We’ve all seen those movies where you’re transported to a fairyland and have the adventure of a lifetime…Now you can experience it in real…Welcome to Hampi– the ancient city and capital of the Vijayanagar Empire.
The moment you step inside the city you’re transported to a magical land where history comes to life.A vast expanse of land of ruins..You can’t help but wonder at the sheer beauty of this place.Its amazing how after all these years the city has not lost the charm that it once held..It does looks barren and plundered but it holds fort even today. It bears testimony to the once mighty Vijayanagar Empire.Its been rightly accredited as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
If you’re a history buff–You’re in for the best days of your life.
If you’re a photographer–Hampi provides you with awesome photo opportunities.
And if you’re a traveller–You’ll start a blog..;)
All in all, no one can return disappointed from Hampi.
The list of things to see in Hampi is endless…And for that you need a plan.So lets start the planning.
Once in Hampi, you have 3 ways in which you can see the entire city. On bicycles, mopeds or in a rickshaw. The crazy group that I had with me, we chose to travel on mopeds. And a brilliant idea was to hire a Rickshaw as well. The break up was as follows: 7 Mopeds for 7 riders and pillions each and 4 of us in the rickshaw. Of course, we took turns on each mode of transportation. The brilliantness of the idea stemmed from the fact that the rickshaw driver was a guide as well .He took us to all places on the best route possible and the ‘Bikers’ followed.
The Hampi trail took us through all the major monuments of the Empire of King Sri Krishnadevaraya. The Virupaksha Temple, Vittala Temple, Elephant Stables, The Underground Temple, Paan Supari Bazaar,Hazara Rama temple (Temple of the thousand Rama’s), Zenana enclousure, Hemakuta complex, Badava Linga. Cracking jokes when you visit the queen’s bath or sitting atop the King’s private gardens are moments you wouldnt want to miss when with the ‘crazy bunch’.
The temples dont have idols inside them. They have been kept safely inside the museums in Chennai. The huge elephant stables are something you must have definitely never seen before.Each compartment houses 2 elephants!!! The musical pillars speak a different tune altogether and the Hazara Rama Temple depicts the story of Ramayana in pictures. Once go down the steps to enter the Paan Supari Bazaar you can just cannot resist the urge to visualise how the market place must be like. Oh, and they did sell diamonds on the road back then..;)…In the Bazaar, you are bound to get the crazy idea of playing temple Run on the roof of the ‘once there’ shops…
The Hampi experience is something everyone should have on their bucket list. Hampi is about breathing the ancient Indian culture. Its about feeling the pride of the glory that India once had in its mighty Kings and Empires.
The Hampi Bazaar is lined with eateries doling out all types of cuisines. And I mean..ALL types…Due to a large inflow of foreign tourists you won’t be disappointed in the number of cuisines on offer. Apart from the basic Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Indian you shall find Nepalese, Bhutanese, Mongolian, Sri Lankan and Burmese food as well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try out these cuisines as they are predominantly non-vegetarian. A treat if you’re the carnivore kind.
There are a lot of small places which serve you lip smacking food. We chose the Garden Paradise. Located at the end of the street of the ‘Hampi Bazaar’ it overlooks the Tungabhadra River in one of the most tranquil places I’ve been to. Craving for some Italian-Mexican food we had everything to whet our appetite. The food in its strictest terms was not great but after a long hot day the ambiance provided by the restaurant was more than what we were expecting. In Hospet you will find your usual Punjabi and South Indian restaurants. What stands out is the tiny little South Indian man who opens his stall on a sunny morning serving some delicious mini-idlis and medu vadas. You also get a local favourite comprising of Pineapple Sheera. And my bill for a hearty breakfast-only Rs.27.
One of the restaurants that is definitely a must visit is Hotel Iceland. It serves some awesome Punjabi food at a very cheap price and believe it or not, the find of the place was the humble orange juice!!!…A group of 11 people gulped down 29 glasses…Slurp Slurp…That’s how delicious it was.
Hampi is ideal for a 2N/3D trip. Eliminate a day if you’re a student (its cheaper)..Its still possible to do those things in a day less. That extra day is if you’re going with your family. We stayed at the Sainakshatra Inn in Hospet. A reasonable bargain considering that we just needed to stay for the night.The more expensive ones include Hotel Kishkinga, Malligi and a luxurious stay at Hampi’s Boulders.
There are Hotels in Hampi as well but they will pinch you more and the fact that Hospet is only 12 kms away from Hampi,its a steal.
