Majestic Ruins, Coracle Rides And Cycling Tours At Hampi

    What Is It?

    Hampi is a small village in Northern Karnataka. It is famous for the ruins that dot the landscape — a reminder of the striving erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire. It is also a religious town – the Virupaksha temple hosts a natural Shiva linga which is worshipped by thousands from southern India. But by and large it is known for being one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

    How To Get There?

    Easiest way to go is by road. Buses and trains run from Bangalore and Mysore to Hospet daily. From the Hospet bus stop/train station one can take an auto rickshaw {INR 100} or a public bus {under INR 20 for a ticket} to Hampi gate. The total time for a bus journey can be 7-8 hours from Bangalore.

    What To See/Do Once You Reach

    Hampi is not the best place if you want luxury travel. It is beautiful in its barren-ness. For miles you may not see anything other than huge rocks and ruins. But if you are fond of history or architecture, this would be a trip worth doing.

    The main bazaar area stands witness to long bygone eras when spice and gold would all be sold to locals. The temple on one side, and the Monolithic bull {a huge two story bull structure, signifying Nandi – Shiva’s vahana – stands at the end of the bazaar} on the other, and there is pure history in between.

    Treks are recommended — if you want to see old temples or more bazaars, old palaces and mandapas {ceremony halls}. We took a 3-hour long cycling tour as well {INR 350 per head}, which involved riding around the ruins and ended with a scrumptious lunch typical of Karnataka in front of the queen’s bath-house.

    Where To Stay?

    For die hard meat eaters, stay in Anegundi — on the other side of the river. That is the mini-Goa like place where you can sit by candlelight, eat wood-fired pizza and talk to travellers from all over the world. If you like your hotels to be cleaner and bigger though, stick to the old Hampi side. To cross the river one can use the ferry {INR 10 per head} or coracles {INR 50 per head, but highly recommended, at least once}.

    Rooms all over Hampi and Anegundi are very basic. Most hotels have no hot water, and some rooms are purely just a cot to sleep on. Research before you go there. And while you expect the basic, also know that the people will be quite warm and friendly, though a tiny bit curious. Locals are fluent in Kannada, English, Russian and Spanish among others.

    Best Time To Visit

    December to February. Any other time is unthinkably hot. But a lot of people we spoke to, have been tackling the summer heat by jumping into the river and swimming till the sun sets over the ruins in the distance.