Head down to the Hampi-Daroji region to experience the 14th-century splendour of the Vijayanagara empire and some stunning wildlife

Team Nature inFocus


The 14th-century capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about 20km from the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary. Widely known for its breathtaking architecture, the Hampi-Daroji region is also a much sought after destination for its avian biodiversity. Situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, Hampi provides sights and sounds for people with varying interests. Apart from bears, langurs and jackals, leopards are also commonly seen here.

If you are not into wildlife, Hampi's unique monuments are sure to keep you busy. Hampi allows you to travel back in time as you peruse the collection of artefacts from the Vijayanagara Empire that are on display at the Hampi Archaeological Museum in Kamalapura. If you are looking for a dose of nostalgia, then Virupapur Gadde gives you a glimpse of life in the 70s. Hampi has more than 30 important heritage sites scattered throughout its landscape. No wonder it is called the largest open-air museum in the world.

Plan Your Trip

Getting There


Belagavi (264km; 6 hrs) is the nearest airport. However, Bangalore (360km; 6.5 hrs) and Mangalore (438km; 8 hrs 40 min) offer better flight connectivity with the rest of the country.


Hospet/Hosapete Junction (13km; 25 min) is well-connected by trains from Bangalore (Hampi Express) and Hyderabad (Kcg Ypr Express).


Hampi can be accessed by road from popular destinations like Hubli (164km; 3 hrs 58 min), Mysore (426km; 7 hrs 20 min) and Bangalore (341km; 6 hrs). Several overnight bus options are available from cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai to Hospet.

Best Time To Visit

April to July is when temperatures soar in Hampi, reaching 40°C during peak summer. But forested areas remain relatively cool, and is a good time to spot wildlife.

July to September is monsoon season here and the region receives moderate to heavy rainfall. With temperatures ranging between 25 and 32°C, Hampi's verdant landscape comes to life during the rains.

October to March are the cooler months when temperatures range between 15 and 30°C. This is the best season for birdwatching and if you plan to spend a lot of your time outdoors.


Hampi was once the capital city of one of the most powerful empires in India's history and the last Hindu kingdom of the country – the Vijayanagara Empire. The remnants of the breathtaking monuments and temples that have persevered to this day are a reminder of the vibrant past of this ancient city. Historical written accounts also describe Hampi as the second-largest city in the world. Some of the monuments of Hampi date back to 1500 AD. Hampi is also known as the birthplace of Hanuman, thereby referred to as the "Monkey Kingdom". True to this moniker, troops of Hanuman Langurs are a common sight across Hampi.


Hampi is a popular tourist destination and has several places to stay that offer options across budgets.

The Jungle Lodges & Resorts’ (JLR) Hampi Heritage & Wilderness Resort is highly recommended. The resort is situated at the edge of Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary and is a mere 17km from Hospet Junction. Tariffs are subject to seasonal changes. Look out for weekend and weekday rates. Packages range from ₹4300–5,600 (inclusive of taxes) per person, per night on twin-sharing basis, including all meals. For children between 5 and 12 years, there is a 50 per cent discount on the tariff.

The resort offers clean and spacious cottages and a range of activities that include trips to Hampi, safaris into Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, hikes to Matanga Hill or Malyavanta Hill, nature trails around the camp and bird watching. Wildlife films, campfires and delicious food add to the experience at the resort. Check with the staff at the resort to plan activities during your stay.


See | Do

  • Go for a drive along the canal with the naturalist at the JLR Hampi Heritage & Wilderness Resort to watch and photograph birds. While you may get to see Brown Fish-Owls, Indian Eagle-Owls and Spotted Owlets along the wall of the canal, you will see kingfishers, cormorants, egrets, herons, francolins, sandgrouse, quails, sandpipers, etc around the embankment. Look out for birds like the Baya Weaver, Woolly-necked Stork, Purple Heron and Grey Heron in and around agricultural fields on the opposite bank of the canal. You may also end up spotting Grey Langurs, Bonnet Macaques, Bengal Monitors and other reptiles in this area.
  • Visit the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, which is Asia’s first dedicated sanctuary for the Sloth Bear. The region is also home to leopards, mongoose, peafowl, spurfowl, and a diverse range of birds.
  • Hampi’s landscape has several hills that you can trek and enjoy scenic views from. Some of the popular hills in the region include Matanga Hill, Anjanadri Hill, Hemakuta Hill and Malyavanta Hill.
  • Make sure to look for birds wherever you go. The Hampi region is listed as an Important Bird Area and provides an ideal habitat for several bird species, including some endemic species like the Yellow-throated Bulbul and Painted Spurfowl.
  • Some of the heritage sites are home to many species of bats. You will smell the guano before you can spot them! Look out for bats hanging from the roofs.
  • You could also explore the area on bicycle or on foot. Walk around the Hampi Bazaar or simply get in touch with one of the local guides for a walking tour.

