Hampi India – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Feeling drained in Delhi? Or maybe maddened in Mumbai? Why not head over to Hampi to rest your travel-weary feet in India’s small Southern village. We promise you’ll never want to leave the lull for the big smoke again.
Why go to Hampi
Let yourself be captivated by the gargantuan ancient Hindu temples that litter Hampi’s terrain. Hampi is living proof that size doesn’t always matter, for though the town itself may not span very wide, its teetering temples stretch awe-inspiringly high up into the air. Even if you thought you’d had your fill of temples in India, don’t fret, for they’re almost outnumbered by Hampi’s rooftop bars and restaurants.
Hampi as a destination strikes the perfect balance between work and play. The World Heritage listed temples and ruins could really be seen in a day or two, but we’d recommend stretching your stay out so you can relax into Hampi’s backwater vibe and visit one of the many cafes that are never too far from a dazzling landmark.
You’ll never be overwhelmed or lost, as the bulk of Hampi village lies between the bus station and the magnificent Virupaksha Temple, and most restaurants and guesthouses are clustered in the small streets between here and the bathing ghats. Small town life never looked so good!
When to go to Hampi
Being in the Southern state of Karnataka, Hampi is no stranger to the heat. If sweat-soaked sightseeing isn’t your thing, the best and busiest time to visit is in the ‘cooler’ months of October to March. If you’re organised, try to visit when the Festival of Hampi is celebrated in November. However, don’t let the monsoon season (July to September) dampen your desire to see Hampi’s ancient ruins, just be sure to bring sensible shoes as roads and boulders can get very slippery.
Where to stay in Hampi
Accommodation in Hampi is definitely weighted towards the cheaper end of the scale, with no shortage of guesthouses and hostels. These are fantastically cheap, although sometimes this is reflected in the cleanliness and comfort levels.
Most guesthouses lie between Hampi Bazaar and the bathing ghats, though there are some other lovely options across the river if you don’t mind being a little further from the action. If money is an issue, we’d recommend finding a cheap-as-chips guesthouse where you can escape your shoebox room in the rooftop restaurant! Netra Guesthouse, Revanth Homestay, and Manju Guesthouse tick all the boxes in this regard. All offer double or twin rooms for between INR 500 – 1000, with colourful, fairly clean rooms that mostly have their own ensuites, right in the middle of town.
If you’ve got cash to splash and aren’t big on socialising with dreadlocked backpackers, Clarks Inn hotel mixes excellent value with friendly staff and comfortable rooms. Though it’s a little out of Hampi proper, most the major sites are only a ten minute rickshaw ride away.
Where to eat in Hampi
Though Hampi’s abundance of laid back restaurants on rooftops or spread with cushions and mattresses might not present much in the way of diversity, there’s no denying they’re a fantastic place to relax and refuel amidst the heat and sightseeing. As Hampi is a religious site, most restaurants only offer vegetarian meals. This shouldn’t put you off, however, as some of the South Indian thalis dished up here won’t make you think twice about meat!
When curry’s not whetting your appetite, most tourist restaurants and cafés offer the usual selection of international fare such as pastas, pizzas, and sandwiches, just don’t expect them to knock your socks off. For atmosphere as well as mouth-watering local food, we’d highly recommend Mango Tree restaurant and Laughing Buddha.
For faster, cheaper street food, the stalls along the dusty Hampi bazaar can feed you delicious dosas, idly, vada, and curries for very few rupees.
How to get around Hampi
The nucleus of Hampi is only a few streets wide, which includes some beautiful temples and sites (e.g Virupaksha, elephant bathing), so if you feel like taking things slow, most of Hampi can be seen on foot.
In the blistering Southern heat, however, walking can be a slightly sweaty affair, and as some of Hampi’s major temples are quite a distance away, we’d recommend hiring one of Hampi’s many bicycles. This should set you back around INR 50 per day, and you can spend a beautiful couple of days lazily peddling about on dirt roads to sites like Hanuman Halli and the spectacular Vittala Temple.
For a little more cash, the same journeys can be made on the scooters that are available to rent at a couple of places around town. These cost about INR 200 – 400 per day, but this little bit extra lets you zoom through marvellous countryside with the wind in your hair (especially as you’ll have a hard time finding a helmet!).
To be less exposed to the elements, it is possible to hire a rickshaw driver to drive you around to the major sites, though this will still involve a bit of walking, and will cost around INR 750 per day.
Some temples are also reachable by boat via the river. Either traditional round boats or small ferries can be caught from the main ghats, and these can take you to Anegundi or Hanuman Halli, which, weather permitting, is a dreamy experience.
How to get to and from Hampi
The transport hub that connects Hampi to the rest of India is a Hospet (Hosapete), and you’d have a hard time reaching it without going through here first. Hospet can be reached by train or bus from other cities in India, and once you’re there, it’s a short 30 minute bus ride to Hampi. This should cost about INR 20 and shouldn’t need to be booked in advance as busses leave every half hour between 5.45am and 7.30pm. A rickshaw can also get you there for approximately INR 180.
There are several travel agents around Hampi that can help you book your onward journey via rail or bus. From Hospet Junction (IR station code HPT) there are several overnight busses per week to relatively nearby destinations like Bangalore, Goa, or Hyderabad.
Train is a cheaper option that we would recommend for its comfort over busses, which your travel agent will probably try to sell you tickets for instead. A train ticket bought from a travel agent will usually include transfer by bus from Hampi to Hospet Junction. Likewise, trains from all around Karnataka and other States can take you in Hospet Junction.
Here is a brief overview:
Train #16592 – Hampi Express – Bangalore (10.05pm) to Hospet Junction (7.10am)
Train #18048 – Amaravathi Express – Margae Junction, Goa to Hospet Junction
Train #17603 – Kacheguda Express – Kacheguda, Hyderabad to Hospet Junction
Train #17003 – KOP-HYD Express – Hyderabad to Hospet Junction
A variety of bus companies also take travellers from Hospet to other destinations around Karnataka, or further afield in India if you’re willing to sit through a long and tiring bus journey. Trips to Bangalore, Goa, Mysore, or Gorkarna can be booked for approximately INR 200 and often travel overnight. Don’t forget your pillow and eyemask!
Is Hampi a safe place to visit?
Hampi is a calm and quiet destination with a religious focus. Visitors should feel safe walking around alone, though like anywhere in India, should be cautious at night time.
As alcohol is hard to come by, alcohol-fuelled violence is very rare.
Few cars and roads mean this is one of the safest places to walk around in India!