Hampi has been my favorite part of the South of India so far, it is a region in the north of the Karnataka district. It’s name “Hampi” also means champion and it owns up to it, this place is unreal!!. Once you get there and get the view of the river, the giant boulders, the layers and layers of palms, the rice fields and the banana plantations you will just never want to leave. One side of Hampi is dedicated to the river, the Bazaar and of course the ruins and temples declared UNESCO World Heritage but there’s another side of Hampi, across the river with other temples, the rice fields and a way more relaxed area full of restaurants, home stays and cute shops to spend the day visiting.
You can potentially see most of Hampi in two days but honestly it goes against what the city represents; Hampi is so laid back that to see it in two days you would have to be rushing all the time and even though it is possible I highly recommend staying for at least 3-4 days, trust me you will want to stay! Everyone I’ve told about Hampi and has been there for the weekend only tells me they should’ve listened, they should’ve stayed longer so do try to make more time for it. I will separate things to do for Hampi and secondly for it’s surroundings on the opposite side of the river.
I took a bus from Bangalore to Hampi overnight and was supposed to arrive in Hospet which is 12km from Hampi, at 6:00AM and got there at 4:30AM, so make sure to set up your alarm a couple of hours before reaching point to make sure you don’t miss your stop and if you are traveling solo, like I did, make sure you do take a bus that arrives in the daylight because Hospet can be a little sketchy. From Hospet, after 7AM you can take a bus to Hampi Bazaar for 16 Rupees or take a rickshaw for maximum 300 Rupees, haggle!! The ride will take about 25-35 minutes and you will be dropped of at the bus stand, right next to the Bazaar. From here you can find a guest house around the Bazaar but I recommend staying on the other side of the river,Virupapur Gadde where there are more restaurants and home stays/guest houses and you could also rent a motor bike ;). So, to cross the river you must catch a boat or coracle ride after 7:00AM and just head out to the river and you’ll see the boats there, you will have to pay about 10 Rupees, 20 if you have a big pack and the ride takes 5 minutes or less. If you arrive a bit later, the town elephant always take a shower around 9:00AM so you can come watch or maybe even join. (I love elephants so this was extremely exciting for me)
I stayed on this side of the river first, Virupapur Gadde known as the hippie-laid back side. It is also very famous for it’s bouldering or rock climbing so if you are into that make sure to check with your host so he can recommend something to take you out there. I stayed at Bobby’s One love Guesthouse and the owner was the nicest most helpful person, he will help you in renting a bike and recommending some awesome spots to check out. The motor bike should be a max of 350 Rupees with 2Lt of gas and it will last you for a whole day, if you need it for more days you will most likely get a better deal.
Ride the back all the way through the restaurants up to the main road, along the way make sure to stop by the Arches before the main road to take some pics. Make a right once you get to the main road and head out to the Monkey Temple, Hanuman Temple: this temple is believed to house the remains of Hanuman, the Monkey God and it sits way at the very top of the hill and built around the huge boulders.To get all the way to the top you must climb up Anjanadri Hill approximately 570 steps and in some parts it could get very steep but it’s not bad at all, just make sure you bring enough water and some sunblock because it gets very hot and the sunlight reflects heavily on the boulders. Don’t be surprised to find real live monkeys along the way, being the monkey temple of course, it is packed with monkeys; monkeys on the steps, monkeys on the trees, monkeys, monkeys, monkeys. They won’t attack but if you have food in your hands they might try to take it from you so try to avoid it. Once you’ve reached the top you will get to the temple and witness several offerings and fires dedicated to honor the deity and at the far end you will get the most amazing view of the the rice fields, the banana and palm plantations.
