Hampi – The mystical city of ruins

Don’t worry, be Hampi!

Hello, dear readers! I hope you are filling your journals with beautiful stories and travel memories.This past month, the travel bug took me on a trip to one of the most ancient and surreal places of India – Hampi. The temples and archaeological sites of Hampi have been recognized as UNESCO’s world heritage site.

The ruins of Hampi are an absolute visual treat. Imagine – low-lying, intricately structured hillocks, preserved in the laps of nature. The hillocks are constructed of perfectly balanced boulders and their ubiquitous presence captures your attention the moment you set afoot. Wherever you roam, the hills will follow you, and so will the orchids of coconut, banana and mango trees! And if that was not enough, the Tungabhadra river flows through the heart of the city, dividing it into two distinctive areas, and you require a boat every time you wish to ferry across. The narrow streets of Hampi are neatly constructed and are mostly empty. The people of Hampi are very warm hearted, and will always welcome you with friendly gestures.

Hampi was on my bucket list for a long time, and I am super excited to share my experiences and some travel tips with you!

 

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The ruins of Hampi.

 

Best time to visit Hampi :

1. Monsoons – July to September. I spoke to the localities and heard beautiful anecdotes about the rainy season. A must visit during these months. The temperature is very pleasant during the day and night and so is the surrounding green cover.

2. Winter – October to March. The temperature might drop to around 10-15 degrees Celsius during the night. All the more reasons to explore Hampi.

3. Summer – April to July. The days are going to be hot, and you might not feel exploring much, but the nights are still pleasant for a nice outdoor camping under the stars.

We went to Hampi in February, and the days were quite hot, that forced us to stay indoors. But, the early mornings and late evenings are quite enjoyable for outdoor activities.

 

How to reach Hampi?

Hampi is located in the northern part of Karnataka.

It is approximately 350 Kilometers from Bangalore and is well connected via over-night buses (both state-run and private). The buses offer both sleeper and semi-sleeper seats and the travel time is 8-10 hours. Check out the travel booking websites for fare details. Hospet is the nearest commercial city near Hampi. It has extensive connectivity via road and rail from all major cities of India.

I traveled to Hampi from Goa (to which, I took a flight from Delhi). Goa to Hampi was a comfortable 10-12 hours journey in an AC sleeper bus. The bus departed from Panjim in the late evening hours and parked us in front of the grand Virupaksha temple at the wee morning hours.

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Virupaksha Temple.

 

The historical significance of Hampi.

Hampi served as the capital city of the great Vijaynagar Empire, that ruled over major areas of South India for over 200 years. The city is protected by the Tungabhadra river on one side and is safely guarded with massive boulders on all sides, making it almost impenetrable.

Hampi is filled with grand temples, boasting of elaborate carvings of mythological stories and breathtaking historical structures. There were multiple occasions, traveling through the streets of Hampi when I could feel my history books coming back to life!

The Queen’s bath, Hemakuta, Lotus Mahal, Nobleman Palace, Matanaga Hills, Vitala, Virupaksha and Anegundi temples are some spots that are a must visit to explore the remains of the grand Vijaynagar empire.

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Where in Hampi?

Hampi is divided into two parts – the ‘main’ Hampi (as called by the localities), having most of the temples and historical sites. This part of Hampi is quite commercial and if you feel like roaming around as a tourist or a pilgrim, this is where you want to be. Book an auto and hire a guide and go on to a tour around the city. Carry your camera and you can get a chance to capture on of the best archaeological brilliance of human history.

You can rent a bicycle, and rarely a motored two-wheeler, as we were told there are only ten scooters available for rent in this part of Hampi.

The other side of Hampi (now, this is where it gets exciting) is known as ‘The Hippie Island’ and is almost separated from the main Hampi by the river. A five-minute ferry ride, that should typically cost you 10-20 bucks, between 10 AM to 6 PM, takes you to the other side, where you get to explore the hippiness inside you!

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In the land of Hippies – Hippie island.

Hippie island has to be one of the most chilled out and laid back places I have visited in the recent past. My trip to Goa was often marred with sad commercial and party scenes, where everyone wanted to be pompous and loud. For souls like you and me, who seek solace and silence, who want to chill and unwind – this is the place we always want to be!

Note, that Hippie Island is not a real island, as appears from the name. It has an almost identical landscape and a feel, as the main Hampi but has a different vibe of peace and serenity. Unlike the main Hampi, where you had to rely on the auto guys (tuk-tuk) and the guides to show you around – you can easily rent a two wheeler and be your own travel guide, surprise yourself and stumble into new places, getting lost in the wilderness and allowing the silence break into your system.

There are a number of cafes, of all types, serving a wide variety of cuisines and you can easily hop from one café to another. The place is flocked with many tourists, many of whom are non-Indians and if you are new to the hippie way of lifestyle, this is where you want to observe and learn.

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Café recommendation in Hampi :

  • Shanti Dhama –This is where I spent most of my time Hampi. We were lucky to stumble on this café, that is located in the interior parts of the Hippie Island and has a sprawling view of the ruins, great ambiance, and a super awesome host. They have a very friendly golden retriever named Max, who is a darling! I have a lot of stories of this café and am going to do a separate post about it. You can find them here, Shanthi Dhama Hampi.

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  • Laughing Buddha – The café should be renamed as The Sleeping Buddha. I literally dozed off for an hour and so did my friends, thanks to the great ambiance and a spectacular view.

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  • Jungle Tree, Mowgli, White Elephant, Shanti etc. are some other cafés we hopped during our stay.
  • There is a German bakery and some other small bakeries if you want to try something sweet.
  • Most cafes have a specific style of gourmet, so make your selections, or else you might end up getting paranthas instead of Pita bread!
  •  Most of the cafes will serve you Kingfisher Premium (beer) for INR.200, and other than that there aren’t many options for alcohol.
  • And don’t forget to have a glass of fresh fruit juice everyday, coz that is what we hippies love!

Follow our next blog for THINGS TO DO IN HAMPI here.

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