Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi

Tripoto
23rd Jun 2017
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

If you affiliate yourself with the term "#Backpacker", "#Hippie", "#Wanderer" or any such superlatives associated with travel, but have never been or even heard of Hampi then you're just another "tourist". Naah, just kidding! No but seriously atleast once in your lifetime you have to visit this erstwhile glory of the Vijayanagar empire that is nothing but a endless realm of a glorious past ruins. I have heard so much about Hampi, its ruins that still screams of its heydays, an ultimate destination for the free-spirited. Intrigued by all such thoughts me and Ranjit decided to finally uncover all the secrets that it holds, and planned a trip in June 2017.

Hampi, The Grandeur That it Was

A UNESCO Wold Heritage Site, Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar empire which was the most flourishing and richest empire during its period. But the relics that have been found suggest Hampi's history goes back even before the 14th Century. Built on the Tungabhadra river Hampi grew to be one of the biggest city of its era and found its mentions in the words of all the notable explorers travelling to and from India. Hampi was an epitome and celebration of Indian culture to the world, more notably the reflection of the skills and capability of the erstwhile Vijayanagara empire. The city reached its zenith under the then King Krishna Deva Raya who not only put up a formidable army but also temples, forts, and other notable structures that are a face of Hampi today. But all this fame came at a price after the Muslim sultanates raged a war on Hampi and reduced it to the fabled ruins that it is today. Hampi would never see back its glory-filled days again.

How to Reach Hampi?

Now that you have an idea of the might that Hampi was the next thing to do is to reach Hampi. The nearest bus stand or railway station is Hospet. Regular buses from Bengaluru ply to Hospet. But a more comfortable option is to take a train. The Hampi Express that originates at Mysuru via Bengaluru Majestic station is perfect to reach Hospet early in the morning. In fact, most travelers that you'll be meeting in the train will alight with you at Hospet. We reached at around 7 am, and then took an auto to Hampi which cost us Rs. 200 for a journey of 12 kms, and takes anywhere around 20-25 mins.

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi 1/1 by Hrishikesh Baruah
The Hippie Island can also be reached by road, albeit a much longer route though

The nearest international airport will be Bengaluru, and Hubli will be the closest domestic airport.

Day 1

Where to Put Up?

Like I mentioned Hampi is a backpackers paradise, and as such you'll find plenty of budget stay options. Now Hampi is divided in 2 halves; the other side of the river is called as Hippie Island, and that's where all the hipsters head out to. During monsoon you can take a boat ride to cross it, and takes only 5 mins. During summers you can just hop on the boulders and cross over the river.

On the bank of Tungabhadra river, our destination on the other side; the Hippie Island

Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Having said that make sure you check out the rooms before moving in. In fact we took one such room for Rs. 300 a night but the room was horrible. The moment you cross-over to the Hippie Islands hotel agents will force you to stay at their nominated places. Do not fall for it; ensure you check the rooms and bargain if you feel its on the higher side. If you however, decide to stay on the main side (the side where most of Hampi ruins are) then you cannot have non-veg food and alcohol as it is prohibited. So, naturally most travelers head to the Hippie side for all sorts of "fun".

This guest house is right after you reach the island. Not a great one though

The best way to see Hampi is either by renting out a 2-wheeler or on cycle. Yes, lot of travelers prefer pedaling their way around in Hampi. But better keep that option for post monsoon as the heat is unbearable during peak summer.

Where to Go and What All to See?

Alright, once your stay and travel arrangements are sorted its time to travel back to the 15th century and make yourself in Hampi. Hampi is a colossal area with so much to see. We decided to explore the Hippie Island first and kept the main town for next day. Getting a 2-wheeler isn't a big deal; rent can be as good as 200 to as high as Rs. 400 depending on the day and season. There are no petrol pumps in close proximity so fill atleast 2 liters.

Hola from the other side!

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

The Bukka’s Aqueduct

If at Hippie Island then this broken bridge like structure is at walkable distance and lies adjacent to the main road. Quite impressive with the fact that at that time the city planned and managed to build extensive canals and water management system. This one was designed to pull water to an elevation.

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Boulder Climbing

Hampi IS the place for those wanting to learn or excel in boulder climbing techniques. With pile of boulders spread across till your eyes can stretch its a no brainer why so many foreigners can be seen trying their luck clinging on a round, huge piece of boulder. You can get the equipment also on rent, but its better you bring your own.

