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Hampi, Karnataka

Lush paddy fields, majestic boulders and the ruins of an empire dot the landscape at Hampi.

Located on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, Hampi was a part of the prosperous Vijayanagara Empire, which flourished in the Deccan between the 14th and 16th centuries. The capital of the empire, also called Vijayanagara, stretched over an area of about 650 sq kms, and includes the World Heritage Site of Hampi, and Kamalapuram.

Krishna Deva Raya, the empire’s most heralded monarch, had a passion for architecture, and during his reign built some of the most spectacular monuments here. Unfortunately, war with the neighbouring kingdoms in the Deccan (Bijapur, Golconda and Ahmednagar) and pillaging by others left this once magnificent city in ruins. Today, only a fraction of the original kingdom is still standing, amongst which are some of the finest temples in south India.

The ruins at Hampi are spread over an area of 26 sq kms, and include temples, palaces and aqueducts.

A profusion of hotels and restaurants can be found at the Hampi Bazaar, and this is where most tourists stay.

Across the Tungabhadra river lies the village of Virupapur Gadde. Because of Hampi’s growing popularity, Virupapur Gadde has a glut of inexpensive guesthouses and hotels. It is also affectionately called the ‘hippie-haven’ by the locals because of its laidback vibe and popularity with foreign tourists.

We recommend visiting Hampi for three days, which would give you ample time to visit the ruins and the temples, and also make trips to lesser-known places around Hampi, like Anegundi and Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary.