Hampi

Hampi, located in the state of Karnataka, India, is the site of the once-magnificent capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Virupaksha Temple

Understand

Hampi was the capital of South Indian Vijayanagara Empire from the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries.

Being a UNESCO world heritage site, Hampi attracts a lot of foreigners. For first-time visitors, it is highly recommended to take a guide along with you, because the magic and grandeur of the place is fully understood only when one knows the history and legends associated with the place.

Before the fall of Vijayanagara Empire, diamonds were sold on the streets. The main street selling diamonds and other precious stones was surprisingly called Pan Supaari Street. A visitor can still see the exact location of Pan Supaari Street in Hampi, which has been marked with a board by Archaeological Survey of India.

Hampi is well worth at least one visit. The area is simply stunning and you will be in awe of the millions of boulders surrounding the area. However, within this arid landscape lies a little oasis with lush palm, banana, and mango trees nestled near the river.

Hampi is a great place to spend a few days wandering around and discovering the rich, vibrant history while also having a bit of 'your' time.

Hampi hosts the 'Hampi Utsav' (literally 'Hampi Festival') every year during first week of November. It is a visual delight as all the monuments/ruins are lighted in the night and it is a cultural extravaganza of dance and music.

Read

Get in

By plane

Bellary is the nearest domestic airport, 60 km away while Bangalore is the nearest international airport, 350 km away from Hampi. Private taxis cost ₹1200 for Bellary to Hampi and more than ₹6000 for Bangalore to Hampi.

Hubli is another nearest airport, 143km away from Hampi. Flying from Goa means that you have to change planes in Mumbai (or Bengaluru), making it an expensive and time consuming trip, and therefore useless.

By train

The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction (IR station code: HPT), 13km away.

Overnight trains run several times a week from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa. The trains are a much cheaper and more comfortable route than the tourist buses most people are led into. (2 AC - bed with linen - costs ₹750 from Bangalore to Hampi). You can also catch an overnight train from Mysore to Hubli and from there to Hospet/Hampi.

Here are some useful trains to get into Hampi:

Train Number Train Name You may board at You may alight at
16592 Hampi Express Bangalore City Dept. 10PM, (Bangalore) Hospet Junction Arr. 7:50AM
18048 Amaravathi Express Vasco da Gama,Madgaon Junction Hospet Junction
17603 Kacheguda Express (Slip Route) Kacheguda (Hyderabad) Hospet Junction
17003 KOP-HYD Express (Slip Route) Hyderabad Hospet Junction
16534 YPR JODHPUR Express (Slip Route) Bangalore Yashwantpur Dept. 05:20 PM, (Bangalore) Hospet Junction Arr. 02:55 AM

From Hospet it's convenient to take a rickshaw to Hampi (₹80-₹120). Rickshaw drivers can be persistent and will poke their heads in the train before you even get off, but they may very well be the best option. Buses to Hampi are cheaper. It's about a kilometer and a half walk from the train station to the bus station. Take an Auto-rickshaw up to bus-stand (₹5 per head) and you can easily get frequent government buses for Hampi (₹10 per head).

Also see Rail travel in India

By car

By bus

Get around

Tungabhadra Dam

The real pleasure in exploring Hampi comes from on the bicycle or by walking around. Virtually every rock in Hampi has a story to say. This story is best heard if you give it time and walk around from rock to rock.

Do note that the weather in Hampi can be a big factor. With all the boulders, big and small around, with soil from years of erosion, there is a lot of dust that blows in the air. There are open spaces with strong winds and while the wind keeps you pleasant, you can have a lot of dust blowing into your nose / mouth. In many of the monument areas, there are no trees or anything to provide shade (except the monuments themselves). So walking / cycling around the area involves a lot of exposure to direct sunlight. Keep your sunblock creams, hats, wet towels around your neck and bottles of water with you all the time.

By bike

Bicycle is the best way to explore Hampi if you enjoy history, culture and nature. You can rent a 21-speed Trek bike from Art of Bicycle Trips. It usually costs around ₹100/day with a ₹15,000 security deposit. Helmet and lock is included in the price. Please note that with bicycling, a little bit of walking is always required for exploring the interior of sites.