Boulders all around in Hampi

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Anjana Parvath

Also considered as the place where Hanuman took birth this hill has a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman at the top and can be reached by stepping over 500+ steps. And the views from the top won't disappoint at all, offering a splendid 360 degree view of Hampi with the surrounding paddy crops dotted by pile of scattered boulders. And needless to say lot of monkeys can be seen jumping around.

View from the top of Anjaneya temple

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

View from the top of Anjaneya temple

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

The temple at top

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Sanapur Lake

A relatively unknown and hidden spot this lake is formed by the dam on the Tungabhadra river, surrounded by boulders. A great spot to relax and even do a cliff jump if in the mood. Make sure to ask the locals for direction in case if your Google map is not working due to poor network here. We were roaming around for 30 mins searching for this place, only before couple of villagers came to our aid. You may either sit on the lakeside or take a coracle boat ride. Not to be missed when in Hampi.

Sanapur Lake

Photo of Sanapur Lake, Sanapur, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Sanapur Lake, Sanapur, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Sanapur Lake, Sanapur, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Anegundi

Anegundi's fame pre-dates to that of actual Hampi's. Situated a little farther from Anjenaya Hill this village has Anegundi fort which is in complete ruins and hardly any maintenance. Apart, there is also a Durga temple. If you decide to come to Hippie island on road then you'll cross a bridge on the Tungabhadra river and then via Anegundi.

The isolated Anegundi fort

Photo of Anegundi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

This apart there are plenty of things to see (like Pampa Sarovar) in Hippie Island before you finally cross over to the main town. In the evening you can laze and eat in one of the numerous cafes and bakery that are buzzing.

Temple in Anegundi

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Temple in Anegundi

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

The next day cross back to the main town over the Tungabhadra river and explore the other historically important ruins that Hampi is notable for.

Kadalekalu Ganesha

Day 2

Our 1st destination for the day was a Ganesha temple right near the Virupaksha temple. The highlight of the temple apart from the intricate carvings was the huge Ganesha idol carved out a single rock. In fact its almost 15 ft tall.

Photo of Kadalekalu Ganesha, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The giant monolith statue

Photo of Kadalekalu Ganesha, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Kadalekalu Ganesha, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Since the temple is on a hill you get a grand view of the Virupaksha temple, Matanga hill, and the Hampi Bazaar. Spend atleast 30 mins here.

Lakshmi Narasimha

If the Ganesha idol was impressive then the next idol that we visited just blew my mind. The idol is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and the impressive idol sits with a hood of cobra on top of the head. Both the hands are broken, suggesting the damage inflicted during the rampage on Hampi. With the face of that of a lion the idol is sitting in a meditation posture. This sculpture was also given shape from single rock.

Photo of Lakshmi Narasimha, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Badavilinga Temple

Right next to the Lakshmi Narasimha temple lies another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. And there lies a huge Shivalingam surrounded by a puddle of water. It is a huge monolithic structure, and is said to have been the worshiping place for the poor who couldn't enter the main temples.

Photo of Badavilinga Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Underground Shiva Temple (Prasanna Virupaksha Temple)

Our next destination took us below the surface of the earth this time. This Shiva temple surrounded by a beautiful garden has been beneath the ground level. And no one knows as to why. As such the temple will be filled with water during monsoons and after a heavy shower. It is quite dark inside and bats have made this temple their home. The main lingam of the temple is not there.

Underground Siva temple

Photo of Underground Siva Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Underground temple

Photo of Underground Siva Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Bats inside the temple

Photo of Underground Siva Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Underground Siva Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Noblemen's Quarters

The residence of the commanders, high ranking officials this place is right opposite to the Underground Shiva temple. All the structures in ruins today.

The noblemen quarters which only have the basement layer mostly

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Zenana Enclosure

The next major attraction is the sprawling Zenana enclosure, built for the royal women. On the corners are the watch towers (only 3 stand now) which are somehow still intact. Numerous structures like the Lotus Mahal, Elephant stable, Queens palace, Treasury house among others can be seen inside. A huge open space with path to all the respective buildings Zenana Enclosure is yet another important place that you should visit on your trip to Hampi. The entry ticket can be used to enter the Vittala Temple as well.

One of the 3 watch towers

Photo of Zenana Enclosure, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The boundary walls of Zenana Enclosure

Photo of Zenana Enclosure, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Broken boundary wall and watch tower

Photo of Zenana Enclosure, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The boundary wall in most places is in ruins and intact in some other areas.

