Long weekend getaways: Hampi

Tripoto
Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan
Day 1

We took the overnight bus from Mumbai to Hospet. The bus ride was about 12 hours and we reached Hospet at about 8am. We had an amazing breakfast of dosa, idli, wada and filter coffee at Shanbhag Hotel. The food was good and very cheap!

Now for a little geography lesson. Hampi is sort of divided into 2 parts- the Heritage site of Hampi on one side of Tungabhadra river and Hippie Island on the other side of the Tungabhadra river which can be reached by boat. Whether you come by bus or train, you will be dropped on the heritage site side of Hampi.

After breakfast we headed to the JSW Vijayanagar Bus Terminal (which is just a 10 min walk from Shanbhag Hotel) to take the local bus from Hospet to Hampi. The bus ride is half an hour and the ticket is just Rs. 20 for the local bus and it drops you just where the Hampi Heritage site starts.
Alternatively, you can take a rickshaw to Hampi. As soon as you get off the bus at Hospet, there are many rickshaw drivers who will swarm around you to go to Hampi. The average cost is Rs.200. The rickshaw can drop you directly to your hotel if you are staying on the heritage site side of Hampi. If you are staying on Hippie Island, the rickshaw will drop you near the banks of the Tungabhadra river from where you have to take a boat ride to reach Hippie Island. Be forewarned that the walk from the rickshaw drop point to the boats is a long walk involving a steep flight of stairs; so be smart and carry a backpack rather than a suitcase for your luggage. Be prepared to walk A LOT as you explore Hampi.

There are numerous hotels and hostels in Hampi which are pretty cheap. All of them are quite basic, so don't expect any luxurious 5-star treatment. We were staying at a pretty little place called The R K Residency on Hippie Island. Though it provided only the basic amenities required, the garden and paddy fields surrounding the rooms and cafe were beautiful. An added bonus- the coffee was amazing!

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan
Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan
Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan
Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

After a refreshing bath, we rented out some bikes and scooters and headed towards the Tungabhadra river for a coracal ride. There are many spots along the river where you can enjoy this ride. Just ask the manager at the hotel/hostel where you are staying to find out which is the closest spot.

Bike ride through Hippie Island

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

A typical coracal or 'tokri'

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Tungabhadra river

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Scenic Coracal ride

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Scenic beauty of Hampi

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

You can even swim in the river, but a word of caution- the river has quite a strong current, so don't try to swim unless you really are a great swimmer. For the rest of you who can't swim, you can always enjoy a drink of coconut water and just dip your feet in the river.

Head to any nearby local cafe for lunch. There are numerous options available to choose from right from Irani to Italian food. Surprisingly, you won't find typical South Indian idli dosa in many cafes. That's probably because Hampi is frequented by so many foreigners that they have to have more international food options.

After a long and relaxing lunch, we made our way to Anjaneya Hill where the famous Monkey Temple is located. This hill is believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman and has a temple devoted to Hanuman. We had to climb more than 500 steep stairs to reach the temple but the climb was worth it as we were privy to a beautiful sunset with a view of the entire city of Hampi.

Monkey temple

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan
Day 2

Today we start to explore the World Heritage Site of Hampi. The site itself is huge and will take 2 days to explore if you really want to see the entire site.

We had hired a local guide to show us around the entire heritage site in depth over a period of 2 days so it doesn't get too tiring as most of the site has to be covered by foot.

Hampi was the capital of the last great Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar. The rich dravidian style of architecture can be seen in all the palaces and temples. Hampi was later conquered by the Deccan Muslims in 1565. In 6 months time the city was totally plundered, looted and temples destroyed. Eventually the city was abandoned and forgotten until it was later discovered and declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Narasimha Statue

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Badavi Linga- biggest monolith linga in Hampi

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

'Pushkarani' stepwell

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Krishna temple complex

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

The Krishna temple complex has a pictorial representation of the entire Ramayan on its walls

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Lotus Mahal- Queens Palace

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Elephant stables

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

A visit to Hampi would be incomplete without trying the local thali! So after a tiring day of exploration, we savored the local Karnatak thali.

A typical Karnatak thali

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan
Day 3

We continue to explore the beauty of Hampi with our guide even today.

Virupaksha Temple was built in the 7th century and is the only functioning temple in the entire Hampi heritage site as the religious statues in all the other temple complexes have been destroyed.

Virupaksha Temple- the oldest and main functioning temple in Hampi

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Elephant and his mahout in Virupaksha Temple

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Next we move on to another import temple complex called the Vitthala temple complex which houses the famous Stone Chariot. It also has the musical hall which was used for music and dance concerts for the king and courtiers. The pillars are specifically engineered to produce sounds when struck in a particular way. Unfortunately, tourists are no longer allowed to enter this hall as these pillars were damaged by tourists.

Vitthala temple complex

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

Musical hall

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

The Stone Chariot

Photo of Long weekend getaways: Hampi by Chandni Pradhan

After 3 days of fun and adventure, we returned to Hospet to catch our bus back home.
Hampi isn't just another town but an experience in itself. From the colorful fun cafes to the beautiful architecture of the ancient Vijayanagar empire - this small town gives you the best of both worlds.

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