Regular, non-geared cycles are available at ₹50 per day, no security deposit is required. These cycles are available at the Hampi village.

Another more convenient variant is to see all the sights without climbing the hills is by rickshaw. Bargain with your rickshaw driver for a fixed rate (₹400-500 for a full day seems to be okay) and then hire an official Karnataka Travel guide (at the tourist office, they have fixed rates: 4h costs ₹500, 8h is ₹800) It costs a little bit, but the explanations help you to see more than just stones and temples. To get an estimate of cost/content, you can talk to the guides before coming down to Hampi. The guides willingly share their cellular numbers and email addresses.

By motorcycle

It is very hot! Dry, dry heat. And the walk between some sites can be at least 5 km. Plus, the surrounding area is quite breathtaking to ride around and you can explore some parts that the rickshaws won't take you. Guides are willing to ride on the back with you as well. This is a more expensive option (not for the thrifty!) than the rickshaw but it gives you more freedom and you can cover more in one day without rushing it. Take a guide with you one day, then do it all again by yourself the next. A bike like a Scooty or Kinetic Honda will cost you about ₹150 a day with additional fuel charges. You can also hire a 100CC motor bikes for ₹200 a day. A liter of petrol will be sufficient for sightseeing around Hampi, but two liters would be handy if you have plans to go to Tungabadra Dam (some 15 km from Hampi)

When renting a scooters/motor bikes petrol costs extra, and normally sold at 40-50% premium in the place you rent (A liter may cost ₹65-₹75). A petrol pump is located in Kamalapur, which sells petrol at ordinary price. Two liters will get you to the major sites around Royal Centre and back, but three liters is a safer option. The countryside is a beautiful place for a leisurely drive so it's worth taking lots of fuel.

By car

Bit more costly variant is renting a car. Various Car Rentals are available in Hospet. They normally charge ₹750 to ₹1,000 for a day site seeing and pick up/drop to railway station etc. There are several car rental companies in Hampi/Hospet including some prominent ones like SRB Travels (travels@srbempire.com), etc. Car rentals are also available from various nearby rail heads and airports like Bangalore, Goa, Hyderabad, and Belgaum to Hampi.

The ruins of Hampi are located within a 30 km2 area. While most of the famous places have drivable roads leading up to them.

By boat

Most of the guest houses are on other side of the river (area called Virupapur Gadde). To access them, you need to cross river by Motor boat (₹10 for locals, ₹15 for tourists, boat runs until 6PM. If you cannot get on the boat, you have to pay auto ₹500-600 to take you other side via Hospet-Hugili-Hanumanhalli, which is a 40km tour. During moderate/high rains, gates of Tungbhadra dam are opened which increases the water level and water flow in river. In that case, one might get stranded on other side of river (Virupapur Gadde area)

See

Hampi panorama

Hampi is a visual delight, especially due to its stark contrast from most other places. Rocks are all you see whichever direction you look. Vegetation is visible in the wet months; but again it never dominates the landscape. It is an ideal spot for people who are interested in history and/or nature.

There are many sites of interest in and around Hampi. The must-visits are:

All these places are towards Hampi Bus Stand area and you don't need to cross river.

You can buy a local map costing ₹15, and cover all the places on your own taking a bike/Scooty on rent. Otherwise, you can hire and auto to do local sightseeing. It would cost you around ₹400-₹500.

Tungbhadra dam is 16 km from Hampi towards Hospet. Hence, if you have plans to catch your train/bus back from Hospet, you could see Tungbhadra dam and return from Hospet. It takes 45 to 60 min to see Tungbhadra dam. You need to park your vehicles at the entrance and take a government bus to the top and return. It costs ₹20/- return.

Dancing Girls' Bath on the ancient Courtesan Street

There are several "Shivalings" along the river which the boatman will guide you to. The old capital called Anegundi, across the river from Hampi, also has many sites. You can also go to Anegundi from Virupapur Gadde by road. There is a road alongside old broken bridge (Bukka's Aqueduct). The Hanuman Temple on Anjenaya Hill (involves climbing up 572 steps, is believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman) and the Pampa Sarovar are worth a visit. Both of these places are around 7-8 km from Old broken bridge.

