Places to visit near Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi is a small historic town located on the banks of picturesque Tungabhadra River in the Indian state of Karnataka. It is a frequently visited weekend destination for city dwellers of Bangalore and Hyderabad to have a laid back scenic trip and by locals for religious purposes. It is also very popular with foreigners who stay here for weeks together on the hippie island. But there is much more to Hampi than a weekend destination. There are many interesting places around Hampi that most travellers miss out on. From other historic monuments and caves that will leave you in awe to Sunflower fields that will make your heart flutter with joy. From getting a bird eye view of Karnataka's largest dam to artistic craftwork of tribal women, there is so much more to immerse yourself into. In this article, we talk about various places around Hampi and how you can plan a trip to visit them.
We have been to Hampi many times, and each time we were lucky enough to uncover hidden gems in and around Hampi. While first trip to Hampi should always be about understanding and seeing Hampi and places in its vicinity, one can explore places around Hampi (upto 150 kms) over a long weekend in subsequent trips.
So here is a compilation of places to visit near Hampi -
Badami, located at a distance of 140 kilometres from Hampi, is a small town that used to be the capital of one of the greatest and most abiding dynasties in Southern India – the Chalukyas. This place to visit near Hampi lies on the fertile banks of the Malaprabha River. It is nestled in a shallow ravine that cuts through the sandstone landscape of the surroundings. The Chalukyan kings who reigned Badami adorned the capital with some beautiful rock-cut temples that date between the 6th and 8th century CE.
Badami is adorned with four main caves, several lesser caves, a few temples, and other monuments, all surrounding an enormous man-made water body – the Agastya Lake. All the monuments are made of the fine red-grained (or brown) sandstone, hence the name Badami (colour of badam/ almond). On a cliff overlooking the Agastya Lake is the Badami fort. In-state of ruins, today, it is a troubled witness of ancient human violence.
The main attractions in Badami, namely the Badami caves, Agastya Lake, Bhutanatha temple, Badami fort, Upper and Lower Shivalaya temples, Archaeological museum, and the lesser caves, are all located in one complex.
Tourists that visit Hampi treat Badami as a day-trip destination. But we suggest an overnight stay in Badami to explore this place to visit near Hampi properly. You could also move on to explore the heritage sites at Pattadakal and Aihole on the next day if you spend a night in Badami. Decent accommodation facilities are available in the town. This place to visit near Hampi is best explored after the monsoon ends – when the Agastya Lake is brimming with water, and numerous waterfalls are formed along the southern hills. Read more about the places to visit in Badami and other important things to know before visiting the town in our dedicated blog on Badami.
Entrance ticket to the monuments in Badami – INR 5 per person
Pattadakal is an even smaller town located at a distance of 136 kilometres from Hampi and 22 kilometres from Badami. This town is again situated on the Malaprabha River banks and is a legacy of early Chalukyas. Pattadakal was looked after as an amalgamation between North Indian and South Indian architectural styles due to its location. The name Pattadakal means 'a place of coronation', where several Chalukyan Kings were crowned.
The places to visit in Pattadakal include 10 major temples in a complex, nine of which are based on Hinduism and one on Jainism. The group of monuments at Pattadakal suffered from the scourges of nature and were brought to the attention of the government only in the 1960s. In 1987, they were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Today, they are managed and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Having been ruled by various kingdoms and empires, the group of monuments at Pattadakal is evidence of architectural forms from multiple religions and parts of India. The 10 major temples are clustered together in one complex surrounded by beautiful gardens on all four sides. Pattadakal is the best place to visit near Hampi if you are an architecture-buff. You will need at least a day to see all the monuments properly, else 2 hours are enough to cover the major temples.
Pattadakal hardly has any decent options for an overnight stay. It is best to book a hotel or a guest house in Badami if you wish to spend a night nearby. Both Pattadakal and the nearby heritage town of Aihole can be visited as a day trip from Badami. Monsoon and winter is the best time to explore this place to visit near Hampi. Read more about the group of monuments in Pattadakal and other important things to know before visiting the town in our dedicated blog on Pattadakal.
