Ever since I came back after visiting Angkor Wat during my Vietnam & Cambodia backpacking trip, I was fascinated by the beauty, innovation & the architecture of these Hindu temples both in Angkor Wat & My Son, Vietnam. So as soon as I came to India, I knew I had to plan a weekend trip to Hampi; the erstwhile capital of the Vijayanagara kingdom, the largest Hindu empire of that time.
Over the republic day weekend this year, when the farmers were busy destroying property and climbing the red fort, I was oblivious to the happenings and probably watching the sun go down somewhere from Hemkuta Hills.
During my trip, I covered Hampi, Gokarna, Mirjan Fort & Yana Caves, but this article will only talk about Hampi. I will also modify the sequence of events a little, so that this article can be used as an independent guide by those who intend to plan a weekend trip to Hampi.
Weekend trip to Hampi – Getting there
Nearest railway station is Hospet. Hampi is around 13 kms and 30-40 mins from Hospet railway station. You can easily get a rick from Hospet for Hampi.
Hubli Airport, approximately 166 km away, is the closest airport to Hampi, operating regular flights from Bangalore. Another option would be to get to Bangalore and get buses to Hospet from there. Tourists can easily get a cab or taxi from outside the airport to reach the lovely village of Hampi.
For all the folks from Mumbai, this would be the most preferred option. Book a sleeper bus on Friday evening around 6 PM and you can reach Hospet by 7 AM in the morning. The journey would be comfortable & you would get some precious shut eye.
After getting down at Hospet bus stand, you can take a local bus to Hampi.
Cost- ₹16 for half an hour ride. You can also take a rickshaw for around ₹100-150.
A little about the geography of Hampi
Let there be no mistakes, Hampi is huge and 2 days aren’t enough to cover the entire area. Best bet would be a week to cover everything. But since most travellers can’t afford to spend more than 2 days, it’s important to understand the geography of the place and what things to cover.
Broadly I would divide Hampi into 2 main areas – North & the South [North basically means anything above the Tungabhadra river].
- Sanapur lake
- Anjaneya Hills
- Hippie island
- Matanga Hill
- Laxmi Narsimha / Ugra Narasimha
- Badavi Linga
- Vijaya Vitthala Temple
- Virupaksha Temple
- Hemkuta Hills
As you can see most of the major attractions lie on the southern side of Tungabhadra. In fact, technically I believe the area to the North of Tungabhadra, what I referred to as North Hampi is actually not Hampi but more like the outskirts of Hampi.
Brief history of Hampi
I know you guys are eager for me to share the itinerary and the details but before I do that I just wanted to give you an idea about the history of Hampi and what makes it so special. Hampi is believed to be the ancient Kishkinda from Ramayana. The land of Hanuman, Bali & Sugriva. You will find plenty of folklores and temples corroborating the same.
Coming towards the political side of history, towards the end of 13th century, Islamic invasion started affecting South India & as a result the southern powers came together and this culminated in the rise of the Vijayanagara empire.
Over the next couple of centuries the Vijayanagar empire expanded and developed into a formidable Hindu empire. Numerous foreign travellers from Arabia, Italy, Persia & Russia left behind glowing tributes about the wealth of the rulers and the beauty of city of Hampi in their records.
In 1565, at the Battle of Talikota, a coalition of Muslim sultanates entered into a war with the Vijayanagara Empire. They captured and beheaded the king Aliya Rama Raya, followed by a massive destruction of the infrastructure of Hampi and the metropolitan Vijayanagara. A city so splendid was left to ruins by these barbaric Muslim hordes.
However, the real beauty of Hampi lies in this very fact that even after all this destruction, the city has risen from the ashes and thanks to the efforts of the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) is gaining its beauty and popularity thanks to all the restoration. It also has the proud tag of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Weekend trip to Hampi – Itinerary
Leave Mumbai around 6 PM by taking a sleeper bus. You can pick any bus operating between Mumbai and Hospet with good ratings on Redbus. If you really want to keep the expenses down, then next option would be to opt for a 2*2 Volvo bus. But mind you it will still cost you north of ₹1000, so my advice would be to opt for the sleeper bus.
Cost – ₹1200-2500/person one way depending on the dates and occupancy.
