14 most iconic temples of Hampi that you need to include in your Hampi travel itinerary. Do not miss out these beautiful temples and their wonderful architecture on your trip to Hampi India. #CultureTravelWithSoumya #Hampi #India

14 Incredible Temples In Hampi India That You Need To Visit

Last Updated on November 26, 2020 by Soumya

Hampi, the lost capital of ancient Vijayanagara Kingdom in South India, is home to countless temples. It is quite possible that once you land in Hampi, you will be confused as to what to see and what to skip. In this post, I make your life easier by talking about the 14 most beautiful temples in Hampi that you need to include in your Hampi bucket list. Plus some tips on which ones you can skip and which ones you should absolutely visit.

Hope you will enjoy this Hampi temples ride with me!

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14 Incredible Temples of Hampi

Hampi flourished as the capital of the Vijayanagara Kingdom between the 14th and the 17th centuries. Trade prospered and the kings put in a lot of wealth into the building of Hampi’s temples and royal enclosures. [Hampi’s royal enclosures are absolutely divine and totally deserve a day when you are visiting Hampi. But let me not digress.]

Consequently, what we see today on the banks of River Tungabhadra on a rocky-bouldered terrain is a collection of exquisite temples – big and small – dedicated to various Hindu deities. Some are adorned with war scenes while many depict trade and alliances. Most importantly, they give us a sneak peek into life from more than 600 years ago during the glorious days of the Vijayanagara Empire. Here are some of Hampi’s truly unmissable temples.

Vijaya Vittala Temple

This is the most iconic temple in the entire Hampi ensemble. The famous Vijaya Vittala Temple with its equally popular stone chariot. Well, it is the stone chariot that has garnered more fame than all the temples of Hampi put together.

You will notice the stone chariot as soon as you enter the main gate. It was not really a chariot but a shrine dedicated to the holy bird Garuda, Lord Vishnu’s carrier. The chariot shape was inspired from the Chariot Temple of Konark, Odisha. Apparently, Krishnadevaraya got smitten by Konark when he went to fight a war in Odisha.

Another highlight of this temple is its unique collection of musical pillars that adorn its mantapas. Yes, they really create music! And it is mellifluous. But you should have a guide with you to figure out how to listen to it.

Recommended: Vijaya Vittala Temple: Its musical pillars and other secrets!

Virupaksha Temple

I feel the second-most iconic temple in the Hampi archaeological area is the Virupaksha Temple with its own set of eccentricities and intrigues. Eccentricities because this temple has its own pet elephant! And intrigues because of the mysterious inverted shadow of the temple gopura (main gate) that you can see in a secret chamber at the back.

This is the only living temple in the complex and has been around since the 7th century. Not in this form, though. Much of it has been added during the Vijayanagara times. A key highlight of the Virupaksha Temple is the exclusive collection of vibrant and beautiful murals on the walls and ceiling of the Ranga Mantapa.

For a detailed tour, head to our detailed travel guide for Virupaksha Temple in Hampi.

Hemakuta Group of Temples

Right behind the Virupaksha Temple is a set of hills that are home to 35 small temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. These are the Hemakuta Group of Temples.

The Hemakuta group is a cluster that has a very different architectural style from the rest of Hampi’s temples. And that is because they are from the pre-Vijayanagara era. They are often referred to as Hampi’s Jain temples because of similarity in architecture. But in reality, they are Hindu.

Additionally, Hemakuta Hill is generously sprinkled with these absolutely photogenic, four-pillared mantapas that form great picture frames. At the top of the hill is a storied gateway which is a great sunset spot. Plus, you can get some amazing views of Virupaksha Temple and the Hampi bazaar from here.

Pro tip: Come here right before sunset.

Monolith Nandi of Hampi

This is not a full-fledged temple but rather a pillared pavilion dedicated to the mount of Lord Shiva, Nandi bull.

The monolith statue is huge. It is located right opposite the Virupaksha Temple at the other end of the road so that Nandi could face his master Lord Shiva. Location of the shrine against a huge stack of Hampi boulders makes the place extremely photogenic.

Pro Tip: If you are running short on time, consider skipping this.

Sasivekalu & Kadalakelu Ganeshas

These are the two famous Ganesha temples in Hampi that house huge monolithic statues of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha was fond of food and often ate a lot. At the temple of Sasivekalu Ganesha, the deity is presented with a snake tied around his stomach to actually prevent it from bursting open. Now, isn’t that an interesting anecdote for young kids?

Kadalekalu Ganesha is more somber with no snakes. But his belly resembles that of a Bengal gram (called Kadalekalu in local language) and that is how the temple got its name. Take some time to appreciate the tall granite pillars of the mandapa at this temple. They are beautifully carved. Also, you can get a stunning view of the ruins from the front porch.

