Hampi is known for its temples and ruins. It’s a UNESCO’s world heritage site. These ruins are spread on both sides of Tungabhadra River and there is so much to see. Most of these ruins are in bazaar side of the river and another side has comparatively lesser places to visit.
The other side of the river is more popular among those foreign and Indian travelers, who just want to relax in the middle of paddy fields. This side is comparatively cheaper also.
To reach Hampi we took an overnight train from Hyderabad, there are overnight buses also. Most of the people travel to Hampi from Bangalore or Hyderabad by a train or a bus and if coming from Mumbai or Goa then only buses are available, these are some of the popular routes.
I asked one of my friend with whom I had traveled many times in past. She instantly agreed and we fine tuned the plan :-). We took a flight from Delhi to Hyderabad. In Hyderabad, we had spent our day and roamed around revisited some of the monuments, had Hyderabadi biryani. Finally boarded the overnight train to Hospet. The train was on time and we reached Hospet early morning. From the railway station, we took auto-rickshaw for Hampi, which is approx 14 km. He agreed to take us for 200 Rs after a little negotiation and we reached Hampi in half an hour. As we came closer to Hampi village, we saw many monuments on both sides of the road and there were many tourists exploring these monuments at 8.00 in morning.
Hampi is small and its lanes are narrow but our auto guy negotiated these lanes skillfully to reach our guesthouse, which I had advance booked online. The guy who owns the place had welcomed us as he was expecting us. They were cleaning our room because we reached early, so we decided to have our breakfast as we were hungry.
After check-in and freshen up, we decided to explore the places in different areas. We decided to explore the temples and monuments around bazaar area later as we were staying here, so these can be explored later by walking. We already have a list of places we wanted to see but our guesthouse guy also gave us a map of Hampi’s tourist attractions. We booked an auto for the day to explore the far off place in one go. Auto is most convenient and economical to explore Hampi, though Cycles are also very popular. We came across many people riding & exploring on bicycles but it was quite hot during the day to ride. Moreover, we were there only for 3 days, so didn’t want to get lost and waste time.
Loaded with water, map & camera, we started our sightseeing. Our first stop was Narasimha Vigraha then we proceeded to Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple, Shivlinga, Vithala Temple Complex, King’s balance, Dasara Dibba, Achyutaraya Temple, Queen’s bath, Lotus Temple, Elephant stable, Hazara Rama Temple, Archeological gallery, Zanana enclosure, underground Shiva temple and group of monuments. I am not giving a history of these places but we easily covered all these places. Check this Photo blog of Hampi Monuments – Places to Visit
By afternoon we were hungry so we stopped in a farm type of place. There was a small restaurant in the middle of the mixed plantation. The food was basic but fresh and the place was very quiet. I noticed that there were not many options for lunch when we were away from Bazaar area.
On the way back to Hampi town we had seen sister’s rock. We reached our guesthouse much before sunset, we saw many places and were quite happy but we were very tired due to heat & to some extent from walking in dry hot weather.
It was hot in sun but once we came inside the room then it was pleasant even in the fan. After relaxing for a while, I decided to take a walk. Tungabhadra river was only 5 minutes walking distance from our guesthouse. I sat on the banks of it watching people playing & bathing in the river.
When the sun started setting, I moved towards Manmatha tank next to the temple and watched/captured the sun setting behind the temples.
Hampi is small but eating is not an issue, there are many places though all restaurants in bazaar area close to temple serve only vegetarian food. Nonvegetarian food is available across the river. Our hotel guy recommended a place called Mango tree, which also rated high on different travel sites. So, we decided to give it a try as because was only 3-4 minutes walking distance from our hotel. This place was decorated with basic things but in an interesting manner, they have a comfortable sitting arrangement with a mattress on the floor and regular tables. When we reached places was almost full and buzzing but we got a comfortable place to have our meal.
