Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hampi, Hospet

2010 has been a mixed year for us in terms of travelling. Though we didn’t see too many new places, whatever we saw more than made-up for what we didn’t. The year began on a promising note with Goa. This was also the year we discovered the glory of Hoysala Kingdom. The temples of Halebeedu and Belur set us on a Hoysala Trail. The architectural splendor of ancient India had a cascading effect and we started exploring other historical places like Badami and a few other Hoysala temples. Another first that I managed to achieve was the famous Snake Boat Races of Kerala – Aranmula Boat Race. Having been to the beaches, famous temples and the like we decided to head to the hills. And we chose, probably the best hill station in south India – Chikmagalur, to complete a satisfying year for travelling.

2011 promises to be a good year too. And we decided to kick-start it with a prominent destination. Well, to be more honest, we didn’t really plan it that way. It was almost an impromptu plan. The deciding factor was an Ad in the papers announcing the Hampi Festival. Usually, the Hampi Festival happens during November of every year. But this time round it was moved to January to coincide with the 500th year of the coronation of Emperor Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara kindgdom.

An overnight train from Bangalore will bring you to Hospet, the nearest railway station to Hampi, 13 kms away. Now Hampi is world-famous tourist destination, and like every popular tourist place in India, people will try to trick at the drop of a hat. Hampi is no exception. There are many options reach Hampi from Hospet. You could take a taxi, Autorickshaw, shared 7-seater autorickshaw or bus. Depending on the size of your wallet, you can choose your ride. The Autorickshaws cost a whopping Rs 100-125, whereas the shared 7-seater rickshaw costs a mere Rs.15.

Accommodations in Hampi is nothing spectacular to talk about. There are a handful of houses-turned-guesthouses that takes care of accommodating the tourists. You cannot but wonder that these guesthouses are overpriced, especially what with the Hampi Festival shooting prices through the roof. We paid Rs 750 for a lousy room in Santhosh Guesthouse, which according to a banner is recommended by “Lovely” Planet. But their roof-top restaurant is probably the best in this sleepy town. All guesthouses/ shops/ restaurants are located in a single street leading to the Virupaksha Temple. There are however good hotels in Hospet, if you want to stay comfortably.

We spent two days in Hampi and that’s how I’ll classify the blogs here that way: Day I and Day II.

Day I started with us renting a bicycle for Rs 50 a day which in hindsight was a complete waste of money for that day. We went about exploring the Tungabhadra side of Hampi. On this side of Virupaksha the major attraction is the Vittala Temple, the King’s Balance, the Pushkarni, the Achyutaraya Temple, Matanga Hill, Hemakunta Complex, Lakshmi Narasimha Temple and the Anjeyanadri Hill among others. Well, the list doesn’t end there but those are what we could cover! And yes, if you are a budget traveler you can cover all this on foot/coracle.

Day II we covered Virupaksha Temple, Krishna Temple, Underground Temple, the Noblemen’s quarters, Royal Enclosures, Zanana Enclosure, Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stables, Mahanavmi Dibba, Hazara Rama Temple and the Stepped Tank. Hiring a bicycle or moped is an absolute necessity here.

Words of Caution:

  • It’s extremely hot in Hampi. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated. Do not miss an opportunity to buy water bottles wherever available.
  • There are way too many kids on the street begging for alms. Do not encourage them.
  • Foreigners should try to avoid the locals as much as possible. They can get a little “probing” if you encourage them.
  • Negotiate with all vendors before doling out money.


  1. Good one Prashanth...how did you feel after you saw the ruins there?

  2. Thanks Pavan.
    When you see all these ruins and the works in Halebeedu/Belur and Badami among others, you cannot but wonder at the craftsmanship of the ancient indian sculptors. Truly marvelous.

  3. Nice to go through your travelogue on Hampi