Route 2 – Exploring the architectural gems along the riverside at Hampi

I am a self proclaimed historic buff, so there was never a doubt in my mind that I would enjoy Hampi. Imagine my amazement when I see my children share the same enthusiasm in these magnificent ruins. In spite of the hot sun (even though it was a December visit) and my plan to not leave any boulder unexplored – I was surprised by the energy and drive in them to walk, climb boulders and explore the place. I believe Hampi spoke to them in their language to keep them engaged !

We started the day early as I was looking forward to a very special visit, one that involved climbing boulders before it became really hot !

Walking along the Tungabhadra river to get to the coracle ride point

A walk along the stepped rock riverbank of the Tungabhadra river, this path took us to a cave like rock formation.

The cave like structure we walked through to reach there

It was interesting to see this Sadhu sitting near this carving on the rock.

The hermit we found sitting near the cave like structure, leading to the bathing ghats and coracle point

I requested for a few clicks and he obliged ! Can you see the heavens sending their blessing our way ? I knew it would be a beautiful day today.

Blessing from the heaven above. I just knew it would be a beautiful day !

The cave like formation opened to this beautiful open place near the historic Kodandarama Temple.

1) Kodandarama Temple

This temple has deep religious significance. It stands at the place where Rama crowned Sugreeva king of Kishkinda. The ancient pavilion next to this temple have been used by the pilgrims as a place to rest for many centuries!

The historic Kodandarama temple where Sugreev was crowned king by Lord Rama

In the sanctum, you can see three very tall statues of Ram, Sita and Lakshman carved on a huge boulder by the hillside. During peak monsoon season the river-water sometimes reaches up to the temple courtyard !

Interestingly, there were lot of monkeys in this temple when we visited, but then hey – we were invading their space !

2) Yantrodharaka Anjaneya Temple

This is a functioning shrine located just behind the Kodandarama Temple. This Hanuman temple is only next in importance to the whitewashed shrine birthplace of Hanuman on top of the Anjeyanadri Hill.

The historic Kodandarama temple behind which is the Hanuman temple

This temple contains the image of a sitting Hanuman positioned inside an amulet (locally called Yantra). If the legend is to be believed, Hanuman used to visit a particular sage when the sage was alone, in spite of repeated request to make a more public appearance. The sage apparently trapped Hanuman in this amulet , so he could never leave and be available to the common people for worship too ! The image of Hanuman here in unique and he appears in a meditative or prayer position.

On these ghats, our guide informed us, that the discussion of Lord Shiva and local girl Pampa’s wedding discussions take place. The locals celebrate the wedding, but prior to that negotiations on the alliance is done here in an annual ceremony. The entire Hampi is divided into the girl and boy side for these negotiations 🙂

3) Riverside Ruins

I had heard that the riverside gorge near the Kodandarama Temple has amazing clusters of ruins, especially the Shiva Lingas carved on the rock surface. This was my special visit which involved a coracle ride (my first) to reach these lesser seen ruins of Hampi.  There were interesting carvings on the rock surface while getting down to the coracle point

Carvings found on rock surface at the coracle ride point. This is also a sacred bathing ghat given its proximity to the Kodandarama temple


The coracle ride was a big fun surprise for the kids

The ghats from where we started our coracle ride, giving a view of the Rama temple and the historic pavilion

With a really enjoyable and soothing ride, climbing some rocks and boulders, we reached the lingas carved on a flat rock surface. We got a view of an array of 108 Lingas and another fabulous array of 1008 lingas.

The 108 Shivalingaas carved on the rock

The spectacular 1008 Shivalingas

Nandi carved opposite the boulder across the river from these carved Shivalingas. Can you spot it ?

In this gorge you can find innumerable treasure while boulder hopping. Scuttling over boulders, which was fun and exciting, we found many carvings and relics.

Caves like structures along the riverside

Beautiful carving of Goddess on the side of boulders

Sculpture of Vishnu and Lakshmi on one boulder. Note the color is still intact despite the harsh sun

Given that this is not one of the most frequented spots, we loved the calm it provided before we ventured into the more touristy areas!

4) Purandaradasa Mantapa

Our coracle ride ended near an open pillared pavilion dedicated to the legendary poet Purandaradasa. Located by the river shore with the backdrop of Anjeyanadri hill, this probably was the ideal place for the poet to draw inspiration for his 75,000 devotional and classical compositions.

Purandaradasa Matapa along the river side with a view of the Anjaneya Hill

A small sculpture of Purandaradasa with tambura is also seen at the pavilion.

