By Ayush Kurundwad
Hampi is a bucket-list destination for Indian history enthusiasts. Though in ruins, this UNESCO World Heritage site showcases the grandeur of the great Vijayanagara Empire. Bharatanatyam dancer Mehavinie Sivakumar, fresh from a trip there, shared these wonderful tips to make your Hampi trip a richer one.
Surreal Sunset Points
Hampi is not just a treasure trove of historical wonders; it is also a paradise for sunset enthusiasts. “The rock formations and trees add so much to the sunset landscape,” says Mehavinie.
As the sun bids adieu, the sky transforms into a mesmerising palette of fiery oranges and purples. While numerous sunset points are scattered throughout the area, Matanga Hill has to be the crown jewel.
A moderate hike to Matanga Hill rewards you with a panoramic view that’s nothing short of magical. “Matanga Hill is just special, and it is surprising how few tourists it attracts.” Whether you’re a history buff or just a sunset chaser, Hampi’s golden hour will leave you spellbound.
In the days of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi’s markets glittered with diamonds, rubies, pearls and emeralds in cups used for measuring grains. Those were times of abundance, and chronicles left by Persian and European travellers suggest it was the richest city in India.
Today, the markets may not sell products of such mythical value, but they do have some treasures of their own. “They have generic souvenirs like keychains and magnets, of course. But they also have so much more. We went to the Hampi Bazaar, located right outside Virupaksha Temple, around 9 a.m. so we could avoid the crowds,” says Mehavinie.
In fact, it is best to start your tour of the temples as early in the day as you can, she suggests, considering how hot Hampi gets during the day, and how much there is to see. “In the Virupaksha Temple, for example, there is an entire chapter from the Hindu scriptures carved into the walls. The Vittala Temple, on the other hand, has unique animal carvings which look like different creatures from different angles. You don’t want to miss these intricate details just because of the crowds.”
It is hard to decide what to take back as gifts for your friends and family, and also for yourself. You want to remember this place, after all. “I bought some lovely oxidised silver jhumka earrings:
The mini-idols of Hindu deities are beautiful, too. I loved the delicate carvings on them,” says Mehavinie. The people of Hampi are very proud of their heritage, and consider it good luck if the images of their revered deities reach faraway lands. These idols not only make a great souvenir but are also easy to carry. They can range from simple polished wood idols to lavishly expensive, pure gold ones.
Hampi’s Natural Wonders and Coracle Rides
Hampi might be famous for its architecture, but that is not all it has to offer. The temple town boasts some gorgeous rock formations, hills, and rivers. If you decide to drive to Hampi, scenic green hills and massive boulder clusters will greet you.
“A thrilling way to experience the natural beauty of Hampi is to take a coracle ride,” says Mehavinie.
Coracles are small round boats which can seat 4-5 people. Along the banks of the Tungabhadra river, one can find several coracle spots. The boatsmen take you down to a shallow basin, and off you go on your ride! You can have a slow, peaceful time and take in the rocky hills rising all around you, or you opt for a thrilling twist. The boatsmen enjoy rowing the boat into fast circles, giving you an adrenaline rush if that’s what you crave.
“Hampi made the perfect setting for my dance performance,” says Mehavinie. “Reading about the place, and then experiencing it is magical.”
Mehavinie Sivakumar is a professional dancer and choreographer who has travelled all over India for upscale events.