Entrance ticket to the group of monuments in Pattadakal – INR 40 per person
Aihole is a heritage town located along the Malaprabha River banks in the Bagalkot district of the Indian state of Karnataka. It is barely 10 kilometres away from Pattadakal and 138 kilometres from Hampi. This place to visit near Hampi is a major centre of historically important Chalukya monuments.
Aihole was once a breeding ground for the innovative building of new architectural styles. Today, the small town has become a centre of studies of Indian religion and art history. It houses over 100 big and small temples and several other significant monuments.
The Durga temple in Aihole is dated from the mid-6th to mid-7th century CE and is an excellent example of a semi-circular temple. The experimentation with stone artwork, and architectural designs that were done in Aihole monument construction, were later used in a refined manner in the group of monuments in Pattadakal and Badami.
Most temples in Aihole are spread across a radius of a 1-kilometer area in the town's center. It would take over 2 hours to explore all of them. Winter and monsoon is the best time to explore this place to visit near Hampi. The Badami-Pattadakal-Aihole circuit is popular amongst foreign as well as Indian tourists. There are no hotels or guest houses in Aihole; hence it is recommended that you book your stay in Badami, a place to visit near Hampi. Read more about the group of monuments in Aihole and other important things to know before visiting the town in our dedicated blog on Aihole.
Entrance ticket to the monuments in Aihole – INR 25 per person
Sandur is a small village located about 40 kilometres away from Hampi in Karnataka. We heard and read about Sandur while we were in Hospet and could not travel to Hampi as the Tungabhadra River was flooded. We started looking for places to visit near Hampi, which is when we came across this town. Once known as Skandapuri, in honour of the temple dedicated to Skanda, today, the town is called Sandur (meaning 'town between hills'). The area is rich in forests, flora, fauna, and deposits of iron and manganese ore.
We visited the Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra, which is a non-profit organization founded in the year 1988. The organization promotes handicraft-based livelihoods. This craft is indigenous to the women of the Lambani tribal community who reside in Sandur. Their embroidery work on bright fabrics is embellished with intricate stitches, which are now a part of modern-day outfits. This exquisite artisanship has won the Lambani women recognition and helped them make a living. Their artform even earned the tag of geographical indication in 2008.
As many as 500 women work at the Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra. A few of them were dressed in their unique traditional dress named phetiya-kanchali, a baggy skirt with an ornamental blouse. The women have first-hand knowledge of 39 different embroidery designs stitched meticulously onto sarees, stoles, dupattas, kurtis, bags, cushion covers, and pouches, wall-hangings, and other apparels. The products are embellished with cowrie shells, beads, mirrors, coins, and other decorations. These products are then sold in an in-house outlet, from where we picked a few of them. Lambani embroidered products are also exported to countries like the USA, Netherlands, and Japan.
Apart from the Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra that helps local women keep the traditional art alive, there are a few other places to visit in Sandur, like a few former iron and manganese quarries and a beautiful lake near the Narihalla dam. For luxury seekers, a stay in the royal Shiv Vilas Palace is highly recommended. Sandur is amongst the best place to visit near Hampi if you are into nature, art, and crafts.
5. Hospet (also called Hosapete)
Tungabhadra River flows through the centre of Hampi, dividing the town into two divisions that are entirely world apart. However, the Tungabhadra Dam is located about 8 kilometres away from Hampi in a town named Hospet, which is relatively nearby. If you are nearby, do not give this place to visit near Hampi a miss.
The Tungabhadra dam construction was envisioned as early as the 1860s, but the dam was built entirely only in 1953. There's a beautiful and well-maintained garden, named Pampavana Garden, at the dam site, which includes a small zoo, an aquarium, and lots of different plant species with substantial open spaces for picnicking.
