"Hampi" in Karnataka state, India is the site of the once-magnificent capital of the Vijayanagar Empire. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
"Hampi" was the capital of Vijayanagar, a 14th century empire. The ruins of this imperial capital are spread out over an area of 26km². "A Forgotten Empire" (ISBN 1419101250) by Robert Sewell is an interesting book which describes the rise and fall of the Vijayanagar empire. Before the fall of Vijayanagar, diamonds were sold on the streets, but the main street selling diamonds and other precious stones was surprisingly called Pan Supaari Street (translated in English, it means betel-leaf betel-nut street). A visitor can still see the exact location of Pan Supaari Street in Hampi, which has been marked with a board by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Hampi is well worth the visit. The area is simply stunning and you will be in awe of the millions of boulders surrounding the area. Within this arid landscape lies a little oasis with lush palm, banana, and mango trees nestled near the river.
Hampi is a great place to spend a few days wandering around and discovering the rich, vibrant history while also having a bit of 'your' time.
Hampi hosts Hampi Utsav every year during first week of November. It is a visual delight as all the monuments/ruins are lit at night and it is a cultural extravaganza of dance and music. 2010 marked 500 years since the Vijayanagar king Sri Krishnadevaraya ascended to the throne.
The nearest airport is at Hubli, 143km away from Hampi. Kingfisher airlines used to fly from Mumbai and Bengaluru. Flying from Goa means that you have to change planes in Mumbai (or Bengaluru), making it an expensive and time consuming trip, and therefore useless.
The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction (IR station code: HPT), 13km away.
Overnight trains run several times a week from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa. The trains are a much cheaper and more comfortable route than the tourist buses most people are led into. (2nd class air-con - bed with linen - costs ₹750 from Bangalore to Hampi). You can also catch an overnight train from Mysore to Hubli and from there to Hospet/Hampi. You can also get an overnight train, the Hampi Express, direct from Mysore to Hospet Junction. It departs Mysore at 6:15pm and is scheduled to arrive at 7:45 the next morning.
Here are some useful trains to get into Hampi:
From Hospet it's convenient to take a rickshaw to Hampi (₹80-120). Rickshaw drivers can be persistent and will poke their heads in the train before you even get off, but they may very well be the best option. Buses to Hampi are cheaper. It's about a kilometre and a half walk from the train station to the bus station. Take an Auto-rickshaw up to bus-stand (₹5 per head) and you can easily get frequent government buses for Hampi (₹17 per head).
Also see Rail travel in India
- Bangalore: 350km. Drive till Chitradurga on NH-4, take a right turn on NH-13 towards Sholapur till Hospet, and then drive another 13km to reach Hampi (direction towards Hampi is well marked). The road is in excellent condition till Chitradurga but then deteriorates rapidly. You are also likely to encounter traffic jams due to ore-laden trucks plying on NH-13.
- Hyderabad: 360km. Take NH-7 till Jadcharla X-Road, turn right towards Mahboobnagar and carry on till Raichur. From Raichur, take Karnataka State Highway 20 towards Lingasugar, turn left at 10km after Raichur onto Karnataka State Highway 23 to Sindhanoor. The road on the last 15-25km stretch, after Gangavati, is not so bad. Lots of speed breakers in Karnataka. The 5-10km stretch just before the Andhra Pradesh - Karnataka States Border on Andhra Pradesh side is full of potholes.
- Mumbai: About 800km or less: take NH-4 upto hubli & then go via Gadag-hospet. Alternately, take NH-4, exit to Sangli/Miraj, Go to Athni -Bijapur. (Donot take short cuts as roads are real bad.). You may choose to see Badami, Pattadakkal, Aihole as a 2 day add on excursion, else proceed to Hampi next day. Roads are average except speedbarkers combined with potholes and heavy traffic of large trucks. (Strictly avoid night driving). Prefer high ground clearance cars on this roads.
- There are private bus companies operating from most places in Goa and from Gokarna which run an overnight service to Hampi. Unfortunately, there is no direct return so you take a local bus (or taxi) to Hospet and take it from there.
The real pleasure in exploring Hampi comes from being on a bicycle or by walking around. Virtually every rock in Hampi has a story to say. This story is best heard if you give it time and walk around from rock to rock.
Bicycle is the best way to explore Hampi if you enjoy history, culture and nature. It usually costs about ₹60/day. Helmet and lock is included in the price. A little bit of walking is always required for exploring sites inside and out.
Another more convenient variant to see all the sights without climbing the hills is by Rikshaw. Bargain with your Rikshaw driver for a fixed rate (₹600-700 for a full day seems to be okay [Mar 2014]) and then hire an official Karnataka Travel guide (at the tourist office, they have fixed rates: 4h = ₹500, 8h = ₹800). It costs a little bit, but the explanations help you to see more then just stones and temples. To get an estimate of cost/content, you can talk to the guides before coming down to Hampi. The guides willingly share their cellular numbers and email addresses.
It is very hot! Dry, dry heat. And the walk between some sites can be at least 5km. Plus, the surrounding area is quite breathtaking to ride around and you can explore some parts that the rickshaws won't take you. Guides are willing to ride on the back with you as well. This is a more expensive option than the rickshaw (not for the thrifty!) but it gives you more freedom and you can cover more in one day without rushing it. Take a guide with you one day, then do it all again by yourself the next. A bike like a scooty or kinetic Honda will cost you about ₹150 a day with additional fuel charges. You can also hire a 100cc motor bike for ₹200 a day. A litre of petrol will be sufficient for sight seeing around Hampi, but two litres would be handy if you have plans to go to Tungabadra Dam (some 15km from Hampi)
When renting a scooters/motor bikes petrol costs extra, and normally sold at 40-50% premium in the place you rent (a litre costs ₹100, Apr 2013). A petrol pump is located in Kamalapur, which sells petrol at ordinary price. Two litres will get you to the major sites around Royal Centre and back, but three litres is a safer option. The countryside is a beautiful place for a leisurely drive so it's worth taking lots of fuel.
Various Car Rentals are available in Hospet. They normally charge ₹750 to ₹1,000 for a day's sightseeing and pick up/drop off at railway station etc. There are several car rental companies in Hampi/Hospet including some prominent ones like SRB Travels, etc. Car rentals are also available from various rail heads and airports near by like Bangalore, Goa, Hyderabad, Belgaum to Hampi.
The ruins of Hampi are located within a 30km² area. While most of the famous places have motorable roads leading up to them.
Most of the guest houses are on other side of the river (area called Virupapur Gadde). To access them, you need to cross river by Motor boat (₹10 for locals, ₹15 for tourists, boat runs until 18:00. If you cannot get on the boat, you have to pay auto ₹500-600 to take you other side via Hospet-Hugili- Hanumanhalli, which is a 40km tour. During moderate/high rains, the gates of Tungbhadra dam are opened which increases the water level and water flow in the river. In that case, you might get stranded on the other side of the river (Virupapur Gadde area).
Hampi is a visual delight, especially due to its stark contrast from most other places. Rocks are all you see whichever direction you look at. Vegetation is visible in the wet months; but again it never dominates the landscape. It is an ideal spot for people who are interested in history and/or nature.
There are many sites of interest in and around Hampi. The must-visits are Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, Monolith Bull, Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Hemakuta Hill temples, Big Shivlinga, Vithala Temple (the famous Stone Chariot is located here), Hazara Rama Temple, Royal Enclosures, Queen's Bath, Zanana Enclosure (which also houses the Lotus Mahal), Elephant Stables, Achyut Raya temple, Statue of Lakshmi Narasimha (often mistaken for Ugra Narasimha - fiery form of Vishnu) owing to the damage suffered by this monolithic statue, Virupaksha Temple, Mahanavmi Dibba, the Stepped Bath and the Matanga Hill (from where one can see the most beautiful sun set ever). All these places are towards Hampi Bus Stand area and you don't need to cross the river.
You can buy a local map costing ₹15, and cover all the places on your own taking a hired bike/scooty. Otherwise, you can hire a car to do local sightseeing. It would cost you about ₹400-500.
Tungbhadra dam is another 16km from Hampi and it is towards Hospet. Hence, if you have plans to catch your train/bus back from Hospet, you could see Tungbhadra dam and return from Hospet. It takes around 45min to 1h to see Tungbhadra dam. You need to park your vehicles at the entrance and take Govt bus to the top and return. It takes ₹20 for to and fro.
There are also several "Shivalings" along the river which the boatman will guide you to. The old capital called Anegundi, across the river from Hampi also has many sites. You can also go to Anegundi from Virupapur gadde by road. There is a road alongside old broken bridge (Bukka's Aqueduct). The Hanuman Temple on Anjenaya Hill (involves climbing up 572 steps, is believed to be the birth place of Hanuman) and the Pampa Sarovar are worth a visit. Both of these places are around 7-8km from Old broken bridge.
There is Daroji bear sanctuary around 16km from Hampi, opposite side of Kamalapura/Hospet. It opens 13:00-18:00 Not a must see but you can go there for a nice drive/ride if you have some time to kill.
To do justice to all the sites, you need a minimum of 3 full days of sight seeing. To discover all the ruins, it may take much more than 3 days - perhaps months.
- A good amount of walking is a must, as the ruins are scattered over a huge area. Moped/bicycle hire is a good option to move around.
- Cross the river by one of those coracle ferry. If you can not swim, ensure that the coracle is not overcrowded. Your life is at stake. As of March 2013, the cost is ₹10 per person and ₹5 for each piece of luggage. The other side of the river (Anegondi) spots a number of pre Vijayanagara relics.
- If coming in April to September time (off season) do check with the hotel for bookings especially if you plan to stay on Anegondi side of the river. Except a few prominent ones (e.g. Shanthi Guest House, Mowgli Guest House etc), the other guest houses and restaurants close down.
- If you go there in Jun-August, you will not find coracle ferry in action, the river is usually very high then, so if you want to go Anegondi you have to travel c. 40km, I don't think you will like Anegondi after Hampi, actually there is nothing to see except the Hanuman temple on Anjana hill, but be prepare for a climb of about 600 steps.
- If you are staying at Virupapur Gadde side of the river, plan and return by 6'o clock. If you have a train/bus to catch in the night, checking out before 6'o clock in the evening helps. If the ferry closes, the auto/car option becomes a much longer and costlier affair.
- Rockclimbers frequently visit Hampi to scale the boulders and can often be seen around with their crashpads, mostly on the Virupapura Gaddi side of the river.
- Wildlife - The occasional crocodile may be encountered in the river or on rocks midstream, sometimes several metres long.
- Leopards frequent some of the rocky hills, sometimes not too far from human habitation, and may venture out at night to prey on dogs or the odd goat. *Sloth bears are not only confined to Daroji sanctuary, but may wander the sugar cane fields at night. They can be dangerous when encountered with cubs in tow.
- As many as 185 species of bird can be identified at various times of the year in the Hampi environs.
Hampi Children Trust takes care of 38 children with studies, food (all 3 meals, seven days a week) and medical care. Some children live in-house while others stay in the locality. Spend time with the children on scheduled picnics every Saturday from 15:00 to 18:00. Their language teacher, Chidu, takes them to a pre-designated area (the river area, Matunga Hill, etc) where the children let their wild streak take over. Set up by a Britisher, Tim and local Kalidas. See their neat classroom with weekly responsibilities laid out for each child for the upkeep of the trust. Ask for a scrapbook made by other volunteers as part of their art projects. Sundays closed. Ask for longer duration volunteering options if interested.
Directions: Hampi main bazaar. From the main road leading up to the Virupaksha temple, take a right to go into the main bazaar. The trust is a few metres on the left.
They accept voluntary donations or dedicated sponsors at ₹12,000 per child, per year.
The stone carvings are made by local artists and are a good buy here. The same thing in Bangalore will cost ten times the price. The hand stitched blankets are also a good buy.
There are lots of places in Hampi Bazaar where you get satisfying and inexpensive food, though be prepared for a long wait at most places as the chefs are typically family members who prepares food to order. However, they are good at their jobs and can offer a wide range of different cuisines.
- Laughing Buddha restaurant This is on other side of river (Virupapur Gadde) and close to Shanthi guest house. There are mattress, cushions and low benches in it. So, you can just lie down and sit at ease. Continental food is very nice here with good variety. It also offers Punjabi food.
- The Goan Corner , an idyllic cafe on the other side of the river is an experience in itself. Really really famous among the foriegner crowds, it takes a 10-15 min walk across the green paddy fields to make your way to this place.It is run by a very friendly family where the lady don, Sharmila reigns supreme.Unlike the other closely arranged cafes, Goan Corner is rather desolated and adds to the magic that Hampi creates.
- Sagar Hotel's Idli, Dosa & Gunta Ponganalu. Just besides Gopi Guest House and right infront of the Shambhu Guest House, which are located near the Virupaksha Temple, 'Shankaramma' under a thatched roof makes delicious idlies, dosas and the tasty 'gunta pongal.' Do not miss this place. The food is not only delicious but also very cheap.
- Mango Tree.The place has relocated from the banks of the river Tungabhadra to a shack near by .. The food is below average both in terms of taste and the size of the portions...Not worth a mention.As far as beverages go .. i had ordered a masala tea and i got a glass of it ( no cups around here ) with tea powder floating on the top... The ambiance is alright ( not what it must have been by the river ).... they play nice music... the staff is alright too.. but food should be the real hero in a restaurant and mango tree fails to deliver in that department....
- Garden Paradise. This is behind the line of shops in Hampi Bazaar which are towards left in the direction towards Virupaksha Temple. Located by the banks of Tungabhadra river, the ambience is quite pleasant. Reasonably priced too. They offer huts as well for accomodation.
- Mayura Bhuvaneshwari, Kamalapura. Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari serves delicious buffet lunch for veg approx 100/-. If you plan your day such that you reach kamalapura around mid-day, this can be a great place for lunch. Unlimited food is served in very clean and serene surroundings. Even thought a very popular and a very clean hotel, make sure you use packaged drinking water. 100.
- Durga Roof Top, Near Virupaksha Temple (From the bazaar when you approach Virupaksha Temple, take a right at the temple, next take a left ( as the road turns), take a right further and you will find yourself at Durga Roof Top.). Very good and authentic north Indian food and their Hello to the queen dessert is simply amazing.
- Tom & Jerry. Located on the east-side of the bazar-area near the boulders. Small but very comfortable rooftop-restaurant that serves delicious homecooked food in a very friendly atmosphere.
- Chillout Restaurant. Excellent food and very friendly staff.Try their divine Nargis Kofta.They also make decent pizza.
- All Tribes Coffee Shop, near Funky Monkey. Great, cheap and open hangout place for travellers and backpackers. Meet nice and interesting people,get to know local people. The coffee shop serves coffee and indian tshai, cookies and other sweets. There is a fair trade shop and vegan friendly. During the day are many activities, like meditation, video screenings and camp fires. Family friendly.
- Prince Resturant, Hampi. Prince Restaurant is a decent place with limited varieties to offer in indian, chinese and continental cuisines at affordable rate. One must definitely try the Hotel Prince's Biryani, when you reach there. It is the second best thing in Hampi and the best biryani ever.
- Venkateshwara restaurant, Hampi main bazaar (Near the Mango Tree restaurant (new location)). Small place which serves up local fare (meals/thalis and dosas) at dirtcheap prices (₹50 for a thali). Recommended for those in a budget. It is well known by the locals so ask around for directions. Has only 4 tables so you may have to wait for seating.
- Sri Shirdi Sai Tiffin, College Rd, Hospet. 07:00-23:00. If you happen to be in Hospet( waiting for your bus/train etc.), do not miss the chance to savour the softest and tastiest Idli-wada in Karnataka. On College Rd, just look out for the most crowded eatery. ₹30 for one plate of Idli Wada (Mar 2014).
