Backpacking,  Destination,  Heritage,  India,  Karnataka,  Travel

The Historical Hampi: A complete guide for backpackers

Hampi needs no introduction! Being the capital of the last Hindu kingdom, the 14th century Vijayanagara empire, It is a UNESCO world heritage site and a popular tourist destination. Located in Karnataka, this distant town has ruins of temples, forts, royal complexes and structures spread over 4100 hectares.

Hampi backpacking
Hampiness <3

Hampi was in our bucket list since long and finally we are back from a backpacking trip to Hampi in March. Luckily our travel date coincided with annual Hampi Utsav and we got to see rich culture and heritage of Vijayanagara kingdom through art and music.

This blog will provide a three day itinerary to explore Hampi in a budget manner. How to reach, where to stay, what to explore, what to avoid , everything will be covered, keep calm and read on !

How to Reach?

Hampi is 376 kilometres from Bangalore, 385 kilometres from Hyderabad and 266 kilometres from Belgaum. The closest railway station is in Hosapete (Hospet), 13 kilometres away.

By Air

Hubli is the nearest airport to Hampi(about 160km), the other being Belgaum airport (about 270 km). Better option is to fly till Bangalore and take an overnight train.

By Train

Hosapete (Hospet) is not very will connected to cities by train, only few of the express trains pass via Hospet. There are a few passenger trains that connects  Hospet with nearby cities. Direct trains include Hampi Express ; Amaravathi Express ; Haripriya Express ; Garib Nawaz Express ;  Hyderabad – Kolhapur Express.
Another way is to  get connections from Hubli or Guntakal.  Hubli Jn (UBL) and Guntakal Jn (GTL) are two major rail junctions, one can look for a transport from Hubli or Guntakal to Hospet.

By Bus

There are several state run KSRTC buses as well as private buses to Hospet and Hubli .

If you are travelling from Mumbai the best way is to take a private bus for Hosapete like we did. It will take 15 hours which is minimum compared to the only two trains from Kalyan which are not everyday trains (18 hours duration).

Private buses will drop you at chowk in Hospete town, from there you can easily walk to Hospete bus depot by asking locals. There is frequent bus service to Hampi (13K.M), the charges are 15/- per head which is quite low as compared to charges quoted by auto-rickshaws (250-300 Rs.). So if you are traveling light/ backpacking you can easily save some bucks here.

Where to stay ?

There are many budget options to stay in Hampi. As there are numerous home stays available in both sides i.e town side and hippie island side. While we were planning for trip, our Instafam suggested us to stay in Hippie island considering the cool vibes. But we differ from the view, the reason being simple! budget and convenience.

The major sites to explore are town side and thus if you stay in Hippie island you have to take boat everytime to cross river and return back, which takes time and ofcourse money. There are numerous homestays beside Virupaksha temple which are not listed online. So you can reach and bargain if you have time and patience else you can book from sites like booking.com (prefer staying close to Virupaksha temple in Hampi market area).

As we were in Hampi during Hampi Utsav, the homestays in main area were mostly booked, but somehow we got a homestay for 600 bucks per night in Hampi market for two days.

Places to Explore

Hampi has ruins of numerous temples, forts, royal complexes spread over 4100 hectares and covering all places is quite difficult to be fair. To shortlist the main places to explore we relied on map provided by http://hampi.in/ Please screenshot the map for reference it is quite useful and informative.

Hampi map
Hampi Map ( Courtesy: http://hampi.in/ )

The main places can be broadly classified in Sacred centre and royal centre. The sacred center of Hampi include mainly temple and religious statues. The royal centre as the name suggests mainly consists of monuments associated with royalties. The major places we covered are Virupaksha temple, Vitthala temple, Royal centre, Matanga hills etc which are marked red in map, in addition to it we also explored hippie island side as well. We drove to Sanapur lake and waterfall on Virupapur gadde side (Hippie island).

We are sharing our day wise itinerary in details so that you can plan it accordingly.

Our itinerary


We reached Hampi by 12 p.m, and after finding a homestay we had lunch and rested for an hour. After a quick nap we got ready and left to see the famous Virupaksha temple which was just 100 meters away from our stay.

Virupaksha Temple

It is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi, dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksha. It is intact among the surrounding ruins and is still used in worship. The entrance tower( Gopuram) of temple is intricately carved, and looks very beautiful in evening.

virupaksha temple, Hampi
Swirling in corridors of Virupaksha Temple

Due to ongoing Hampi Utsav, the temple premises were pepped up, there was an ongoing rangoli competition, and a stage was set up for upcoming programmes. Soon we could hear drum beats from outside, there was a colourful procession in front of temple gate. Many artists in colourful costumes and make up were dancing to the rhythm of drum beat. It was an awesome experience to witness the rich culture of Vijayanagara empire upclose. You can see the vlog on Hampi Utsav here.

Hampi Utsav 2019
Hampi Utsav 2019

After enjoying procession for like an hour we walked towards our next destination for the day, Vittala temple.

Vittala temple

It is around one and half kilometers away from Virupaksha temple and can be easily covered by walking as terrain is little rocky, cycling we would not recommend.