We visited the Tungabhadra Dam in August month when it was still monsoon. It was continuously raining, and the dam was brimming with water during our visit. Owing to the full capacity of the reservoir, the boating facilities were closed down. We climbed the 1000 steps to the lighthouse up a hill located right next to the dam. Generally, you will find lighthouses on the seashores to keep a vigil and guide ships. But here, there's a lighthouse next to a dam (purpose unknown).
From atop the hill next to the Tungabhadra dam, we could get a glimpse of the entire reservoir and the green valleys surrounding it. Though entry to the lighthouse is restricted, the panoramic view from the site was breathtakingly beautiful. Out of the dam's odd 33 gates, 28 gates were opened to discharge water into the Tungabhadra River; hence, Hampi was flooded. An inspection bungalow cum a guest house is located atop the hill, open only for government officials visiting the dam.
If you prefer staying close to the dam, you could book an overnight stay at Hotel Mayura, located right next to the Tungabhadra dam circle. We also happened to get an incredible view of the dam from the Tungabhadra bridge, constructed over the Tungabhadra River, and another smaller bridge near Fatima church while riding towards Badami from Hospet. The water flow was so ferocious that it completely scared us. All in all, we found the Tungabhadra dam to be the best place to visit near Hampi. We will let the pictures speak what we saw!
Entrance ticket to the dam – INR 20 per person
Entrance ticket to Pampavana garden – INR 20 per person
6. Sunflower Fields
If finding vast sunflower fields blooming with gorgeous yellow flowers excites you, you must indeed explore the places mentioned above to visit near Hampi. Planning a road trip between June to September will work best to catch the flowers in full bloom. The little villages around Hampi are home to hundreds of sunflower fields. You will see them lining both sides of the road as you drive from Hampi to Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, or Sandur.
The little patches of yellow that seemed hidden from afar turned into a vast expanse covered with hundreds of thousands of sunflowers as we closed in each time. We spent hours exploring all the fully bloomed fields that we passed by. It was hard to get enough of them. Locals privately own all these sunflower fields, so be respectful of the surroundings and their privacy. Do not trespass in fenced areas. You will find that a few farmers are chatty and would love to give you a tour of their field and tidbits on how they are grown.
The city of Bellary, situated in the historic Bellary district, is located about 60 kilometres away from Hampi. The name of the town is also spelled as Bellari. Ballary or Ballari. The city is known for the Bellary Fort that stands tall atop Fort Hill. This Fort Hill is the second largest monolithic hill in the world, and it is popularly known as 'Bellary Gudda.' The King built the fort during the reigns of the Vijayanagar empire. We recommend visiting the fort in the late afternoon so that you can also catch its illuminated version (Only on Sundays and National holidays) in the evening.
Beside the Bellary Fort Hill is another hill named Kumbara Gudda known as the 'Face Hill. If you view this hill from the southern side, it looks like a human being's face. Apart from these two hills, several temples spread across the Bellary city that might interest your religious stance.
Toranagallu, located oddly 38 kilometres away from Hampi, is a town that is famous for housing a very artistic museum called the Kaladham museum. This museum is located at the entrance of Vijayanagar township in Toranagallu.
Kaladham is a very thoughtfully curated museum, which is an exact mini-replica of Hampi. The 5-minute 3D show that has been created to showcase the entire site at Hampi is incredible. The virtual tour is a must for everyone interested in knowing the history of Vijayanagar. The museum structure is constructed with stone pillars and bamboo roofs that walks you through beautiful pictures of Hampi and its surroundings (about 15000 images taken over 25 years). During the evening, the place looks even lovelier with all the lightings and the water fountain. They also have set up a souvenir shop where you can collect artifacts for your loved ones.
Entrance ticket to the Kaladham museum - INR 50 per person
Museum Timings - 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM every day (Closed on Tuesdays). Also, open from 10 AM to 1 PM on Sundays.
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We hope this list of places to visit near Hampi helps you plan your week-long trip to the heritage towns around the area. If you are aware of other such places to visit near Hampi and want us to include them in this list, do let us know about it in the comments section.