The City of Ruins, as people like to call it, Hampi, was never on my bucket list. I never thought I would be rambling around stone ruins dating centuries back, fabled temples, lush paddy fields, and colossal boulders enclosing the city. But then I guess, sometimes you just end up somewhere unplanned it all works out for the best. And, that’s what happened. It was a girl’s trip to Hampi and we sauntered as carefree as we could.
Hampi is known for its ancient ruins, boulders, and rice fields, sure, but there’s more to that. You can grab a bicycle and ride through Hampi’s placid landscapes, go cliff jumping from a bridge, or take a ride in a coracle(flashy, eh?). The list is endless. Divided by the Tungabhadra River Hampi has two different sides.
Source: Make It Happen
How to Reach Hampi
Hampi is an ancient ruin in Southern Karnataka, hence there are not many direct route options to reach there. The nearest city that is linked nationally is Hospet. If you’re coming from Mumbai, the most convenient option is to take an overnight bus to Hospet (I suggest you take SRE travels), and a state bus from Hospet to Hampi. Hampi is only 13Km from Hospet and the bus frequency is pretty good between them.
Bangalore is well-connected to Hampi. There are numerous overnight buses and trains routed to this ancient city.
Where to Stay in Hampi
Getting an accommodation in Hampi is no tough. Thanks to the backpacking fad these days, Hampi is much commercially exploited. You can find accommodations from budget to luxury, whichever suits your travel style and your pocket, of course! If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you’ll know that there are two different facets of Hampi. It’s like you’ve traveled through the time from one era to another.
If you’re looking for a retreat and want to open your eyes to some swoon-worthy views, I suggest you stay on the other side of the river aka the hippie island. There are plenty of guesthouses to choose from. Most popular of them are the Shanthi Guesthouse and the Mowgli Guesthouse. The Goan Corner is another popular choice for travelers. You can expect to shell out around Rs800 – Rs2000 for a night. Hampi, being a village, does not offer much in the name of luxury. The guesthouses are mostly shabby and will offer only the very basic of amenities. The huge-emerald paddy fields are, though, a feast for eyes. Most of the guesthouses have their own in-house cafes, some of which are pretty good (food wise). Hop into any cafe that has Bob Marley on its playlist and while away your day as much as you like.
There are plenty of guesthouses on the temple side of Hampi as well. I chose to put up in Renuka Guest House. Since it was Dec 31st, the room cost us a little extra. We had to pay Rs 2000 per room but in other days it shouldn’t be more than Rs 800- Rs 1000.
Source: Trip Advisor
Disclaimer: The price range may differ according to festivities or weekends.
Where to Eat in Hampi
Truth be told, Hampi does not WOW when it comes to food. There are limited options in the menu to go by and the ones you devour are probable to miss the cut to please you. Given the choices I had, I could only select a few of the items to satiate my fidgety stomach after long walks and riding, and most of them were clear bland – you know how we Indians need our food to be extra spicy and salty! Being a holy place, most of the items on the menu are vegetarian and you can say goodbye to you alcoholic needs too for a while(A few cafes on the hippie may offer alcohol). But one thing that really had me going for cafes in Hampi was the indo-bohemian blend of cafe decor and the blunt colored low seating with light hippie music in the background. I was able to find myself a few cafes where I could sit for as long as I wished and the food too wasn’t a disappointment.
Source: Clear Trip
Chill Out Bamboo Cafe
A rooftop restaurant with a touch of colorful bohemian vibes. As the name speaks, at Chill Out Bamboo Cafe you just need to grab a corner and order a masala chai or a chiller and relax. Read your favorite novel or pick a board game to play, or you can plug in your earphones and just sleep away the rest of your day. Yes, the food is okayish but the quirkiness of the cafe and music are golden.
This guesthouse is on the other side of the river, the hippie island, and has an exquisite in-house cafe. After an exhausting day (we rode a few kilometers and climbed 575 stairs!) we spent close to 5 hours at this cafe until after midnight. Yea, we decided to spend the rest of our New Year’s Eve at Nargila. The ambiance and music are pleasing and will not disappoint you. I loved the murky lightings created by pendant lamps. The food here was the best I had during my entire stay in Hampi.
