Hampi is a small town in the northern part of the state of Karnataka, famous for its boulder-strewn landscape and temple ruins. Once the capital of the Vijayanagar empire, it is now a popular tourist destination for both Indians and foreigners who come to visit the remnants of this holy city’s prosperous past.
The town itself can broadly be divided into two parts, separated by the Tungabhadra river – Hampi bazaar and the temple ruins are on one side and hippie Virupapur Gaddi on the other side. Most accommodation options are located across the river in Virupapur Gaddi, and this area is particularly popular with backpackers and foreigners.
The easiest way to get to Hampi from Bangalore is to take a bus to the neighboring town of Hospet, and then a rickshaw from Hospet to Hampi. Never having booked a sleeper bus in India before, and seeing an online seat map of two levels, I assumed we were going to take a double decker bus there, and excitedly reserved the front seats on the upper deck. Only after we boarded the bus did we realize that there weren’t in fact two decks, but instead rows of bunk beds…and thanks to me, we had all the top bunks right by the busy front entrance…The bumpy 9hr ride had us holding on for dear life and sleep was fitful, but by 7.30am, we were dropped off in Hospet. From there, a 12km rickshaw ride took us to the river crossing in Hampi, where we caught a boat to our guesthouse in Virupapur Gaddi.
On our first day, we stayed on the Virupapur Gaddi side and explored the nearby reservoir and temples. The area around the cluster of guesthouses was very colorful, lined with cute shops and restaurants, and the rural setting was a welcome change from bustling Bangalore. Watching the sunset high up on boulders from the Hanuman temple was undoubtedly the highlight of the day – the 360 degree view of lakes, rice paddy fields and boulders was absolutely breathtaking.
We spent the second day on the other side of the river, touring the ruins that Hampi is so famous for. Spread over 25km, century-old temples and palaces combined with natural boulder formations to create a visually stunning landscape.
Our tour ended at 5pm, and after hours of walking around under the brutal Indian sun, we were all happy to sip sweet chai and coconut water in the shade. Leisurely, we made our way back to Hospet, and after a delicious South Indian dinner of dosas and uthapam, we were finally ready to board our bus home.
All in all, it was a great trip. Hampi was my first exposure to the India that lies outside the big cities and I absolutely loved it. Of course, being the first group trip I led, it wasn’t without glitches…but everyone had a good time and we made it back safe and sound 🙂