Hampi – A lucky accident!
History and Architecture were the least of my travel-character. Islands, hammocks, boat trips, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, the white sandy powdery beaches and the bluish green waters have been my fascination. Hampi, however, was my lucky find! I had learnt about the architectural magnificence of Hampi, but never did i expect to for it’s visual splendor. Although my brain is inferior to appreciate the intricate beauty of this architectural and historical marvel, i have realized that i could diversify. Hampi is worthy enough to scale one’s Bucket list. There are so many places to visit around Hampi that even a week would seem too less to take all-in!
We set out on a group trip from Chennai, India. I had charted the backpacking budget trip for 8 days to cover Hampi, Gokarna and Goa. The plan was to be a frugal spender on stay and travel. This article is on our experience at Hampi, Karnataka.
How to reach Hampi – A Unique Architectural Marvel in India
Hampi is located at 350 KM (approx.) from Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka; a perfect weekend getaway from Bengaluru. The nearest railway station is at Hospet.
- Trains – Garib Nawaz Express (16532), Hampi Exp (16592) & Hospet Passr (56909) run from Bengaluru SBC to Hospet HPT
- KSRTC – The Government run buses from Bangalore to Hampi
Recommended Read: Weekend Getaway from Bangalore – Chikmagalur
Hampi is located at 700 KM (approx.) from Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu. There are no direct trains from Chennai to Hampi. One should either go to Bengaluru and then take a train to Hospet, or take a train from Chennai to Gunttakal / Gooty and from Guntakkal / Gooty to Hospet.
- Trains – Chennai Exp (12164), Mumbai Express (11042), Mumbai Mail (110228) run from Chennai MAS to Gunttakal GTL
- Train – Kacheguda Exp (17651) runs from Chennai MS to Gooty GY
- Trains – Haripriya Exp (17415), Hampi Exp (16592), KCG YPR EXP (17603), Amaravathi Exp (17225), HYB KOP Express (11303), TPTY UBL PASS (57274), Hubli PASS (56501) run from Gunttakal GTL & Gooty GY to Hospet HPT
- There are few private buses from Chennai to Hampi, which takes around 14 hrs of travel.
Tourist Expenses – Costs in Hampi
- Bus : Hospete to Hampi – 12 INR
- Auto : Hospete to Hampi – 120 INR
- Auto : Day trip – 5 to 7 HRS – 650 – 750 INR
- Bicycles : 150 INR / Day
- Bike Rentals : 250 INR / Day
- Ferry Ride: 50 INR (crossing the river)
- Backpacking Accommodation: Huts / B&B – 700 INR for 2 pax
- Food : 300 / Day
Understanding Hampi – History and Geography – Just the basics to appreciate it’s glory!
Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage, is located in Northern Karnataka, India. Thungabadra, a confluence of Tunga and Badri rivers, flows through Hampi. The breathtaking ruins of Hampi were once the power-center of Vijayanagara Kingdom. Given the array of places to visit around Hampi, it’s pertinent to gain a basic knowledge to understand it’s glory.
Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagara Kingdom owing to it’s strategic location surrounded by massive rock boulders and the fertile lands owing to torrential Thungabadra River. Hampi is also known as Pampa Kshetra. Pampa, portrayed in the Hindu Mythology, was the daughter of Lord Bhrama and married to Lord Shiva. The architectural marvel and the affluent city was reduced to ruins in the later years by the Moghuls.
Hampi can be categorized as North and South, with Thungabadra River as the base.
The North side has villages with paddy fields, narrow roads, guest houses built among the fields – a typical village scene. It is an ideal place to chill-out, considering the fact that most of us work and live in urban areas, far from having experienced the village environment.
- North Side Guest Houses serve alcohol.
- Motorbike rentals are allowed and available at ease.
- Scenic and less touristy.
The South side is featured as the religious part of Hampi with all major tourist attractions – the ruins and temples.
- The establishments in the southern side are forbidden to serve alcohol – No Beer; No Wine;No Liquor.
- Only Vegetarian Food is served. Non-Vegetarian Food is forbidden.
- Registered Motorbike rentals are only 10 in number, which makes it a Herculian task to rent.
- Bicycles are available for rent.
- Auto-rickshaws are available for day trips.
Crossing the river:
Coracle ferries are available to cross the river from South to North and vice-versa. It is easier to cross the river on foot, when the river is dry during Summer. The operational Ferries in the torrential monsoon are available till 6 PM, post which one would need to travel 30 km (approx) to cross the river by road.
Crocodiles – Beware!
I came across many warning sign boards on Crocodiles. The sign boards were in the reservoir and the river alike. However, i was not fortunate enough to see any. Regardless, caution advised.
Have you read about the Weekend Getaway from Chikmagallur.
Where to Stay in Hampi: North Side of Thungabadra River
The best place to stay in Hampi would be on the North side of the river. The North side could give you a stress-free holiday set in a village environment. There are many a guest houses with basic huts and mouth-watering Indian food.
