A to Z of Destinations
Australia, NZ and South Pacific
A to Z of Experiences
Walking and trekking
Diving and snorkelling
Wildlife and safaris
Meet the locals
Frontier and expedition
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Visiting the Poles
Career breaks and BIG trips
Body and soul
Volunteer and conservation
Australia, East Coast
Everest Base Camp
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railway
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights
Great Wall of China
Take a walk through Hampi's bloody history and temple with David Abram
David Abram | Issue 54 | 54 november 2002
“Hello yes.” The pea-green boy had appeared from nowhere. One minute the flagstones outside the temple had been empty, save for the usual gang of paper-chewing cows; the next, there he was, covered in powder the colour of coriander leaves, poking his pink tongue out as far as he could and pulling hipshot poses, to the general indifference of the flower sellers seated nearby.
“Hello yes, come,” he motioned, swinging a papier-maché mace for emphasis. After a day of bizarre encounters on Indian trains and buses, it seemed only natural to yield to this latest surreal turn of events. So we followed our little green guide, past the rows of ragged-haired old ladies begging beneath the temple entrance, past the coconut stall and up the long flight of rock-cut steps, sunken and polished by centuries of bare feet, towards the acropolis of tumbledown masonry silhouetted on the hilltop above.
“Sunset point!” announced our little friend as we reached the rim of the plateau. But we were too enthralled by the view to notice. Below us, its giant gateway tower swarming with monkeys and parakeets, the mighty Virupaksha temple rose above a bed of golden boulders and rice paddies stretching to the horizon, where a crimson sun was slipping into a mist of cow dust and dung fire.
Green Boy, meanwhile – eager to secure his tip with one final, striking impression of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god – had clambered to the peak of a tall, tooth-shaped rock. Clinging to a narrow ledge on its side, a strip of vivid green sprouting improbably from the bare granite, he seemed for an instant the perfect metaphor for this extraordinary place.
That Hampi, in the centre of Karnataka’s Deccan Plateau, harbours any life at all after what it’s been through is itself a typically Indian miracle. Five hundred or more years ago the village, which now clusters around the bend in the Tungabhadra river, formed part of a vast city – Vijayanagar, the ‘City of Victory’. The capital of a huge empire extending to the southernmost tip of peninsular India, it boasted the most lavish palaces, temples and bazaars of its era – the fruit of a lucrative trade monopoly on Arab horses and spices, and of the flow of tribute from vassal states in the deep south. But the golden age of India’s last Hindu Raj came to an abrupt end in 1565, when the warring Muslim states to the north unleashed the medieval equivalent of a nuclear holocaust on Vijayanagar.
When to go: The best time to visit Hampi is between mid-November and early March, when daytime temperatures and humidity levels are bearable. Go there outside the winter season and you’ll have to contend with ferocious heat.
Health and safety: Malaria is rife in Hampi, so follow current medical advice on prophylactics, take a good mosquito net and repellent in the evenings. Thanks to the water shortages and power cuts, you should be extra vigilant with food and drink.
Following a spate of armed robberies through the 1990s, paths to some of the hilltop temples were closed to foreigners, but these are now open again after a police crackdown. All the same, you should think twice before venturing alone to any remote sites in the area.
Do not accept invitations from local lads to shoot the Tungabhadra rapids in inflated rubber inner tubes. A few years back an Australian tourist did accept, and she drowned when she was swept under a boulder.
You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!
Hiking, kayaking, surfing, rafting, scuba diving horse-riding, dog-sledding, horse-riding... add an outdoor activity to your travels and holidays
Guide to meeting the locals, homestays and community-based tourism, including homestay contacts, local guides and community-based travel advice
Now easier to get to from the UK than ever before with direct flights, it's time to take advantage of sun-kissed Paciﬁc coast, wild arid desert and epic Andean peaks with our handy Chile guide
Canada’s set to unveil the world’s largest ever network of trails for hiking, biking and more. Jérémie Gabourg has everything you need to know, from key sections to practical tips
The epic new Jordan Trail opens up the country’s desert wonders, including Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea canyons, to explore on foot. Amjad Shahrour has all you need to plan a trip...
Art historian Gus Casely-Hayford set out to discover the landscapes that inspired classic paintings by the likes of Constable, Turner and Hogarth. Here are 6 extraordinary art-inspired British walks
From castles and coastlines to mountain magic, this exclusive set of breathtaking photos from 10 years of the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition showcases Britain in all its glory…
Photographer and wildlife guide Paul Goldstein condemns inadequate international efforts to protect tigers, rhinos and other wildlife, and calls for tougher measures
Venezuelans skate to church. Norwegians hide their brooms. And Catalans beat the hell out of dressed up logs. Christmas really does drive people crazy...
Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking
for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.
Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private
and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking.
Save up to £600 per couple on Costa Rica Wildlife Holidays
£60 off your first order
Save 15% exploring Chile and staying at Tierra lodges
Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web
exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!
I have read and agree to the Terms &
Where in the world are you? Add
#wanderlustmag to your tweets and share your latest travel adventures with
fellow Wanderlusters on wanderlust.co.uk
Get to know Wanderlust on facebook and bring all your travel-minded friends, too