Book yourself a Hampi heritage tour with a deep dive into architecture, history, and design.

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple

Yet another monolithic structure (in fact the largest in Hampi), the Lakshmi Narasimha statue is an impressive monument. It is located near the southern slopes of the Hemakuta hill.

The statue represents Lord Narasimha (part man part lion) one of the fiercest avatars of Lord Vishnu. Before the shrine was destroyed by Mughal attack in the 16th century, there sat on Lord Narasimha’s lap a small statue of Goddess Lakshmi, his consort. That is why the name.

Badava Linga Temple

Right next to the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is a small, compact shrine that is home to a monolithic Shiva linga. The Linga is 9 ft tall and unique because it remains permanently enclosed by water on all sides. Yes, the floor of the temple is far below the ground which keeps it covered with water most of the year. But the good part is that the shrine is small and you do not to need to enter it to see the Linga. It is quite visible from outside the door.

Hanuman Temple | Anjaneya Temple

The Hanuman Temple of Hampi is unique because it features the Hindu God in a rare meditative state. And this image is contained within a hexagonal amulet that is placed in the inner sanctum of the temple.

The location of the temple is even more dramatic. It is situated on the top of a hill by the River Tungabhadra where Lord Rama and Hanuman (from the Hindu epic Ramayana) are believed to have met for the first time. Even though the temple itself is a small one, the views from here are stunning.

Did you know that Hampi could possibly be the birthplace of Hanuman?

Bala Krishna Temple

The Krishna Temple in Hampi is yet another temple that is connected with the eastern Indian state of Odisha. It is believed that Krishnadevaraya built this temple to commemorate his victory over Udaygiri in ancient Odisha. He used the temple to house the image of Bala Krishna (which the king brought back from his conquest), the infant form of Krishna, and that’s why the name.

The primary highlight of the Krishna Temple is the abundance of stone carvings here. All the walls and pillars are decorated with images from the Raya-Gajapati wars, mythical creatures, and scenes from the life of Lord Krishna. You can easily spot the mysterious Yali (part lion, part elephant, and part horse) here.

Pro Tip: This is a great place to get good pictures because there isn’t usually a big crowd here.

Saraswati Temple

Probably the only temple dedicated to a Hindu goddess in the entire Hampi ensemble, Saraswati Temple is mostly in ruins today. It is located on the top of a hill near the octagonal bath in Hampi. Consequently, it provides a good view of the ancient city.

Built in the 13th century during the Vijayanaraga reign, this temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswati is much older than many others in the area. It is also one of the lesser-visited ones even though it has some amazing stone carvings. So, if you are looking for some peace, history, and art together, consider visiting the Saraswati Temple of Hampi.

Hazara Rama Temple

One of the most elegant temples in Hampi, the Hazara Rama Temple is also one of the lesser-visited ones. As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Ram and has thousands of his images. It is located in the midst of Hampi’s royal quarters and is believed to have been the private temple of the royal family.

The Hazara Rama Temple is unique because of the hundreds of decorated bas reliefs that adorn the walls of the temple. They depict stories from the Hindu epic, Ramayana. And that is how the temple got its name because Lord Rama is represented countless number of times on these reliefs.

Prasanna Virupaksha Temple or The Underground Shiva Temple

Located pretty close to the Hazara Rama Temple within the Hampi royal complex is another interesting temple called the Prasanna Virupaksha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is unique because it is the only underground temple in Hampi and is located several meters below the ground.

The temple remains flooded most of the time especially during monsoons which means rainy season is definitely not the best time to visit here. We visited in November and even then, there was ankle-deep water inside the inner sanctum. But the pillars inside are beautiful carved and worth a peep even with all that water.

While Hazara Rama Temple was used as the temple for all royal ceremonies in the open, it is believed that Prasanna Virupaksha Temple was more of a place for extremely private events – things that needed to be done away from the eyes of the public. Intriguing, isn’t it?

Recommended: How to take a tour of Hampi’s royal enclosures?

Achyutaraya Temple

One of the most incredible temples in Hampi, Achyutaraya Temple was a late creation (in fact, one of the last ones of the Vijayanagara Empire) and a beautiful one at that.

The temple is home to Lord Tiruvengalanatha, a form of Vishnu, and is named after the king who built it, Achyuta Deva Raya. Located between the Gandamadhana and Matanga hills, the temple is pretty off-the-beaten-path in Hampi. You have to take a flight of stairs from behind the monolithic Nandi statue to get here or take a walk from the coracle ride in Hampi near the Kodanda Rama Temple.

The hike is totally worth the effort. The temple is stunning with every inch of its walls and pillars covered with exquisite carvings. Quite notable here is the powerful depiction of Yalis that cover each of the monolithic pillar in the porch.

Pro Tip: Definitely one of the must-visit temples in Hampi. It is an architectural gem and provides wonderful photo ops.

