While volunteering with Leave UR Mark, I had the opportunity to take a few trips during my weekends. Unfortunately, I was fighting a sinus infection my first weekend and was only able to escape the city on Sunday, when I headed to Mysore. But, I made sure I was feeling one hundred percent better for the following weekend in Hampi. Everyone I had met, who had been to the town, said it was the highlight of their trip to India. I yearned to know why and to see it for myself.
As soon as we arrived, I understood. Hampi was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Bangalore, dotted with rice paddies, palm trees, giant boulders, and ancient ruins. In just a few hours, we had been transported somewhere completely different.
If you are looking for the perfect weekend trip while in Bangalore, or another place to visit while traveling through India, a trip to Hampi is one that you must make. A weekend is just about enough time, but you may want to stay a few extra days to really unwind and relax.
Since it’s the most convenient way to get around, we took the night bus to and from Hampi. Honestly, it was really nice and relatively comfortable, much more than what I remember of the overnight bus I took while traveling in Vietnam. Unfortunately, on our way down, Arlina, my friend and bus sleepover buddy, spotted a cockroach, which threw off my sleep for the night, as I imagined him and all his little friends throwing a party on me. We decided to name him Calvin, which made me feel a bit more comfortable and accept what it was. Our roundtrip tickets on luxury buses with AC cost us only 1750 rupees, or about $27 USD, each; totally worth it.
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for total relaxation, then stay at Shanthi Guest House. It’s all the way at the end of the strip of guest houses, restaurants, and shops, tucked away overlooking rice paddies and palm trees. The rooms are simple huts complete with a well-placed mosquito net and there’s seating, a table, and lounge swing outside for added relaxation. If city living is getting to you, this is the ultimate escape.
What to Do
On Saturday, we arrived relatively exhausted. After a long night on the bus and a late arrival, we hopped in a rickshaw to Hampi (the bus only takes you to Hospet) and then took a small boat to cross the river, where our accommodations were located. This side is peaceful and relaxing, worth crossing the river for. Plus, drinking is allowed on that side, while it isn’t allowed on the side with the temples.
We checked in, showered, and grabbed lunch at Evergreen Cafe. Simba, the owner, came and played Uno with us, and we had so much fun. Had we been staying in town longer, we definitely would have spent more time at this little spot.
After lunch, we decided to empty our wallets in the shops. As we made our way back to the guest house, we stopped in this jewelry shop that caught our eye and would up spending a few hours there. We talked to the owner, Amit, over chai and fresh coconut water. Then, he told us that him and his friends would take us to the Hanuman Temple.
We went back to the guest house to drop off our newest possessions and then we rented a few motorbikes to make our way to the temple for sunset. The temple is thought to be the birth place of the monkey god, Hanuman, and so it is a popular spot for visitors in Hampi.
The views at the top are worth the 570-steps it takes to get there. Once at the top, you can get a blessing, explore a bit, and feed the monkeys. Of all the places I had seen monkeys in India, these were the most pleasant, so I braved it and handed a few of them some bananas; after all, we were at the temple of the monkey god.
After a few yoga poses and selfies, while watching the sun go down over Hampi, we hopped back on the bikes and back to town. We freshened up a bit, then grabbed dinner at one of the spots nearby our hotel. Like most restaurants, there was pillow seating on the floor, and we listened to a jam session while downing a few refreshing Kingfisher beers.
We woke up to warm weather on Sunday, and although we planned on renting bicycles, we decided instead to hire a rickshaw. This would allow us to see more temples, and since it cost 700 rupees, which was about $10 USD, split between four of us, it was the ideal way to get around.
First, we headed to the Vitthala Temple complex, which houses several impressive structures including a stone chariot. The temple is dedicated to Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu. We spent a long time here paying attention to each and every detail, impressed by the craftsmanship.
While doing some yoga poses in one of the temples, a young boy came over to show off his skills. Together, we posed for a few pictures and even though we couldn’t speak the same language, it was a memorable experience for both of us.
Next, we made our way to the elephant stables. I loved the Islamic architecture influence here, and it was fun to wander around and marvel at the structures, which included a huge wall and watchtower.
At this point, we were all feeling a bit famished, so our driver brought us to Mango Tree. This restaurant was cute and came with many recommendations, but honestly, I don’t think I’d recommend it.
Once we were full, we wandered to the temple located in town, since we wanted to see Lakshmi, the holy elephant. This temple complex includes Virupaksha temple, which is the oldest temple in town and has been functioning since the 7th century AD.
The monkeys here were a bit rowdy and after visiting our feet were quite filthy, even so, it was worth the visit and extra rupees to bring in our cameras.
Then, we continued to wander and shop until we figured it was about time to head back to our guest house and grab our bags. The boat crossing on the river closes around 6pm, and we didn’t want to get stuck on the wrong side.
After one last boat ride, complete with two motorbikes on board, we made our way to the Chill Out Cafe to relax and have dinner before catching a rickshaw ride back to Hospet to get our bus.
We caught the night bus home and parting ways was really hard. Hampi reminded me of a more tropical version of Rishikesh with a mix of Luxor, Egypt. It was a special little getaway, and one that was ideal for spending celebrating my last weekend as a thirty year old. If you have the chance to visit this town, don’t hesitate.
Pin this for later!
A special thank you to Leave UR Mark for having me for two weeks. As always, all opinions are my own.