Happy In Hampi – 10 Hacks That Could Come Handy!

When you think of Hampi, the first thing that comes to your mind is boulders. A land of boulders, I like to call it. Everywhere you look, you have russet boulders with specks of green creeping on it, around it and the Tungabhadra river trickling by quietly. It is no wonder the city was an obvious choice for the Vijayanagara empire to flourish. They could pretty much build everything they wanted by simply carving the closest boulder! 

I went to Hampi for 4 days (3 nights) last November and did pretty much everything one must do while in Hampi.  Hope these come handy when you’re planning your trip to Hampi!

Take the Bangalore – Bellari Route 

If you’re driving down from Bangalore, take the Chiriyur – Challakere – Bellari – Hampi route rather than the Chitradurga-Hospet-Hampi Route. The Bellari route is more scenic and definitely better maintained. You will drive by sunflower fields, windmills, and blankets of red chili laid out to dry. You will also learn that the outskirts of Bangalore house a lot of Japanese & Koreans, and even has a Japanese supermarket! This, I believe is because there is a massive KIA outlet in the outskirts and they have a lot of workers coming in from Japan and Korea. Note, this route does not have too many options for a quick grab, hence be prepared to go for long stretches without a pit stop.

Buy The Hampi Vijayanagara by John M Fritz & George Michell 

If you fancy exploring the ruins of Hampi at your own pace, without a tour guide rushing you around, this book is your best friend. You’ll find a million people trying to sell you guide books, but I strongly suggest this one. It’s beautifully written, in a very orderly fashion and has just the right amount of information for a self-guided tour of the ruins. You can buy it for 500 Rs and is worth every penny.  Maybe because I have a weakness for books, especially travel books, I happily shelled out the money. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, there are many other books you can buy. Either way, doing a self-guided tour of the ruins is a much better idea than being herded with 20 other people. If you can find yourself a good guide, go for it! I’m always up for a good, knowledgeable guide but in its absence, this books should do you good.

Stay on Hippie Island

Hampi is divided into 2 halves, on either side of Tungabhadra. You have the Hippie Island on one side and Hampi city on the other. While you have home stays and hotels on either side, Hippie Island has more options and better eateries. While the home stays and hotels in Hampi city are closer to the ruins, Hippie Island is just a 2-minute coracle ride away from the ruins. Moreover, as the name says Hippie Island is definitely more happening. More cafes, more music nights, more people, more yoga classes, more substances ( well, duh!) and the works. The German Bakery is on Hippie Island too. In fact, there are 2 German bakeries on Hippie Island. So, your morning dose of bagels and coffee is well taken care of!

Shanti Homestay
Modest dorms and cottages
Pink sunset skies from the homestay

Watch the sunset from Matanga Hill

This was undoubtedly the highlight of my trip and I’m sure it will be yours too. The Matanga Hill is quite close to the Virupaksha temple and is the best sunset spot you can EVER ask for. I cannot put to words how beautiful the view from up there was. If I was the king of Vijayanagara, I would definitely have built a secret house up there to watch the sunset. Unfortunately ( thankfully), it’s been left untouched which adds to its beauty. Climbing atop the Matanga Hill is a 20-minute affair and a fairly easy one. I’m not remotely fit and I managed, so for those of you who trek frequently, this should be a cake walk. However, a few things you must know :

  • Start about 30 minutes prior to sunset and catch a good spot. This should give you ample time to get there and even if you’re early, the views are simply breathtaking. You’ll survive the extra time.
  • The last stretch is a little steep, but there are tiny steps carved onto rocks, so use that if you’re scared.
  • Try not to trek with flip flops ( we made that mistake) and it made the whole thing harder. Shoes or anything other than flip flops should do the trick. Basic grip is mandatory as you are climbing boulders after all.
  • Start your descend before it gets dark as finding your way around the rocks after dusk can get hard. There are no street lights, so your best bet is to find your way back down before it gets pitch dark.
The view from Matanga

Visit the ruins of Hampi over 2 Days 

If you’re truly interested in seeing the ruins carefully, reading about each of them and not tiring yourself out entirely, see the ruins of Hampi over 2 days. While most tours take you through them all in just a day’s time, I honestly don’t think you can enjoy each of them the right way in a rushed manner. Take your time, dilly dally around, pose a bit, sit under the trees, read up about the place while you’re there and spend as much time as can at each site. There’s no better way to etch the beauty of the ruins.