Lotus Mahal

One of the main attractions inside the Zenana Enclosure the Lotus Mahal sits diagonally opposite to the main entrance of Zenana Enclosure. Surprisingly this structure was left untouched during the seize of Hampi, and is one of the few in Hampi to remain unscathed. Designed with the idea of a Lotus the small palace is domed shaped and pinkish in appearance.

Lotus Mahal

Photo of Lotus Mahal Hampi, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Lotus Mahal

Photo of Lotus Mahal Hampi, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Corridors of the Lotus Mahal

Photo of Lotus Mahal Hampi, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Lotus Mahal Hampi, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Queen's Palace

Well, the only thing that remains of the palace is the basement of it. Located right in the center of Zenana Enclosure, and unlike the Lotus Mahal the Queen's place has to bear immense brunt during the rampage on Hampi. And only the basement of the palace remains today.

Queen's palace which is not there anymore

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Elephant Stable

As the name suggests the Elephant Stable within the Zenana Enclosure used to be the home of the royal elephants of the Vijayanagara empire. Yet another structure that didn't see much of destruction to it the structure offers a good insight to the level of detail the kingdom strived for even for an elephant stable.

Hazara Rama Temple

This unique temple situated between the Zenana Enclosure & Royal Enclosure used to be the private temple of the royal family. The carvings of Ramayana and multitude of Rama sculptures on the walls gives this temple its name. The temple is a fascinating work of that era and though not a big temple but definitely worth your time spent here.

Photo of Hazara Rama Temple, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Hazara Rama Temple

Photo of Hazara Rama Temple, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hazara Rama Temple, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The walls of the temple with Ramayana events carved on it.

Photo of Hazara Rama Temple, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Royal Enclosure

The seat of the king & his ministers, the Royal Enclosure is a vast area comprising of the King's halls, meeting chambers, palaces and for all administrative proceedings of the euphoric Vijayanagara empire. What lies today is a never ending stretch of ruins that still echoes with the jubilant culture that it was witness to. A labyrinth of underground tunnels, aqueducts, and carvings suggest this place was once the power house of the empire. This place was easily the heartbeat of the entire empire.

Photo of Royal Enclosure, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Royal Enclosure, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Royal Enclosure, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Royal Enclosure, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Royal Enclosure, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Royal Enclosure, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Queen's Bath

Situated at a walking distance from the Royal Enclosure the Queen's Bath was one big royal bathing structure for the royal ladies. The exterior is quite simple but in inside meticulously designed. Stone steps have been put up leading to the bathing area.

Queen's bath

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Inside of the Queen's bath

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Pushkarani

A pushkarani is a water tank built near the temples. They can be compared to the ones found in Rajasthan. The water drawn from here were used in the temples for various temple related activities. There were also such tanks for public usage as well. I saw two of them, one in the Royal Enclosure and the other outside the Vittala Temple complex.

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

The Pushkarani were designed with steps leading to the floor of the water body. They were made with beautiful designs and were vast.

Vitthala Temple Complex

A work of exemplary craftsmanship and dedication, Vitthala temple is one of the major attraction in Hampi. The architecture design of the temple complex is top notch. The famous stone chariot can be seen within the temple complex. The temple is dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Lord Vitthala. Spread across a sprawling space we spent close to 3-4 hours roaming around, mesmerized by the incredible craftsmanship.

Vitthala Temple

Photo of Vitthala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Vitthala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Vitthala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Vitthala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Vitthala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Vitthala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Vitthala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Vitthala Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Maha Mantapa: The main temple is a resemblance to Dravidian architecture that is predominant in the South India. Numerous pillars support the top of the temple with the base. Guides would say if you hear properly you can hear musical sounds flowing through the pillars.

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Stone Chariot: Do you happen to carry the new Rs. 50 note released by the Govt. recently? Yes? If so then flip it over and the chariot you see is the one that is there in the temple complex. The iconic chariot, in fact, could be moved but the Govt has fixed its wheels now so as to deter any damage to it. Kept right in the middle of the courtyard the stone chariot is the amazing form of workmanship and skill to be seen in Hampi that makes you acknowledge their skills even more. The chariot is dedicated to Garuda, Lord Vishnu's mode of transport.

The stone chariot

Photo of Stone Chariot, Hampi, Nimbapura, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Vittala Bazaar: The km long kuccha road that leads to the Vittala temple complex crosses via a ruin which once used to be a bustling trading market. The ruins of the market can be seen on both side of the road and pulls tourists before they enter the temple complex.

