Hampi is a UNESCO world heritage site, famous for its history and architecture. Virupaksh temple, Vitthala Temple, Mustard Ganesha, Matuga Hill, Anjaneya hill, ancient water systems, and musical pillars. But Hampi is not just about that. This ruined city has its own rhythm, and if you can catch the tune, you will have a brilliant experience here. While Hampi has its own shades each month of the year, the best time to visit Hampi will be from August to March to do these adventures…
Cycle across the ruined city:
Boulders, lush green banana plantations, and 800-year-old ruins. Hampi is one of the best places to cycle in the world. No traffic, clean crisp air with the occasional breeze, brilliant roads and super friendly people. You will fall in love with bicycles here again. Do not forget to have at least two of those sweet roadside coconuts to rehydrate.
Walkthrough pillars of Hampi Bazaar, towards Kodanda Rama temple. Cobblestone pavement cuts through boulders where you will reach Kodanda Rama temple. In front of that, you have to catch the Coracle ride. The small bowl-shaped boats made up of Bamboo will take you on some of the least explored islands in Tungabhadra river. Simply majestic.
Sunset from Matunga hill:
At the end of Hampi Bazaar, there sits a huge monolith Nandi. Matunga trek starts from there. The climb is easy, but for the last few meters, it’s just slippery boulders. I almost turned back but my wife pushed me forward. Thanks to her, I witnessed one of the most brilliant sunsets of my life. Sunsets on the west, removing its warmth from Hampi, pouring its orange warmth in flowing Tungabhadra river. Lose yourself in that peaceful calm twilit zone.
Sunrise from Anjaneya hill:
Birthplace of Lord Hanuman, located on the other side or Hippie Island. It will be easy if you are living there, as you have to climb a few hundred steps to reach there. But climbing in the dark has its own rewards. Sun-rises, uncovering each and every boulder in Hampi. The river starts to shine again, while birds wake up to fly on the horizon. Each boulder wakes up after warming up, and Hampi again becomes alive.
Scootying Hippie island:
This is the age of heavy CC motorcycles with Royal Enfields and KTMs. While we torque our self in life with eyes on the road ahead, sometimes it feels good to slow it down. Riding 90 cc TVS moped is just the speed you need to take you to the wonderland of rice paddy fields, tiny villages hidden in the corners of giant boulders and around ancient ruins. Take the ferry across the Tungabhadra (Or just jump across the river rocks. Yes, we did that to save 15 rupees), and hire a moped and hop on, for one of the most scenic rides of your life.
On the other side, this is one of the least explored areas, for where you will have some serious nostalgia if especially you are die-hard Ramayana fans like me. Visit the cave where Lord Ram and Sugriva met for the first time in Chintan Gumpha, visit the place where Bali and Sugriva fought and do not forget to check out potholes in the river while on the way to visit Padmanabh Tirtha.
Chill out in Mango tree hotel:
Floor sitting, free WiFi, laid back rusty setting with brilliant food under a tent. Hampi’s most famous restaurant that captures Hampi’s earthy lifestyle and hippie essence. Either you are starting your day for exploring, or you are exhausted and done with the exploring, this eatery provides exactly what you are looking for.
Make friends with Lakshmi elephant:
Apart from huge towers, brilliant wall paintings and beautiful craftsmanship of Virupaksha temple, you should meet one of the permanent residents of the temple there-Lakshmi elephant. You can feed her in the temple, and also in the early morning, you can accompany her to the River for a bath. Its pure fun.
Stargaze on the bank of Tungabhadra:
There is nothing much to do in Hampi outdoors at night. So, after a heavy dinner in the Mango tree, take a stroll towards Ghat. Climb on top of one of those ancient structures and listen to Tungabhadra flowing. Rest your back on the platforms to gaze some stars on a clear sky, with water flowing in background and imagine this ancient city coming back to life. Pure magic.
Giant boulders scattered all over Hampi makes it perfect for Rock climbing, or, Bouldering. Many shops and hotels on the other side provide assistance, gear on rent and even provide a guide for the climb. You can rent crash mats, chalk powder, and shoes here, and if you are staying in one of these hotels, they will provide these for free in your package. Goan corner, Tom and Jerry’s and Sunny’s Bouldering school are one of the many service providers.
