Hampi travel Guide
Hampi is one of those few places in the world which warrants the saying, "it has to be seen to be believed", but in this case it is slightly different because even once you've seen it, you still don't believe it!
I spent the majority of my trip free running around the place, jumping from rock to rock and mountain to mountain. I'd fill my bag with six bottles of water and a banana in the morning and spend the day on top of the world.
Where to stay?
The scene on the north side of the river (known as Virupapur Gaddi), is the most laid back and friendly. It also has cheaper accommodation than the south side and just has a better atmosphere as well. It does mean that you will have to cross the river but there is a little boat that runs back and fourth all day until 6pm and costs 5 rupees, (20 for a bike).
There is everything you need including an internet cafe, small exchange office, shop, bike hire and travel agent. I think there is about 10-15 different accommodation options to choose from on this side of the river so the best thing to do is take a look at each or at least a few so you can get an idea of what is on offer and how much etc.
Things to see
Everywhere you look in Hampi, there are various ruins stacked up like pebble on the beach. It's possible to spend several days exploring and not see them all. Here is a short overview on the most popular ruins and things to see in and around Hampi.
Around 2 km East of the main town, the Vittala temple is only reachable by foot. One of the highlights of the Hampi ruins the temple is a registered as a world heritage site. It's in relatively good condition although there are some rather ugly cement pillars which are stopping the ruins from collapsing.
Work started on the temple during the short reign of Krishnadevaraya around 1509. Although it was never finished, the temple is of such a great beauty that it is considered by many as the most perfect example of Vijayanagar art. Check out the stone chariot in the courtyard (apparently the wheels actually used to turn)!
Quite different to most of the ruins in Hampi and the term is used to encompass such ruins as Lotus Mahal, Zenana Enclosure and the elephant stables.
It's about a 2 km walk from the bazaar and is easily reachable by bike. Further south are more temples and ruins and the famous waterworks known as the Queens baths which are worth a look.
The Bazaar and Virupaksha Temple
Hampi is a small but bustleing village lined with quaint little shops and restaurants. At the far Western end of the village is the Virupaksha temple which is the oldest and most impressive building in Hampi.
Built in 1442 and over 50 meters high the temple is very impressive indeed. It's dedicated to Virupaksha, another form of the Hindu god Shiva. To the South of the ruins are a few more ruins including some old Jain temples and some pretty cool sculptures.
Sule Bazaar and Achytaraya Temple
Situated along the path between the bazaar and the Vittala temple is Sule Bazaar and Achytaraya Temple. Sule bazaar is very similar to Hampi Bazzar and it gives you an impression of what it would have looked like if it hadn't of been re-populated.
North of the river was one of my favourite places, the fortified stronghold of Anegondi. It looks like a scene from the computer game 'Age of Empires' (well, I thought it did anyway). It makes a great day's rambling and there is some great climbing around this area as well.
There is quite a cool archaeological museum at Hampi which cost 5 rupees to get in. There is loads of sculptures, tools, weaponry and some accuarte models of the ruins.
Getting there and away
The closest airport is Bellary which is about 70 km from Hampi but it's a very small and the flights are pretty limited. I believe you can fly from Dabolim and there are occasional flights from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.
Your best bet is to fly into Goa and get a bus or train from there.
The closest railway station is in Hospet which is about 30 minutes away by rikshaw (about 100 rupees). It is well connected to Bangalore but otherwise it can be a bit of a nightmare to reach as you have to change quite alot.
Most people who travel to Hampi come on the long distance private buses from either Goa or Bangalore. It takes about 15 hours by bus from Panaji in Goa and a bit more Bangalore but the journey is not too bad really.
Tickets cost about 600-1000 rupees and you have to book a few days in advance as they get full up pretty quickly.
Most buses will take you straight to Hampi but some may drop you in Hospet where you can either take a bus or a Rikshaw.
When you first arrive in Hampi just ignore all the rikshaw drivers and walk through the bazaar and down to the river. It is so tiny you don't need to get a rikshaw anywhere!
Things to do
This magical place attracts spiritual seekers from all over the world and along with the usual collection of backpackers, this place is never never short of good conversation. I spent many a day sat on the floor drinking chai and completely enthralled in a game of chess or a fascinating conversation with the widest collection of people on earth.
At the end of the day, it's actually a great place to just 'be'.
1.) Go swimming in the lake About a 10 minute bike ride away are two man made lakes which offer a great place to sunbathe, relax and do some swimming. There are also some quite big jumps to be done but be careful as there are rocks and the level of the lakes vary from day to day.Ignore the sign that tells of crocodiles, I can guarantee there are none, it's just a scare tactic.
2.) Monkey temple Just outside of Hampi is a strange little shrine at the top of about 5 million steps. It is a hard walk but well worth it as the views are spectacular. Watch out for the monkeys, when I was there they stole some poor guy's Ipod!
3.) Go bouldering I didn't do it but one of the guesthouses in Virupapur Gaddi offers boulding equipment such as mats and things.
4.) Explore. Hampi provides the perfect opportunity to explore, ge lost and get scared. With thousands of square miles of boulder strewn mountains it is the perfect place to do some serious climbing. Just take enough water as it gets serioulsy hot and tell someone where you are going.
5.) Do nothing?. Just lay about all day playing board games and racking up large bills. The seriously laid back atmosphere makes it a perfect place for just chilling out and chatting.
I realise this list isn't very expansive but just trust me, you going to love it here. Oh and if anybody has anything to add to this list then please let me know. Thanks!
Cautions and warnings
There are a few things that you have to be aware of when staying in Hampi. Nothing to serious but it's still a wild place so there are a few guidelines thats worth thinking about.
The police station has pictures up of local criminals. It's also reccommended that you register there when you arrive.
1.) The River. The River Tungabhadra is one of the risky aspect of India and has caught a few people out over the years.
It's depth and strength, because of the man made lake at the other end, varies dramtically from day to day and crossing it can be a bit sketchy. Your not going to travel too far down river but you got to be careful. If you have to, only cross and bathe where the locals do.
2.)The ruins by night. Avoid wondering around the ruins on your5 own as night becasue there are a few rather unsavory charachters who hang around. (some people get lost as well so be careful)
3.)Watching the sunset. I nver had any problems but if you are climbing one of the hill on your won just keep an eye out for trouble. I found some people living in a cave right at the top of one. I ran away fast! If your going up for sunset look out trouble as there have been a fe muggings this way.
4.)Heat. Hampi can reach temperatures of 40ºC so just be aware.