ABHISHEK SONI in­tro­duces read­ers to the breath­tak­ing beauty of HAMPI

Travel en­thu­si­ast and Ci­tadel colum­nist ABHISHEK SONI in­tro­duces read­ers to the breath­tak­ing beauty of HAMPI, Kar­nataka.

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Do you wish to visit a land with mil­lions of boul­ders? Do you want to jump and dance for hours to­gether? Just be with me till the end of the ar­ti­cle, and I will not be sur­prised if you start danc­ing in the ex­cite­ment of go­ing to Hampi. Ha-Ha! Not kid­ding, I am se­ri­ous!! Hampi is a UNESCO World Her­itage Site lo­cated near Hospet town in the state of Kar­nataka. Even in its most ru­ined state, Hampi never stops to fas­ci­nate the tourists re­peat­edly. Ex­pan­sive stretches of boul­der-strewn hills form a unique back­drop. There are over 500 mon­u­ments, which are spread around the hills and val­leys.

“Jump­ing from boul­der to boul­der and never fall­ing, with a heavy pack, is eas­ier than it sounds; you just can’t fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance.” – Jack Ker­ouac

Al­lur­ing tem­ples, ru­ins of palaces, royal pavil­ions, bas­tions, his­tor­i­cal trea­sures, and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal relics of aquatic struc­tures and an­cient mar­kets, are some of the high­lights that be­hold your sight! The list is mul­ti­tudi­nous. All in all, Hampi is a trav­eller’s bliss.


Reach­ing Hampi by train is a great op­tion, as it is not only cheap but also com­fort­able and con­ve­nient. Hospet (13 km from Hampi) is the near­est rail­head. There are plenty of overnight trains from Ban­ga­lore, Goa and Hy­der­abad run­ning sev­eral times a week to Hospet. For train book­ings visit IRCTC and for buses check out KSRTC. Once you are at Hospet, take a shar­ing auto to reach the bus de­pot (10 INR),

and from there you will eas­ily find a bus for Hampi (20 INR). You can also opt for a di­rect auto from Hospet to Hampi, which costs around 150 INR.


So what is your fit­ness level like? Do you think you can walk and ride a bi­cy­cle for miles? If yes, bingo! The real plea­sure and ad­ven­ture in ex­plor­ing Hampi is rid­ing a bi­cy­cle or walk­ing around. Road con­di­tions are de­cent. Vir­tu­ally ev­ery sin­gle rock has a story be­hind it, and it can be best heard by walk­ing around them. Buy a map, take a bi­cy­cle (100 INR per day), and start ex­plor­ing all by your­self. Be­lieve me, it would be a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence! For tourists who can­not ride cy­cle for long hours, let me help you. You

can rent a mo­tor­bike (they have moped ve­hi­cles) at INR 200 per day. For those who are stay­ing just for a day or two in Hampi and want to cover most of the must-see places, there are lo­cal au­tos. The drivers know all the fa­mous des­ti­na­tions and will cover most of them in less time. River Tungab­hadra runs across the town. For cross­ing the river, you can take a mo­tor­boat, which charges 10 INR per per­son, or a cor­a­cle, which can cost up to 40 INR – 50 INR per per­son. In sum­mers, the wa­ter level is very low, and you can walk across the river on foot.


When I started, I did not know the place would leave me amazed for life. There’s something mag­i­cal about Hampi that I just can­not de­scribe. We ar­rived early

morn­ing, and the auto driver who dropped us to Hampi sug­gested we watch and en­joy the sun­rise from Matanga Hill. The climb to the top is short but steep, but it is all worth it, even if it does mean moving in the dark. Mon­keys might ac­com­pany you all along the trail to grab the wa­ter bot­tles or the snacks you are car­ry­ing. With each pass­ing minute, it

be­came brighter as the sun rose and the city got its colours back. I love sun­rises, and this place made me fall in love with them even more. I had never seen such beau­ti­ful colours and hues in the sky. What made Hampi more beau­ti­ful is the as­ton­ish­ing view of the sur­round­ings from the top. Hill ranges along with abun­dant huge boul­ders, the ar­chi­tec­tural tem­ples, paddy fields along­side tiny vil­lages, a huge river; ev­ery­thing put to­gether rep­re­sents a hid­den gem of the coun­try. I had just a day for Hampi in my planned itin­er­ary, as I was un­aware of what that place had on of­fer for us. Nev­er­the­less, I de­cided to cover as much as I pos­si­bly could in a day. I knew I would be there again in the near fu­ture.