Have breakfast at Mowgli:
Sitting on the floor, right in the middle of lush green paddy fields while the river flows in front of you. You tend to eat more than you need in such conditions. And then, killer tasty food makes you order some more. There are some super laid back, tasty food serving restaurants on the other side as well. Mowgli, Laughing Buddha, and many more are ready to serve you, while you relax.
Shopping in Hampi Bazaar:
Let your inside hippie out here, and buy yourself some colorful pants, chappals, earrings, neckless, Oam printed t-shirts or some gypsy styled Lambani handbags. If you are full on Kumbaya mode, you can buy musical instruments to play around your bonfire as well. As a memento, you can have some brass artifacts replicating Hampi ruins, gods or some animals.
Hop on the ferry to the other side, hire a moped and drive towards Sanapur Lake, keeping ancient aqueduct on your back. There will be crocodile signs in this area, but you can go ahead and have a blast while swimming. Hampi weather is decent, year around. But summers are harsh, swimming definitely will take down a notch. Get that adrenaline rush, with your sole attention, is on just one thing, living in the moment until you touch the waters. As you land safely, your fear turns into satisfaction, until you climb the cliff again, to jump.
Explore Virupaksha temple:
It’s the only live temple in Hampi, with the tallest structure that can be seen from miles. This seventh-century temple has seen many good bad and ugly days. Spend some time here, observe the devotees sitting in the temple courtyard. Attend Arati in the evenings which starts after Lakshmi parades in the courtyard.
Hampi from Watchtower:
From King’s balance, towards Kodanda Rama temple, you will come across Anjaneya temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Behind the temple, there is a two-storied watchtower, from where you can see a panoramic view of the place. It is the best place to spend your hot afternoon. very few go there as Yantroddharak Anjaneya temple has few steps to climb.
Musical pillars in Vitthala temple:
Vitthala temple is the most iconic spot in Hampi constructed in 1554. Take a guide, he will be worth every penny. Apart from stone chariot, he will explain you the significance of many things that you will ignore otherwise, and musical pillars or SaReGaMa pillars are just one of them. Queen use to perform dance here, while music being played with the beat of Sandal sticks on those pillars.
History lesson in museum:
After the queens bath, most of the people will take u turn to come back to Hampi, but do not forget to check out Hampi Archaeological museum or Kamalapur Museum, located in outskirts of Hampi. Its a must take pre-requisite course for serious explorers. Apart from beautiful sculptures, most brilliant thing here is, topographical model of Hampi with brilliant detailing.
Bare feet on the slopes of Hemakoota hill:
Afternoons are very very hot in Hampi. So, if you are extra adventures, remove your sandals and try to walk bare foot on that hot monolith near Virupaksha temple. While villagers are walking easily, without any footwear and problems, us, the city folks dance here like Basanti, dancing on broken glass in front of Gabbar.
Explore underground temples of Hampi:
Hampi is well known for its tall towers and specious courtyards, there are few temples, hidden underground. Prasanna virupaksha temple is one of them. Chill there during noon time and you wont even feel a scorching sun on your head. Close your eyes, and just be in piece. While in peak monsoon season, temple gets flooded, according to locals, it has outlet, which straight goes to Tungabhadra river.
Chill out in Elephant stables:
Another unique structure of Hampi is, Elephant Stables. And everyone knows- A cool elephant is happy elephant. It is said, that water use to be circulated through the walls of this building to keep the elephants cool. Also, do not forget to check out Mahut cabins besides the stables.
What not to do in Hampi:
Rave. Hampi is the lost glory of India. It has immensely rich heritage, culture and religious value. Its the place where two brothers took a stand, establish an empire to fight foreign invaders. But, as our bad habit of following white folks blindly, we the people, have started behaving like Hippies (Who don’t know any better). Alcohol, weed and other drugs have made their place in Hampi, in the form of rave parties on Hippie Island, straight from Goa. My request is, do whatever you want, but with keeping the appropriate respect to the place.
And one more thing,
Do not forget to send postcard to your family from there.
For detail information, please visit my Hampi Log: