After spending some funny moments with school kids at Pattadkal and Aihole, we started for Hampi at around 2pm. I had heard a lot about Hampi, so had expectations set pretty high. Well, lets just say, they were annihilated. For good.
Route Taken & Rideability Factor – 3 / 5
From Aihole, we strayed around Amingarh for a while to find the road to Hunugund. After Hunugund it was a national HIghway and not much thought was given to the riding pleasure since the sun was right above our heads. We decided to take a stop at a dhabha for a couple of hours and let the sun cool off a little.
We had no idea where we going to spend the night (we had made a few calls in Hopset & Hampi, and due to Hampi Festival, most of the places were booked to capacity). So we googled ‘camping at Hampi’ and got some promising results. With camping on mind, we left early to find a good spot in an around the hills.
About 50km from Hospet landscape begins to change and you see small hills here and there covered with big boulders.A nice change to drive through. About 10-15km from Hospet, paddy fields make everything green around you. Things just keep on getting better as you approach this place.
Navigating through Hospet is as easy as it gets. We reached Hampi around 5pm.
Scenic Factor- 6 / 5
Out of this world. I hadn’t seen a landscape like this before. Banana & paddy fields amidst bolderous hills topped by ancient temple ruins wherever you see. Its a sight most people don’t forget ever.
The good part is, there is no single ‘view point’ to enjoy this. Just climb any hill you like and make it your home. No monkeys troubles. No local authorities botherations. Bliss.
For photography enthusiasts, this could be one of the best places in India. You don’t get such reflections of boulders in paddy fields filled with water. You don’t get shadows in such huge temples with no one but you in the complex.
Peace Factor – 6 / 5
We visited Hampi during Hampi Festival. Bad decision. Avoid it at all costs. Initially, we got so worked up that we were thinking of fleeing the next morning itself. But, peace got the better of us.
So during the festival, we just tried to rekindle our sense of humors by following the local crowds wherever they were going, doing whatever they were doing. We listened to Mika Singh perform that night 😐
Jokes apart, if there could be another name to Hampi, it would be peace. Apart from the main Meenakshi temple (which is the only functional temple there), even the temples are usually very quiet and peaceful.
And when you cross Tungabhadra for the hippie village, another dimension is added to this peace : Dum (weed). I have been to a lot of crazy places where people smoke up like crazy but things are on a different scale here.
In short, the place is surreal.
We stayed for 7 days here, our longest on the journey.
Budget – 4.5 / 5
Rooms are easily available everywhere in Hampi, that is, both the Hampi village and the hippie village.
These range from 300 – around 2000.
The rooms in Hampi village have a more of a small village feel to them whereas Hippie village has the shack atmosphere. I would suggest staying in both villages. (Plus its better this way as you can’t explore both the sides of river while staying on one side as the boat service is from 7am to 5:30pm).
So, full marks on accommodation.
Plus, the place is full of amazing camping sites. We camped the first night on the roof of temple on Matunga peak.
Some people told us camping is not allowed there but we did it anyways. A baba stays in the temple (only during the nights). We chatted and he was fine with our tent. A real fine chap.
Plus, there are two shacks (the booby’s place and goan corner) on the far end of the hippie village that allow camping in their premises for as cheap as 100 bucks per day. This includes common bathrooms, a lounge with free wi -fi all day. What else can you ask for.
Food, though, is not as light on the pockets. It’s not expensive, but its not superbly cheap, as compared to what we found on the rest of our journey. Thing is, travellers’ attractions like Hampi (Goa, Varakala, Manali, Pushkar etc.), where foreign travellers spend a good amount of their time, tend to develop in more or less similar lines, that is, pancakes / porridge for breakfast, cold sandwiches / pastas for lunch and pita with humus for dinner kind of places everywhere you see. This kind of pulls out the local charm of the place.
As a result, of all the eating places (which could be well over 100), Idli & Dosa are available at only half a dozen points, which was perhaps the only downer of this place.
Things to do – 6 / 5
So many of them. I will have to give subheading for this one.
Camping: As mentioned earlier, a lot of camping sites here. And I am not talking about camping in shacks. Matunga hill, a popular spot for sunset (a better spot for sunrise. son’t miss it from here), makes for a spectacular camping site.
Camping in the hills. Choose a hill. Setup your tent and its yours. No questions asked.
I think you can also stay for night in the lesser popular temple ruins (like Achyutaraya temple).
Another great place to camp could be near the lake (everybody just calls it ‘the lake’. No name there.) where people go for cliff jumping and swimming. The place is super beautiful.
Temple Ruins: Don’t just roam around the temples. Spend a good amount of time just sitting there and doing nothing. You won’t find such beautiful temples all to yourself anywhere else.
Jam at local Music shops – The hippie village, as the name suggests, has plenty of music shops, where travelers chill out & jam, and you will find amazing musicians and artists there. For example, we had a veteran painter sardarji, a flute artist from Varakala, his Italian student, a spanish girl who sang and played guitar like an angel, an ukulele player from Malta, a spanish guitar baba, just at our shack, the Bobby’s place.
Rock Climbing – This is the first time I got to witness some real rock climbing (not the artificial wall thing). Upon some enquiry, I was told that Hampi is the best place on earth for bouldering an rock climbing. You will see climbers with their safety mats on their backs going for the climbing area all day long. And what brilliant atmosphere you have at the climbing area. Climbers trying to climb every fucking thing you can see. Pros and beginners, side by side helping each other place a good footing.
Cliff Jumping – Visit the lake. It’s basically a dam in a superbly picturesque setting. There are ‘no swimming’ and ‘crocodiles here’ signs everywhere around this place. But please give no fucks. The jumping point is about 35ft high, the water is good, and the folks around you will be great. Nothing more is needed.
River ride in coconut bowl – Do take a small trip in that funny little thing in Tungabhadra. It is a highly touristy thing to do but believe me, you don’t want to miss exploring Hampi from the river.
Summary of south India bike tour