How Hampi, the historical town became the most sought after tourist destination?
We were visiting the JSW Township, Vidyanagar for some personal work and decided to revisit Hampi, we had earlier visited Hampi in 2013. We drove down form Hyderabad via Kurnool and stayed at the Rock Regency hotel right next to the township at Toranagallu. Hampi is 32 kms from Vidyanagar, the roads are in good condition and we reached Hampi in 45 minutes.
Hampi was the capital city of Vijayanagara Empire on the banks of the river Tungabhadra for more than 200 years, it flourished during the 14h and 15th centuries. The entire empire is adorned with temples, palaces, farms, marketplaces and monuments. It is one of the world’s second largest medieval era city, which was captured and destroyed by Sultanate armies in 1565. The best time to visit Hampi is between October to February when the weather is pleasant and cool for sightseeing.
RENOVATION AND MAINTENANCE
The ruins of Hampi are a popular tourist destination and a UNESCO world heritage site which is maintained and managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. As the ruins are delicate and have been developing cracks over the years, I saw many places on the structures where small rectangular pieces of glass were taped to the existing cracks and numbered. If the cracks widen the glass breaks and this is an indication that the structure has to be strengthened and this is a sign that it’s time for renovation.
Many hotels and resorts have come up owing to the tourist rush, there are many decent hotels in Hospet, which is 10 kms away from Hampi. When we visited the first time in 2013, we stayed at the Malligi hotel in Hospet, which was a decent hotel with a good restaurant known as Blue Mist. There are many homestays and guest houses across the river in Hippie Island too. And as I mentioned earlier there are two hotels in Toranagallu, the Hyatt Place which is inside the JSW Township and the Rock Regency which is also very close to Hyatt. Both these hotels have a great ambience and offer good hospitality, they are 45 minutes away from Hampi. Another hotel which is right in Hampi, close to the Virupakshi temple is the Clark’s Inn. After 5 hours of sightseeing in the hot sun, it was a relief to have a late lunch at this hotel, they have boarding too, so this can be an ideal place to stay if anyone wants to avoid the travel and stay close by. For a rustic feel, check out the Jungle Lodge Resorts, which we happened to see on our way to Hampi, and I can vouch for the stay, as we stayed at the same resorts on the banks of the Sharavati river, when we went to Jog falls. This is 20 mins away from Hampi, and they have independent cottages with a Jeep safari and Hampi trip included in the package. Another such rustic stay can be the Hampi’s Boulders which is 7km away from Hampi. They have independent cottages which just blend with the surroundings and offer bird watching, island walk, beach volleyball, clubhouse and barbecue. Evolve Back is another heritage stay which mirrors the Jal Mahal at Zenana enclosure with opulent interiors, arched hallways mirroring the royal lifestyle. This is on the same road as the Jungle Lodge resorts and is 20 mins away from Hampi, if you don’t mind paying for a royal experience, this is a perfect stay.
TRAVEL AND GUIDE
The JSW airport at Vidyanagar, Toranagallu, is the easiest and quickest route to Hampi, which is 45 minutes away. From Hyderabad, flights operate 4 days a week Friday to Monday. We had planned to take the flight, but because of my husband’s busy schedule, we had to fix a particular weekend when all the flights were booked. We travelled by road from Hyderabad via Kurnool and Gutti, the highway was only till Gutti, after that we had a bumpy and lengthy travel with half laid roads and speed breakers. It took us 8 hours to reach the township. Flights from Bengaluru and Hyderabad only fly out to this airport.
10 Must do things at Hampi
Visit the Vijaya Vittala temple, Virupaksha temple, the Anjaneya temple, the stepped tank, Queen’s bath, elephant stable, marketplace, Hemakuta Hill temple complex, Lakshmi Narismha temple, Lotus Mahal, Tiruvengalanatha Temple, Zenana Enclosure. These are the major ruins of Hampi, and don’t miss out on seeing any of them, the classic architecture and the history behind these monuments is worth checking out. Because of the open spaces and hot sun, covering all the monuments in a single day may not be possible. Spreading out sightseeing in two days will give us sufficient time to admire and soak in the history of the ruins.
Don’t miss out on taking the coracle ride across to the hippie island, we took this ride the first time we visited. Apart from coracle, boat rides are also available, but one should experience the coracle ride. The hippie island has a Goa like feel and we can rent bikes to go around the island, stay in a hut and party.
After all the sightseeing in the hot sun, the idea of trekking to the Anjanaadri temple atop a hill may not seem a good idea. Plan your trip accordingly and the trek of 1000 steps to the Anjanaadri temple is best taken during the early morning hours. One can reach this place by renting cycles or bikes and take the trek, the view from top is breath taking with patches of paddy fields, coconut trees and the Hampi ruins. It’s quite a tiring trek, so be prepared to wear comfortable clothes, shoes, hat and carry some water and snacks.
Take a bike ride and experience the beauty of paddy fields, boulders and explore the local country side. Hampi is hot with its wide open spaces, wear airy breathable clothes, always carry a hat, sunglasses, water bottle and wear comfortable walking shoes.
What I loved the most of my trip was, the blue skies, the champa tree at the Vittala temple, the boulders and rocks all across Hampi and the many Banyan trees. Take a good camera, as the pictures I took with my phone were amazing, capture some beautiful memories. Sit near the Champa tree, relax in the mandapam, climb close to the boulders, sit under a banyan tree, do some star gazing and soak in the beauty of Hampi.
Near the parking area at the Vittala temple, there are vendors selling freshly cut cucumbers, watermelon, nimbu pani and some cool buttermilk, don’t forget to cool down before and after getting off the battery operated buggy to the Vittala temple. And don’t forget to save the buggy ticket as it’s valid for both up and down travel.
Don’t miss the festive shopping near the Virupaksha temple and at the Hampi and hippie bazaar, from dolls, bags, hats, junk jewellery, clothes, coins to many Knick knacks. The flea market reminds one of the Anjuna beach flea market in Goa.
Hire an auto and hop around Hampi for a full day ride, experience the cool breeze on your face and a local feel with an auto ride.
We saw many youngsters jumping into the river for a swim, so if you are game for it and a good swimmer, go for a cliff jump for a refreshing dip in the Tungabhadra river.
Go on a local food trip to check out some cool local restaurants and lip-smacking food.