The following is a guest post by Our Backpack Tales, a couple travel blog focusing on budget travel. They love to travel to less explored places on a budget and share their experiences and travel hacks through their stories. Most of their trips are spontaneous and they love to travel light with their favourite backpack!
Hampi, also known as the Hampi Group of Monuments, is a UNESCO world heritage site located in the Bellary district of the South Indian state of Karnataka. Hampi was the centre of the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th century and was one of the most prosperous kingdom of medieval India.
From the rustic roads to the emerald paddy fields, Hampi transports you to the era of Kings and palaces and grandeur from the minute you set foot here! The best time to visit Hampi is from November to February since the weather can be quite harsh in the summer. Hampi houses some of the most iconic historical landmarks that you must visit at least once in your life!
How to get to Hampi
The best route to Hampi is from Bangalore to Hospete to Hampi. Hampi is located around 252 km from Bangalore. Thus the Kempegowda International Airport will be the closest airport. Once in Bangalore, the easiest and cheapest option will be to take a train to Hospete.
We took the Hampi Express running from Mysuru to Hubbali. The tickets cost less than Rs. 400 if booked in advance and can be booked from the Indian Railway App (IRCTC). The nearest railway station to Hampi is the Hospete Junction.
On arriving at Hospete, you can find several local buses which will take you to Hampi. Many of these stop right in front of the railway station. It is a great experience to be honest. The ride is dusty, but you can see the change in scenery right as you drive towards Hampi. The tickets cost about Rs. 30 and it takes 30 minutes to reach Hampi Baazar from Hospete (13 km). Cabs and auto rickshaws are also available from the railway station.
Another way to reach Hampi would taking a flight to Belgaum and then a bus from Belgaum to Tumkur, and then another bus to Hampi.
Where to stay in Hampi
Hampi is a village and the people lead a very simple way of life. You will not find a lot of the modern day facilities here. The accommodations available are mostly homestays hosted by the locals in the Hampi Baazar side. You can find hostels and mud huts at the Hippie Island. You can find some reasonably good homestays through AirBnb. If you are looking for something a bit more luxurious, then Hotel Hampi International at Hospete is a good choice.
Another thing to remember is that there are no ATMs in Hampi. It will be great to carry some cash since restaurants and shops do not accept card payments.
Things to do in Hampi in 2 days
There are few ways you can explore Hampi – by cycles and auto-rickshaw. A lot of tourists bring in their own vehicles too. Since we had only two days, we took an auto-rickshaw which costed us Rs. 1000 per day. This turned out to be great since the driver told us stories about each and every spot he took us to.
Hampi Itinerary: Day 1
Underground Siva Temple
We checked into the Padma Guest House, which was a 2-minute walk from the bus stop at Hampi Baazar. After a breakfast of idlis and vada from a stall at the Hampi Baazar, we visited some popular spots in Hampi on our first day. We started with the Underground Siva Temple which was excavated in the 1980s till when it was buried underground! It is famed to be one of the oldest temples in Hampi. It is located close to the Noblemen’s quarters, which is another attraction nearby.
We walked through the Dannayaka Enclosure, which was believed to be the city’s administrative area, towards the Hazara Rama temple next. The name of the temple translates to ‘thousand Rama’ due to the many depictions of the epic Ramayana on the walls of the temple. This temple also has some very beautiful stone carvings, showcasing a fine example of the Vijayanagara style of architecture. We spent some time here admiring the carvings and inscriptions on the stone walls.
Our next destination of the day was the Zenana Enclosure, which was an area only for the royal women. This was the first place where we had to take a ticket to enter. The ticket costs Rs. 40 (for Indians) and Rs. 600 (for foreigners). This can be used to enter the Vijaya Vittala Temple also (on the same day).
The first structure we saw as we entered the Zenana enclosure was the basement of the Queen’s Palace, which is one of the largest excavated palace bases in Hampi. It was burnt down by invaders, leaving only the basement remaining. As we walked forward, standing alone on a lawn on the right side of the enclosure is the Lotus Mahal.
Built in an Indo-Islamic style of architecture, the Lotus Mahal was used by the royal ladies for recreational activities. Some also say that it was a council room for the chief commanders. A walk through an arched gate will lead you towards the elephant stables, where the royal elephants were once housed. Like the Lotus Mahal, the stables are some of the least ruined structures in Hampi. Many watchtowers are seen all around the area, most probably since the area was for the Royal women, it was guarded by soldiers all the time.
Another rickshaw ride, and we were in yet another courtyard. The Mahanavami Dibba is the tallest structure in Hampi, and the first thing you see when you enter the Royal Enclosure. It is a grand stone platform, which was the site of royal Dusshera celebrations before it was shifted to Mysore.
We were then taken to a set of stairs that went into the ground and into the King’s Secret Council Chamber. Most of it is ruined, but the walk through the cool and creepy tunnels were fun! The Stepped Tank (pushkarni) was a nearby attraction. It was used by the royals for ritual bathing and cleansing before prayers. The symmetrical pushkarnis can be found attached to almost all temple complexes in Hampi. If you look carefully, you can see the canals that bring in water from the Tungabhadra river.