Don't Miss

  • The Virupaksha Temple, which is the oldest temple in Hampi, exhibits some of the magnificent architecture which was the highlight of the Vijayanagara period. The Virupaksha Chariot Festival, which usually takes place in March/April every year, is another major highlight. During the festival, the temple chariot is led in a colourful procession through the streets of Hampi.
  • The Hampi Bazaar which is located on the foothills of Matanga Hill is a vibrant place to spend some time, soak in the hustle and bustle of the city and buy yourself some memorable souvenirs.
  • If you are a history buff, make sure to visit the Hampi Archaeological Museum in Kamalapura. The museum hosts a great collection of statues and artefacts from the Vijayanagara Empire.
  • For those looking for some adventure and excitement, the Anegundi region is a must-stop. The place is a popular destination among rock climbers. Fun fact, this region is also referred to as the Hindu deity Hanuman’s childhood playground.
  • Cross the Tungabhadra river on a ferry and visit the village right across from Vittala Temple. There are several lesser-known monuments here that are not commonly visited by tourists. But, the locals are more than happy to guide you towards them and regale you with folklore.

What To Pack

  • A good pair of binoculars, probably the most imperative piece of gear on a birding trip.
  • A hat, light clothes and sunscreen for hot afternoon walks, along with water bottles that can be refilled at the JLR Hampi Heritage & Wilderness Resort.
  • A light jacket is necessary if you are travelling in winter, as temperatures can dip to 16-18 degrees once the sun goes down.
  • A field guide to identify birds – A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Krys Kazmierczak or Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp.
  • Comfortable shoes – many of the heritage sites are within walking distance and these walks are a great way to experience the landscape and observe native flora and fauna.

For Photographers

  • Some heritage sites charge camera fees.
  • To photograph Sloth Bears and birds in Daroji and along the canal, you will need a telephoto lens. A combination of 70-200 and 200-500 will work well.
  • Carry wide angle lenses to photograph the heritage sites, temples and the landscape.
  • The interiors of many heritage sites are poorly lit and photography can be challenging.
  • Matanga Hill is known for its stunning views at sunrise, and Hemakuta Hill, next to the Virupaksha temple, is a famous spot to experience the sunset. Both locations can get very crowded at these hours, especially on weekends. If you plan to shoot the sunrise or sunset, remember to get there early to find the right frame.
  • Winter mornings are misty and offer excellent opportunities to photograph the landscape from viewpoints like the Matanga Hill.
  • Some of the heritage sites don’t allow tripods in the premises. Ensure to check the rules before you enter the premises with your camera equipment.

Good To Know

  • Be ready to spend a lot of time outdoors. Make sure to pack accordingly.
  • You will find good restaurants, ATMs and hospitals in Bellary and Hospet. As a regular destination for tourists, Hampi has restaurants that cater to a wide range of cuisines. But if you are looking for authentic food experiences, then make sure to visit restaurants in and around the Hampi Bazaar.
  • Trained naturalists are available at the JLR Hampi Heritage & Wilderness Resort and they can give you a detailed tour of the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary and its residents. JLR also arranges heritage tours showcasing the monuments and temples of Hampi.
  • Coracle rides and ferries may not be operational during the monsoon season.
  • Public restrooms are limited, especially in and around temple areas. Some of the restaurants and cafes do provide access to restrooms.
  • Hampi provides limited cell phone service. BSNL and Jio are the two service providers that give reasonable coverage throughout the region. Some of the restaurants and cafes also have wifi connections.
  • Carrying packed lunch is recommended when traveling to temple sites or when planning a hike.

Budget Per Person

  • For the best experience of the place, a two-night stay is highly recommended.
  • A one-night stay at Jungle Lodges and Resorts’ Hampi Heritage & Wilderness Resort costs ₹4300-5600 per person, excluding transport, shopping and other personal expenditure. The budget includes accommodation in a twin-sharing cottage, all meals, jeep safari, visit to Hampi and forest entry charges.
  • A one-night stay at a homestay costs anywhere between ₹1000-3000 per person on a twin-sharing basis. This excludes transport, meals, shopping and other personal expenditure. Several homestays offer access to a kitchen or have an in-house cook.
  • The entry fee for the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary is ₹50 for Indian citizens.
  • The entry fee for the Virupaksha temple is ₹2 per person and for the Vittala Temple is ₹30 per person. These rates are applicable to Indian citizens. Several places charge extra for cameras, so please check prices beforehand.


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