Since childhood, I knew of Hampi as a significant site for its rich history. We have all studied about Hampi as the capital of the famous Vijayanagar kingdom, where jewels were sold in stacks on the roadside. Such was the wealth in the city of Hampi. I even visited Hampi as a kid, touring its many well-known temples and heritage sites. However, it was only many years later after I took interest in wildlife and nature that I learned of the rich biodiversity in the Hampi region – in terms of its diverse habitat along with its mammal and avian life.
In 2012, I had made another trip to the region, this time with the objective of exploring the flora and fauna that have made Hampi their home. Topping the list of animals, I wanted to see there in the wild was the enigmatic Sloth Bear, found in healthy numbers in the nearby Daroji bear sanctuary. I chose a hot summer afternoon to venture into the sanctuary in search of these surprisingly agile creatures, which are often mistakenly regarded as lazy, and was lucky to spend time in close quarters observing seven (7) bears feeding on honey on the same hill. This remains one of my most treasured moments in the wild and got me hooked to bears for life. What more, if luck smiles upon you, you could also stumble upon a wild Leopard basking in the Sun on one of the many rocks in the reserve! Since then, I have planned several trips tracking bears in the wild, and just cannot get enough of them.
The next morning, I decided to skip bear tracking and instead explore the region’s birdlife. Along the many canals in the area, I was able to photograph a wide variety of avian wonders including the Indian Eagle Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Spotted Owlet, Painted Sandgrouse, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Jungle Bush Quail, Grey Francolin, Painted Spurfowl, Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark, and several water birds in the nearby lakes. It is also possible to find the endemic and threatened Yellow-throated Bulbul.
Given my experience, I strongly recommend everyone visiting Hampi to set aside at least a day of your trip understanding and exploring the wildlife in the area in addition to visiting sites of historical importance, and I assure you that you will come back cherishing every moment spent doing so!