My trip was a leisure trip - meaning, a trip that is not too strenuous for my 63 year old mother. Accordingly, I took the Hampi Express from Bangalore @ 10:20 pm and reached Hospet @ 8 am the next day. We checked in the hotel and after breakfast went for the tour.
Hampi is a photographer's paradise. You can tell it by the number of pictures I have shared here. It is like a natural photographic set up. You step into the complex, and you are transposed to a different era all together. Everywhere you see, there are ruins around you. And it's breathtakingly beautiful! As I always say, hire a guide (1200 INR for a day) and he will make sure that you cover all the major places within a day. It's doable. Since there were five of us, we booked a Tavera. You can also take an auto for 600 INR a day. And you can book bicycles (30 INR) or mopeds (150 INR) too. Just be careful of the extreme heat, anytime of the year. So a hat is highly, highly recommended, along with sunglasses, water bottles, and good walking shoes.
We started at the Hemakuta Hills only to discover that it has the most famous sunset point. So we decided to come back in the evening for the sunset. We went to the following places in the same order:
- Hampi Bazaar
- Virupaksha temple
- Sri Krishna Temple with the sacred Pushkarani
- Ugra Narasimha Vigraha and the Badavalinga
- Hazara Rama Jain Temple
All these are in the same area. We also walked down to the Tungabhadra river banks behind the Virupaksha temple and spent some time there. By then we were hungry, so went off to the much talked about Mango Grove Restaurant. I think its a safe bet. Clean, homely, and the right kind of crowd. :)
Post lunch we went to the next batch of attractions:
- Zenana Enclosure that includes the Lotus Mahal and the Elephant Stables
- Underground Chamber (Stepped Tank)
- Queen’s Bath
The last bit is what is specifically known as the Hampi group of monuments and consists of the Vitthala Temple with the Stone Chariot, and the musical Mandapas. Once we were done, we came back to the Hemakuta Hill Temple complex to watch the sunset with loads of tourists and wait-for-it ... monkeys! Be careful of monkeys at Hampi. They are everywhere. And always looking to snatch your food.
The next day we had an early breakfast and drove for around 2.5 hours to reach Aihole. After checking the Aihole temple complex and surroundings for approximately 1.5 hrs, we drove to the Patadakkal monuments. The drive takes approx. 30 mins. We hired a guide (INR 350) who explained the history and architecture of the group of monuments here. We spent around 2 hrs and drove to Badami which is approximately 22 kms. We had lunch @ the Badami Heritage Resort that offers South Indian Thali for INR 90. After resting a while, we drove to the Badami caves and instantly fell in love with the unbelievably humongous structure. The guide here was costlier (INR 500) but much older, and extremely knowledgeable. We spent almost 3 hours at the caves, climbing from one cave to the next and listening to the wonderful history. At each level, you can see the Panorama of the Badami village with all its historical glory, the Agastya Tank and the almond colored mountains.
At sunset, we had tea at a highly over hyped restaurant, the name of which I have conveniently forgotten, and took the Golgumbaz Express @ 7:15 pm back to Bangalore.