After the temple, once you head all the way down, make a left and keep going in the same direction you were before and now head out to the Mother Goddess Temple, built in between boulders as well but it does not sit up as high as the monkey temple. This temple was very interestingly hidden in between caves and boulders, with offerings to the Goddess hung in colored sacs up on the huge tree in the center of the courtyard, right before entering the temple. You are welcome to enter the temple if you want but if not walk around for a bit all around and make out to the far left right corner where you can walk around the huge boulders and hopefully find some of the caves. While in Hampi, especially on this side you, as a foreigner, might be asked to be taken a picture or to take a picture with someone or to even carry someone’s baby, I know it’s weird but just understand that many locals have never seen any other people but indians so they will be surprised by your facial structure, height and skin color. If they want to take a picture of you or shake your hand it’s only because they believe is good luck so don’t take it the wrong way.
You can keep riding in the same direction but all you are going to see will be the rice fields and banana plantations which is amazing, I recommend driving for about five miles and then turning back so you can head out the Lake. I made a little pit stop before the Lake and headed back eat some breakfast which I hadn’t had yet. I recommend checkin gout Nargila Home Stay and restaurant they have both western and indian dishes, great coffee and tea and a very cool place. With floor seating and wooden tables, hanging tapestries and lamps and a hut-like ceiling, you’ll want to stay here for a while and just chill out. Plus the staff is very friendly and helpful. I took a little break here and then walked around the area, stopped by the little shops and tapestry vendors as well as some artists and checked out some events happening later in the evening at the different bars restaurants. I then headed back to my guest house for a little nap and quick shower, you might not sleep as well on a bus obviously so make some time to rest as well. It also gets very, VERY hot around here so a little shower will certainly freshen you up.
You can then head back out on your bike now to the other side, in the opposite direction of the Monkey Temple, to head out to Sanapur Lake for quick dip in the water or just to relax for a bit and listen to the flowing water. You will have to ride for about 2-3 miles from the main road, you will see signs posted for the lake and then on your left side there will be a little dirt road you must take. I then headed back the same direction as I came towards a town called Anegondi which used to be the capital of the city before moving to Hampi and it’s about 3-5 km from the city. It’s not as interesting as Hampi but it’s totally worth a drive to check out the unique ruins, gates, palaces and particularly I recommend checking out Pampa Sarovar, a temple that sits on a water tank, I had never seen anything like it.
After that I was done for the day I was exhausted so I went back to the guest house and threw myself in the hammock for a little hour break and then, off I was to check out the sunset by the boulders where locals gather around for a jam session. The “sunset spot” which is how it’s known by the locals, is about 1 km away from the restaurant area, very close to Bobby’s One Love guest house, you can’t miss it. And what a better way to end your day then with an amazing sunset with some live music?? After that there’s always something going on in the bars or home stays like live shows, movie nights or some karaoke
Now for the other side and the Unesco World Heritage site , Hampi. I was headed to the other side of the river, Hampi. Again, take the boat or coracle for 10 Rupees and head out to the bazaar; you make a left when exiting the river and then make a right and voila! Get lost in all the streets to find amazing jewelry stores, unique vintage items and clothing as well as very cool coffee shops and restaurants. I do recommend brining extra money just for souvenirs, I didn’t and I regret it big time because there were truly unique items over here. Also, keep in mind that there are no ATMs in Hampi, only in Hospet so come prepared because cards are rarely accepted.
After walking for several hours exploring the bazaar and the stores I hired a motorbike-rickshaw to drive me around the 20km of ruins and temples, the Royal Center, for 400 Rupees (4 hours) so make sure you haggle because one driver wanted to charge me 1800 and another 1000 but I got it as low as 400 You can rent a bicycle or walk but it’s a loooot and the heat is crazy exhausting and you probably won’t get to see everything so I highly recommend the rickshaw, you will end up having to walk a mile anyhow to get back to Hampi so don’t feel like you’re cheating, you are making the best of your time here. So the Royal Center, is a collection of historic and religious sites like temples, palaces, fortifications and markets. The drivers will give you the tour but if not you can also buy a tourist book at the bazaar or most likely people will come up to you and try to sell it and decide what it is you want to check out, here are just some of the pics of my four hour tour along the Royal Center.