The Queen’s Bath is located close to the Royal Enclosure. This rectangular bath is built in the Indo-Islamic style of architecture with arched corridors and ornate balconies. Water was supplied through canals from the Tungabadhra river. into the 1.8 m deep bath. A beautiful lawn surrounds the bath, and we saw many people resting on them, tried from the heat.
Grab lunch at the Pink Mango
It was already 2 PM and we decided to take a lunch break. Our driver took us to the Pink Mango at Kamalapura. It had a great ambience and along with normal restaurant seating, there were low tables with just cushions and pillows for seating as well. It was a great place for having a relaxed lunch. We had the vegetarian thali, which came with a cup of boiled rice, a cup of fried rice, 4 curries, a cup of yoghurt, pappad, pickle and a dessert. You can withdraw money from the only ATM nearby.
Vijaya Vittala Temple
We visited the Vijaya Vittala Temple after lunch. We reached a parking area, near which stood in a queue for an electric vehicle to take us to the temple in groups. It is a dusty ride and you can see a lot of ruins of either side of the path. The Vittala temple was home to the iconic stone chariot and the musical pillars. The temple was built in the Dravidian style of architecture and is one of the largest and the most famous structure in Hampi.
Our last spot for the day was the Hemakuta Hills which is a famous spot for witnessing the sunset in Hampi. Our driver dropped us here before calling it a day. On the other side of the hills was the Hampi Baazar and it was easy to walk to our homestay. At the base of the hills we saw the Sasive Kalu Ganapati (Mustard Ganapati) which is a 2.4 m tall stone carved statue. We walked up the hill and it wasn’t a very steep one.’We sat on the many boulders that overlook some green paddy fields and its a lovely combination with the bright orange of the receding sun.
We walked back to our homestay and relaxed for a while before going out for dinner again. Unfortunately, the bright and bustling Hampi is not the same sight after dark. It was around 9 pm, but everything was still and quiet outside. It will be safe to say that go out for dinner early! We did find a few shacks still open, so we had a quick dinner and returned to our homestay.
Hampi Itinerary: Day 2
Malyavantha Raghunatha Temple
Our second day at Hampi started off with a light breakfast from the same stall, and our first stop for the day was the Malyavantha Raghunatha Temple. According to myth, this is where Rama and Lakshmana along with the Monkey army sought shelter during the monsoons on their march to rescue Sita from Ravana! The temple has 24 hours ‘puja’ and you can hear the continuous chanting when you’re here. A short walk to the back of the temple will lead you to a beautiful sunrise point, overlooking paddy fields.
Other temples you can visit
We also made short stops at the Chintamani Temple and Sugreeva Cave, Durga temple in Anegundi, underground Snake temple, Shri Ganesha Temple & Pampa Sarovar and the Monkey Temple on the Anjanadri Betta.
As we came towards the end of our Hampi trip, we decided to come out of our temple run and chill at the party hub of Hampi, The Hippie Island. Situated on the other side of the Tungabhadra river, Hippie Island is where you can enjoy the nightlife. Non-vegetarian food to alcohol – you can find everything here.
There are ladies who will braid your hair with colourful beads to guys who will give you a free reading of your future in Hippie Island. We had a late lunch at the ‘Top Secret’ Restaurant. You can have a shopping spree here, as there are, many souvenir shops all along the way.
After spending a couple of hours in Hippie Island, we took the ferry (water taxi) to the other side of the river. You can also cross the river on coracles, which is a famous activity in Hampi. Our last and final spot was the Virupaskha Temple which is about 100 m from the Hampi Bazaar from where we had to take our bus to Hospete.
Located on the southern banks of the Tungabhadra River, the Virupaksha temple is an important place of worship for Siva devotees. The sweet temple elephant Lakshmi is a star among the devotees and tourists alike. Being a fully functional temple, it was quite crowded in the evening.
We caught our bus to Hospet Junction by 6.30 PM. It was very crowded, but luckily we found seats. The journey back to Bangalore was full of remembering the lovely two days we had exploring the ruins of Hampi.
Day trips from Hampi
Sloth Bear Sanctuary
The Sloth Bear Sanctuary is located around 15 km from Hampi and 30 km from Hospete. It was created for the preservation of the Indian Sloth Bears and is a great place to get a glimpse of this unique animal. Visitors are not allowed to get close to the animals, but there are a few trails where you can spot a variety of birds.
The Badami Caves are located around 140 km from Hampi. The ed sandstone cliffs of Badami at the banks of the lake are a wonderful sight to behold. The caves carved out on these cliffs are more than 1200 years old and are an important tourist destination.
Aihole, also known as the ‘Cradle of Indian Architecture’ is located 138 km from Hampi. It was the capital of the Chalukyan kingdom, and like Hampi and Badami, have some very impressive archaeological sites to explore.
Veerabhadra Swamy Temple
The Veerabhadra Swamy temple in Lepakshi is yet another beautiful temple built in the Vijayanagara style of architecture just like the ones in Hampi. It is also closely related to Ramayana. It is around 280 km from Hampi and is a great choice for a day trip.
Hampi is a great place to connect with history. Though in ruins since 1556, it still holds an air of magic and mystery around it. It’s a great place to visit with your family or friends as the excitement of exploring a village that is so deep in history and was once abundant in riches is a great experience altogether.
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