Discover Hampi: A Short Travel Guide

I was so excited to go to Hampi that I could barely believe that this was really happening. A dream of so many years was finally coming true.

Do you know that moment when things are so good that they seem unreal? 

Such was my trip to India, but Hampi was a gem in its own right.

Ancient or not, life is life and it has its own rhythm.

If you ever want to visit this incredible UNESCO site, here are some details that will help you get this trip done.

Places to visit in Hampi

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Sule Bazaar

Sule Bazaar is situated in the middle of Hampi Bazaar and Vittala Temple. It was a major centre of trade and commerce in the ancient Hampi. Now, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions. Don’t be disheartened by the idea of crowds! It’s a really nice place for a stroll.

In the ancient times, the market was recognised for its jewels, pearls and ivory trade. None of that is left, but let your imagination do the work. Sule Bazaar’s magnificence is still prominent in Hampi and exploring such an ancient structure that has never stopped bustling with life, despite all the historical changes, is one of a kind!

Nandi Statue

Situated at the east end of Hampi Bazaar, this terrific statue is surrounded by a portion of collonaded blocks of the old marketplace. The statue is admired for its colossal size and lovely cravings, and it is the main attraction during Hampi Arts Festival, which draws tourists from all over the world.

Elephant Stables

Yes. These are ancient stables for elephants. But only the royal ones. They form a grand building with 11 domed chambers diverse in shapes, such as a drum or octagon, with a small opening for mahouts (men tending to the elephants). While walking the ancient grounds, you’ll notice a fascinating 6.7m statue of Lakshimi Narasmiha in the lotus position, who is topped with a hood of seven snakes.

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Virupaksha Temple

The most famous attraction of Hampi Bazaar is Virupaksha Temple. This is the only working old temple remaining in the city. It’s believed that Lord Shiva wedded Goddess Parvati in this temple. You can see the 50-meter tall gopuram already from a distance. It was built with the main shrine devoted to Virupaksha, an incarnation of Shiva.

Hanuman Temple

Hanuman Temple is another famous religious site located at the highest point of the Anjaneya Hill, which is considered to be the origin place of Lord Hanuman. You’ll find it 4 km away from Hampi town. You’ll need to cross the waterway using a little pontoon and be ready for a flight of stairs leading up to the temple. Hanuman Temple offers mesmerising views of the surrounding area.

Hazara Rama Temple

Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi is a small yet lovely shrine situated at the centre of the royal area. It was previously a private temple of the king and royal family of Vijayanagara. The temple is well known for beautiful bas-reliefs and panels portraying the epic story of Ramayana.

Other Attractions in Hampi

 

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Exploring the ancient buildings and temples is really incredible over here! It takes days to cover everything, even though the actual area is rather small.

There are plenty of things to see in Hampi. Here’s a list of other places you might find interesting:

  • Queen’s Bath
  • Monolithic Bull
  • Stone Doors
  • Achyutaraya Temple
  • Balakrishna Temple
  • Kadalekalu Ganesha Temple
  • Lakshmi Narsimha Temple
  • Coracle Crossings
  • Archaeological Museum

What’s the best time to go to Hampi?

Although you’ll enjoy the place throughout most of the year, the best time to visit is January and February. The warm and dry weather of those months will make a perfect setting for your explorations of the area.

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How do I reach Hampi?

By Air.

Hubli Airport and Belgaum Airport are situated 144 km and 215 km from Hampi respectively. Bangalore Airport is the closest international airport, which is around 350 km from Hampi. It’s a bit of a trip but totally worth the effort!

By Road.

Hampi is among one of the most popular weekend getaways among Bangalore people. It’s well connected with Hospet, Hassan, Mysore and other close-by urban areas, and local transport goes frequently between the destinations.

Via Train.

Go to Hospet Junction as it’s the closest railway station – only about around 27 km away.

How do I go around Hampi?

There are many ways to go around Hampi. My personal favourite will always be a motorbike, but if you’ve visited my blog that shouldn’t surprise you. Renting a motorbike is cheap (INR 200) and gives you incredible freedom. If a motorbike is not your thing, you can get a bicycle for INR 50.

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Another way to do it is to hire a tuk-tuk. Be prepared to haggle. Tuk-tuk drivers love to play with tourists and Hampi is no exception. If you can’t be bothered to haggle, just hop on and enjoy the ride. It’s a lovely experience when you can relax and think of nothing.

Where to stay in Hampi?

We got to Hampi without arranging accommodation beforehand and we found a modest room on the northern side of the river. It was located just above the river and we got a beautiful view of the temple complex across (awesome sunsets as well!).

If you want to stay in a nicer accommodation, it would be a good idea to book a room before. But if you don’t mind where you sleep, just go for it. Life will provide.

When you’re on a budget

A lot of cheap guesthouses are located across the river on the ‘Hippie Island’. The guesthouses near the bus station are usually ill-maintained and not very clean, so better walk a little bit and cross the river (in a pontoon!).

Sree Rama Guest House: Located close to the main temple, offers decent accommodation with private bathrooms. Room charge is INR 200-250 per night.

Kiran Guest House: Clean rooms with bathrooms and 24-hour hot water. Rooms have solar powered lights and fans. INR 700 per night.

Shambhu Guest House: This place also has bedrooms with bathrooms and 24-hour hot water. Electricity backup generator might be helpful at times. Added bonus: a wonderful view of the river. INR 300-400 per night.

Splash a little

Lakshmi Heritage Tourist Home: Located near Gopi Guest House and Virupaksha. Free parking and rooms with free Wi-Fi access, A/C in guest rooms and hot showers.

Shanthi Guest House: Situated across the Tungabhadra River, a nice place to relax in cottage-style accommodation. The prices are around INR 900 per room.

Melt in luxury

Kamalapura Palace: This luxury hotel was built resembling a 14th-century Vijayanagara-era palace. It’s located about 20 minutes south of Hampi. In the restaurants, you can enjoy gourmet continental and Indian cuisine inspired by the Vijayanagara Empire. Prices start from INR 36,000 per night.

Hampi’s Boulders: A remote private retreat surrounded by wilderness, set on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in Yamini Hills. Caution: it’s than an hour drive from Hampi. The accommodation is eco-friendly and prices start from INR 10,000 per night.

Leo Woods Resort: Situated not so far from the Hampi Boulders, this accommodation offers rustic wooden cottages with A/C and bathrooms. Price: INR 5,000 per night.

Where to eat in Hampi?

Hampi is known for its laid-back cafes and humble hosts. These are the top five restaurants that I enjoyed the most.

  • Rasta Cafe – This place offers a good mixture of cuisine from around the world in a super chilled ambience.
  • Gopi Restaurant – A lovely choice of Indian & Chinese dishes.
  • Mango Tree – This might be one of the most popular restaurants in Hampi as it’s always crowded. Not without a reason! The food is delicious and the vibe is just right.
  • 1985 Restaurant – Another place which offers a good choice of dishes. From Indian to Tibetan to multi-cuisine – take your pick.
  • Laughing Buddha – This place also serves a mixture of Indian and Chinese cuisine.

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I fell in love with Hampi before I have ever laid my eyes upon the place. The magic of its name is echoed in every little street and stone here. The place is simply ripe with it!

Although we’ve explored Hampi quite well, I could go back there in a jiffy. Just say the word!

 

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