We stayed at Waterfalls Guest House, a 3 KM drive from the ferry point on the North side of the river. The owner, Ramu, was friendly and accommodating. The huts were basic and comfy. There were swings outside each hut, which made our stay ideal. In fact, i had a cool and peaceful sleep on the swing. The in-house restaurant was affordable and offered a variety of good food. An old lady in the guest house offered us farm fresh raw mangoes from the adjacent farm. The dry paddy fields and adjacent farm were a spectacular sight from the restaurant. The room cost was 650 INR / night on a average. It was off-season and we were the only guests to stay at the guest house. Undoubtedly, the royal guests! 🙂
Other Guest Houses to consider:
The White Elephant Guest House is a bit far from the ferry point. It would be prudent to rent a motorbike, head towards the Sanapur Reservoir and then towards the Hanuman Temple. The Guest House is located almost midway on route to the Hanuman Temple. The restaurant at the White Elephant Guest House was amazing. The décor and the sitting arrangement; the food and the hookah was worth it. The manager who runs the property was very friendly. If you don’t mind travelling couple of KM, White Elephant Guest House is certainly worth it.
Places to eat in Hampi:
There are many a street vendors selling Indian food. Poori, Idli, Vada, Dosa and Mirchi Bajji were widely available. Mirchi Bajji, a spicy and crispy Indian delicacy, is deep fried with green chilli soaked in gram flour. Mirchi Bajji is a very famous in Northern Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. We had the chance to eat at a street vendor stall near the ferry point. The food was inexpensive and tasty.
Laughing Buddha and White Elephant Guest House and Restaurant are famous on the North side of the Thungabadra River.
On the Southern Side, Mango Tree and Shiva Moon are few of the famous restaurants located at a walking distance from the bus terminal and Virupaksha Temple. Mango Tree had an amazing seating area. The food was equally good.
Places to visit in and around Hampi:
The list of places to visit in and around Hampi is exhaustive. It is impossible to visit, absorb and enjoy the beauty of Hampi in one day. It is important to plan the schedule allowing adequate time to visit the places to avoid exhaustion. An ideal plan would be to cover the North in one day and the South in two days.
The Scenic North – List of places to visit around Hampi
#1. Sanapur Reservoir:
“Beware of Crocodiles”, the warning sign welcomes everyone at the entrance. It is advisable to avoid diving in the reservoir from the high walls lining the reservoir. There are coracle rides in the reservoir. It might be 400 – 600 INR. We swam in the reservoir under the bridge, at a depth of 5-6 ft. The rumors of crocodiles did scare us; May be we were lucky not to find one. Regardless, the reservoir is a must visit place in Hampi.
#2. Monkey Temple:
The Anjeneya Temple is located on a hill top, about 5-7 KM from the reservoir. There are two paths leading to the hill top. We took the hard way scaling 420 steps to the hill top. It is also the Sunset place in North Hampi. It was a beautiful sight to see the Sun donning an orange veil.
The Historic South – List of places to visit around Hampi
Temples and massive monumental ruins are a plenty in the Southern Hampi. I have categorized the list of places to visit in Hampi in to various sets to ease planning.
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, Hemakuta Temple, Krishna Temple, Sri Krishna Temple, Badavilinga Temple, Urga Narasimha Temple are the places to cover in the first set. Virupaksha Temple could take considerable time to cover. Badavilinga Temple and Urga Narasimha Temple are relatively smaller. There were fruit vendors, Sugarcane juice and tender coconuts stall at the entrance of Urga Narashimha temple complex. Alternatively, you can cover Virupaksha Temple and Hampi Bazaar along with set#3.
The second set starts from the recently excavated (1985 or so) underground Siva temple. The ruins are at least 10-20 feet underground. The Mohammadan watch tower and Mohammadan Quarters weren’t as impressive as it’s peers. The Elephant stable, Lotus Mahal, Queens Basement and the Museum is simply amazing; the Lotus Mahal stealing the show. The Queen’s Bath and the Royal Enclosure were also good.
This is the best of Hampi. The trekking circuit starts from Vitthala Temple all the way leading to Hampi Bazaar and Virupaksha Temple. There are numerous places of interest all along the way. The carvings at the Vitthala temple are one hell of a sight. The stone chariot is a marvel. Vishnu Temple, King’s Balance, Inscribed Vishnu Temple, Purandara Mandapa, Sugriva’s cave, Varaha Temple, Yantrodharak Anjeneya Temple, Kodandarama Temple, Kampa Bhupa Marga, Achutaraya Temple, Mathanga Hills are the places to visit along this circuit. The ruins of the bridge near Kodandarama temple envisages the architectural and technological expertise that existed centuries back. It puts the current infrastructure to outright shame! The list is exhaustive and so is the 2-3 KM trekking circuit. An electric car ride, priced at 30 INR, is available till Vitthala Temple.
Pointer: Do take a water bottle with you. You could get exhausted walking the circuit in hot sun.
What do you think?
A visit to Hampi would make you feel so small on the kind of lifestyle we lead. The Royal families back then did truly live the King’s Life! Culture and Art have been the driving force for Kingdoms. The technological prowess of these centuries old kingdoms are still a marvel! I have listed the places deemed to be important in the list of places to visit in Hampi. However, there are numerous other places that could leave you awestruck.
Did you like this article? Have you been to Hampi? Do you have any suggestions or new places to add to the list?