From your last stop you can walk 1-2 km to see the Riverside Ruins, no autos or motor bikes allowed here. It’t not that bad of a walk I recommend it. Here’s a map taken from Hampi.in to help you when planning your Royal Center visit and the attractions as well. If you still have time and energy of course, save the best for last, Hemakuta Hill . The perfect place to watch the sunset and see all of Hampi.
1. Archeological Museum
2 Pattabhi Rama Temple
3 Domed Gateway
4 Bhima’s Gate
5 Ganagitti Temple
6 Malayavanta Raghunatha Temple
7 Talarigatta Gate
8 Gejjala Mantapa
9 Kuduregombe Mantapa
10 Lakshmi Temple
11 Inscribed Vishnu Temple
12 Vittala Temple
13 King’s Balance
14 Two Storied Gateway
15 Purandaradasa Mantapa
16 Ancient Bridge
17 Chandramouliswara Temple
24 Sugreevas Cave
25 Riverside Ruins
26 Varaha Temple
27 Rangatha Temple
29 Kodandarama Temple
30 Yantrodharaka Anjaneya Temple
31 Monolithic Bull
32 Courtesans Street
33 Achyuta Rayas Temple
34 Veerabhadra Temple
35 Hampi Bazaar
36 Virupaksha Temple
37 Hemakuta Temples
38 Sasivekalu Ganesha
39 Kadalekalu Ganesha
40 Krishna Temple
41 Badavilinga Temple
42 Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
43 Chandikesvara Temple
44 Saraswathi Temple 1
45 Uddana Veerabhadra Temple
71 Kampa Bhupa’s Path
72 Manmatha Tank Shrines
73 Large Stone Trough
74 Pan Supari Bazaar
75 Ranga Temple
76 Pattanada Yellamma Temple
77 Tenali Rama Pavilion
Lastly and the most important in Hampi, Virupaksha Temple, standing tall and pretty in the center of the city and visible from it’s surrounding cities, save this for the sunset as well it looks amazing and at night it is covered with lights
Things to do in Hampi:
-Hampi Bazaar ; for awesome souvenirs and great cafes and restaurants
-Watch the elephants take a shower in the river at 9:00AM daily
-Visit the Spice Bazaar by the river
-The Royal Center, 10 sq. miles of heritage sites. (see above for a full list of sites to check out) Dont’ miss the royal enclosure, the musical palace and the Queen’s bath. (My top 3)
-Virupaksha Temple, the main attraction in Hampi
-Hike up Hemakuta Hill to watch the sunset
-Walk back to the bazaar from Vitalla temple through the Riverside Ruins
Where to eat in Hampi:
-Mango tree restaurant, awesome Coffee shake here and some garlic nan and curry 😉
-Ravi’s Rose for an awesome Dosa and Lassi.
-Prinsey Restaurant, food okay, service not so good but Momos are Amaaaziiinnng!!
Things to do in Virupapur Gadde:
-Mother Goddess Temple and its caves
-Climb up Anjunadri Hill to reach Hanuman Temple (570 steps)
-Take a dip in Sanapur Lake
-Ride and get lost around Anegondi and it’s smaller ruins and temples
-Visit Pampa Sarovar, the temple that sits on a water tank near Anegondi
Where to eat in Virupapur Gadde
-Nargila Home Stay
-Hoova Cafe by Anegondi
Where to stay in Virupapur Gadde:
-Bobby’s One Love Guesthouse
-Nargila Home Stay
Tips for Hampi >>
-Gallons of sunblock and insect repellant
-Extra money just for souvenirs and unique items
-Cash because there are no ATMs
-Rent a motor bike to explore Virapapur Gadde
-Pay about 400-600 for a 4 hour tour of the Royal Center no more!!!
-Bring extra clothes if you want to get into the water tank temple
– Reserve your stay in advance if you are coming during high season because it gets packed.
-Make sure to arrive in Hospet in daylight time so you can take the bus for 16 rupees instead of paying an auto 200-300 Rs.
-Never carry bananas or any sort of food in your hands, monkeys can smell it from miles away and will try to take it from you.