When you think of Hampi the first thing that came to mind is Krishnadeva Raya & Tenali Raman. Only after visiting Hampi did I realise that there is a lot more to Hampi.
Two things about Hampi that most people dont know
- This place finds mention in the Ramayana – this was called Kishkindha and was the abode of Lord Hanuman and the monkey brigade. You can actually visit Anjana Parvat and walk to the temple where Hanuman was born. Close by is also Sugrivas cave. You can also see the hamlet where Shabari gave juicy jamuns to lord Rama.
- Secondly the Vijaynagar Empire which reached its all time glory under Krishnadeva Raya acted as a buffer state protecting the south for over 300 years from muslim invaders like Quatab Ud Din Aibak and Alauddin Khilji. The area is surrounded by hills and forms a nice protection for the enclave.
Thanks to Unesco , Hampi is well preserved although its so close to Bellary and the Reddy brothers. The landscape is both fertile (The beautiful Tungabhadra river flows thru Hampi – and you can see the water Red in color , I guess because of the high iron ore content in the soil) ) and is dotted with mountains with massive boulders – the effect of some volanic eruption that happened a long time back.
All it takes is 2 nights and 3 days to cover Hampi. We took the night train from Bangalore that departs at 10 PM and reached Hospet at 7 AM. We stayed at the Vijayshree Resort & Heritage village ( www.vijayshreeresort.com) – which is located between Hospet & Hampi ( a 10 min drive from the station)
The hotel is beautiful – has lovely villas and havelis set in a large open landscape. Beautiful gardens. The ambience is relaxed and soothing. The theme of the hotel is Rajasthani and in the evening they have live shows and activities ( like in Choki Dani Jaipur – but its a lot better and its all FREE). Food is decent.(Only Veg – No Liquor).
After breakfast on day 1 we set off for the Vitthala Temple that is located at one end of Hampi ( All the ruins are spread across 20 sq kms and you can be transported pretty close to all the sites – not too much of walking required. There are over 2000 temples – but 4 to 5 are worthy of visiting) Post Krishnadeva Raya the muslim invaders finally came and plundered the city. the temple ie beautiful but in ruins.
Memorable here is a Konark type chariot that was built by K Raya after his conquest of Orissa. This chariot is drawn by elephants. It also has pillars that echo with the sound of Sa Re Ga Ma …. The place is serene and quiet and you can easily spend a few hours looking around the ruins. The architecture of the temples are S Indian – but not as intricate in design as what you see in Belur , Halebid, Madurai or Thanjavur. The guide also informed us that on payment the area could be rented for events and special lighting could be arranged.
We then headed for lunch at the Mango Tree. This is a lovely restaurant ( Veg) that is located along the river – serves good food in a clean environment. You have a choice from Thali – Pasta – Humus. You need to sit on the floor and eat. This is the only decent place to eat in Hampi and every tourist lands up here. Rates are very decent – our group of 8 adults and 7 kids ate to hearts content and the bill was only Rs 2000/-. We wrapped up day 1 looking at a few other places like the queens bath , some more temples , stables etc and were back at the hotel by 5PM. We spent the evening in the Rajasthani village – kids went camel, bullock cart & horse riding and witnesses wonderful shows. We ended the day with a sumptuous 23 item Rajasthani meal.
Day – 2 we started at the Ganesha temple which is an entrance to the famous Virupaksha teample (This a functional temple) and walked along the rocky ledges to the temple. The main deity here is Lord Shiva.
From the temple we walked along the Bazars ( which in olden times were supposedly laden with gold , rubies & jewels) and went on for a walk along the river. Since the river was in spate we dared not do the Coracle ride and went on to see Sugriva’s cave – a good 30 min walk in the hot sun. On the way back we saw a statue of Narsimha and a huge Shiv Lingam immersed in water. We ended up walking a lot – I guess for about 2 hrs. We were back in time for the kids to make a dash to the beautiful pool in the resort.
Day – 3 we headed to Anugundi – to Anjana Parvat the place where Hanuman was born. This about 40 Km from Hampi and took us nearly 2 hrs to reach. On the way we saw the bautiful Tungabhadra Dam – because of heavy rains all the gates were open and water was in full flow. The climb up is tedious ( about 750 steps, and we had to carry our 3 yr old ..) and can take you 30 – 45 minutes. The temple at top is small – however the view is heavenly. This is located on the other side of Hampi seperated by the river – so you get a great view of the ruins from here.
Tired and hungry we headed back to the Mango tree ( again..) for lunch and reached our hotel by 3.30 PM.
After tea and some rest we were ready to head to the station for the 8.20 PM train that reaches Bangalore at 6.30 AM.
- Holiday to Hampi is not expensive – a family of 4 can do this holiday in 20 – 25 K
- Public transport is a problem – you need to rent a car / bus – a mini bus cost us about 3000 / day. Indica costs you 1400 / day
- Food is value for money – even at Vijayshree the dinner was about Rs 3000 for 15 of us ( 8 adults , 7 Kids)
- Weather is hot & humid at Hampi – best time to visit is during monsoon (Doesnt rain much) or winter. Summers can be 45 Degrees. The coolest days in winter & monsoon the temp is 28 – 30 Degrees.
- There are few good hotels – we loved the Vijayshree. But I beleive there is another one called the Boulders that is even more fancy. Krishna Palace is a 3rd option – its a proper building hotel at Hospet town.
- Good to go as a group – kids tend to get bored in the ruins
- We missed the museum – but people say its good
- If you have a few more days at hand you can take a shot at visiting Aihole & Pattadakal which is another 150 – 200 Kms from Hampi.
- Cell phones work at Hampi