A TRAVEL GUIDE TO HAMPI
Hampi is a little temple town which is the ruins of the ancient town of Vijaynagara. The place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of several ancient temple and fort attracting thousands of tourists around the world every year.
Hampi was built in 1500 AD by King Krishnadevaraya and was the capital of the Vijaynagara Empire. It is set on the banks of the River Tungabhadra. It still remains an important religious and archaeological center for tourists from around the world. The ancient city consists of several religious buildings such as the Vittala temple complex and the several Jain temples, civil buildings such as the Zanana enclosure and the aqueducts and canal and some military buildings such as the Elephant stables and military barracks. Some of the temples in Hampi are still active as places of worship for pilgrims.
The landscape of Hampi consists of hundreds of monuments which are the ruins of the ancient city and boulder strewn hills which makes Hampi a very picturesque location for visitors. Hampi has royal palaces, pavilions, market streets, old temples and several other monuments which make it a paradise for history lovers and also for archaeology- lovers. One of the best things about Hampi is that very few modern establishments are allowed to be set up near the ruins so that the old-world charm and the architectural beauty and medieval India is not lost, giving the visitors and authentic experience.
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When to visit
The best time to visit Hampi would be during the months of October to March when the weather will be colder and pleasant for visitors to enjoy sight-seeing. Usually the temperature during these months will range from 32 degrees Celsius to 12 degrees Celsius. Summers in Hampi are very hot and the temperature will even reach 40 degrees Celsius which will dampen the sight-seeing spirit.
Hampi is located in the South Indian State of Karnataka at a distance of around 95 miles from Bangalore and 250 miles from Mysuru.To reach Hampi by train, travellers can board a train to the Hospet railway station and get a cab to Hampi which is around 9 miles from Hospet.
To reach Hampi by road, travellers can board state transport buses which leave from Bangalore and Mysore to Hospet. Visitors can also get cabs from Bangalore to Hampi which is at a 95 mile distance.
To reach Hampi by flight, travellers can board a flight to Hubli which is around 88 miles away from Hampi and then get a cab from there.
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Accommodation in Hampi
Visitors can find a number or hotels or other accommodation options such as homestays in Hampi for a reasonable cost. Sites like Trivago or Airbnb can be used to pre-book your accommodation to your satisfaction. State run hotels such as the Karnataka State Tourism Department Corporation Hotel is also a good idea for tourists wanting to avoid private hotels. Most of the hotels can be found near the market areas and also on the other side of the river. Some of the cheaper hotels can be found on the other side of the river, on the island called the “Hippie Island”.
Charges range from around 700 Rs per night (~10 dollars) to around 3000 Rs per night (~47 dollars) with the average cost being 1100 Rs per night (~ 17 dollars) for a room for a single guest. However, visitors must keep in mind that most of the hotels here will be with basic facilities and not ultra-luxurious in nature. For those wanting more than basic amenities, it would be better to stay in Hospet instead of staying in Hampi. Most hotels and guest-houses in Hampi are filled during peak season so it would be recommended that visitors book their rooms well in advance.
There are several hotels in Hampi serving a both North Indian and South Indian dishes with the majority being South Indian and vegetarian dishes. One can also find restaurants serving Italian and Israeli cuisines owing to the large number of tourists in the region. However most of the hotels are run by families and service can be a bit on the slower side but the mouth-watering taste of the food will take your mind away from such trivial problems.
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Most of the good restaurants can be found on the “Hippie Island”. This is the place frequented by tourists. The little cafes and restaurants here will also have amazing view of the river or of paddy fields. We suggest you to try: The Goan Corner , The Laughing Buddha Restaurant and Chillout restaurant.
Getting around Hampi
The best way to get around Hampi would be either by foot or by bicycle. One can rent bicycles or motorcycles on a daily basis to travel around the region. Another option would be to hire auto rickshaws for your commuting. Bicycles can be obtained on rental basis from the Virupaksha Temple Market for around 150 Rs per day (~2.5 dollars). Motorcycles can be obtained on rent for around 350 Rs per day (~5.5 dollars) including fuel. Car rentals are also available which will cost around 1000 Rs per day (~ 15 dollars).
For visitors wanting to get to the Hampi village which is on the other side of the Hampi River, there are ferry rides available throughout the day which cost around 20 Rs per person (~0.3 dollars). For tourists wanting an authentic experience, the coracle ride will be a good idea and will cost around 50 Rs per person (~0.9 dollars).
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However, Hampi is a significantly small region (around 30 square kilometres) which can be covered easily on foot, hence it is recommended for tourists to explore Hampi on foot to get the complete experience of the ruins of Hampi. It is said that every rock and every boulder in Hampi has a story behind it, with the myths of the ancient city of Vijaynagara and exploring Hampi on foot can bring you closer to these legends.
Things to do
Hampi with its backdrop of ruins and boulder-strewn hills makes for a beautiful destination for nature-lovers. The city has a variety of tourist attractions for visitors to see. The Virupaksha Temple, the Hampi Bazaar, the Sanapur Lake, the Elephant Stables, the Lakshmi Narasimha statue, the Royal Enclosure, the Queen’s Bath are some. However it is recommended that visitors get a guide. As they can show you around the area and tell you about the legends and myths associated with the village. The locals predominantly speak only the native language. So having a guide will be handy for those who do not speak Kannada.
Hiring a guide for a day can cost around 1500 Rs (~24 dollars). It would be better to hire a guide from near the Virupaksha temple market as you can haggle with them about the price. They will in turn show you to the main tourist attractions and to other places that you want to go.
Places to see
Visitors can try a hand at rock climbing if they feel adventurous. The rocks and boulder strewn hills of the place offer some wonderful rock- climbing opportunities. The Tungabhadra Dam is a must-visit spot for tourists to get the complete feel of Hampi. The dam is at a distance of 10 miles from Hampi. Government buses can be used to go to the top of the dam and back. One can get wonderful views of the Tungabhadra River from the top.
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Another must visit spot is the Sanapur Lake which is at a distance of around 4 miles from the island. The lake provides a tranquil atmosphere for people to just relax and unwind.
The Virupaksha temple situated in the Bazaar consists of several shrines, chambers, halls and towers. These are visited by pilgrims and tourists alike and hence is reasonably crowded most of the time. The temple was stablished in the 7th century AD. This is one of the oldest temples in India that still functions as a place of worship. The temple’s main deity is Lord Shiva but it also has statues of Bhuvaneswari and Pampa.
The Vittala temple complex consists of three towering gateways, huge walls, several shrines and pavilions. The Vittala temple is famous for the Musical Pillars (Saregama Pillars); 56 pillars that emit sound when tapped gently. It is also famous for the Stone Chariot or the Ratha which is now a symbol for Karnataka tourism. This Stone Chariot is one of the three such chariots of its kind in India. The temple can now be visited at night too due to the presence of the floodlights. They were recently installed and give a magnificent view of the temple complex.
Things to remember
Hampi does not have any ATMs so make sure to carry enough money with you before travelling. Don’t try to swim in the river unless you are a very good swimmer; the current can sometimes be treacherous. Monkeys on the Monkey hill are known to be aggressive, hence it would be wise to avoid them. Watch out for petty thieves and pick-pockets in crowded areas.