the important structures around the area lead to this temple showing its importance.

After resting a bit at the temple I ventured out again to explore the area and kept walking down the road towards the right which took me to the Kings Court or Durbar hall. This is one of the few elevated areas in the region from where you can see the surroundings. It used to be a two storied structure as the steps leading to the top suggest. On the top platform one can find hundred sockets for pillars which supported the actual construction. Historians say they were made out of wood and were gutted during the invasion. This was the place where the king used to address his subjects and listen to their grievances. When I climbed up the stairs a chill ran through my spine just with the thought that how many times the king would have climbed the very same stairs.

The Kings’ Courtyard

From the top when I looked around my eyes widened with amazement. What I saw left me spellbound because I was looking at the stepped tank which was a very recent discovery (1981). A tank which is 22 meters on its sides and 7 meters deep with five distinct tiers is one of the best examples of well thought out and planned architecture. A stone channel about a foot wide carried water to the tank using nothing but gravity from the river Tungabhadra in its prime. This was probably used by the royalty for religious purposes.

The Kalyani Tank


More about the architectural marvel that is Hampi:


How to reach?

Closest Airport – Hubli ( 143 km), Flights from Bangalore, Hyderabad and indirect flights via Goa.

Train – Trains from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa which reach the closest destination to Hampi (Hospet) which is about 13 kms Away.It is the most preferred mode of transport since the tickets are not really expensive .Buses ply between Hospet and Hampi or you can take an auto. If taking an auto, first make it a point to decide the price with the auto driver.


If traveling from Bangalore it’s at a distance of around 350 km. Travel on NH4 till Chitradurga then take a right turn on NH13 till Hospet. After Chitradurga the road conditions might deteriorate rapidly and most of the times you are bound to run into heavily loaded trucks on the route. It’s better to be safe and take a driver who can drive in these tricky conditions and knows the local language.


KSRTC buses operate daily from Bangalore, Gokarna and Mysore. From Hospet take a local bus to Hampi. Book your tickets well in advance since during peak season large numbers of travelers visit Hampi.

Getting Around in Hampi

Bicycles- The Art of bicycle trips organizes treks and bicycle tours for a group of people which includes breakfast and lunch along with sightseeing. You can get more information at www.artofbicycletrips.com

Mopeds and motorcycles -Mopeds and motorcycles are available on rent for Rs. 150 to 200 excluding the fuel. Around 3 liters of fuel is sufficient to take you around for a day. (Rates might have changed)

One can rent a car with a driver for Rs. 1000 and over for a one day sightseeing. Quite a few are available in Hospet if you ask around. (Rates might have changed)

Auto rickshaws are another option where you can make a deal for full day of sightseeing.

One can hire a guide for the full day after a bit of bargaining but is worth it since you get to know the history of this amazing place.

Where to stay

KSTDC hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari – It is very reasonably priced with all the required amenities with close access to major sights. Rates start from Rs. 1500 for double room. The food served is pretty decent with a good variety in vegetarian and non vegetarian cuisine. Always ask to check the room before taking it. The newly constructed rooms 400 onwards are a good option.

Virupapur Gadde or more popularly known as Hippie Island located on the other side of the river has a large concentration of guest houses and eateries.  The better known ones are Hotel Malligi in Hospet, Kiran Guest house, Shanti guest house, rolling stone home stay etc. Malligi and Kiran are higher amongst the rating with travelers. If you are looking for food with the stay it’s a good option to look for hotels rather than homestays since all will not have food option.

The most noticeable eateries in Hampi are The Laughing Buddha, The Goan Corner and The Mango Tree.

Major Attractions

Shri Virupaksha temple, Lotus Mahal, Elephant stables, Hazara Rama temple complex, The Vijaya  Vitthala Temple complex, The Zenana complex, Kings Court,The underground Shivalaya, The stepped water tank, Ugra Narasimha statue.

What to carry

When sightseeing most important is a bottle of water mixed with electral or any other rehydration mix.

A cap, dress in light cotton full sleeved dresses, Do not wear tight pants or jeans since there are long distances to walk. Wear shoes with good grip if you intend to climb up and down the surrounding stony areas.

If you are carrying eatables make sure you do not litter the place. Use dustbins to dispose off unwanted things.

Please do not drink or do drugs on the premises, it is a religious site which is highly regarded by people.

Tips for Photographers:

A pointer if you are a photographer, no tripods are allowed to shoot, so carry all your fast lenses with you to make the best of the light. Polarizer’s are a must to get the skies right. If you have wide angle lenses even better since it makes life a lot easier to take in the grandeur of the sites at Hampi.



This post was published by Jeevan Pathare

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