Rachel first visited and wrote about this beautiful landmark back in 2014. You can read her original post here. With the help of one of her close friends, Jules, we’ve given this post a much needed update. Here’s your guide to the best things to do in Hampi today!
I, Jules, first made a last minute trip to Hampi in 2016 on my last holiday to Goa before I decided to move there. It was a crazy trip squashed in the middle of a jam packed 2 week holiday with 15 people. We decided we didn’t want to be away from Goa for too long so 5 of us thought it would be a good idea to do a rapid overnight trip to Hampi and back. Looking back it was great but wow it was quick with a lot of time spent in the car and I am not sure I would recommend going for that short of a time. Instead I’d spend at least two nights here.
We left at 10am from North Goa and arrived in Hampi after the sun had gone down and actually the boats across the river had stopped. This left us no choice but to take an illegal Karnataka coconut boat (these are explained below) trip across the river in absolute silence and complete darkness so we didn’t get caught by the police. We stayed one night, did one full day of temple sight-seeing, watched one glorious sunset, and got back in the car and drove 8 hours back to Goa.
My second trip to Hampi was in 2017 where I gave myself a more reasonable 2 night stay which included a huge thunder and lightening storm, two glorious sunsets, and some of the same and a few new temples.
Before I tell you all about Hampi, I want to make sure you know about the India Guide ebook which is literally everything you need to know about traveling in India safely and will make sure you see all the best “do not miss” places here on your budget, which can be under $20 a day if you wanted it to. Buy it here. Read more about the book and see reviews here.
Hampi is like something straight out of the set of Jurassic Park. The huge boulders don’t seem to make sense. How are they placed in such strange positions? Why aren’t they rolling down hills and squashing all tourists in their paths? Not to mention the sheer size and open landscape of it all. It is literally a magical town where they must have used some form of magic or sorcery to build the temples all those hundreds of years ago… To have all those beautiful boulders scattered around as they are – some are even purposefully balanced on top of another. Apparently some of that magic is erosion but we will come on to that.
If you can fit Hampi into your trip schedule, do not hesitate and if you can’t then you should try and re-work your schedule. Hampi has the right balance between history, beautiful architecture, nature and fun backpacker vibes.
What is Hampi?
Hampi is a UNESCO world heritage site in Karnataka, India, about 7 hours from Bangalore or 10 from Goa by overnight bus.
While you can only see it in ruins now, it was once one of the richest cities in the world. Yep, the whole world, not just India. It was the capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire for over 200 years. Once upon a time, you would enter an ancient metropolis adorned with temples, palaces, markets streets, and religious monuments. It flourished between the 14th and 15th century with most temples and monuments being Hindu alongside a few Jain temples and one Muslim mosque and tomb.
In 1565, everything changed after the battle of Talikota took place and the city of Vijayanagara was defeated. Armies spent 5 months destroying monuments, and what you see today is what remains.
As Rachel said, unlike Stonehenge, where the attraction is a small area, the entire town of Hampi is the attraction. This city is in the middle of nowhere and you can spend days exploring different corners.
Hampi Travel Tips
When to Go to Hampi
Don’t go in the hottest months (April and May) as sightseeing will be unbearable.
How to Get to Hampi
If you are travelling from Goa, a bus can be taken from the bus stands of Mapusa or Panjim, directly to Hospet. This is an overnight bus and takes around 11 hours. Have a look or on Redbus and if traveling solo think about booking 2 sleeper beds next to each other to avoid having a stranger in your compartment.
The bus stop is also a small market.
Additionally, you can take a daytime train from Vasco De Gama in the South of Goa to Hospet. Check all my tips for booking a train here. If you want to book, you book here.
Once at Hospet take a rickshaw to your chosen accommodation in Hampi which should be approximately 13km away.
Getting Around Hampi
The best way to explore Hampi is by rickshaw (more on that below). If you want to stay on the same side of the river as Rachel did, do not drive there, it’s a huge wrap around. Instead, take the taxi boat across. It only takes 3 minutes, BUT it stops running at 5:00 PM, and there is no way to the other side except to drive for an hour. If it’s late at night you’re bound to get lost in the jungle as Rachel did!
