What are the best things to do in Hampi India? On our backpacking trip through South India, we of course had Hampi on our list. At first we weren’t sure if we should visit Hampi in India at all, as there are very ambivalent reviews on the net about the little rock city. In the end, however, we are glad that we were there.
We were extremely impressed by the atmosphere and the unique landscape, but also totally exhausted by the dry heat. While exploring the small town, we also kept feeling like we were in an Indiana Jones movie, so Hampi became one of the best things to do in the south of India. But back to the beginning…
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
How to get to Hampi?
Hampi is located in the heart of Karnataka in India and offered us a great contrast after arriving from the noisy and hectic Mysore. Mysore is a huge city in India, where you can e.g. visit the Mysore Palace. Hampi itself has two different sides, which are separated by a river. On the one hand there is the center Hampi Bazaar. This is the more touristy side of Hampi, with many stores and restaurants. On the other side of the river is the neighborhood Virupapur Gaddi, where you can expect a more quiet and relaxed atmosphere.
Arrival to Hampi in India
Within 12 hours we took the night train from the direction of Mysore to Hampi. We chose the night train to save time. We booked the train tickets in advance online via cleartrip.com. If you wanted to get through the night on the train comfortably, we recommend booking first class with air conditioning. It’s a bit more expensive (about 50 Euro/person), but it will ensure that you arrive at your destination more relaxed and can start the day directly… unless you are as lucky as we were and the air conditioning doesn’t work for a few hours.
The Night in the Train
Unfortunately, our compartment was warmer than the rest of the train for the first few hours. But at some point the air conditioning started working again and we could make ourselves comfortable in our compartment. The first hours we had the entire compartment for us, then 2 more people got on. The seats in the compartment are fixed, but we did not know that before.
The beds in the sleeping compartment are so large that even Andreas with his 1.92 meters could sleep comfortably. In the early morning we arrived relaxed in Hospet (there is the train station of Hampi). From there it takes about 20 minutes by tuktuk to Hampi. On the way you get the first impression of the rocky landscape and the temples.
Hotel Recommendation in Hampi India
In Hampi we can recommend the Lotus Riya Homestay*. The homestay is located away from the hustle and bustle and is a true oasis of peace. The room, bathroom and bed are huge and everything is neat and clean. The delicious breakfast and dinner were always fresh and lovingly prepared.
Things to do in Hampi?
Hampi Bazaar is geared towards tourists, so we first enjoyed a real breakfast there again. There are many restaurants that also serve western food. Also, there are many small stores in the town itself through which you can stroll and provide yourself with one or the other souvenir (especially leather bags are often represented here). Below you find our list of the best things to do in Hampi.
In the center of the city itself is the Virupaksha temple. This is one of the oldest and also the main temple in Hampi. You can easily reach it by foot. The rest of the temples are scattered in a radius of several kilometers around Hampi, so you have to drive around between the sights.
In the city you have the possibility to rent a bicycle (approx. 2 € per day) to go to the temples (which would never have occurred to us in the heat) or you can be driven around by a TukTuk (approx. 13 € per day). Since we had about 42 degrees in March, we chose the comfortable option with the TukTuk. The temple tour usually includes the following temples:
- Vithala Temple Complex
- Group of Monuments at Hampi
- Virupaksha Temple
- Statue of Ugra Narsimha
- Elephant Stables
- Vijaya Vittala Temple
- Hazara Rama Temple
- Lotus Palace
- Stepped Tank
- Hemakuta Hill Temple Complex
- Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple
- Zanana Enclosure
- Queen’s Bath
- Achyutaraya Temple
- Balakrishna Temple
The highlights of the temple tour, such as the Lotus Palace, the Vijaya Vittala Temple and the museum cost admission. For this you can buy a combination ticket for about 6.50 €, which is valid for the whole day.
While you visit the temples, the TukTuk driver waits patiently for you. The TukTuk drivers are not allowed to drive into the last and also biggest temple complex, so the tour with the TukTuk took only about 2h. However, there is the possibility to be driven with a shuttle bus the 1 km long distance to the temple or simply to walk. We walked… which was not a good idea at 42 degrees.
Temple Tour at 42 Degrees
It took us about an hour to cover the distance and we took a break at every shady spot. Unfortunately, there were not very many of them. Therefore, we could not really enjoy the visit of the large temple complex, because we were just much too hot. Fortunately, salvation came directly after the temple in the form of a little boy who sold ice cream from a small cart.
The first one was quickly eaten. After that we looked at each other and it was clear that we each buy a second ice cream…. and since all good things come in threes, everyone got a third ice cream. Yummy! After this refreshment we walked relaxed from the temple back towards the city. The path leads over stone paths and along the river and offers for people who like to climb the possibility to climb the rocks and discover what lies behind them.
So we could enjoy the great view of the surrounding fields and rivers. Shortly before the city we discovered a few monkeys on the rocks, so Andreas had to climb directly behind them to shoot a few photos. On this stretch we were also almost alone, and at least the only western tourists. This has made the way back then a little more relaxed.
Sunrise on Matanga Hill
If you’re in Hampi, you should definitely check out the sunrise from Mantanga Hill (Google Maps link)…. i know, you are on vacation and want to sleep in. But getting up early is really worth it. The beautiful sunrise is one of the best things to do in Hampi. The Mantanga Hill is located near the Virupaksha Temple. For the quite short but very steep ascent you need about 30-45 minutes.
So plan at least one hour to get to Mantaga Hill and then climb to the top. The shortest way is not always obvious. We also got a little “lost” on the way. Once we reached the top, we just enjoyed the mystical atmosphere. Since the locals also know that tourists like to watch the sunrise there, a little boy walked around offered everyone a cup of chai tea.
Even though the tea was completely overpriced by Indian standards, we were happy to pay for it in order to really enjoy the chill atmosphere. On our descent we discovered and explored a small cave… well, at least I did. Andreas was partly just too big to squeeze through the small gaps. So after the beautiful sunrise, we had a bit of adventure before heading to the other side of the river, where we spent our second day in Hampi.
Renting a Scooter on the other Side of the River
To get to the other side of the river, where the Virupapur Gaddi neighborhood is located, you can take a small ferry that runs regularly back and forth until 5:30 pm. If you don’t want to cross the river by motorboat, you can also paddle across in a kind of large wooden boat. Directly on the other riverbank you have the possibility to rent a scooter for about 5 € per day to drive around the area.
Since there are no TukTuk here, you don’t have many other options if you want to take a look at the area. The landscape on the other side of the river is very different, as there are many lush green rice fields with roads running along them. What remains the same are the many temples and temple ruins that you see again and again. Virupapur Gaddi is the quieter side of Hampi. Here there is only one street with a few small stores and accommodations. If you like it a bit quieter, you are right here.
Elephant Bath in the River
In the travel guides and other blogs you read again and again that the temple elephants are bathed in the river and that this is also one of the attractions. When we wanted to cross to the other side of the river, it was just time and we had to watch how the elephant was not only bathed, but also beaten by the keepers and maltreated with an ice pick-like device.
This may be a normal treatment of animals for India, but for us it was an undignified treatment of such an beautiful animal. If you care about animals, as we do, you should refrain from participating in this spectacle. The animals are not treated well and seem to be exploited for tourist purposes.
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How Much Time Should You Spend in Hampi?
We spend only 2 days in Hampi. However, since we liked Hampi so much and could have explored a bit more of the area and the other sights, we would have liked to stay a day or 2 longer. We therefore recommend you to plan at least 3 days. Especially because of the great heat that usually prevails there, you should not take too much in one day.
From Hampi to Goa by Night Bus
We left Hampi again by bus, which wasn’t as bad as expected. Our next destination was supposed to be Goa on the west coast of India. The easiest and best way to get from Hampi to Goa is the night bus (approx. 300 Rupees = 7 € per person. To book online via KSRTC). We read a lot of terrible reviews about this one on the internet beforehand and prepared ourselves for a bad night.
But honestly, we slept through the night quite well until the driver tore us from our dreams in the morning with a loud “Palolem, Palolem”(our beach section in Goa, where we wanted to get off). So don’t let the bad reviews scare you off.
But an important tip: If you’re traveling alone and don’t want to cuddle up with a stranger all night, you’re better off booking two places next to each other. Because the sleeping spaces (2 sleeping spaces are actually one big lying space) are so narrow, so you inevitably have to cuddle with each other… whether you want to or not.
Hampi India – Tips and Tricks
- There is no ATM in Hampi… at least we didn’t find any. So take enough cash with you.
- If you want to leave by night train/bus, it is best to buy the tickets online beforehand.
- Check the climate tables beforehand. Especially from March to May the temperatures are around 40 degrees, which is really hard to bear.
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