WHAT a PLACE! I think Hampi ranks as one of the best places I’ve visited in India owed to it’s eclectic vibe, unique landscape, mild climate, multi-cuisine options, and simply being somewhere where you can forget about city hustle and jusssstt chill ouuutttt. I copped 4 different wounds to my right leg just in Hampi – some bad luck – but it’s still a place I’d recommend anyone to visit.
It was so nice to just be in one place for a few nights and not have a bucket list of things to do. Hampi has a unique landscape – masses of dry brown boulders everywhere with fields of lush green rice paddies, then you see banana plantations and Palm trees. I felt like I was in the Flintstones and some parts look like Madagascar or something. It’s quite warm for the most part of the day then it gets pretty cold by sunset. But I think this is when Hampi feels the most magical. The stars light up, it’s the quiet sound of desert and crickets in the background, cows sleeping and the holy vibe of temples in the region. Imagine sleeping under the stars amongst the pyramids in Egypt. I feel like it’d be similar to that. Also that I prob wouldn’t need to go to Uluru anymore haha
The other thing that’s cool about Hampi is the interesting mix of cuisine available. For a place so far from cities Hampi has German bakeries, Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, italian, Israeli, and continental foods, and they’re surprisingly decent. We visited a restaurant across the river which actually had the best smelling pizza dough (they had an Italian oven) – I just felt like hummus and pita at the time so sadly didn’t try any pizza. We preferred eating at the side of the Hampi we were staying at anyway since it was less touristy and hence cheaper. Every morning we came to Trishul restaurant for breakfast – breakfast was cheap, chai is good and wifi was strong 💪🏼. I love that you could just stay at any restaurant or cafe for hours and they don’t mind. Hampi is definitely the place if you want to get away for a few days or a week.
What gives it the special vibe though is of course the people. There’s touts but they’re not so pushy. It’s a pretty small village community, most locals owning rickshaw businesses, restaurants, handicraft or fruit stalls. There’s probably just as many travellers as locals. We met travellers who were staying a few days like us – just here to see the ancient site and relax a little – And they were mostly European , Asian and American. We also met travellers staying for weeks to months and they were the more yoga, hippie type who have dreadlocks, ankle bells and rope bracelets, dreadlocks, and nose piercings .. you get me.
So what did we do in Hampi?
EXPLORED THE ANCIENT RUINS
Obviously a stay in Hampi has to encompass the ruins. We rented a tuk tuk drive for the day and he took us to all the major sites. I’m not much of a ruins person so I was kind of bored half way through, but we got to see a lot in a day! Hampi has an interesting landscape I thought. It’s almost like a giant child just made piles of stones everywhere and didn’t finish building the temples/walls/forts. But I guess since they’d been there for hundreds of years and through a lot of weathering, they look the way they do!
BROWSED MARKET STALLS
Hampi had plenty of stalls selling camel leather goods like bags and notebooks, jewellery stores selling rings, anklets, necklaces and bracelets and gem stones (you can even get them personalised or made right there), souvenir handicrafts and clothing. You could get henna done by some ladies by the road and I been saw one stall offering to do dreadlocks for your hair. Business isn’t crazy in Hampi so the stall owners do try and call you to buy things but only because they rely on tourism. We just got a camel leather bag and books 🙂
CROSSED THE RIVER TO SEE ‘THE OTHER SIDE’
Research told me that a Lot of travellers preferred to stay on this side where there’s more palm trees and a nice backpacker vibe. It’s definitely that but we actually preferred our side where it was quieter and had a more intimate local feel. Normally there’s a boat that takes people across the small river for 10 rupees but it’s been such a dry season we were able to just jump the rocks across. The stalls and guest houses basically bordered a giant rice field dotted with palm trees with a backdrop of the boulders. We walked around, met the Spaniards we shared the train ride with, and had butter chicken at the Laughing Buddha restaurant. Food is more expensive on this side!
WITNESSED AMAZING SUNRISES AND SUNSETS
On our first night we climbed one of the tallest boulder hills to watch the sunset. We actually got there a bit early but as an hour went by, a lot of people started to join and find their viewing spot. The sun set pretty slowly, giving off an orange glow and it was quite lovely seeing the light bounce off the rocks.
In the morning we did sunrise at Matunga Hills, located on the side of Hampi we were staying on. Our guesthouse woke us at 5.30am and he said it’d take us 40 mins to climb but it only took us about 20mins. It was pitch black when we headed out and the sun didn’t rise for like another 2 hours! I think he just wanted to give us ample time to get up. We only met two other guys on the way up with their head torches – I just used my iphone, the flashlight is awesomely strong. Sunrise was gorgeous as well but I think I’m more of a sunset person 🙂
RENTED A MOTORBIKE AND WENT FOR A JOY RIDE
Across the river there are heaps of Motorbike rental vendors offering 150-250 rupees for the day ($5 a day for a motorbike) – heaps cheap! We just had a couple of hours so we negotiated 150 for a scooter motorbike + 2 L of petrol at 90 rupees per litre. We rode toward Hanuman (Monkey) temple but didn’t end up climbing since we had no motivation whatsoever ha-ha! So we just followed the road to see where it took us. We probably went about 15 km before turning back during which I crashed the motorbike on a newly paved road. I blame the traffic controller because there was no proper signage and we were going at a speed not slow enough to see where he was trying to point ARGH! When I turned my head to check what he wanted, the front of the bike swerved to the lose gravel and I lost control. We only suffered some grazes to our right foot, and I also got some deep cuts to my shin. I was so annoyed because the day before I had injured my right foot pretty badly crossing the river so now I just looked crippled 🙁