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.
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 THE CHEAPEST WAY
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.
GETTING AROUND HAMPI
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.
MY JOURNEY TO HAMPI
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.
MUST SEE TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN HAMPI
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.
WHERE TO STAY AND WHAT TO EAT?
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.
BEST TIME TO VISIT HAMPI
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!
An aerial view of Hampi
A Hampi local
Sunsets amidst the boulders
The fields of Hampi
Sunset at Monkey Temple