Arrive around 7 AM at Hospet and take the bus/rick to your accommodation in Hampi. Freshen up and if needed take some rest. After a heavy breakfast or lunch, you are now ready to begin and kickstart your weekend trip to Hampi.
You can explore Hampi on cycle, scooter or a rick. If doing a weekend tour, I would recommend hiring a rick or a scooter, since cycling in the hot weather of Hampi can be really draining. Rickshaw charges usually range from ₹600 – 1200/day depending on your negotiation skills & places you want to cover.
I did the entire trip in a group with a private vehicle, so the costs quoted here are from my research with the local shops. Once the transport is sorted out, you are now ready.
Here’s how a rough Day 1 itinerary would look like:
- Sanapur Lake – Coracle Ride
- Anjanadri Hill & Temple
- Laxmi Narsimha / Ugra Narasimha temple
- Badavi Linga
- Saasivekaalu Ganesha
- Hemkuta Hill Sunset point
- Temples of Hemkuta Hill
- Virupaksha temple
- Roaming around Hampi market.
After covering all the places in the list, we roamed around the Hampi market and then headed to the much popular Mango Tree restaurant for dinner. It proved to be the biggest dud of the trip so far. More details about all the sightseeing places & mango tree debacle can be found here – Day 1 of the weekend trip to Hampi.
After that we headed back to the hotel for a well deserved sleep after a tiring day. Next day’s wake up call was 4:00 AM.
It’s already the last day of our weekend trip to Hampi and it was sure going to be a long day. The early wake up call was to ensure that we are among the first people to reach Vijaya Vitthala temple which is considered to be the pinnacle of Vijayanagara architecture.
One tip while visiting the temple early morning is to first head directly to the main temple and then visit the other attractions en-route on the way back. This will help you get good photos with the temple and the Stone chariot with no one else blocking or spoiling your frame.
Day 2 sightseeing
- Vijaya Vitthala Temple Complex
- Vijaya Vitthal Temple
- Vitthala Bazaar & Lokapavani
- Shiva Temple
- Vittalaraya Pushkarani
- Kudure Gombe Mantapa
- Gejjala Mandapa
- Queen’s Bath
- Royal Enclosure
- Hazaara Ramachandra temple & Pansupari Bazaar
- Lotus Mahal
- Elephant Stables
After all this sightseeing we were really tired and so would be you. In case you are doing this as a weekend trip to Hampi, now would be the time when you would have to head back to Hospet to catch your return sleeper bus to Mumbai. Buses generally leave around 6-8 PM in the night and you shall reach Mumbai by 8 AM next morning.
More details about all the sightseeing places can be found here – Day 2 of the weekend trip to Hampi.
Stay options in Hampi
Hampi has everything from Luxurious resorts to humble home stays and even some hostels with dormitories.
I’ll try to categorise the stays in 3 different categories:
Weekend trip to Hampi – Expenses
Here’s a brief idea of the expenses so that you can plan your trip better. Just to reiterate that I did this trip with a travel group, so my expenses were covered. These are from my planning initially, when I had planned to do Hampi solo.
- Mumbai to Hospet sleeper bus – Return Ticket
- Cost – Around ₹3000
- Hospet to Hampi
- Cost – ₹16
- Hampi local sightseeing (Scooter)
- Cost – Around ₹500/day with petrol expenses. So ₹1000 for 2days.
- Food Expenses
- Dinners – Around ₹200/meal, total ₹400.
- Lunch – ₹150/200 for a Thali
- Breakfast – Included in the stay
- Snacks & Refreshments – ₹250 for 2 days.
- Stay Expenses
- Guest house – ₹500/1000 per night for 2 with breakfast.
- Miscellaneous Expenses
- Coracle Ride – ₹100/head
- Temple Tickets. – ₹30.
Total Expenses – ₹3000 + ₹1000 + ₹1050 + ₹1000 + ₹150 = ₹6200
Most travel groups charge around ₹5000-₹6000 for roughly the same itinerary without transport and including just breakfast and 1 meal. So, if you are someone who loves solo travelling and has been planning Hampi for sometime, you can do it for cheap very easily. If you want to further reduce the costs; then opt for a normal bus instead of sleeper. Eat at roadside vendors who serve you unlimited thalis for around ₹100 and take a cycle instead of scooter.