You can also try out Laughing Buddha. We did not visit the cafe but were sure as hell tempted from local reviews.
Things to do in Hampi
Visit local Temples
Visit the ethereal temples for some temple time. Most of them are on the temple side of the city and tad crowded. Temples to look out for: Virupaksha Temple, Vittala Temple, Underground Shiva Temple, and it goes on. If you’re lucky, you might get blessings from the elephant, Lakshmi.
Source: Parallel And Meridians
Hampi is known for its age-old mysterious ruins sprawling over the city. A few attract hordes of visitors, while a few just stand as a reminder of bygones. Strike a deal with a guide (your auto wala can also play your guide) and let him take you thousands of years back into the history of Hampi.
Sunsets and Sunrise
Another thing that Hampi is famous for is its undefeated view at sunset and sunrise. You can climb 575 stairs to Hanuman Temple or 480 stairs to Matunga Hill, gawking a sunset or sunrise is a view not to be missed.
Live in a hut on the hippie island
While we didn’t get a chance to do so as the guesthouses were all booked, a little pre-planning can help you get a really nice deal. Wake up to a view with paddy fields and coconut trees all around you. Shanthi Guesthouse and, Mowgli Guesthouse are the top choices. If you wish a seclude lodgings, White Elephant Guesthouse make a perfect choice. They are approx 6 km from the hub area and right in the middle of a jungle.
Rent a vehicle and swirl away
Renting a two-wheeler in Hampi is quite popular. I rented a bicycle at the hippie island and cycled my way through its lush farms. The landscapes are serene and peaceful. You won’t find much traffic on the roads and views are picturesque. We stopped every 5 minutes to take a picture. You can also rent a bike, a moped, or a car. I’d vote out the car.
Jump a cliff for a fresh swim
Wintery days in Hampi are actually hot, trust me! After visiting all the temples and ruins, you can cool off by diving into the freshwater lake, Sanapur. But do be aware, there could be crocs in there. Oops!
Ride a Coracle
This was the thing I was most excited for when I read a few blogs on Hampi. Coracles are small round wooden boats maneuvered by a man with a chappu (oar). You have to cross the river either by a ferry (what’s fun in that ?) or a coracle.
Waste your day in a cafe
The bohemian cafes of Hampi are pretty lively. Like we already mentioned, the food is not great but the hippie ambiance and trance music in these cafes are worth a shot.
Take a stroll in Hampi Bazaar
Sprawled over the hub areas of Hampi, the Hampi bazaar is a no miss. You can find some striking junk jewelry and funky outfits. I found a local old lady selling all kinds of tea flavors.
Tips and Facts
- Everything from accommodation to shopping, guides to bike rentals are overpriced in Hampi. Make sure you bargain super hard.
- When you go over to another side of the river, make sure to come back by 5:00 – 5:30 pm as that’s when the boats ride last. You don’t wanna stay stranded on the other side and then pay hefty 1000 bucks to an auto driver to drive you back 25km. Yes, that’s right. If you miss the last boat, you’re gonna have to ride 25km.
- Hampi is a no party place and therefore, the city, usually on the temple side, shuts down by 9 pm. It’s a great place for retreat, do not expect any galas.
- There are usually no street lights on the roads so it’s always best to return to the residential or market areas before dark. You might encounter a cheetah, a leopard, or a bear if you’re lucky. Pun intended. 😛
- You’ll be socially disconnected from the world with no access to calls or the internet. But that’s a good thing, right? The only networks that work in Hampi are MTNL and IDEA. A lot of cafes have wifi facilities with them.
- All the payments in Hampi are made out through cash. Your credit cards or e-wallets are going to fail you there. Make sure you carry enough cash as the ATM facilities in Hampi are not that great. You can sure find ATMs in Hospet though.
- I had an amazing time with my girls in Hampi. Hampi was not just a retreat but also an escape from our current busy life. You don’t get natural beauty, picturesque landscapes, breathtaking views, and the mysterious ruins all at one place.