Hampi, as strange as the name may sound, this place is alarmingly beautiful. This magnificent city of ruins, and the capital of the Vijaynagara Kingdom, stands gracefully surrounding the River Tungabhadra in the state of Karnataka, to the north of Bangalore. A UNESCO world heritage site, Hampi has attracted immense number of historians, archaeologists, and even architects. Travelers have sought their way here now, majorly backpackers and offbeat travel enthusiasts. Hampi may not be the most tourist friendly place, in terms of luxury travel accommodation or 5-star restaurants or fast food chains and shopping, but it definitely is the place for a quiet weekend getaway from the hustles of an otherwise chaotic city life. Nestled amongst palm groves, paddy fields and massive boulders, this place is nothing short of a miracle.
Day 1: Overnight travel to Hosapete
If you are arriving by bus from any of the big cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Goa, Mumbai, you will most likely reach the town of Hosapete as early as 6 in the morning. The buses or trains do not go beyond this point as this is the terminal destination. Only autos or tuktuks are allowed to transport you to Hampi.
If you are arriving by train, it would be best to do the night journey so you could enjoy the 2 days at leisure. Whether you arrive by train or bus, the tuktuk ride to central Hampi would take approximately 15-20 minutes, and would cost you around 200-300 INR. Depending on how many people you are and your bargaining skills the price may differ a lot.
If you plan to drive to this land of ruins, you might have to take a different route or park your vehicle in the central parking area of Hampi. As mentioned before, private vehicles are not allowed in most parts of Hampi. It is practical enough as the road are not as wide and maintained. Hiring bicycles and scooters is the best way to go around Hampi.
Day 2: Sightseeing – Virupaksha temple – Anegundi – Hanuman Temple – Sunset Point
As soon as you arrive at Hampi’s auto stand, start walking towards the riverside from where you will take a Coracle ride or a boat ride to the other side. Within 5 mins of walking you would get the essence of what the town stands for. Passing through tiny paths and houses, monkeys staring at you from the joint terraces, you will find yourself right outside the magnificently huge Virupaksha Temple. It’s a 5th century temple which also houses an elephant, a bunch of monkeys and ofcourse mesmerizing architecture. You can either walk right inside the temple, or come back later.
Once you freshen up in the common bathrooms they have in every corner, you head for your 2nd breakfast at the restaurant – wouldn’t cost more than 100 INR. All this while you will see dogs and cats of all sizes and shapes – it’s a animal lover’s paradise.
Next, go to the reception and fix yourself a bike for anywhere between 100-200 INR / day (scooter, or a luna). The Luna is extremely popular there and would take you to a different era driving them around. Start of by driving to the small village of Anegundi, where most architecture students go for a field trip. It will take about 30 mins as you will definitely stop for pictures on the way. You will pass by the Hanuman temple, the river body opening, lot of guest houses, etc. After a quick look around Anegundi, and visiting the temples like Chinthamani Temple and Anjaneya Temple you will have enough good photos to upload on Instagram.
On the way back, you will stop at the Hanuman Temple and walk up a whopping 500 + stairs to reach the top and meditate overlooking the soothing country side in sepia mode. With brownish terrains all around you with green paddy fields you will enjoy every bit of it. After sweating much on your way down, go straight to the lake or Hampi waterfalls and take a dip into the fresh water, until you get really hungry and head back. You can go back into town and have some good lunch at ‘Laughing Buddha’. Lunch here is like a afternoon nap which takes almost 2 hrs. Post relaxing go for climbing if you are into it. The locals will lead you to the best place for climbing. If not, start heading towards the sunset point. Climbing up onto the highest boulder will take about 10 mins. You will see jamming sessions, music gigs happening on top of the rocks while everyone falls silent to unanimously enjoy the sunset. Stay there and relax.
Walk back down, go to the market to check the small souvenir shops. Most guesthouses have their own restaurants, with not chairs but Indian seating. Find one for yourself or go to ‘The Hampi Island’.
If you are the energetic types, head back to the sunset point and lie down on the rocks, observing the night sky and maybe taking a short nap before you go back to bed.
Day 3: Sightseeing – Ruins of Hampi – Vitthala Temple – Garuda Chariot – Queen’s Bath – Hampi Market – Return back
Rise late, freshen up, pack your bags and check out. Have a heavy breakfast, either at ‘The Goan Corner’ or after you cross the river. It’s better to have your breakfast at the very famous ‘Mango Tree’ – so you can request them to keep your bags stored until you return back in the evening. Take it easy and start your tour at 12:00 PM. You could either hire a bike or preferably hire an auto if you are more then 4 people. The driver will take you around for a 3-4 hour tour in the area of where the ruins are. Everything is close by and can be covered fast enough. This might cost you 1000 INR, but bargain like an Indian and it should come down to 600 INR.
Before you start the tour, get back inside the Virupaksha Temple if you missed it before. Make sure to find that small window which acts as a real-time pinhole camera and displays an inverted image from the reflected sunlight. Just beware of monkeys on your way out.
As you start your tour, the nearest are the royal baths from the centuries ago. You will have a chance to see the King’s Bath, the Queen’s Bath and the likes. In the same vicinity are immense number of ruins. Read up a few things before going, or you will find enough sign boards which provide brief history about the place. Take it easy, play hide and seek and revive your childhood.
Next would be an amazing monument with a lot of stairs in levels which leads to a podium or stage like structure. It is called the Mahanavami platform as per the internet. It is one of the best places to have a group photo.
Next, head to a few other monuments which belonged to the era of kings and queens, before we finally find our way to the Vitthala Temple. This is where the symbolic Garuda chariot is placed.
After a point, you will have to take a long walk to reach the temple. On the way you will find other small temples and caves and a huge eater body. Take some time to relax there and if possible take a quick dip into the water when no one is looking. To enter the Vitthala Temple complex, there is a fee, minimal amount for Indians where as almost 4 times the amount for foreigners.