The market ruins that leads to the temple complex

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

King's Balance

Take the route behind the Vittala temple complex and get bewildered by another vast ruins that is otherwise, easy to miss. This route takes you to the Virupaksha temple, along the Tungabhadra river.

Photo of Kings Balance, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The King's balance was used by the King to weigh in the amount of precious jewels, stones, metals to his weight on festivals and occasions. That apart it was also used by locals to weigh their crops.

Achyuta Raya Temple

Located between the Matanga Hills and Kings' Balance the Achyuta Raya temple is truly a symbol of grandeur and magnificence. The isolated placement of the temple means it sees very less footfall. In fact, apart from both of us there were only 2 or so tourists here. The carvings on the rocks exquisite and the design of the temple and the inner hall a sign of masterclass of the golden era of Hampi.

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Most people after exploring Vittala temple return via the same path through which they came. Don't do that, instead take the route behind the Vittala temple on its left side and you will be amazed to see the vast temples and other ruins that are equally laudable. Achyuta Raya temple is one of it.

Courtesans street

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

The approach path, known as Courtesans street, to the temple is equally beautiful with a wide passage flanked by rocky pillars suggests there used to be a bustling market back in the day. Personally, this was my favorite structure in entire Hampi.

Hampi Bazaar

Bang in front of the Virupaksha temple lies yet another marvel, the Hampi Bazaar (market). This market were excavated by archaeologists much later, and suggests about a happening and flourishing marketplace and a trading center once upon a time. It is based on both side of the gravel main road. The market is almost a kilometer long and is quite popular among the many visitors.

Virupaksha temple and Tungabhadra river from a hill

Photo of Hampi Bazaar, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Hampi Bazaar

Photo of Hampi Bazaar, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

There are shops at Hampi Bazaar from where you can buy local artifacts, garments, bags and jewelry.

Virupaksha Temple

Our last but most important destination was the Virupaksha temple. After taking the King's Balance path, via the Achyuta Raya temple you can reach the Virupaksha temple set on the bank of Tungabhadra river. In fact, this temple is a important worshiping place and thronged by numerous devotees.

Photo of Virupaksha Temple East Gopura, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Virupaksha Temple East Gopura, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Virupaksha Temple East Gopura, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Virupaksha Temple East Gopura, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Virupaksha Temple East Gopura, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Virupaksha Temple East Gopura, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Virupaksha Temple East Gopura, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Virupaksha Temple East Gopura, Hampi, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Dedicated to Lord Shiva the temple was undergoing repairs to its main structure. Needless to say this temple is the icon of Hampi (apart from the stone chariot). It is equally astonishing the temple has still managed to survive through the years while most others were ravaged. Upon entering lie open courtyards and the main shrine to offer prayers. The temple also is the home to Lakshmi, the temple elephant.

The Aura of Hampi That Was...

All this apart there are so many other things to see which we had to give a miss due to the soaring heat and paucity of time. Hampi is like that place where we time traveled to the past and felt as one being during its glory days. I met people who have been staying put (mostly foreigners) for months now, learning bouldering or local art. Whether its temples, forts in ruins, boulders, or bazaars Hampi has it all for each.

Say cheeeeeeeese!

Photo of Hippity-Hoppity in Hampi by Hrishikesh Baruah

Things to keep in mind while in Hampi:

Carry along plenty of water. It gets hot, really hot. Especially during the off season.

2. There are no ATMs in either Hampi or Hippie Island. So carry enough cash. Forget about swiping cards to pay the bill.

3. A good way to explore can be either on a cycle or moped. Or maybe just walk around (that of course depending on the time of the year)

4. When is a good time you ask? Well, Hampi can be visited throughout the year. However, the best time is definitely from October, after the temperature cools down.

5. Non veg food and alcohol is not allowed in the main town. However, the same can be had on the Hippie side of the river.

6. Hospet-Hampi Express that originates at Mysuru is the best way I felt to reach Hampi. Get down at Hospet and take an auto till Hampi. Around 12 kms. Also, if you are planning to come on a weekend or a long weekend then it will be wise to plan your stay beforehand.

7. Although Hampi is a major tourist spot globally I was surprised to see very limited phone network. In fact, it was as good as nil. So plan accordingly.

8. Ensure you wear light, airy clothes. And also don't forget your shades and a cap/hat.

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