Where to Stay in Hampi
2020: Please check the area you have booked is not Anegundi, across the river as most places are unfortunately closed awaiting demolition
Another great and slightly more expensive option is Boulders. It is located outside of the main tourist area of Hampi and is approximately 7km from the main World Heritage sites. It is set on the banks of the Tunghbadra River in the Yamini Hills. Perfect for nature lovers and travellers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the usual India. The accommodation can help with a driver to take you around sightseeing during the day. Check prices here
Rachel originally stayed at Shanthi Guesthouse which was 12,000 INR for 3 nights, although she thinks they could have negotiated better had they not been fairly intoxicated the majority of the time. That price included breakfast and laundry and was in December at peak season (when rates are doubled). The cottages are along the rice paddies and you are GUARANTEED a badass view of the greatest sunset of all time from a swinging porch bed. Check prices here
Sloth Bear Resort
Another spot Rachel also stayed was at the Sloth Bear Resort, which is part of a National Park and you can, as you might guess, see sloth bears on safari. Read the review here and check prices here
If you want another option for where to stay in Hampi, Rachel also stayed at Mowgli Guesthouse which is pretty identical and has similar reviews online. They have the same exact view from the rooms, which are now called “vista rooms,” as well as many guesthouses in Hampi.
The service wasn’t great. It’s the view that counts. Hampi doesn’t have a lot to offer for accommodation so these are your best bet. Check prices here
When Rachel’s parents came, these were booked and nothing else looked appealing so they stayed 45 minutes away at the Hyatt, which was in a unique workers complex. Check prices here
Check here for more places to stay in Hampi
Places to Visit in Hampi
When visiting Hampi, be ready to spend your day exploring temples. There’s a lot, like really a lot, of incredible landscapes to see and unbelievably huge boulders you’ll want to take photos next to. Rachel walked through mazes of boulders wondering how in the hell it all came to be, and when it is your turn, you will be feeling the same. After doing a quick Google search you will find out that geologists state after millions and maybe even billions of years of erosion from rain, sun and wind, the monoliths began to crack, break and fall into what we see today. Still sounds pretty magical!
The Vijaya Vittala Temple is famous for its intricately carved chariot while the Virupaksha Temple is an impressive 49-meters tall. The Narasimha Statue, which was Rachel’s favorite and also one of mine, is carved from one single stone, and the Hanuman Temple sits on top of a hill. There’s also the underground Shiva Temple which remains partially flooded all year round and many many more temples you’ll want to see!
Rachel wrote that Hampi is said to be the Vanara Sena, or Kingdom of the Apes, which as Hindus believe, is where Lord Rama fought in the Ramayana. You will understand this reference when faced with the large groups of monkeys trying to steal the bananas you were coerced into buying from the local salesman – be careful!
10 Things to Do in Hampi: What Not to Miss!
1. Hire a local rickshaw driver to take you around all the sites for a day
There is a lot see in Hampi so maybe narrow it down. If you have time, split your temple visits across a few days. After a few temples I know we all can feel a bit temple-d out and then miss the beauty of what we are meant to be seeing. My advice would be to find a rickshaw driver you like and ask him to take you to 3 temples, somewhere for lunch and one sunset spot each day.
If you are lucky some rickshaw drivers will tell you information about each temple as you are about to enter it. However, I suggest buying a little information book from the bazaar with facts and pictures of each World Heritage Site to help explain the beauty of what you are seeing. Your rickshaw driver may also have some secret spots to show you, away from the crowded tourist track! And if you are lucky, he might even let you have a sneaky test-drive on the deserted back roads of Hampi. It is definitely more difficult that it looks!
The price you should pay per day really depends on the amount of sites you visit, the distance covered and how much you enjoyed the day. I would suggest between 500 and 800 INR per day per rickshaw – not per person.
2. Take the taxi boat across the river to the “hippie” side of Hampi, Anegundi.
2020 Update: Unfortunately, Anegundi is currently going through some major developments with a majority of the area about to be demolished. Hold off any plans to stay on this side for now and hopefully we will have some good news by the beginning of next season – October.