Pattabhirama Temple

Pattabhirama Temple is yet another massive and impressive structure in the whole Hampi ensemble. It is located a little further away from the main historic center which is why it is also one of the least visited. So, less crowds!

When we arrived here on a late Sunday afternoon, there was hardly a soul in sight. Some locals were having lunch and one of them kindly offered to tour guide us through the temple.

Pattabhirama Temple is dedicated to Lord Rama and is believed to have been an important pilgrimage center during the Vijayanagara times.

The highlight here is the main mantapa which is a splendid piece of Vijayanagara architecture. It has many pillars adorned with intricate designs. If you get a guide, they will show you that these pillars are musical too. Exactly like those of the Vijaya Vittala Temple.

Apart from the majestic temples of Hampi, you should also check out

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Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

21 thoughts on “14 Incredible Temples In Hampi India That You Need To Visit

  1. Soumya, thanks a lot for this post. I am a digital nomad and don’t really have time off work so I was wondering, as a blogger yourself, do you think it will be feasible for me to work while in Hampi? I’ve been told that Internet here is really bad but I’d rather hear it from you! I read Hampi doesn’t have 4G connection? Thanks in advance for your tips!

    1. Hey Cristina. It’s definitely possible to work as a digital nomad while in Hampi. Internet is good and you can get really cheap homestays here. Plus food is cheap and good. I have friends who have lived and worked there without any issues. Let me know if you wish to connect with any of them and I can do that.

  2. I really love South Indian temples but somehow I missed Hampi temples. It would be really great to see some stunning architectures from ancient India. I would love to see Hanuman Temple – Anjaneya Temple as here Lord Hanuman is showcased in unique way. I also loved the largest monolith of Hampi – the Lakshmi Narishma temple. Hampi is on my bucket list now.

    1. I am glad I could inspire you Yukti. A fascinating aspect is that this area is also believed to be the hometown of Hanuman and his army when Ram met them for the war. Hampi holds so much historical and mythological significance.

  3. I have never been to Hampi but this surely stirs up my interest! India all over has no shortage of temples but these ones are so unique. I am loving the monolithic structures, the tales around these temples and mainly all those carvings. These intricate carvings have always interested me in wanting to see them up close. Also loving how there is no crowd, that truly at times helps soak in the vibe of the place without any noise around.

    1. Absolutely, Harshita. Hampi is so huge that you can easily wander away from the trodden path and find your own peaceful spot.

  4. The stone chariot is really cute! A must see when you go to Hampi, in my opinion. The tree near Hemakuta Hill Temple definitely add an additional value to the beauty of the temple. The picture is really pretty. And I agree with you about skipping the Monolith Nandi. It’s less attractive compared to other temples.

  5. What an interesting variety of temples in Hampi. There were some new gods here that I had not seen before. Or representations of ones like Lord Narashimha as an avatar of Lord Vishnu. I always love to see the stone carvings and imagine the tales that they tell.

    1. Same here, Linda. Those carvings give us so much insight into the lives of the people that walked the city of Hampi many hundred years ago.

  6. Hampi is still on my bucket list. Despite three trips to India, I haven’t got there yet. The temples are gorgeous. I have been dreaming of seeing them for a long time. Vijaya Vittala Temple Hemakuta Group of Temples, Sasivekalu & Kadalakelu Ganeshas, ​​Hazara Rama Temple This are indeed masterpieces. It is incredible how much work was put into their creation, how capable their makers and sculptors were.

    1. Exactly. That is what I have always wondered- the dedication and the talent that resulted in these beautiful temples. It is only natural to pay homage to those artists by visiting these beautiful temples of Hampi.

  7. The Ganesha statues seem the most beautiful to me, I’m not sure what it is but I feel so pulled to the photo of them. The Achyutaraya Temple looks like something out of a movie. Thank you for the incredible detail you’ve put into compiling all these temples.

  8. Amazing article about the temples in Hampi. You taught me a great deal of information on these temples that I had not previously known. The Vijaya Vittala Temple was definitely my favorite temple to learn about, although they all were very interesting. I dream of traveling here to learn about the rich history and culture of Hampi. Thank you for sharing this article and I look forward to more travel blog posts from you!

  9. wow Soumya..thats awesome information on Hampi. I visited Hampi long back being a kid.Has a lot of memories.. travelling to Hampi in old ambassador car, a photo of ours sitting on elephants of stone chariot,musical pillars..it was told that during the reins of Krishna Devaraya, they had gold,silver,peals markets held. This kannada movie was about Krishna Devaraya of Hampi and has been shoot there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOGnX1u1ZGU(very old..check if interested)

    1. Wow those are some wonderful memories. I will surely check out this movie. I have always imagined, quite vividly, how life would have been in the hey days of Hampi. This movie will surely give me a better idea.

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