To go to and fro from Hospet there are a lot of Rickshaws and buses plying on the route
but its a recommendation to have your own vehicle or hire one. You don’t want to be at the mercy of the public transport in a city of ruins. In Hampi ,its definitely advisable to take the Mopeds.
TravelKien tip: If you’re a foreigner you will be needing a passport to hire the Mopeds and if you’re an Indian then they will ask for it as well but there’s nothing that Indians cannot talk and get things done..(read: mandavli)
The Hampi Bazaar boasts of a variety of artifacts and handicrafts but its nothing special. You won’t find anything that you cannot find back home. Some us bought the customary ‘gift’ and moved on.
When you’re visiting Hampi ,the tour will get over in a day. The ideal time to bring out your inner historian will be at 9 in the morning. Dont worry about the heat. Its worth it. In case you get extra thirsty there are plenty of ‘sodawalas’ out there waiting for you to quench your thirst.
One of the other highlights about visiting Hampi is the nearby Anjanadri Hills ,the birth place of Hanuman. The climb up to the hill is around 300 steps but the view from top is worth every sweat that you break. En route to the top you will encounter monkeys. Don’t get scared, they are just the guardians of the Monkey-God. From the top you can see an awesome view of Hampi in the nearby distance. The ruins of Hampi and Anegundi are only separated by the Tungabhadra River. If you go by road then its a long way to cross it..(No problems if you’re playing guide to a mad bunch of 8 girls singing a hindi song in every possible regional language).
A shortcut to reach Hampi would be to travel by the coracle. Its a small bowl shaped boat that is paddled with a stick. Its risky but worth trying out .Everybody loves shortcuts.
The Tungabhadra Dam is another site to visit but only if you want a stroll in the garden. The entrance to the dam was unfortunately closed at the time and the Tungabhadra Gardens are nothing to rave about. The musical fountain is a 15 minute show which bores you in 3 minutes flat.
To reach Hampi by rail,the nearest station is Hospet(12kms).
- Mumbai-Mysore express (Train no.7153)
- Mumbai-Kolhapur_Tirupati Express (Train no.1263)
- Hampi Express from Bangalore (Train no.16952)
- Kacheguda Express from Hyderabad (Train no.17603)
By air,Hubli(143kms) will be the nearest airport.
By Bus in Karnataka there are frequent buses connecting Hospet to Mysore,Bangalore and Gokarn.
Booked 2 qualis for our group which cost us Rs.10/km. Not bad considering you have the vehicle to yourself.Pray for a good driver!!!We started at the stroke of midnight when Saturday just began and after saying Ganpati Bappa Morya,the journey was ON!!!..Its a different experience to travel at night.Stopping for tea at 3 in the night and then again at 4 and then again at daybreak, its awesome!!!…A distance of 400 ks was covered in 11 hrs with a LOT of halts.(Pray for a good driver)
and a healthy dose of ‘sessions’ .We checked in at Sainakshatra Inn. Booked 5 rooms at Rs.1000 each.We were 4 in a room. The room was primarily for the night only as we left the hotel after a quick freshen-up session in search of food. Ate lunch at a nearby Udipi and then decided to head to Anegunndi.A serene experience with lots of masti and leg-pulling we reached the top for a ‘photoshoot’. After praying at the temple, we started our descent just as the sun was going down. On the way back we decided to check out the Tungabhadra Dam about which much was written in the Geography books. A tad disappointed we headed back to Hospet and started asking around for good places to eat.
TravelKien tip : Ask the locals where they would eat. They are the best places. ALWAYS. And so we found Hotel Iceland .A sumptuous meal and gallons of oranges juices later we went back to the hotel and decided to take some rest before taking up a lesson in history.
Next morning, after the lucky find inn breakfast we went to Hampi and explored it all. After a really late lunch at Garden Paradise we went to our last destination. The Virupaksha Temple. Probably the only temple in Hampi where an idol is still kept. When you see the temple, you will realise the difference between the other temples that we saw and this one. On our way out, we ran into a beloved friend, Lakshmi. She’s an elephant .She showers blessings on you with her trunk if you give her a 10 rupee note. It doesn’t matte if you believe it or not, just try it out .Its fun.
Sitting in our respective seats with Google Maps on we made our way back to Hyderabad. Back to ILP.
Overall cost:Rs.2200 which included our travel, stay ,food everything.
I can safely say that this was indeed a historical trip.;)
Till next time, Travel safe…:)