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Don't worry, get Hampi !!!


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Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, former capital of the Vijayanagar Empire, is situated in the northern part of Karnataka. It is built on the banks of Tungabhadra river and majority of the monuments are ruined due to war. The boulders and the giant rocks attracted me ever since I saw a documentary on some travel channel. I never gave a serious thought to visiting Hampi, until Meena, whom I met on a trek, messaged me one fine day. A general chat that started with “How are you doing?” ended with “Lets go to Hampi”. The very next day I spoke to Neha, my office buddy, and the glitter in her eyes was more than enough for me to roger that she is in. I read a few blogs but could not find all the information I needed and it was enough motivation for me to write this one.

Photos of Don't worry, get Hampi !!! 1/9 by Jinal Kapadia

An overnight VRL bus journey from Mumbai dropped us at Hosapete in the morning, which is nearly 13 kms from Hampi. You can also reach Hosapete by trains, which are very limited. As soon as you come out of the bus, the auto-rickshaw drivers will surround you. They usually charge between 80-100 INR (3/4 people in one rickshaw). If you are on a shoestring, local bus ply between Hosapete bus station and Hampi every half hour and costs hardly 15 INR per person.

Photos of  1/1 by Jinal Kapadia

Finding a decent accommodation in Hampi might not be a task as there are many home stays and guesthouses available on the Hampi Bazaar street. If you visit during peak season do your reservations before hand. Also there is no fixed tariff and it changes as per their wish. So bargain as hard as you can. Budget rooms are available between 500-800. We stayed at Hampi for two nights, both at different places. If you wish to stay across the Tungabhadra river, Virapapur Gaddi, guesthouses are available but would be a bit more expensive compared to Hampi. Majorly because it is frequented by foreign tourists and the paddy field plantation adds more to the scenic beauty. It is famously known as the Hippie Island. You can take the motorboat service to reach Virapapur gaddi and then rent a bike for sightseeing. Boat operators charge 10 INR per person and an additional 10 INR if you have luggage. The boats operate only between 7am – 6pm. Make sure to check the last boat timing for the day if you do not plan to stay across the river for the night. By road it is approximately 70 kms and be ready to pay a 1000 INR or more to return Hampi, provided you miss the last boat. Mopeds are available at 200 INR and scooters for 250 INR. Additionally you will have to buy petrol which is 90 INR per litre. It is advisable to get the tank filled before you start as I did not see any petrol pump in that area. Needless to say, please thoroughly check the scooter beforehand. Make sure you have your driving licence with you.

Vegetarian food is easily available throughout Hampi and Virapapur Gaddi. Non-veg and alcohol is banned at Hampi due to religious importance of the place. Some cafe’s do serve highly overpriced alcohol off their menu. Finding non-veg in Hampi is a difficult task. We had meals at three places during our stay and the best as well as economic was at Mango Tree. It is a must visit place. Other was at Chill Out cafe. A shop owner suggested the place and specifically mentioned to not go to the roof top restaurant but the one that is set up in a garage. The hakka noodles were horrible but the tomato-spinach pizza saved the meal. Food at Tibetan Kitchen was just average. Mango Tree stole my heart. For non-veg lovers, meat is easily available at Virapapur Gaddi. We were tired for the day and decided to dine at an in-house restaurant of Shanti Guesthouse, instead of walking all the way to Laughing Buddha, which is famous across the river. The restaurant owner was from Mandi, HP and we spent the evening talking about Himalayas and Manimahesh Yatra. As we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and if you are in Hampi, skipping breakfast is a sin. Two must visit places for breakfast is the Brahmin Hotel and Sagar Hotel, both located in the lane opposite Mango Tree. Brahmin hotel serves piping hot idli and paddu/gundpangala with a spicy coconut chutney and the owner is proud about not using onion-garlic. I and Neha gorged over 3 plates of paddu and 2 plates of idli. The latest they serve is till 10.30 but make sure you visit between 8-9 for the piping hot paddu’s. Sagar Hotel is run by three wonderful aunties serving like your mom does. Dosa is a must have along with paddu and idli. They start is the morning around 7.30-8 and are open till 1.30. Aloo puri is also recommended. They don’t mind sharing their recipes too. You will also find Mirchi vada in abundence across Hampi.

Photos of  1/2 by Jinal Kapadia
Photos of  2/2 by Jinal Kapadia

Vegetarian food is easily available throughout Hampi and Virapapur Gaddi. Non-veg and alcohol is banned at Hampi due to religious importance of the place. Some cafe’s do serve highly overpriced alcohol off their menu. Finding non-veg in Hampi is a difficult task. We had meals at three places during our stay and the best as well as economic was at Mango Tree. It is a must visit place. Other was at Chill Out cafe. A shop owner suggested the place and specifically mentioned to not go to the roof top restaurant but the one that is set up in a garage. The hakka noodles were horrible but the tomato-spinach pizza saved the meal. Food at Tibetan Kitchen was just average. Mango Tree stole my heart. For non-veg lovers, meat is easily available at Virapapur Gaddi. We were tired for the day and decided to dine at an in-house restaurant of Shanti Guesthouse, instead of walking all the way to Laughing Buddha, which is famous across the river. The restaurant owner was from Mandi, HP and we spent the evening talking about Himalayas and Manimahesh Yatra. As we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and if you are in Hampi, skipping breakfast is a sin. Two must visit places for breakfast is the Brahmin Hotel and Sagar Hotel, both located in the lane opposite Mango Tree. Brahmin hotel serves piping hot idli and paddu/gundpangala with a spicy coconut chutney and the owner is proud about not using onion-garlic. I and Neha gorged over 3 plates of paddu and 2 plates of idli. The latest they serve is till 10.30 but make sure you visit between 8-9 for the piping hot paddu’s. Sagar Hotel is run by three wonderful aunties serving like your mom does. Dosa is a must have along with paddu and idli. They start is the morning around 7.30-8 and are open till 1.30. Aloo puri is also recommended. They don’t mind sharing their recipes too. You will also find Mirchi vada in abundence across Hampi.