The Admission fee for Indian citizens is Rs 40. The same ticket is valid (only for the same day) for entry at the Royal centre and the nearby Elephant Stables. Preserve the ticket if you are covering both in same day.

Vittala temple is dedicated to Vittala, a form of lord Vishnu. This temple is very famous and rightly so because of its spectacular architecture. The campus dons several temples, halls(mandapam), gateways and the famous stone chariot. This stone chariot is the same monument which is featured on Indian 50 Rs currency, you will see many young photographers clicking the famous insta-picture with the note and stone chariot in background .

Stone Chariot, Vittala temple, Hampi
Stone chariot, Hampi

Right next to chariot is main hall, the central part of which is damaged and hence not accessible, while the other three halls are open.
The main highlight of the hall is its giant monolithic pillars. The outermost pillars are popularly called the musical pillars. These slender and short pillars carved out of the giant pillars make musical sounds when tapped. The continuous curious tapping by visitors has damaged these pillars and thus tapping on it is banned for preservation.

Security is quite tight here due to previous incidents by tourists and guards keeps a check on your pictures to the extent of being annoying, can’t blame them TBH.

We left the temple in about an hour, the sun was about to set and we found a temple beside Tungbhadra river to watch sun going down in hills.

As we mentioned about Hampi Utsav, there was fair in the main area, with stages set at many places and streets decorated with beautiful flags and lights. We had our dinner in a nearby café and went back to see dance performances. The streets were busy till midnight, the whole atmosphere was celebratory, the only problem was phone network, lol! True story we found a specific place on hill where we could access network and we went there everyday in late night to call our family and post pictures on Instagram 😉

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Although it was early March but days were really hot in Hampi. So we started our day early to avoid crowd and Sun, we woke up by 6 and left by 6.30 to cover Royal centre.

Royal Centre

Royal centre is around 5 k.m away from Hampi market and to explore either you can hire an autorickshaw or rent a bicycle/bike. We hired a one way autorickshaw (INR 150/-) to Royal centre and went to Zenana enclosure first.

Lotus temple, Hampi
Lotus Mahal

Zenana enclosure is a fortified area reserved for royal women. The main attractions here is beautiful Lotus mahal. It is also known as Kamal mahal or Chitragani Mahal, identified by its lotus look like structure. The balcony and passages covered with a dome that resembles an opened lotus bud. an inquisitive blend of Islamic and Indian architecture.The other structures are watch towers,water tanks, queen palace which is demolished and only platform is visible.

Right behind Zenana enclosure is Elephant stable. In past, royal elephants were kept here. The building is massive with many rooms and we had tough time capturing it, gopro comes handy in such times.

Elephant Stable, Hampi
The royal feels, Elephant stable

The main advantage of going early is you get whole premise all to yourself, as there was only us two and security guards, just as we left for other monuments the people started entering. The other places we covered in royal centre were Hazariram temple, Pushkarani stepwell. As the time passed the heat started kicking in, so we left to have breakfast in Hampi market at around 9:30 a.m. We missed few points which we would urge you not to miss sp. Queen’s bath.

Pushkarni stepwell, Hampi
When you run out of pose :P, Pushkarni stepwell

Post breakfast we decided to cross river and explore the other side, Hippie island. We walked till jetty point and took a boat to cross hardly 50 meters of water. It charged us 50 bucks per person.

Hippie Island

Hippie island as the name suggests presents the chill side of place. With numerous cafes, wall arts, street shops selling cool merchandise it resembles Goa vibe, you get the gist! We rented a scooty for 400Rs. and drove away to see the main points mentioned in map first. The drive was beautiful with lush green paddy fields and banana plantations both side. Our first stop was Anjaneya hills, We reached around 12, and scorching sun was on our head. From parking lot we could see one has to climb stairs for atleast half an hour to reach temple. We dropped the plan then and there to spend some time in paddy fields we saw enroute.

Hippie island, Hampi
The green side of Hampi, Hippie Island

Sanapur lake & Waterfall

After wandering in paddy fields for quite sometime we left for Sanapur lake and waterfall which are adjacent to each other. We were not expecting much from these places but it turned out to be quiet decent ones. TBH it was not a big waterfall, it is basically water of dam falling from small height but the whole ambience is quite good, here you can enjoy coracle ride or take a dip. The sanapur lake was around 2 km away from waterfall and much quieter. We climbed a rock onlooking beautiful view of whole lake and surrounding boulders.

Sanapur lake hampi
View of Sanapur lake

Cliff jumping,coracle ride and swimming are few activities you can indulge in while at Sanapur lake. When we were here cliff jumping was not operational due to low water level. After spending around one hour at lake we left for lunch as it was already 3pm.

We reached the famous café in Hippie island, the laughing buddha to have lunch. The place is right next to river Tungbhadra and is quite popular for its cool vibes. We found a corner empty and ordered pizza and pasta. The service was super-slow, for people were shouting as they had ordered before one hour and there was no sign of their food. The attendants were least bothered about it. This irked us even in our case it had been over 40 minutes and when Paresh went for enquiring they behaved quite rudely. So we left the place, would not recommend you either! We returned the bike and crossed river and ate on local dhabhas across street.

Matanga Hills

In evening we hiked to Matanga hill to watch sunset. It took us around 15 minutes to climb up but few patches were very steep and narrow, we would suggest you to wear shoes and carry a water bottle. There is a temple on top and view from there is just amazing. On one side you will get to see sun setting down behind Giant gopuram of Virupaksha temple. The other side you would see vast landscape of Hampi comprising lush green banana plantations and contrasting rustic boulders and ruins.

Matanga hill view, Hampi
Hampi landscape from Matanga hills

As the sun went down the Virupaksha side lit up in colourful lights because of ongoing Hampi Utsav and the whole scene was breathtakingly beautiful. We wanted to stay more but considering climbing down will become tough in dark we half heartedly left.

Virupaksha temple, Hampi
Magical Virupaksha temple gopuram as seen from Matanga hills

We had our dinner at Mango tree restaurant which is in Hampi market and were bowled over by hospitality and food. The service was very prompt, the food was good and it was walking distance from our stay. We called off the night soon as the next day was our last day in Hampi and we were yet to cover few more places.

Day 3

We woke up early by 5 a.m as it was our last day in Hampi and we had to catch a bus in evening for Mumbai. We purposedly left this places in sacred centre to cover on last day as these were near to Virupaksha temple and can be easily covered on foot. Oh and I forgot to mention it was Maha-Shivratri that day, so being a benarasi , I took A quick bath at 6 in morning and dressed traditionally with anticipation of visiting temp 🙂

Krishna temple & Bazaar

The first stop was Krishna temple, a large temple dedicated to balakrishna( child Krishna). This beautiful temple was built by Krishnadevaraya in 1513 AD. An astounding example of Vijayanagara architecture as the walls are beautifully carved with Bhagvata depictions.

Krishna temple, Hampi
Krishna temple

Just in front of temple lies a 500-metre street market named as ‘Krishna Bazaar’. This is relatively new excavated site in Hampi, owing to its low laying terrain it got buried in silt over the time. It was fun and exciting to imagine how this market would have been in past for it is constructed in such a beautiful manner. Close to it lies a huge sacred water storage tank which is equally beautiful.

Krishna Bazaar, Hampi
Krishna Bazaar, Hampi

Ganesha statues

There are two statues of lord Ganesha in sacred centre , one large and one small. The larger one named Kadalaekalu Ganesha is situated on the slope of Hemakuta hills, just opposite to bus stand. The giant Ganesha statue is whopping 15meter tall and is built out of single stone.

The smaller one is named Sasivekalu Ganesha, means mustard seed ganesha. This four armed idol seated in half lotus posture is 2.4 meters high.

Lakshmi Narsimha temple

This is one of the most famous sculpture of Vijayanagar empire, dedicated to fourth incarnation of lord Vishnu, Narsimha. The statue is 7 meters tall and the arms are broken due to weathering.

Badavlinga temple

Adjacent to Narsimha statue this temple dedicated to lord Shiva was our final stop to visit on last day. A three meter high Shivlinga is a monolith and is referred as the Badavlinga, as legend has it was commissioned by poor woman hence the name.

Badavlinga temple, Hampi
Har Har Mahadev!

We were lucky to visit this temple on mahashivratri, and as we reached early morning again the site was empty, we offered prayers peacefully and left to have breakfast in hampi market.

Post breakfast we roamed in hampi market to buy some souvenirs, we found the rates quite higher but anyway bought some stone pendants and earrings from a wholesale shop. Later we had lunch in Mango tree restaurant, which was again delicious. We stayed back in restaurant until 3 as outside temperature was quite high. and then it was timeto leave Hampi, From bus stop we boarded a government run bus for Hospet town which costed us 15 INR per head and from there we boarded a pre-booked private bus for Mumbai.

This trip was very light on our pocket as it costed us under 7000 INR for three days for two, here is break up of expense ( excluding Mumbai -Hospet transport )

Stay600 INR per night for two    total=1200 INR
TransportHospet to Hampi (free on Hampi utsav)Auto rickshaw for Royal centre 150 INR one way(total 300 INR)Boat to Hippie island : 50 INR per head one way( total 200) Bike rental: 500 INR (including petrol) Hampi to Hospet: 15 INR per head (total 30 INR)total= 1030 INR
Entry and Camera charges50 INR camera charge in Virupaksha temple (no entry charge)40INR X2 in Vittala temple(applicable in royal centre for same day)25 INR Videomaking charges in Zenana enclosure40 INR X2 in Royal centretotal= 225 INR
Food Day 1: lunch 325 INR
Dinner 680 INR
Day 2:
Breakfast 480 INR
Lunch 300 INR
Dinner 680 INR
Day 3:
breakfast 250 INR
lunch 665 INR
dinner 200 INR
total=3780 INR
Shoppingskirt: 300 INRrock pendant: 150 INR X2total=600 INR
Grand total=6835 INR

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Catch all highlights of Hampi trip in our YouTube Vlog 🙂

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