Don’t forget to see both sides of the river! As Rachel said, this is so you can take part in drum circles, dread-lock making, and whatever other hippie activities. This also puts you on the side of the reservoir where you can experience the quiet of Hampi. You will usually find a big hippie community with hostels, restaurants, movie nights, bouldering groups, and lots of lovely luscious green rice paddy fields.
3. Catch the sunset from Hanuman Temple on top of the hill
This is a beautiful spot that gives you a 360 degree view over the amazing and unbelievable selection of boulders in Hampi. It is a 572 step climb so don’t make the mistake of trying to conquer this hill during the daytime heat and don’t let the step count put you off as it really is a view you shouldn’t miss. It does get busy at the peak sunset hour so if you are feeling motivated, try and make it for sunrise instead. You will need to hire a rickshaw to take you to this spot – ask for Monkey Temple Hill or Hanuman Temple.
4. Go cliff jumping and cool off in Hampi’s lake – watch out for the crocs!
Cool off in the large swimming lake a short drive outside the main sites of Hampi. This lake has a huge warning sign for crocodiles painted on the rock but Rachel never saw any and everyone there was swimming. Locals said there aren’t any in the lake, only the river. You’ll see a group of people laying out near the main cliff, and if it’s empty that day, ask a guide where people jump. The water isn’t clear, but people have been jumping from this same place for years! Take a rickshaw or ask the locals for directions to the swimming lake.
5. Be amazed by the size of the Elephant Stables.
The old Elephant Stables are on the same grounds as the Lotus Mahal. Venture inside what used to be where the Maharajahs would keep their elephants and compare the size of these to your usual horse stables. Have a seat in the shaded grassy area with a freshly cut coconut and think about the unlucky soul who had to clean each one.
6. Enjoy views from Matanga Hill after all your temple sightseeing.
This is a slightly more challenging climb that doesn’t have a specific route, more like a climb up along some man-made rock steps. It should take no more than 30 minutes with reasonable fitness and gives you a 360 degree view of Hampi including some of the World Heritage Sites. A great place to see the full beauty of Virupaksha Temple from a distance. Another great spot for sunrise and sunset.
Rachel did it with a guide who gave her some cool bits of information. For example, the statue of Ganesh (who is her favorite god!) has a snake around his stomach. The guide/driver shared that it was to keep him from eating too much food!
7. Get a guide at Vijaya Vittala Temple – Chariot Temple
You are probably sick of being offered guided tours around every single site you visit but if you are going to choose one in Hampi, do it at Vijaya Vittala Temple which is also where the famous carved stone chariot is. I suggest a guide here because they will show you how to play music on the 56 musical pillars (probably/hopefully not all of them) at the Ranga Matapa. If hit in the right way each pillar makes a different note. You can have a try yourself but good luck finding the right pillars!
8. Hire a Karnataka boat and driver to take you out in the lake. Go for a swim!
The boats are traditional fishing boats for the state and are made from trees and tar. Maybe even buy the boat, like Rachel did. On the Hampi lake you shouldn’t pay any more than 250 INR for a little boat trip around the lake. These are the same boats that were used to cross over to Anegundi before the introduction of the actual motor boat, and the same boat I had to sneak across the river in on my first trip to Hampi!
9. Take a break at Mango Tree
On the same side of the river as the Virupaksha Temple there is a great restaurant for backpackers called Mango Tree. Take a break from the Hampi heat and have a mango shake or a thali. Word has spread about this place so it can be difficult to get a seat at peak times.
10. Go bouldering
I am sure you are well aware by now but in case you aren’t, Hampi is full of boulders. All different shapes and sizes that keep you waiting for a dinosaur to pop its head around the corner any minute. If you are feeling like you can’t see another temple or you’re in the mood for a challenge then pay a visit to to one of the few bouldering centres located in Anegundi. Tom and Jerry, Goan Corner – Boulder Centre (also a great hostel) and Sunny’s Bouldering School. We don’t have any personal testimonials but check out their TripAdvisors page for the latest reviews. And if you are lucky you might even get a few dogs to oversee your climb!