After dinner, we walked around in lanes for some time just to get the feel of the town. While we were walking we have seen a place, where some benches and tables were placed but otherwise no activity. On our inquiry, we came to know that this is a place for breakfast and run by women. So, we decided to give it a try next morning and called for the day.
Next day we decided to explore the Hampi across the river but before starting our day we decided to have breakfast at the place we found last night. Upon reaching we found 4 women, who were preparing fresh south Indian breakfast items like Idli, Dosa, Puddu and were serving those with chutney & potato curry. It was very economical, tasty and fresh. We finished it with 2 cups of south Indian coffee.
As I mentioned earlier, we were close to the river, so we walked for 8-10 minutes and reached the ferry point. They have two way to cross the river i.e. by Coracle or by shared boat running with the engine. We bought the tickets from the makeshift counter and crossed the river.
From river bank, we had to climb a bit to reach the main area/bazaar. The scene on this side of the river was somewhat different, there were lush green paddy fields with coconut trees. There was a row of shops and restaurants across the paddy fields. We found a bakery and decided to sample a couple of things from a there. The quality we found at par with any good city bakery.
After roaming around for some time, we took an auto to explore places like Agegudi, the old palace, Pampa Sarovar and a couple of other temples (I forgot the name). We went to all places one by one and noticed there were no tourists in any place except for a couple at Pampa Sarovar. We came back to the market area after sightseeing and had lunch. In Hampi, I noticed that it easy to get cuisine from any part of the world because the number of foreign tourist visit here is more in comparison to Indians. Well, Indian food was also available. I ordered vegetarian pizza and simply loved what I got. It was baked in wood fired oven and base as well toppings were just perfect. After relaxing some time, we decided to cross the river and return to our guesthouse.
It was very hot outside so decided to rest for some time and then we proceeded to sunset point, which is on a small hill next to Virupaksha temple. When we reached the top it was quiet and there was no other soul in sight. Some monkeys were running and jumping on ruins. But as sunset time approached, the place filled with people. The sunset behind the hills was beautiful.
After dinner, we called for the day because next morning we decided to go for sunrise.
The day before at sunset point, we met a photography group and they advised us to go to old Hampi bazaar area for sunrise. According to them, it becomes quite hazy at Matunga hill as the sun rises. Moreover, my friend was also not keen to climb Matunga so we followed the advice and went to old Hampi Bazaar. The sun came up behind the hills. There were not many people around and initially place looked secluded.
After watching the sunrise and strolling around we came back to our guest house. We again went to aunt’s breakfast stall because we liked her food. Some how it was my favorite joint in Hampi.
After stuffing ourselves we went to the Virupaksha temple, though we had crossed it few times in last two days we went inside for the first time. It’s not very well maintained and some places/walls were dirty. Monkeys were jumping around. There was nothing spectacular to write about it.
The sun was getting up and it started getting hot, my friend decided to go back to the guesthouse. But I decided to visit sunset hill, where I had seen few temples day before but could not explore much due to time constraint. I walked around for some 2-3 hours and reached back our guest for lunch time.
I and my friend thought of trying some other place for lunch but after checking few places, we again went back to our old joint Mango tree. We ordered falafel and noodles, they served those also on banana leaves.
Our bus was in evening from Hospet and we still have some time. So we decided to do some souvenir shopping in bazaar area.
We again took an auto from Hampi to Hospet to board our bus for Mumbai.
Useful information –
* Hampi is not even a town, it’s more like a village with lots of guest houses / small hotels and many restaurants. People are very open minded and friendly towards tourists.
* Food is good and you get all varieties from Indian, continental, south Indian or Italian or Israeli.
* There are so many monuments/ruins and after a while, I started forgetting names. Every other place has some old ruins. I travel few hundred meters and see something.
* The main attractions are Virupaksha temple & surroundings areas. Vithala temple complex and areas around it.
* When in Hampi be prepared to walk and enjoy.
* It gets hot during the day even in winter months, so carry something to cover the head and drink a lot of water.