Wednesday, February 17, 2021

In pursuit of Hampiness : Goa to Hampi road trip

It has been almost a year since I stepped out of my home state of Goa, since the COVID pandemic. I’ll agree that there are worse places to get stuck at home, than Goa, and yet, the wanderlust bug finally crawled under my skin, and I was ready for our ‘first vacation since lockdown’, and we decided to go to Hampi.

Hampi is a place in Karnataka, a neighbouring state, and about 360 Km from my place, that is about an 8 and a half hour road trip.

Reasons why I chose Hampi as my first vacation spot.

-        It is not too far, and I didn’t want to yet take a flight out anywhere, haven’t been on a flight in a year, and I am still warming up to the idea of ‘non essential plane travel’.

-        The fact that it was our own car, gave me much comfort in terms of cleanliness, and travelling with a kid.

-        Hampi is not a place, it is a vibe ! Ok, I had heard this phrase so many times before, that I had to roll my eyes at it, until I actually saw Hampi. Hampi is definitely, not a singular place, it is an entire sprawling space filled with 3000 ancient ruins, dating back to the 14 th century , spread over 4100 hectares of land. And because it is a UNESCO world heritage site, nothing can be built, destroyed or removed from here. You can literally climb the highest mountain here and yet see nothing but ancient civilization, no modern buildings, malls, or structures around. ( pictures, posts, and reels, and videos on @thefoodietrails Instagram page)

-        Hampi has these cool stone hills, I can’t explain, it looks like nature constructed these giant , stone cairns. A cairn is the stacked pile of stones, you can find them in Leh Ladakh, or in Hawaii, or just about any place with flat stackable stones. People believe that stacking a pile of stones, helps wishes come true, so, imagine an entire area filled with giant natural cairns, that’s what Hampi reminded me of. Not to mention it is easy and fun climbing these rock structures.

-        Hampi has some amazing temples and structures to visit, it has a religious side, as well as a leisure side, with rock climbing, treks, boating in a lake, and walks in paddy fields. So, a well rounded vacation spot with much to do.

-        And finally, it was a short trip of just 2 days for us, as we could not afford a longer vacation.


Now, that you are convinced that Hampi is worth visiting, here is my itinerary, which I meticulously planned and executed.

-        We left on a Friday afternoon, after I had finished my morning OPD clinic. We set out at 2 pm, should have reached by 10:30 -11 pm , but we stopped at Hubli for dinner, which was 5 hours away from Goa, and reached Hampi at 1 am that night, since we could not find a dining destination in Hubli. We finally ate at Kamat’s near the bus stand in Hubli.

-        Hampi has a river run right through, and most of the temples, structures of visit, as well as the main town is on one side of the river, the other side is also known as the island side, and this side has the Sanapur lake, the Anjaneya hill temple, and the cottages . we stayed on the island side, which is prettier, more fun and chill, has a night life which is absolutely missing on the temple side, not to mention alcohol and non-vegetarian food, which is looked down upon on the Temple side of Hampi.

-        Now the only way to cross to the island side is via ferry ( closes at 5 pm , starts at 7 am) , or the bridge which is 40 min drive away.

-        Next morning Saturday – we parked our car on the island side of the ferry, crossed over to the temple side via a extremely short ferry ride ( cost rs 20 per person), and hired a day trip auto rickshaw.

-        A day trip Auto rickshaw, will take you to all the popular destinations, make a pit stop for lunch, and drop you back at the ferry point by 5 pm. I would recommend starting your day trip at 7:30 , after you have seen the temple elephant Lakshmi have her daily ceremonial bath, which is quite close to the ferry point itself. The ferry point is right on the banks of the Virupaksha temple, but our guide said NOT to start with the temple as our first day trip destination, since mornings are extremely crowded at the temple.

-        So here is the circuit that we took for our sight-seeing, if you plan to do it without a auto, and drive yourself around.   

 Krishna temple, Narasimha and Badavalinga complex, underground Shiva temple, Watch tower, Lotus mahal complex with the elephant stables, Nahanavami dibba complex with the pushkarni , lunch break, Vittala temple complex with the stone chariot and king’s balance, ending at Virupaksha temple and surrounding Hampi market.

We started at around 10 am and ended at 5 pm.

 ( we paid   Rs 1500, which included a tip for the driver and guide)

-        Once we crossed back to the island side, we had planned to catch the sunset from sunset point on top of Hanuman temple, but they were close at 5 pm, because of a recent Cheetah scare, and so we headed to Sanapur lake.

 You can get a Coracle ride (cost Rs 900 to 1200 )

-        Hills and treks: There are two major hill temples, one is on the temple side known as Matanga hill, it is lovely at sunset, but since it was on the temple side, and we had a ferry at 5 pm, we had to miss this one. The other is the Anjaneya temple hill the birth place of Hanuman , on the island side, great for sunrise , but recently opens only at 8 am, so we went there post 8 am on Sunday.

-        Sunday – we drove down to the Sanapur waterfall before breakfast, a hidden little spot, back for a breakfast, and headed to Anjaneya temple and climbed 575 steps to the top. Climbing the Bajrangi temple, on Valentine’s day, with highly energised bachelors from Bajrangi dals chanting jai shri ram; I found it really cute. For those not in the know, Shri Hanuman, or the monkey God, is the patron God of bachelor men. 😊

Where we stayed ?

I had booked a home stay, but they called to say that they were sold out, and I had to get my money refunded from goibibo, and last minute rebooking of places. Luckily we found a lovely cottage on Agoda. It is called Tutti cottages. There are many cottages on the island side. Also, nice hotels too. Chooses wisely since after 6 , Hampi is a mostly in your stay place. Our place had a jam session, and bonfire night on Saturday night, and we had Pizza and thukpa . the breakfast place was among paddy fields, so idyllic. The rooms are very basic , blow away bamboo cottages, but shreysht had a blast thinking that we stayed in such makeshift homes ( just like in three little pigs story).

What to wear ?

It is fairly cold at night, and considering the weather and wind enters our porous bamboo cottages. Also the days are sunny. We went in February, one of the nicer times to go. And yet, I would recommend hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, something that covers your shoulders and knees ( some temples insist ) and good walking shoes. The first day, we walked 16000 steps on my fitness tracker !

The next day we walked up 575 fairly steep steps.

When to travel ?

Definitely November to February, or and if there is any music or cultural festival in Hampi. Some people have travelled in the rains as well, but I suspect the islnd side is closed, especially these cottage huts, and the rocks might be slippery to climb. Summers scorching, rains torrential, so avoid those months.

Return :

On Sunday, we just did the Anjaneya hill temple, drove to Hospet. We had plans of a fancy lunch at this lovely place called Evolve back, but you need prior bookings for meals here, and it is a place for guests only.

We stopped to spend an hour discovering the Tungabhadra dam at Hospet, and it is highly recommended, they have a massive Dam project, with light and fountain shows in the evening ( we went in the afternoon), children’s park, a Japanese garden, and it has a Rs 30 parking charge, and a Rs 20 bus ride up the hill ( I think it’s called vaikunth hill) , it is all very massive and magnificent.

Summary itinerary

Friday : leave Goa for Hampi, stop at Hubli

Saturday : day trip of Hampi , temple side .

Sunday : 3 hour sightseeing of island side Hampi, lunch at Hospet with visit to Tungabhadra dam, drive back to Goa.

A 2 ½ day round trip.

Instagram posts : How we made a travel journal of our trip for a 5 year old. Pictures and posts of what we ate, and fun reels of our travel. @thefoodietrails @Shrasesbyshreysht