Hampi is known to be the ancient Kishkinda of the Ramayana, the monkey kingdom and also is associated with the birth of Lord Hanumana. After the arrival of Alauddin Khilji in South, entire South India was pillaged by repeated Islamic invasions which lead to the destruction of Hindu culture, architecture and heritage. It was a time when people came together to protect themselves and their culture and religion and the kingdom of Vijaynagar was founded by Harirhara and stayed intact till 200 years as a flourishing empire in Southern India. Under Krishnadevraya Vijaynagar entered the golden period. The famous scholar, poet and quick wit ‘Tenali Rama’ ( hope people remember the famed serial on Tenali Rama from the 90s on DD) existed during King Krishna Devraya’s rule in his court. Hampi is a beautiful reminiscence of the relics and memoirs of this flourishing empire and also vestiges of pre and proto historic man, Hanuman ji’s birth place, kingdom of Bali and the monkeys.
How to reach
Hampi is located at a distance of 12 kms from the main town of Hospet in Bellary district. Trains ply from Bangalore city junction daily to Hampi and a good number of buses are available on red bus. The bus and train journey is overnight and ends at Hospet junction. From Hospet KSRTC bus stop regular local buses take you to the village of Hampi for 12-16 bucks or you can take an auto ride for a 150-250 bucks.
Where to stay
I stayed in one of the guest houses in the Hampi Bazar area. The Bazar area is the best place to stay in Hampi as it is centrally located near the most important sites like Virupaksha temple, Tungabhadra river ghats and the bus station. Guest houses in the village are quiet cheap and are available at a range of 500-2000 bucks per night stay depending on your budget, the best bet for back packers. Food is cheap and plenty of varieties in the local cafes or you can walk into the village area where they serve very good homemade food at cheap price ( A plate of idli with 4 pcs cost 20 bucks). People with families can stay in hotels or resorts in Hospet which have better amenities.
How to go around
You can either rent a cycle available at the local shops near the guest houses ( 50 bucks per day) or a bike ( 150-250 bucks per day). The petrol pump is situated in Kamalapur town which is 4-5 kms from Hampi.
Car rentals are available around Hospet with ASI certified guides who charge something between 400-800 bucks per day. These guides are well versed in English as well as foreign languages
The KSTDC runs daily AC bus/car trips to Hampi which is one of the best ways to understand and see the vast landscape. They provide an English speaking guide who explains the relevance of every site. KSTDC tour charges 350 bucks per day and can be either booked from Hospet center or online on KSTDC website.
Guide details: H.Hulugappa ( Dept of tourism Govt of Karnataka) – they organize cycle trips at 500 bucks per day in a group with guides - 9449281953
Places of interest
1) Virupaksha Temple , Hemakutha group of temples, Sasivikalu (mustard) Ganpati & Kadalekalu Ganpati– This is a temple with two towers, magnificent architecture, dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is the most significant place in Hampi. There is the bazar street opposite to the temple that leads to the Matanga Parvat.
2) Matanga Parvat , Monolithic Nadni Bull structure & Achyutraya temple – This is just opposite to the Virupaksha temple. The sunrise view and view of the Virupaksha & Achyutraya temple from the Matanga Parvat is a besieging sight. Achyuthara temple and bazar is a megalithic old structure, a walk into it will give you the feel of being into the ancient ruins of Mowgli’s jungle book. The temple has inscriptions and carvings depicting incidences from the Mahabharata & Ramayana. There is a huge bazar and Kalyana Mantapa( marriage hall0 opposite to the temple
3) Mahanavami Dibba: This was built to commemorate victory of the king over Kalinga, 22 feet high, it’s piece of splendid architecture with a bathing pool and a view of other monuments
4) Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stables & Guard’s quarters – Some more splendid architectural buildings. The fees for entry is around 30 bucks for Indians and 500 bucks for other nationalities.
5) Vijaya Vitthala temple – This is another architectural wonder and example of outstanding medieval craftsmanship. The temple is known for it’s musical pillars which produce different sounds when stuck and the famous stone chariot which forms the cover image of most promotional posters on Hampi. The stone chariot was functional earlier before being plastered by the Government.
6) Boating across the Tungabhadra River – There are boat rides available around the day till 6 PM across the river to the other side. A normal steamer boat costs around 10-50 Rs per person ( depending on number of people) and the coracle boat ride again costs around 25-100 bucks ( 100 bucks for a single person).
7) Sunset Point – The sunset point is on the hillock beside the Virupaksha temple and you can see a beautiful scene of the Hampi landscape
8) There are around 83 marked buildings and temples around Hampi which will require around 2 days for a detailed tour. Many more important sites and temples around the place
9) You can try and have a conversation with the people of the village, they are quiet simple and polite, taking a peak into the life of these villagers gives us an insight of rural lifestyle in India
Things to keep track
• There are loads of monkeys around the entire place, including the corridor and rooftops of the guest houses so be careful with food and other belongings though I found them pretty peaceful compared the monkeys I have experienced in other places.
• Please try not to bargain much at the local bazar and with the people selling food as most of them charge very nominal price and this is the only livelihood for them. The village people are cordial and helpful in case you loose way or need directions.
• The entire landscape is strewn with rocks, boulders, bushes and shrubs of different types, some places are deserted completely, so please do take care while climbing hills and walking on the pathways to temples.
• Hampi has very little street lights, so try not to loiter around after dark in unknown places. Carry essential things during your trip like medicines, torch, Swiss knife, hard copy of a map of Hampi as GPS & phone network fails miserably in the village. Hampi does not have ATMs, the ATMs are either in Kamlapura or Hospet area, so carry sufficient cash.