Our architect travelled the world to replicate the ornate Vijayanagara architecture
When my uncle, the lead architect, conducted his research for Evolve Back Hampi, he visited Morocco, Jordan and Rajasthan to learn about and then replicate the ornate Vijayanagara style of architecture. Vijayanagara was the once prosperous empire that ruled most of India for approximately 200 years and now we have 47 lavish suites to reflect its opulence. The most impressive I’d say is the Jal Mahal where I usually like to go switch off, although even for me, I have to wait for a couple of weeks to visit as there’s such a long wait list. It has this beautiful pool set in a lily pond so it feels like you’re floating in a lily pond.
Obviously the main reason why you come to Hampi is to see the wonderful remains of the ancient city. Our historians have covered every inch of Hampi – all of its 25 square kilometres. With the freedom and flexibility of private open-air jeeps, they bring these monuments to life through excellent storytelling. Evolve Back actually manage two major monuments called the Elephant Stables, the Lotus Mahal and a third temple in addition. The government only give these monuments to organisations that they trust to do a good job so we’re very proud. Aside from the main temples, you can also visit lesser-known temples and climb solitary hills to watch the sunset.
Hampi landscape is quite unique. It’s, shrubby, rough and rugged terrain with these boulders of mythological resonance. Then suddenly you see a shocking green banana field. The contrast is stunning. People probably don’t know this because they come here for the history but Hampi’s also a very rich place for flora and fauna. It’s home to a protected bear sanctuary and there’s a place where flamingos migrate during the Siberian winters – you should see them, they’re amazing. We offer intimate dining experiences in the wild such as our ‘boulder dining’ where we set up a lovely table and just a little further away you can see this huge boulder lit up dramatically at night.
When it comes to dining, here the mutton is very famous. I was talking to the forest ranger who was showing me this one hill where there was a bit of growth and another completely sparse hill, and he said, ‘the goats here have finished everything. They shaved it bald’…. so the mutton here is very tasty – you have to try it.