A Backpacker’s Tips For Your Hampi Trip
Why Hampi? UNESCO site, ideal for history buffs and adventure junkies
Best time to visit: November to February
Sightseeing timings: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
The Hampi archeological ruins are a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the top travel destinations in India.
Located in Karnataka, about 7 hours from Bangalore, it’s an incredible place lost in time, with varying landscapes from boulders, to ruins and rivers. It was once the heart and stronghold of the majestic Vijayanagara Empire.
MUST-KNOW PRACTICAL TIPS
- Hampi is divided by a river into 2 main areas- the Main Bazaar and Virupapur Gadde (fondly called ‘Hippie Island’ for the amount of backpackers that choose to stay there)
- The main bus stop where you’ll alight is also the main market
- Don’t go in the hottest summer months of April and May, you’ll only end up being a sullen, overcooked lobster by the end of sightseeing
- The taxi boat (adorable bowl-shaped boats) are the only way to get to the other side of the river, and it takes only 3 minutes! However, keep in mind it closes at 5PM, after which there’s no way to get to the other side except for driving over an hour and possibly getting lost in the jungle
- There are no ATMs in Hampi, so withdraw cash in Hospet
- Hampi is bang in the centre of Karnataka, with the closest railway station in Hospet, half an hour away
- Overnight trains run from Bangalore and Goa to Hospet, several times a week
- You can also catch private buses from these 2 cities, as well as Mysore and Gokarna
- The nearest airports are Hubli (3 hours away) and Belgaum (4.5 hours away) and Vijaynagar. From Vijaynagar, it’s a 40 minute cab ride to Hampi.
- From Hospet, you can take a cheap local bus or a tuk-tuk to Hampi
- Once you get to the main Hampi market, keep an eye out for their famous, friendly elephant wanderer!
WHERE TO STAY IN HAMPI
Hampi doesn’t boast fancy accommodation, but has tons of quaint, charming guest houses, hostels and cottages that you can choose from. I found it quite easy to book my stay through Booking.com. Just put in your dates and preferences and pick!
There are 2 main areas to stay in – near the Main Bazaar, and on the other side of the Tungabhadra River – Virupapur Gadde, a.k.a. Hippie Island.
Hippie Island is the location of choice for most young travellers, as it boasts beautiful rice and paddy fields, restaurants with open gazebos, cafes and bars. It also gives you great proximity to the boulders for a majestic sunset trek.
Trust me when I say there aren’t ‘things to do and places to see’ in Hampi. The whole of Hampi IS the attraction! Rent a cycle or scooter, or just walk around on the historical side or the hippie side of the river. Personally, I preferred cycling through the ruins as it tires you out less, and you get to cover more ground in a shorter span of time.
Hampi owes its peculiar landscape of giant, rolling Flintstone-esque boulders (the ruins of Vijayanagara) to volcanoes, erosion and many, many battles. According to local legend, it is said to be the Vanara Sena, or Kingdom of the Apes, helmed by Hanuman himself, where Lord Rama fought in the Ramayana.
Places you must see:
- The Narasimha Statue, which is entirely carved from one stone
- The Queen’s Baths
- The Chariot of the Vijaya Vittala Temple
- The Giant Hanuman Statue
- The Archaeological Museum (tickets are Rs 30 for Indians and Rs 500 for foreigners; this will grant you entry to the museum, Vittala Temple and Elephant Stables)
- The towering Virupaksha Temple, which is the main focal point in the Hampi Bazaar. Constructed even before the Vijayanagara empire in dedication to Lord Shiva, it’s one of Hampi’s oldest structures
THINGS TO DO IN HAMPI
When you’re done sightseeing, here are a few things you can do in Hampi:
- Pick one of the rocky, boulder mountains at random and scale to the top for one of the most spectacular sunsets you will ever witness! Who knows, maybe it will be the start of your new obsession with ‘bouldering’
- Climb the Anjaneya Hill, a few kilometres from Hippie Island and visit the Hanuman Temple (where, it’s claimed, he was born)
- Go cliff jumping in the lake, but watch out for crocodiles! There are signs out, but locals say there aren’t any in the lake, only in the river.
- Buy fresh coconuts and sit in the shade at Lotus Mahal, as a break from sightseeing
- Hire a traditional fishing boat make of trees and tar, and maybe even go for a swim in the lake!
If you don’t want the hassle of planning an entire trip on you own, and you’d like to make some new friends and visit Hampi with other travellers, why not consider a travel agency?
I chose Vagabond Experiences for their Back-Pack-Go Hampi trip, and it was 100% worth it! Good vibes, fun people, and a well-planned itinerary is what they promise. They have specific dates for these trips though (and others), so watch out for their upcoming trips by liking their page here.
Pin this post to your board on Pinterest!
For more pictures of Hampi and my other travels, click here to go to my Instagram feed!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and your own experiences in Hampi, in the comments below. Stay tuned for my next travel post!
All images in this post are owned by Chantelle Menezes and should not be copied or reproduced without due consent and image credits given to the owner.