A beautiful potpourri of history, culture, food and people, Hampi is indeed a backpacker’s paradise. Period.
A 15 hour bus ride from Mumbai to Hospet, followed by a quick auto rickshaw ride, got us to this ever-so-laid-back destination.
For me it was love at first sight. <3
The lazy river, the women on the ghats, the colourful boats bobbling up and down, big boulders and rocks scattered carelessly, I could feel a lazy smile steadily creep over my face.
Hampi is divided by the Tungabadhra river, and to reach the other side, Virupapur Gadde, you need to take a boat. We stayed at Shanti cafe, which was one of my highlight of the trip! Really, how many times have you woken up on a swing, with swaying green paddy field across and a flowing river beyond? Me, never! If chilling is your agenda, this place it is. Just walk down to the cafe, order a huge breakfast and plonk your bottom for as long as you want! *sigh*
But chilling apart, I had to see Hampi. After all, this temple town is one of the recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hampi was the erstwhile capital of the mighty Vijaynagar Empire. Vijaynagar was one of the largest Hindu empires in India. So all geared up, we passed through the Hampi bazaar to see the symbol of Karnataka tourism that resides in the Vitthala temple. The most important temple in Hampi, it encloses the iconic stone chariot right in the middle surrounded by other stone shrines. Ancient stone temples are a ubiquitous part of Hampi, so talking about each of them is impossible.
We wandered aimlessly around the temples, wondering how amazing it must have been during its prime. The Hindu style of architecture found at Hampi reflects the splendour of the Vijaynagara Empire. These temples are the epitome of excellent craftsmanship and engineering.
Apart from temples, one thing you cannot miss here is a Coracle boat ride back to the main bazaar. Swishing around in the cool water, with beautiful rock structures (man-made and natural passing you by), the ride is unbelievably calming.
Around the Hampi bazaar you can hire mopeds and then ride around wherever you want. And believe me, this is the fun part! After some more temple visits (Lotus Mahal, Elephant stable, underground Shiva temple, Queen’s bath etc.), we reached the gigantic Monolithic Nandi. But more gigantic than that was the number of stairs that led to our next temple complex. It was a short trek uphill but once you reach the top comes into view the complete temple complex hidden amidst the banana and coconut plantations. I felt like an explorer, straight out of a tomb raider movie, except I was still catching my breath! This walk up and the heat literally took my breath away. (*Caution- Carry water all the time)
For a person who loves mythology, this was a playground. A land that reeks of myth, stories and fables. The next day we went on to explore the other side of the Tungabadhra, Anegundi. This was said to be the erstwhile Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom from the epic Ramayana. In Anegundi stands a small hill, the Anjanadri hill, which they say is the birthplace of the Monkey God, Hanuman.
Anegundi, unlike Hampi, is less commercialised and hardly untouched. Huge boulder and open paddy fields comprise the landscape and provide a perfect opportunity for bouldering (*Caution- you need to be seriously flexible, fearless and crazy to do this!).
After my fellow travelers did some bouldering, we gulped down some brilliant local lunch and sped off towards the water canal to cool off.
And Whoaaa….what a sight that was! It was nothing less than an oasis. Blue water cuddled in the lap of huge grey boulders.
We cooled off here while watching people jump off from the bridge and swim around. Basically it was the perfect thing to do after a long day of exploring the ancient world of Hampi.
- You can reach Hampi from Mumbai or Bengaluru. Though it is nearer from Bengaluru. The bus from Mumbai will leave you at Hospet from where you can take a 10 minute auto rickshaw ride to Hampi.
- Hampi can get really hot so the best time to explore the ruins would be between October and March. Though you can beat the crowd if you go during the monsoon months.
- If you are on the adventurous side and want to learn bouldering, Hampi is the perfect place. You can check out Tom & Jerry Climbing shop.