A weekend (long one), 5000 Rupees and the craving for wandering. That’s all what you need to explore the glory of an ancient city which can stand on par with the Rome itself! If walking through the ancient streets and gazing up through the giant hole in the Pantheon in Rome is a dream which seems far away from you, then wait no longer. Hampi is just seven hours drive from Bangalore and 3 days in Hampi is ideal duration for a good Hampi itinerary.
Ancient cities always piqued my interest. It makes me still wonder how they did it back in the days when even steel was not invented. How did they manage to cut huge rocks and transported it all the way to the mountain tops to build marvelous temples?
The Hampi Itinerary
Hampi is one of the first city (ancient) which made all the way up to the top of my bucket list. And put a tick mark beside it on January 23 after returning from a 3-day journey through the “Rome of the east”
Day 0: Overnight Journey from Bangalore to Hospet
The overnight journey was supposed to give me good sleep. And when it comes to the travelling bus, I can sleep, even if I am standing. But that night excitement had the upper hand over fatigue. And I stared through the window at the dark silhouettes of dry hills, which are almost everywhere in Karnataka.
Day 1: Arrival in Hampi
I couldn’t find any direct bus between Bangalore and Hampi. Every service you take will take you to Hospet or sometimes even further to Kamalapur. My bus operator took me until Hospet. There’s a railway station and a big bus station at Hospet. If you are coming by train from Bangalore, then Hospet is the place you should get off.
From Hospet, it wasn’t hard for me to find a bus to Hampi, there’s always a bus waiting at the far end which is going to Hampi. Even in the bus, I was one of the few Indians among a flock of foreign nationals. And Little did I know more are waiting for me at Hampi and I will get a friend among them. A friend from the other side of the world!
6:00am – Reaching Hampi
It’s only a half hour journey from Hospet to Hampi. The route was quite scenic too. It’s like entering the world of Flintstones. Hills made up of rocks. It’s like a kid has gathered some brown pebbles and made a pile in the middle of perfectly flat paddy fields. Some big rocks sit like as if they will topple even with a gentle push with your pinkie. But they are probably sitting like that for the past hundred thousand years!
At six am in morning Hampi was desolate. The people who were at the Bazaar was the ones, including me who came by bus. It was peaceful and little cold.
After spending some time sitting on a rock and looking at some ruins, which Hampi has a lot, I started to walk towards the river. To reach the river, you have to walk past the towering Virupaksha temple. To my surprise, unlike the bazaar, there was a lot of people near the temple and more at the ghats. I waited along with several other tourists, for the ferry because my homestay in Hampi was on the other side of the river.
8:00am – Other side of the River in Hampi
The other side of the river, which is also known as the Hampi Island( I don’t know why its an Island) is a totally different world. It’s hard to find an Indian there. There are foreigners, sitting in the cafe, riding bikes, talking, walking, they are everywhere. I’ve never seen that amount of foreigners anytime before.
There, I came to know that my homestay was farther than I fathomed. I had to take a bus from the old bridge to Sanki village. Almost 5 km. But what the hell I walked. I walked and walked and walked. It was almost 9:30 when I reached the homestay. It was a little exhausting but totally worth it. I’ve realized that after tourism the main income for the local people is agriculture and they do it very well. If there is an inch of space where there is no rock they plant paddy. The green paddy fields were glittering in the morning sun and when they sway in the breeze it’s even more beautiful.
After freshening up from my homestay, I had to go back to the temple side of Hampi. There was a bicycle tour waiting for me. Since it starts at 9:30 couldn’t walk all the way back. So I decided to hitchhike. But it was not that easy as it sounds. I put out my thumps to so many two-wheel riders( most of them tourists) and nobody cared to stop. But in the end, I hitchhiked. I would have been the only person in the world who hitchhiked on a bicycle! I use this occasion to thank that unknown person who saw my plight and offered to carry me on his bicycle.
Water walking, hitchhiking, taking a bus followed by another small hitchhiking and finally the ferry ride, I reached the temple side of the Hampi, where my Hampi guided bicycle tour booked on Trodly.com. Within no time I found my guide or he found me and I was on the tour. As expected I was one of the three Indians who were in the group. The rest were from all over the world.
And then happened the best part of my Hampi expedition, Gary. I met Gary while our guide Vishnu took us to the inside of Virupaksha temple. Amongst the flock of foreigners, I was excited and uneasy at the same time. I said hi to him, he returned the peasantry and it it was the beginning of a friendship I will cherish forever.
10:00am – Hampi Bicycle Tour
Choosing the guide bicycle tour for exploring Hampi on the first day one of the best decision I took. Because me being me would have gazed at a temple, staring at the intricate sculptures and the artworks for hours trying to make out what it meant. But our guide, who was born and raised there knew about each and every inch of Hampi. He explained the history, legends and myths behind everything and everyone.
And by the end of the tour, I could say “I know about Hampi, ask me anything”. Thanks to Vishnu, our Hampi encyclopedia. At the end of the tour, he even let us use the bicycle until the end of the day to roam around on our own. He also arranged a delicious lunch at the queen’s bath for everyone. At that time, due to some legal issues between the authorities and the locals, any sorts of commercial activity was stopped on the temple side of Hampi. And there was no way for any of us to find a decent meal nearby.
2:00pm – More Places To See in Hampi
After lunch, I and Gary went on a tour of our own and we went to the zenana enclosure and the elephant stable. Wondered how they managed to make it like every other structure and moved on.
And there was another problem. I was I out of cash and there ain’t any ATM nearby. The nearest atm was at Kamalpur and it was 3 km away from Hampi. The ferry service stops at 5:30 in the evening so is the entry to the Vijaya Vittala temple. That temple was the last destination I and Gary planned to visit by the end of the day. But for me, it’s one or the other.
If I go to the temple I will not be able to come back, go to Kamalapur and catch the ferry before 5:30 PM.
So for now, I and Gary parted our ways.
6:00pm – Back in the Homestay
Sleepless night, long walk, bicycle ride and scorching sun left me with tired to the bones. The guy at the homestay almost didn’t recognize me because of the tan! I went in and had a fresh, hot, delicious dinner and went into my cottage. The mosquito repellent came in real handy that time. My cottage was at a secluded corner of their property, It was completely made up of bamboo and had only the basic facilities but I kind of liked it. And everything faded away when I touched the bed.
Also Read: The Ultimate Hampi Travel Guide
Day 2 – Rise and Shine
Monkeys woke me up at 7am!
Yes, not the alarm but monkeys. Not one probably twenty of them was playing on the thin thatched roof of my tiny cottage. I was hoping for the chirping of the birds but what I got was loud screeching and thudding of monkeys jumping on the roof. But it was kind of nice because I could get the chirping of birds in my home.
After a delicious breakfast of hot milk, cornflakes, bananas and a big cup f chai, I checked out from the homestay and went out. Yesterday, Gary and I promised to meet at the ferry point in the morning. Today we decided to explore the famous, Hippie paradise in Hampi, the Hampi Island. I was staying on the same side but a bit far away from the more happening places.
After meeting Gary at the ferry point, we rented out a bike and went on. To be frank, we didn’t know where we were going, We saw a long road in the middle of a paddy field and rode along.
Since we visited a lot of temples the day before, we decided to avoid them today. We were more into exploring the natural beauty rather than the architectural one. Thus the first destination we ended up was the Sanki lake and the dam. Actually, I was sleeping beside a giant water reservoir last night and didn’t realize it. The Lake is a superb place to drive around, The contrast between green paddy fields, rocks, and the dry landscape is astounding. At the far end of the dam, there were two people offering coracle ride for 50 rupees. Even though there were a crocodile warning and my apparent lack of knowing how to swim, we decided to go for it. It was a nice ride. Cool breeze, the soothing sound of the river and its cool water, it was a refreshing ride.
By the time we ended the ride, it was time for lunch. We came all the way back to the old bridge. There was a small but nice restaurant. Maybe it was because we were hungry, the food they served was delicious.
From there, we came to know about a waterfall nearby from fellow tourists. After some asking around and self-navigation, we reached there. I don’t think anybody really knows about that place. Here, literally, I was the only Indian. There were several foreigners basking in the sun and swimming. You can’t call it w a waterfall but it’s a good place. The rocks in there look strange and they have a special beauty to it.
Rather than riding around, sitting lazily at the side of paddy field and drinking sugarcane juice after each and every half hour, we didn’t do much.
4:00 PM – Italian coffee and Farewell
After the waterfall, we came all the way back to the riverside. Returned our bikes and went inside an open Italian cafe. Had a good coffee and talked, talked a lot. Other than seeing a place, one of the best things I value from travelling is the people I meet. It was time for us the part our ways. Gary has to be back at Bangalore on next day. The chances of us meeting again are really really slim. But as long as the earth is round, there’s always a chance.
Day 3: Final Day in Hampi
This was a bonus day. I was staying in a shack at the riverside, the happening place. Since I don’t have a company and failing to find a new one after last night, I was kind of depressed. But I rented a moped and decided to drive through the Island again. The Hampi Island, excluding the riverside, is calm and peaceful. People are really nice and it’s really beautiful. There was a lot of paddy fields. It was like a green carpet laid out on either side of the road. I spend a lot of time riding through the suburbs, going farther and farther. I even let some locals hitchhike on my moped. If you are eager to look you can find ruins after every turn in Hampi.
I found one near Anegundi. It’s at a location hidden away from the crowd.
Like almost every other temple in Hampi. The temple I found also don’t have any idol in it. I thought there will be somebody on top. But to my surprise, there were none Just me. After some time it became a little scary so got down and went all the back to the riverside for returning the bike and having lunch.
After lunch. I crossed the river to go to the Vijaya Vittala temple. That is the place where the famous chariot temple is located and has to be part of any Hampi itinerary. I read a lot about the temple, and it was one of the structures I really wanted to see. But when I reached there, it was too crowded, I couldn’t even get a single picture of any part of the temple complex without another tourist. It was disappointing. I wanted to spend some time staring at the chariot temple, looking at all the details but couldn’t. Disappointed and almost heartbroken, I started to walk all the way back to the Hampi Bazar. And since my navigation skills are still at the primary level, I lost my way. But a generous local guided me and he came along with me all the way back to the Bazar. I tried to tell him it is not needed in the little Kannada I know but that wasn’t enough.
I use this occasion to thank that great man too
Then, I climbed the Mathanga hills to witness the sunset. Since I was scared to climb to the top, I settled for a less but not the worst view of the sunset from a lower point. And I watched the bright sun going setting over a Kingdom which once used have markets for selling diamonds.
Now it was time for me to go back to Bangalore. After three days exploring the Rome of the east.
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