Hampi – a mere name of this beautiful city sends thousand emotions running down the memory lane. Never had I ever thought that a ruined city would be so beautiful that ever since I came from there, I have been planning my next trip. There is absolutely no place like Hampi.
One person established this megacity from scratch and one person destroyed it but Nature so beautifully moulded itself around the ruins, giving the landscape a magical makeover that you will end up appreciating even the ruins. The river Tungabhadra cuts across the boulders creating a surreal landscape.
At its prime during the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi was one of the largest and richest cities in the world, having as many as 2,000 monuments. It was the center for the ruby and diamond trade. The city also mythological connections: Hampi was the place where Lord Rama met Bali, Sugriv and their massive Vanara army
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Hampi extends from October to February. The weather is pleasant. Summers are harsh and I have no idea about monsoons (although I am very intrigued). A word of caution: don’t visit Hampi during Hampi Utsav if you don’t like crowds and festive atmosphere.
By Air- Hubli Airport and Belgaum Airport are two major domestic airports located at the distances of 144 km and 215 km from Hampi, respectively.
By Road- Hospet is the gateway to Hampi. Overnight buses ply from Bengaluru and Mumbai
By Train- Hospet Junction- the nearest railway station to Hampi, is about 13 km away. From Hospet, Hampi is another 12 km. You can either hire an auto (INR 200-300) or hop on to one of the KSRTC buses that shuttle between Hampi and Hospet (INR 10 -15)
Getting around in Hampi?
There are two option: walk or hire a bicycle for full day available for rent at State Tourism Centre in Hampi at a nominal charge of INR 50. You can also hire mopets and scooty at a nominal charge of INR 200-300.
Staying in Hampi
Places to visit in Hampi
Hampi is an open museum and wonderland. If I had re-plan my visit, I would classify Hampi in three parts:
- Virupaksha Temple side of Hampi
- Vipurgaddi side of Hampi popularly known as Hampi Island
- Outskirts of Hampi
Virupaksha Temple side of Hampi
This is the actual Hampi which you see in photographs – UNESCO protected world heritages. This area can further be split into two walking corridors:
- Virupkasha temple – Hemkuta hill temples – Narshima temple – Krishana temple route
- Virupaksha temple – Matanga hill – Monolithic Nandi – old ruins – Virpuksha temple – riverside ruins – Hampi bazar
Below are some of the must-do things to do on this side of the city:
- Watch the sunrise from Matanga hill (and not from Hemkuta hill) and sunset from Hemkuta hill (and also from Matanga hill). Matanga hill has the best view of the complete Hampi.
- Visit Vitthala temple in the early morning. It opens at 8 AM. The stone chariot in the temple complex is one of the most famous structures in Hampi.
- Spend your afternoon taking nap at the pavilions of Matanga hill. It gets quite hot even in winters.
- Don’t miss Krishna temple. The complex has exquisite carvings and eloquent architecture. The temple is usually not frequented by tourist and provide an amazing photographic opportunity.
- Again with so many boulders around, Hampi is one of the best places to go for climbing boulders. One simple google will give lots of names of organizing agencies.
- Don’t miss the corridors of old Hampi bazar (between Matanga and Hemkuta Hills) – these provide beautiful compositions for photography.
Vipurgaddi side of Hampi
The part of the city is popularized by Hippie crowds and needless to say, is laidback. You can find shacks housing relaxed sitting spaces, serving all-day breakfasts, playing good old 60-80s music and giving no fucks what you do *wink wink*. This area is usually less crowded but you can never be sure these days with “insta-hungry” crowds. Spend at least 2 days in this part soaking the atmosphere and go with the flow.
The best way to reaching this side of the city is by crossing the Tungabhadra river by boat (5 minutes ride) near the Virupaksha temple in Hampi. The charges are INR 50 for one boat ride. The boat starts from 8:00 AM till 5:30 PM.
Some of the must do things to do in this part of Hampi are:
- Hike Anjaniya Hill to witness sunrise/sunset – to reach the summit, you will need to climb around 575 steps. Be careful with monkeys.
- Read some good book relaxing on the hammock
- Cycle/run in the paddy fields
- Attend sunset jamming session at sunset point hill
Outskirts of Hampi
The reason why classified this separately is that for touring these areas, you would need to hire a vehicle. Also, if you are short on time you can skip these parts for next time.
Some of the places to visit are Queen’s bath, Elephant Stable, Lotus Mahal, ASI Museum and insta-famous stepwell
Where to eat in Hampi
- Funky Monkey: It is one of my favorite breakfast and dinner place. Apart from food, the place has an amazing floor only sitting spaces – kick your feet back, and relax on the cushion. Must eat: Spanish breakfast, humus pita and falafel
- Mango tree: Unarguably the most famous restaurant in Hampi and so naturally, you might find a queue outside.
- Ravi Rose: It is a good place to have lunch. Trance music makes the place an ideal place to relax after a heavy lunch.
- Laughing Buddha: Hampi Island side. Known for its relaxing vibes and good food. Slightly costly.
- Moonlight: Near Virupaksha temple. Serves delicious pancakes and espresso.
- Small South-Indian eateries: Looking for a good dosha or idli – don’t forget to try any of these small family-run eateries.
- Small thelas selling pakode near Virupaksha temple– These might look non-appealing but trust me, these are good
Some final Dos & Don’ts
- Carry cash: nearest ATM is in Hospet (12 km away from Hampi). Restaurants do not accept digital/card payments
- Book your stay advance. We faced a lot of problems in an on-spot booking
- Carry towels, mosquito repellents, medicines and sunblock cream
- Don’t litter
- Carry some good books to read in solitude
- Don’t rush – carpe diem
I also did one small photography project. Here is the link: