Although the hidden Gem of Hampi, Karnataka has recently started gaining popularity in the Indian travellers world, it is long known by the hippies who flock India in large numbers as much as to create their own Hippie island on the other side of Tungabhadra river.
Hampi is usually identified for its rich cultural heritage that fruition the ruins of Vijayanagar empire in India during the 16th century. In this post we will be exploring how you can travel to this mystical place in the most comfortable, convenient and affordable way.
The two major costs for any trip is travel and accommodation:
Travel to Hampi
Thanks to the thriving airline industry, travelling in any part of the country has been really cost-effective. You can take a flight from any of the prime cities in India to Bangalore in less than INR 5,000 if you plan a trip sufficiently in advance and use airline miles effectively. Since Hampi is almost equidistant from Goa (Partyyyy l..l, ) & Hyderabad (Biryani :P), you can also include Hampi in one of your existing itineraries. The road journey from Bangalore is approx. 320 Kms and the road condition is pretty good via Chittradurga. In case you plan to self-drive like me, I suggest taking a Zoomcar with Airport pick up & drop facility for an ultimate comfort trip in case you are travelling with friends or family. Whilst many of you are aware of the maddening traffic in Bangalore city, keep an hour buffer for it. Once you take the bangalore Pune Highway things are much at ease. It took me 6.5 hours neck to neck to reach my hotel (Hyatt,Hampi) in Vidyanagar, Bellary and Hampi is just 30 Kms away from Bellari. Zoomcar charged me around 8K for a 650 Km package (Including fuel) and the extra kms at 14/Km for a Swift Automatic gear car.For a four people group the economies of scale tip to approx. 2500/person to and fro.
Another option is take a direct flight to Bellari (VDY airport) but it is expensive with limited flight connectivity options.
For solo travellers there are plenty of bus services from Bangalore and Goa alike, and bus tickets usually range from Non AC 400 to 700 for an AC sleeper coach. The problem is these busses operate at night so you may plan the earlier part of the day accordingly if you are travelling from other part of the country (Day flight tickets tend to be expensive as compared to odd timings like very early morning or very late night).I took an early morning flight (3AM) from Mumbai so I can close my office of earlier day, start from Bangalore in the early morning to save traffic and reach Hampi by lunch.
The last option is train journey. The closest you can get to Hampi by train is the Hospeth Junction which is 13 Kms away. Mumbai to Hospeth is approx. 28 long hours of train journey plus last-minute reservations tend to be full, hence the last option for me.
Like any other place, Hampi also offers a wide range of stay options depending on your budget and your taste. Before you head out, you need to know the geographical diversity of this place. One side of the river is the ruins of Vijayanagar Empire and while the other side of the river is called hippie island. If you are not a very Hippie kind of person, you can look for properties at this side of the river. With a medium expensive budget you can find good hotels in the range of 3-4K per room per night. The other side of the river offers small shacks by the beautiful paddy fields for a very decent price range as low as INR 1000 per room per night up to INR 2500. For luxurious travellers who want the spa, swimming pool and multi cuisine meals, they have a Hyatt in Hampi (touch wood) and the price range is surprisingly 5K or even lower id you have a Hyatt membership. I think this is the most value for money accommodation across all the above options described and needless to say I checked in to Hyatt.
Hampi is not as small as to be covered on foot (Somebody as fit as a regular marathoner can, but not otherwise) at the same time it is not as big as to go for any expensive car rental option. Here comes the most effective option of rented bicycles. There are a couple of shops in Hampi where you can rent a bicycle for the day at very affordable prices. Alternatively, just like Goa there is an option to rent motorbike and zoom all the way through the ruins. You can also look for bicycle tours option. These tours usually start in the morning around 9AM and terminate by lunch covering all the important points of the city ruins.
Travelling in the ruins under the sun can be very dehydrating. So pack enough water and salts before you start for the day. I loaded 5 small bottles of bisleri (5oo ml. each) and a packet of Enerzal from the hotel itself. Also, there are limited food options in the ruins area while you hop from temples so plan your lunch place and carry portable snacks/ Snack bars that will keep you topped up for the period. A small request, “Do not litter the place with your wrappers and plastic bottles”. It is a very culturally rich place and it is our responsibility as travellers to maintain its sanctity. There are some great food options on the other side of the river (Hippie island). I must say it is a heaven for foodies offering a global pallete. You can get everything from lasagna to sizzler and fried fish to pancakes. You can head out to the most popular place like Mowgli, they serve some great food. Alternatively you can also look for small shacks spread across the town. The food is very budget friendly.
The cost of your trip depends on the duration of your stay, but to conclude it I would just say no matter the cost, if you are an adventure seeker Hampi is worth it…