Reading about the ruins, at the ruins. Doesn’t get better!

Go for a coracle ride at Sanapur Lake, and maybe a dip after

A coracle ride in Hampi is an absolute must, but they are quite expensive and too short for the money you pay. Instead, drive down to Sanapur Lake and hop on a coracle there. The views are better, it’s much cheaper and the ride lasts for a solid 35 minutes. It’s also way more serene and far away from the hustle of Hampi, so I enjoyed my ride a whole lot here than across the Tungabhadra in Hampi. You will too!

Happy me after a serene coracle ride

Try the Avocado Dosa at Top Secret Cafe

For all you avocado lovers out there, there exists an avocado dosa at the Top Secret Cafe on Hippie Island and you HAVE to try it!. It’s a real fun twist to the regular dosas and I absolutely loved it. Team this up with their milk coffee and you’ve had yourself the best meal in Hampi. I think I may have ended up having two avocado dosas, but oh so worth it!

Eat a Veg Thali from Mango Tree 

This was something many people told me to try, so I planned my itinerary around having a meal here. The Veg Thali at Mango Tree is quite the thali ( read, big). Way too much for me, but that’s maybe because of my peanut-sized appetite. The thali is wholesome and comes with rice, chapati, a gravy, a dry vegetable preparation and a sweet preparation. I had a glass of buttermilk to go with it and I would like to believe that shut my appetite, but on the whole, the meal was sumptuous. You may have to wait for a while as it’s swarming with people almost always, but well worth the wait.

Go hunting for the 1000 Lingas 

Now, this is something not too many people know about. A friend of mine who chanced upon this told me to go looking for it, and I obviously did. Explaining the directions to the 1000 lingas is quite hard, but I am going to try. Let me know if it helps :

Exit the Vittala Temple complex and make your way towards Sugriva’s Cave. Once you reach the cave, go around the cave and walk left towards the river. You’ll cross a short sandy pathway and reach a temple ( this temple should be to your left). You’ll see many boulders ahead and the Tungabhadra flowing to your right. Now, you just have to follow your gut and keep walking straight ahead through these boulders and you’ll reach a clearing where you’ll find the 1000 lingas. On your way, you’ll see beautiful carvings on boulders, lying abandoned. I wondered why, but couldn’t really find an answer to that anywhere.

There are many more like this around the area.

Attend a movie night at one of the many cafes on Hippie Island 

Once the ruins shut down around 6 PM, there’s not much you can do in Hampi. Why not watch a movie in one of the many cafes on Hippie Island? Different movies are screened daily in different cafes on Hippie Island , so choose your pick and plonk yourself down for a movie night. Eat your meal, enjoy your movie and rejuvenate yourself for the next day.

Trash your expectations for lip-smacking food in Hampi. They’re all average

After two meals in Hampi, I learned that all of Hampi has the same menu. No matter which cafe you go to, you’re going to get the same things. They taste the same, they are served the same way and basically, it’s all the same. You might as well stick to the cafe closest your home stay and you won’t be missing out anything. I was quite curious about the situation and asked one of the waiters why everyone served us the same thing.

The story is actually quite amusing. When Hippie Island became the tourist hub as we know it today, there was a single restaurant and one chef. He taught the others and his children who have taught the following generations and so on. Basically, everyone knows what one man learned to cook! Except for the avocado dosa, every single cafe/restaurant has the same menu. It lies in the same order even! So, if you’re like me who likes experimenting with food in a new place, leave them hopes at home.

Well, that’s all you need to have a fabulous trip in Hampi. Take it slow, laze around, run about the paddy fields; whatever you choose to do, you can never have a bad time in Hampi.


2 thoughts on “Happy In Hampi – 10 Hacks That Could Come Handy!

  1. Nice read!!!Looks like you had a fab time there unwinding from your normal routine!!! Am definitely looking forward to the coracle ride and the avocado dosa!! Thanks for the tip!!

    Like

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