Most of the tourist at­trac­tions in Hampi close by 5 pm. So plan your day ac­cord­ingly. Matanga Hill: Matanga Hill is one of the few spots in the world from where you can ex­pe­ri­ence the sun­rise and sun­set at the same place. Virus­pak­sha Tem­ple: The tem­ple is ded­i­cated to Lord Shiva and is part of the Group of Mon­u­ments at Hampi, des­ig­nated a UNESCO World Her­itage Site. Sana­pur Lake: It is a reser­voir fed by Tungab­hadra Dam canal. The lake is clean, un­touched, and of­fers some breath­tak­ing views. Kr­ishna Tem­ple: It is known for its el­e­gant carv­ings and beau­ti­ful ar­chi­tec­tural designs. The tem­ple

cam­pus is dec­o­rated with pil­lared halls and small shrines. Lo­tus Tem­ple: Also called Ka­mal Ma­hal or Chi­tra­gani Ma­hal, it is uniquely iden­ti­fied by its Lo­tus look like struc­ture. Stepped Tank: It is con­structed us­ing finely fin­ished blocks of black stones; it was prob­a­bly used by roy­als for re­li­gious pur­poses.

Vi­jaya Vit­tala Tem­ple: It is one of the largest and most fa­mous struc­tures in Hampi. The high­light of the tem­ple is the stone char­iot, which is con­sid­ered the most stun­ning ar­chi­tec­ture of the Vi­jayana­gara king­dom. An­jeyanadri Hill: It is the birth­place of Hanu­man, the mon­key god of Hin­dus. The hill of­fers one of the most amaz­ing views of the sun­set in Hampi.


You can ei­ther find cheap ac­com­mo­da­tion in Hampi Bazaar or Viru­papura­gaddi side, which is pop­u­larly known as Hampi Is­land. Hampi bazaar area is near the tem­ples, and it elim­i­nates the need to wait for the boat to cross the river. How­ever, be­ing a backpacker, I would any day pre­fer stay­ing at Viru­papura­gaddi side be­cause of its tran­quil­lity. There are many guest­houses and lodges to choose from, which pro­vide bam­boo hut ac­com­mo­da­tion with ter­race sleep­ing fa­cil­ity, open-air din­ing ar­eas, silent mu­sic and chilled beer. If you are on a solo trip, then Hampi Is­land is a great place to meet new peo­ple. The Gaon Cor­ner, Mowgli Guest­house and Shan­thi Guest­house are the few guest­houses I would rec­om­mend. For break­fast, you can try the idlis and dosas at a push­cart, which you can find on the way to The Gaon Cor­ner. It was so tasty that I had break­fast twice at a gap of an hour. Mango Tree, Ever­green and Ti­betan Kitchen restau­rants are the oth­ers I would sug­gest.


The best time to visit Hampi is from Oc­to­ber to Fe­bru­ary, as the tem­per­a­ture is pleas­ant through­out the day. You can also visit dur­ing the mon­soon sea­son, but you have to be care­ful while walk­ing on the boul­ders, as they be­come quite slip­pery. Avoid vis­it­ing Hampi in sum­mers, as it is scorch­ing and dry. Be it trav­ellers, back­pack­ers, trekkers, climbers, na­ture and his­tory lovers, devo­tees, Hampi has something in store for ev­ery­one. It has earned a place in my top 10 tourist des­ti­na­tions in In­dia, that I will be pub­lish­ing very soon. Go have ‘your’ time. Hampi is ea­gerly wait­ing for you, my dear friend!

Virus­pak­sha Tem­ple

Sana­pur Lake

Tungab­hadra River

An aerial view of Hampi

Lo­tus Tem­ple

A Hampi lo­cal

Stepped Tank

Stone Char­iot

Kr­ishna Tem­ple

Sun­sets amidst the boul­ders

Abhishek Soni

The fields of Hampi

Town roads

Sun­set at Mon­key Tem­ple

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