Hampi is the most unique Indian village I have ever seen – an ‘Indian’ village surrounded by such magnificent ruins and yet fit for a perfectly comfortable stay due to the enamoring hospitality of the locals. The locals have completely adapted themselves to meet each and every need of the tourists. Every adult and child in the village can speak English, even if a bit broken, and most amazingly they understand all possible English accents, as tourists come from all parts of the world – Israel, Russia, Japan, Italy, France, England, Spain, etc!
Grocery stores build inside mud houses stock on single toilet paper rolls. Restaurants display stacks of Muesli boxes, Nutella jars, Heinz beans cans. Menus showcase cuisines attracting every kind of foreign tourist, but sadly, for people like me interested in local cuisine there is hardly mention of any local dish.
I did not catch a single Indian tourist, except for the Virupaksha temple (where Indians go to pray). Mostly you see the hippie crowd who have their base in Goa, but come to Hampi for a break.
The first thing that grabs your eyeballs as you enter Hampi, is the weird terrain of the hills around you, It seems as if a huge giant while playing with boulders piled them up on top of one another creating these small hills! And yet there is a lot of greenery on ground level, consisting mainly of banana plantations and paddy fields. The geography of this region is amazing.
Due to the rocky terrain, there is a lot of heat during the day, throughout the year. The best time to go sight-seeing would be early morning to 1 pm, and 4 pm till sunset. Most places are not very well-lit, so it is better to leave immediately after sunset.
As per our guide, during the time of Krishnadevaraya the city was called ‘Hampe’, which denotes a flourishing kingdom. But after Vijaynagar was defeated by Muslim invaders (Adil Shah), and people fled the city, it was renamed as ‘Hampi’, which means ‘destruction’. I did not find this story anywhere on the internet but seemed interesting.
The destruction by Adil Shah can be seen in the fact that there were more than 80 temples in the whole region, of which only 3 are used for praying today. This is because the idols placed in the other temples were intentionally destroyed during the invasion.
The Hampi monuments are distributed across a vast area. The ASI segregates it into two sections: The Sacred Center and the Royal Center. The Vitthala temple is farther away. The entire region of Hampi and Anegundi was referred to as Kishkindha in Ramayana. Anegundi is on the other side of the Tungabhadra and is a very unique place. There are cave paintings dating back about 5000 years in Anegundi!