After our overnight train travelling north from Mysore, we arrived in Hospet, for the next leg of our journey, to visit the ancient city of Hampi. Surprisingly train journey was quite good, and surprisingly I had a good nights sleep. Which I wasn’t expecting The distance from Mysore to Hampi is around 265 miles, and takes around 12 hrs.
Hampi is situated in east central Karnataka and became the centre of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire, and its capital in the 14th century, and is also a Unesco World Heritage site. The now ruined city covers an area of some 16 square miles, and is an amazing sight to see. The amazing thing about the area where Hampi is situated is that from every view point, and far as the eye can see, the area is littered by huge boulders. Quite how this happened it remains a mystery. It’s nothing like I have ever witnessed before, it’s like a surreal lunar landscape from a sci-fi film. Many of the structures, temples and ancient bazaars are still in quite remarkable condition considering their age. These include the Elephant stables, the Virupaksha Temple in the Hampi bazaar, Lotus Mahal and the Queens bath and the Stone Cart to name but a few.
Personally I would recommend staying in Hospet when visiting, as the area around the Hampi bazaar with its limited accommodation is a little run down. In my opinion it’s probably aimed at hardened backpackers. A better reason to stay in Hospet is, at the time of writing the government is having a big crackdown in the Hampi bazaar area, and removed a lot of the shops and accommodation. In the local news, the reason was “they stated” that they wanted to clean up the area.
Getting to Hampi from Hospet
There are various ways to get Hampi from Hospet. You can take a tour by car from your hotel, the cost at our hotel was 1700 INR around £20 for the day. Or you can take a Tuk Tuk, there are plenty offering tours at a 1000 INR around £12. I would not recommend either of these as it would be somewhat rushed to see the sights in one day. We had two full days, to take the time to soak in the atmosphere of this amazing place, even more if you wanted to trek even further. Our method of transport was the local bus. They run every 10 minutes from the bus station, and you are not jammed in like most Indian buses, in fact it’s quite a pleasant journey. The cost of a single journey is 16 INR £0.20. The buses go all the way to Hampi Bazaar, or you can get off at the Queens Bath area which are the two main areas to visit (click on Hampi link to view map)
On our first day we walked around the Hampi Bazaar and the Virupaksha Temple, then if you walk away, with the temple at your back, along the long straight road with ancient bazaar either side, you will then reach the monolithic bull (Nadi). From here you walk up the hill in front off you and down the other side. You will then reach Achyuta Raya’s Temple. From here just follow your map, and eventually you will get to Vittala Temple, where the Stone Chariot is. It’s a full days walking, but you will see far more than if you are on a tour, as a lot of areas are not accessible by vehicles, which is a good thing in my opinion.
Our second day was exploring the Queens Bath, Hazara Rama Temple the Stepped Well, and the magnificent Elephant Stables. This site is around 6km from the Hampi Bazaar, and is not such a full on day. As explained earlier, the bus stops here on the way to Hampi Bazaar
This might sound obvious, but take plenty of water as there is not many vendors around, and it gets extremely hot in the height of the day. There are only two areas that have entrance fees, the Vittala Temple and the Elephant Stables. Our guide book stated that the fee for foreigners “Indians pay 50 INR £0.60” was 250 INR, around £3.00 for each attraction. On arrival we were surprised, this had gone up to 500 INR £5.80. On closer inspection of our ticket though, the price is for both attractions, but you have to visit them in the same day. We didn’t incidentally but we still managed to use our ticket
We stayed in the Royal Orchid, which sounds very grand but believe me it was not. But one Hotel I would highly recommend was the Hampi International Hotel. We ate there every night, the food was amazing, prices much lower than our hotel. Also the rooms looked much better. Only wish we had found this one when we were researching our trip.