There is Daroji bear sanctuary around 16 km from Hampi, opposite side of Kamalapura/Hospet. It opens between 1PM to 6PM Not a must see but you can go there for a nice drive/ride if you have some time to kill.

To do justice to all the sites, one needs a minimum of 3 full days of sightseeing. To discover all the ruins, it may take much more than 3 days. Maybe months.

A new feature introduced by the tourist department of Karnataka called the Hampi By Night is magnificent where in the monuments are lit in bright varying colors in the night. For more information, contact the tourism department of Karnataka.

Hampi specifically is a small settlement on the river (Hampi Bazaar, Virupaksha Temple, etc.). The old city of Vijayanagara encompassed an area of 25 square kilometers and ruins, monuments, structures, etc. lie scattered across the area. In fact, when arriving at Hampi from Hospet, one will pass many of these things.

If one sets base at Hampi Bazaar, one can get a manageable, navigable orientation of the entire area, one can look at four main zones.

Apart from all this, between Hospet and Hampi, there are a number of small towns and villages like Kamalapur, Kadirampura, etc. which are various parts of the old Vijayanagara city and which have now become fragmented settlements and small towns.

Do

Outdoor Activities

Cross the river in a coracle ferry

Buy

Eat

There are lots of places in Hampi Bazaar where you get satisfying and inexpensive food, though be prepared for a long wait at most places as the chefs are typically family members who prepares food to order. However, they are good at their jobs and can offer a wide range of different cuisines.

Restaurants:

Drink

Hampi is a religious center so drinking is not allowed. Therefore, beer or other alcoholic drinks are generally not available at local restaurants. However, Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari is in the neighboring town of Kamalapur has a bar that serves beer and wine.

Other hotels like Shanti and Kishkinda, which are located across the river, do serve beer and hard liquor.

Few cafes and small shops are also spotted in Hampi Bazaar providing soft drinks, lassi and some other famous south Indian beverages.

Sleep

In Hampi specifically, there are two clusters of settlements. There is the Janata Plot on the river road, just under the Virupaksha Temple. The other is opposite the bus stand. These settlements resemble hamlets, not even villages. Guest houses are essentially village huts modified for guests. Most have attached bathrooms while some may have shared facilities.

As of March 2013, there were frequent power losses. A few wealthy guest house owners had power generators / inverters with which basic lights and fans could be operated. There are a few who offer air conditioned rooms but with the frequent power cuts, one is not sure how effective those AC rooms really are.

There are several guest houses in Hampi, though staying in Hospet or the nearby town of Kamalapur are also options. Staying at Hospet gives easy accessibility to Railway Station and better Hotels. Hampi is also not very far from Hospet.

Most guest houses in Hampi are rather basic. Do not expect too much. Avoid places recommended in the Lonely Planet guide, because they immediately raise their rates and lower their quality. A lot of cheaper guest houses are situated across the river on the Hampi Island (Virupapur Gaddi), popularly known as the 'Hippie Island'. Properly check the guest houses near bus stand, as those are ill maintained and not properly clean.

If coming in April through to September (off season), check with the hotel for bookings, especially if you plan to stay on Anegondi side of the river. Many guest houses and restaurants close down, except a few prominent ones (e.g. Shanthi Guest House, Mowgli Guest House etc.).

Stay safe

Visitors should be sure to watch out for monkeys. They are notorious for snatching and running away with visitors' handbags, cameras, and other loose belongings.

Keeping mosquito repellent on hand is a good idea.

Be extra careful when you choose to explore rocky places, especially when you are trying to climb over boulders.

Avoid travelling to Hampi during the months of April and May, as temperature can get as high as 43°C (110°F). If you are planning to visit it during summer, remember to carry sufficient water so as to avoid the risk of dehydration. Bottled drinking water is easily available. You may not be able to get chilled bottles (as electricity will sometimes cut out).

Respect

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, January 23, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.