Hampi is a religious centre so drinking alcohol is not allowed. Therefore, beer or other alcoholic drinks are generally not available at local restaurants. However, Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari in the neighbouring town of Kamalapur has a bar that serves beer and wine. Ask your rickshaw driver to take you to Hospet, where you can purchase cheap booze from rowdy and definitely illegal but tolerated alcohol shops.
A few hotels like Shanti and Kishkinda, which are located across the river, do serve beer and hard liquor like whisky, vodka, rum, etc
There are several guest house in Hampi, though staying in Hospet or the nearby town of Kamalapur are also options. Staying at Hospet gives easy accessibility to Railway Station and better Hotels. Hampi is also not very far from Hospet. There are no ATMs in Hampi, so remember to withdraw any cash beforehand from Hospet or the closer Kamalapur (4km before Hampi while coming from Hospet). Kamalapur has 3 ATMs all near to each other - State Bank of India, Axis Bank and Bank of India.
Most guest houses in Hampi are rather basic. Do not expect too much. Avoid places recommended in the Lonely Planet guide, because they immediately raise their rates and lower their quality. A lot of cheaper guest houses are situated across the river on the Hampi Island (Virupapur Gaddi), popularly known as the 'Hippie Island'.check properly the guest house near bus stand, as those are ill maintained and not properly clean
- Lakshmi Heritage Tourist Home, Janata plat, near gopi guest house and virupaksha temple (http://maps.google.co.in/maps?hl=en&tab=wl), ☎ +91 948 171 5421. checkin: any time; checkout: 09:00. The decor, equipment, and cleanliness of the apartments is second to none. The friendliness and efficiency of the staff is first class. 300m from local bus stand. Restaurant, free parking and rooms with free Wi-Fi access. Air-conditioned guest rooms have TV with cable channels and en suite bathroom with toiletries and hot shower facilities. Select rooms have a balcony. The staff at the tour desk can assist with travel arrangements and car rental services. Laundry services are offered. ₹150.
- Hotel Malligi, 10/90 JN Road, ☎ +91 839 422-8101, . 9km from ruins. Blue Mist, Temptations & Waves restaurants. Spa, pool.</sleep>
- Kiran Guest House, Janata Plot, ☎ 09448143906 OR-08394-204159. checkin: any time; checkout: 09.00. Clean rooms with attached bathrooms. 24 hours hot water. All the rooms have solar powered lights and all have solar powered fans, which can come in handy because the regular power goes out regularly.. It is run by a family and is in a very quiet location ₹600 (email, Nov 2013).
- Sai Plaza, virupapura gaddi (hampi), ☎ 9448797040. checkin: 10:00; checkout: 10:00. A nice river view guest house situated just across the river. It has nice thatched-roof rooms, oriental look, and river-side location. Rooms have double beds, attached bathrooms, swing bed. Multi-cuisine restaurant, where you can relax on mattresses, listen to music while ordering ₹990.
- Shanthi Guest House is situated across the river Tungabhadra. After you cross the river, take a left and at the end of the lane, as you walk besides paddy fields, is the Shanthi Guest House. This is a nice place to relax, as it offers cottage-style accommodation. It is managed by Krishna and Rao. The prices are around ₹900 per room (Jan 2014). There is a restaurant on site making good pizzas and acceptable local food for similar prices to other places nearby. Their phone number is +91 839 432-5352.
- Sree Rama Guest House is close to the main temple offers decent accommodation with private bathroom. From the bazaar, turn right just in front of the main temple and then follow the main road. The hotel also gives electronic mosquito killers for free. The Internet downstairs is one of the best in Hampi. Room charge is ₹200-250 per night (Jan 2008)
- Sunny Guest House is situated across the river(Virupapur Gadde, Hampi). It is a nice place to stay. They have a nice garden. This place is very calm and relaxing. The prices are affordable. Their phone number is +91 853 328 7169.
- Vicky's charges around ₹500 per room (Jan 2008) and has a mediocre rooftop restaurant. The rooms are not the cleanest and the bathroom definitely needs refurbishment. There are three computers downstairs and only the one on the left is in working condition. The other two are very slow. It used to be good until all the tourists swarmed into it under the guide of Lonely Planet.
- Rolling Stone Homestay, Across the river. Really basic huts for ₹400 per night - based on 2 sharing a hut. Not the cleanest, constant power cuts but have a bed, mosquito net, very basic shower and western toilet plus a fan. Only stay here if you can deal with just the basics.
- Mowgli Guest House, Across the river, . Next to Shanthi guest house and good view of river. Thatched cottages overlooking the paddy fields and river have a balcony and swing like Shanthi guest house. Priced at ₹700 for cottages without solar backup, ₹900 without (prices April 2013), however since power is restored generally at nights and the day is spent out sight-seeing, the ₹700 option is good enough. It has a nice restaurant which again provides river side view and has good Indian food. Local, cheaper food is also available nearby by taking a left from the entrance and walking a kilometre to the main road.
- Hema guesthouse, Across the river (Anegundi Side). checkout: 9:30am. Nice, well-maintained and clean bungalows, each with hammock. The ambience itself is pretty nice and the staff are quite welcoming. The rooms are very basic but clean and tidy. You can plan to eat here as well and the food is pretty decent. 600rs (dec 2013).
- Mayuram Home Stay, Janata Plat, near Gopi Guest House, ☎ (mobile) 9448801852 or (owner's residence) 08394241693. checkin: anytime; checkout: 9 am. Mayuram Home Stay is very near to the temple and offers recently refurbished clean tidy en-suite rooms with hot water, mosquito nets, and a backup generator for 24 hour electricity. A good place to stay in clean and comfortable surroundings. The owner Ravi also owns a very good travel agency nearby called ISSTA travels. Recommended. 400 to 500.
- Rashmitha Guest House, Janata Plat, ☎ +91 839 424-1945 (owner's residence) or +91 948 164 5104 or +91 948 090 7200 (mobile). Checkout: 09:00. Recently refurbished en suite rooms with hot water, mosquito nets, and a backup generator for 24 hour electricity.
- Shambhu Guest House, Janatha Plot (Close to Virupaksha temple), ☎ 9480386751. checkin: Any Time; checkout: 09.30. 5 double attached Bath rooms with 24 hours hot shower and electricity backup generator service and beautiful River view, and offers recently refurbished clean tidy en-suite rooms mosquito nets. ₹300-400
- Boulders, Narayanapet (7 kms from Hampi), ☎ 09242641551, . This is easily one of the more expensive places to stay at in Hampi located in a sprawling 100 acre odd property in Hampi, which is unspoiled by civilization (barring the accommodations). The hotel has taken a lot of trouble in trying to ensure that it blends into its local surroundings and they have done an excellent job at that. Its about a 20-30min drive to the ferry point to Hampi and rides to and from the hotel are complimentary. The hotel itself offers activities indoor and outdoor. The outdoor nature walk along the boulders is simply beautiful and their viewpoints are quite breathtaking. They also have ancient cave paintings on the property. You should also keep in mind that since the property is large, it does have wild animals that traverse in and out of the property and you could be very lucky and spot a leopard or crocodile. All in all I would recommend a stay here. rack rate 3500 per person (dec 2013).
- Hotel Sreemata (Koppal), Hospet Road (NH 63), ☎ 08539221168, . checkin: 24hrs; checkout: 24hrs. Situated in Koppal, the gateway town to Hampi - the UNESCO world heritage site; Hotel Sreemata is a modest property ideal for the business and leisure traveler. The hotel is located 1.5km away from the railway station and a short drive from Hampi ruins, which was once the capital of the Hindu empire, Vijay Nagar who ruled South India. This hotel equipped with lots of amenities and surrounded by the historic and mythological remains makes for a perfect stay. 34 elegantly furnished rooms including air-con and fan rooms and suites. ₹600.
- Tungabhadra Dam and its associated gardens are nice. It has got a nice dancing fountain too. Visiting the tungabhadra dam can be a nice filler instead of just waiting for the bus/train (typically at 22:00/23:00). Auto-rickshaw can take directly from Hampi to Tungabhadra dam base at a cost of ₹400 (Mar 2014) and then you can have the bus by paying ₹20 per person for a half hour visit to the dam. Autos are not allowed till the top of dam.