Sculpture of Purandaradasa with the tampura

A classical music concert, attended by international artists too, is held here to celebrate the birth anniversary of this poet.

5) Ancient Bridge

From the Purandaradasa Mantapa, one gets a glimpse of traces of an ancient bridge. Only the pillars of the bridge remain, so it is really easy to miss.

The ancient bridge as seen from Purandaradasa Mantapa

To build the pillars on the rocky bed of a torrential river, apparently the flow of that branch of the river was stopped ! This clearly shows the advanced technology that were employed for these constructions.

6) Kings Balance

This 16 feet structure was used by the king used to weigh himself in precious stones like gold, gems, silver and distributed to the priests on special occasions.

King’s Balance with the massive entry gate in the background

An interesting titbit – when an occasion approached, the king was fed his favorite food and allowed to move as little as possible, resulting in a few extra kilos and some additional wealth for the priests !

At the base of the left pillar stones, you can spot the king’s image carved along with his 2 queens.

Image of Krishnadevaraya along with his 2 queens carved at the base of the King’s Balance

This probably was on the entry path to Hampi city. The huge structure behind it is akin to an entry gate.

7) Sugreeva’s Cave

After about 10 minutes walk from the King’s balance, you will find this cave almost on the river shore. It is a naturally formed alcove between huge boulders and is believed to be the place where the mythical monkey warrior, Sugreeva lived. It is said that while being abducted by Ravana, Sita dropped her jewels wrapped in a piece of her sari. Hanuman found these jewels and took them to Sugreeva. These white lines seen on the rocks’ surface are said to be made by the ends of Sita’s sari as Hanuman fetched the dropped jewels to Sugreeva !

Sugreev’s Cave where the mythical Monkey king lived

As we entered the cave, there is a distinct drop in temperature. Though there is nothing much to see inside, we are humbled to be in such a historic place and the coolness of the cave is welcoming.

8) Courtesan’s Street

As per our guide, this was the handiwork of a jealous king, who wanted to be more popular than Krishnadevaraya and believed that any publicity is good publicity ! So he went ahead and established the Courtesan’s street.

This was apparently, the liveliest of all the temple streets in Hampi. As you enter this street you can see pavilions of finely carved pillars in varied state of ruin, on either side of the street. You can also spot some unfinished blocks of pillars.

Courtesan street and the pillared pavilion

Another theory is that the women / so-called-courtesans on this street were probably female spies working for the king. Guess we will never know.

A large stepped–tank called Pushkarni is also seen here. One can walk through the remains of a pillared pavilion around the Pushkarani. The small rectangular monument in the center of the tank was apparently used to keep images of God and Goddess during the annual boat festival of the temple.

Pushkarni near the Courtesan’s street

9) Varaha Temple

As per our guide, this is the only Shiva temple among the many Vishnu temples in this vicinity. The majestic entrance tower immediately catches your attention. This is not a functioning temple and the sanctum is located in the middle of the compound.

Varaha Temple – the only Shiva temple in the vicinity

Link to other Hampi article in the series (in case you missed these)

Route 1 – Exploring Sacred Center

Route 3 – Exploring the Royal Center

Post 4 – Exploring Vittala temple – the showstopper of Hampi

Post 5 – Exploring Anegundi – mother kingdom of Hampi

Things you may want to know before the travel (Travel tips)

  • Getting here and other tips from my first blog
  • Carry food and water with you. There is only a very basic stall near Purandaradasa Mantapa serving light snacks and tea
  • Carry enough water, sunscreen, sun hats and wear comfortable walking shoes
  • Admission and photography is free in all the monuments on this route (except inside functioning temples)
  • This route should take you about 3 hours
  • Kodandarama Temple and Yantrodharaka Anjaneya Temple are active shrines and remain open during the morning & evening hours
  • Tourists should observe basic rules of visiting a temple in India – No sleeveless tops / shorts / shoes inside. Keep a shawl handy to cover yourself up
  • Plan the coracle ride and exploring the boulders in the morning. It is best explored barefoot for better grip and the rocks can get hotter as the day progresses
  • You can haggle on the cost of coracle ride (we paid 250/- per person) but is highly recommended. There are no life jackets but I was assured that there has not been any mishap till date
  • This route cannot be done by car. Walking is the best option. Cycles will work for part stretches only
  • You can visit the Achuta Raya temple at the end of the Courtesan’s street, comment and tell me about what I missed !

A daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, IT professional and now – a travel blogger. I just love traveling, exploring new places and this inspired me to share travel experiences and memories with others.


A daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, IT professional and now - a travel blogger. I just love traveling, exploring new places and this inspired me to share travel experiences and memories with others.

43 Responses

  1. Trayee says:

    The place is amazing..beautiful shots. like it so much

  2. sapna bansal says:

    Hampi has so much to offer..thanks for the detailed description. Will oon try to visit the way You got gems of kids who love exploring ruins.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Sapna. I agree. Hampi is a treasure and I am sure I have left some unexplored. Would love to go back sometime (maybe the monsoon 🙂 ) . You must definitely visit. The kids – yeah, couldn’t ask for a more travel friendly bunch !

  3. Needa says:

    Wow !! i never of this place !! but its very adventures place !! with the lovely tips to followed

  4. jhilmil says:

    Beautiful, Hampi looks a great town, we were planning a south trip in winters this year, lemme think if we can plan Hampi & see teh sights shared by you!

  5. Elena says:

    I have never been to Hampi and I see that it has so much to offer. After reading this post Hampi is on my bucket list as well.

  6. Deepa says:

    Thanks for this detailed post on Hanoi..we have been planning since a long time now. This will be helpful for us.

  7. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed rocks until I went to a cavern for my birthday. It was amazing. I admit I had to google where Hampi was, but I am glad that your children were able to enjoy the experience as well.

  8. Marisa says:

    Oh wow! Your pictures are amazing, What an experience to have and share with your family! You are making some great memories!

  9. Amrita says:

    Hampi looks amazing .I would love to vidot too.Children look like they are enjoying too !

  10. Sheri says:

    Not only amazing and beautiful shots but such a wealth of information and history to go along with it. This is a great post!

  11. Tori says:

    Hampi looks beautiful with lots to see and do. I was particularly interested in the parts relating to Rama, Sita and Hanuman. I’m familiar with some of their story and would love to learn more.

  12. Wow I didn’t know about this place. It seems really fun and your pictures are awesome! It really seems like you did a great trip. Thanks for sharing this!

  13. Henry says:

    Great photos! I really like the Sadhu sitting on the rock. Very cool place that I didn’t know about. Thanks for sharing.

  14. lloyd says:

    this is fantastic write up! captured the picture for me and i could feel like i was there reading this. beautiful photos aswell. I love the old engravings and each tell a different story completely. thanks again was great to read

  15. Indrani says:

    It is a kind of short Ramayan Trail there. The caves there gave me goosebumps. 🙂
    The lingas too are impressive. Very well taken pictures.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Indrani. It was steeped in Ramayana stories I have grown up listening to. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and sharing these in the blog 🙂

  16. I hadn’t seen any photos from these sites before, so thank you very much for sharing this! Very interesting carvings and the colourful sculpture. But how can you steer a boat that is round? 😀 I have never seen one like that before.

    • admin says:

      Glad you liked it. In re the round boat, it requires skill:). I am amazed how the coracles are controlled and the guide told “slightly” apprehensive me that there has been no mishap since the boat service started ;). It is an experience !

  17. SindhuMurthy says:

    Hampi is an enigma for both adults and kids alike. I have visited Hampi quite a number of times but even today I wouldn’t be surprised if I discover something new and interesting while walking around the rocks and boulders. It was very interesting to read through some of the discoveries you made during your walk in Hampi.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Sindhu. Glad you liked it. I totally agree that there is always something unexplored, hidden that one can discover in each visit.

  18. Gelyka says:

    Kodandarama Temple looks like a nice place to visit, as well as the caves. I would love to go this place.

  19. Long after we are gone from the face of the earth, your posts will be the guide posts for travelers to Hampi and its ruins. Your articles have a balance of images and text. The pillars that you showed are perhaps those of an earlier culvert/ or canal that transported water from the river to some remote areas.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Swayam. That is huge praise – coming from you. Glad you like the mix of visual and text. These pillars were apparently bridge built during that time for crossing the river !

  20. Erica says:

    Hampi is child-friendly! Must be an awesome, educational, sacred place! Each place has something unique to offer. Love the myths and stories about these places. I would love to visit there and see for myself.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Erica. Hampi can be really harsh – weather wise. So the kids need to be seasoned as mine are ;). It is a fun place though if exploring is your thing. Lots of stories to tell

  21. neha says:

    When we went to Hampi, we explored one part of the river. However much I wanted to take that boat to the other part and explore, I couldn’t. It was hot and I had a 8 months old baby with me. So, I plan to visit again. Thanks for taking me to a virtual tour to the other side !! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.