Photos of  1/1 by Jinal Kapadia

There are too many temples and places to visit in Hampi where if you stay for a month you can visit a new temple/site every day. Every temple has it own history and you will be awestruck with the architecture. A lot of history about Ram, Hanuman, Bali and Sugriv is clearly evident in the temples. The birth place of Hanuman or the famous Anjaneya Hill is across the river and requires a climb of 575 steps. It is famously known as the Monkey temple and has a hell lot of monkeys who snatch everything you have. Of all the discussion I had with Venkatesh, our rickshaw driver across Hampi cum guide, there is one other Monkey Temple too higher than the Anjaneya Hill which is not frequented by people. I did not have enough time to explore it, but you, my friends, can try reaching there. If you are much interested in knowing the history and importance of each and every place please do hire a guide. You would also have to hire an auto-rickshaw for a day as all the places are far and cannot be covered on foot. You can also rent a bicycle. Auto-rickshaw drivers charge anywhere between 200-400 per person per day. We chose the 400 one, and he took us around all those wonderful places across Hampi which tourists don’t even know about. He also arranged an economical coracle ride for us.

Photos of  1/1 by Jinal Kapadia

Hampi has a lot to offer and mentioned below is the activity list to not miss at any cost:

1. The common and famous Temples of Hampi which can be easily done in a day.

2. Sunset at Hemkuta Hill or Malyavantha Raghunatha. Ram bhajan’s go on 24*7 at the Malyavantha Raghunatha Temple.

3. Sunrise at Matanga Hill. Make sure you know the sun rise time before hand. It hardly takes 45 mins to reach the top including breaks. Witnessing the night bid adieu and the colour of dawn is the most beautiful thing in the world.

4. Coracle Ride – somewhere around 5-5.30 in the evening should be ideal. Do ask for a boat spin in the water.

5. Hampi waterfalls – requires a walk of almost 30-45 mins to reach from the parking space. Make sure you wear good shoes as the rocks could be slippery. This is an ideal place to spend sometime alone lying on the rocks next to the waterfall. Barbeque parites are held at this area and I hardly saw any “tourists” there. It can’t be exactly called a waterfall but it is a wonderful place to spend some hours listening to the gushing sound of water.

6. Across the river – Anjenaya Hill and Sanapur Lake

7. Meal at Mango Tree

8. Breakfast at either Brahmin Hotel or Sagar Hotel

Photos of  1/1 by Jinal Kapadia

If you wish to go beyond Hampi to Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal add a day in your itinerary. Pattadakal is yet another UNESCO heritage site and it is properly maintained as well. If you are three-four people and can contribute approx 1000 INR per person then the best option is to hire a car from Hampi, complete the Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal circuit and come back to Hampi by night. There is no accommodation available at Aihole or Pattadakal. The only decent place is the KSTDC Hotel Mayura Chalukya at Badami. It turned out much better than what we expected and can be booked online through the official KSTDC site. If you plan to visit all these places, make sure you either know the perfect bus timings or you have your private vehicle or hitch-hike.

Photos of  1/1 by Jinal Kapadia

Places to visit in Badami are the Badami Caves, Mallikarjuna group of temples, Bhutnath Temple and a fort. Pattadakal is a big complex of temples and a similar temple complex is at Aihole too. There are a hell lot of temples at all these places and trust me, visit it only if you are really interested.

People who do not wish to hire a car can stay at Badami for the night. Nobody knows the exact bus timings from Hospete – Badami but there seems to be a 9.30 am bus from Hospete bus stand as per some locals. As far as I know there are no direct buses. You can take a bus that goes to Bagalkot or Gadag or Ilkal and then a connecting bus to Badami.

Since we hired the car and had enough time to reach Belgaum for our bus to Mumbai, our driver suggested that we leave early and visit Bijapur too. This would not have been possible if we took the KSRTC bus. We left for Bijapur in the morning at 5 and completed the sightseeing by noon. Jama Masjid and Gol Gumaz are famous at Bijapur and must visit. Lines from the Holy Quran are inscribed in gold at the Mihrab of Jama Masjid. Reaching Bijapur was a result of bad planning which turned into a blessing. I lost all the photos I clicked at Bijapur using my cellphone, as it crashed. Below is the picture of Mihrab found on the internet.

Photos of  1/1 by Jinal Kapadia

I haven’t seen something like this before and it was simply beautiful.

We reached Belgaum by 6.30 pm in the evening and bought a lot of Kunda, the famous sweet of Belgaum, for our loved ones back home.






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