Again seeing as this is taking place in Anegundi, we will need to wait for some more information regarding the demolition and update you in October, until then please do contact the centres directly as the boulders will be there, demolition or no demolition.
And there you have it, all the best things to do in Hampi. Have you been? What did you think?
General India Travel Tips
- Can’t go to Hampi, if you can’t get into India. Yes, you do need a visa, even if you’re only here for a short time. It’s super easy, and you can get it right on iVisa.
- Don’t forget to get some travel insurance! Especially if you’re going to do some of the more adventurous activities. We always recommend World Nomads, and you can even easily get a quote on the sidebar or going here.
- For cheap domestic flights, compare on Kiwi.
- If you need a phone while in India and you can’t use SIM cards, try out Trabug.
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Hampi looks freaking awesome! Ah, any place I can wander around on a motorbike is a little bit like heaven for me. Especially when I don’t have to worry about driving into a wall ;) And that cliff jumping looks so fun! Great photos!!
Hampi is definitely on our list! We fly into Chennai at the end of September and have a couple months to travel around India. Would you say Hampi should be visited around the time we arrive (early October) or towards the end of our stay (late November)? We also plan to hit Goa, so if you’re around it would be great to meet up!
It could rain in early October so I would for November because of that – BUT November will have a little bit higher prices (as it is everywhere in India though!) Goa is best to avoid until last in your trip because October is still dead here! Actually I’ll be in Hampi in October :) I have some plans I’ll announce next week!
You have to really tell us now, how many people work for you? One person cannot write so many articles at such a pace :-P
hahahaha now this must be the ultimate compliment! lol I wish I had someone working for me. In the next month my site will be posted on less though, I have a trip to karnataka coming up and basically also am running out of material! Lol
I so wanted to visit Hampi when we travelled around India a few years ago, there just wasn’t enough time to see everything. Plus it was getting to mid April by the time we headed south, it was getting too hot to bear!
I’m definitely heading back to India, and I’m definitely going to Hampi.
You certainly gave it a good amount of justice, it looks amazing! ;)
You’re right April is SOOOO hot here!! It’ll be a good place to stop at next time you’re here though.
It looks beautiful. One of the photos looks straight out of Indiana Jones. Also, I love your dresses in these photos!
Thank you- they are sold at all the tourist places (so I don’t wear them in Goa anymore so the shop owners don’t up the prices on me!) but they are like 200 rs I think? Good deal!
Wow, I would have expected this place to be in Jordan or elsewhere in the Middle East, not India!
It’s a shocker, huh!? It’s so funny just driving through thick jungle from the beach and ending up here… I was like seriously this can’t be real.
A very comprehensive post on Hampi and you cover a lot in a single post. I have been to Hampi and stayed in the same Shanti guest house, it is kind of a hippie magnet. You are so right Hampi the whole town is worth a visit and photographing….
Thank you Prasad, how cool you stayed at Shanti too! it’s one of my favorites, I loved the swings out front.
O my gosh! This looks incredible! I want to go to India someday, so badly. Looks like you’re living the dream, darl! xx
It’s such a wonderful place! Thanks for reading :)
This makes me want to go back to Hampi so bad!! Where can I read more of the story of the boy?? :)
I get to go back again in a month on a tour! So excited. and about the boy… read this one: https://hippie-inheels.com/backpacking-love-stories/
Oh my gosh I have never wanted to go to Hampi so much as I do right now! I didn’t realize there was a hippie side to it.. Looks so freakin gorgeous! And I love the ” The mass quantity of intricate towering Hindu temples on barren sandy land had me envisioning Shiva wondering around having a smoke.” Awesome
Thanks chica! it’s such a cool place. I’m going back in october and also december I’m taking my parents!
Now I will travel to Hampi and the credit goes to you!
Well maybe you can meet me there! I’m going back with goMowgli end of October THEN taking my parents there in December!
I forgot how I ended up on your page (I think I was reading another travel blog and seen a comment you made, then checked out your blog and see you are currently in Goa).
Anyways, really dig reading you thoughts and posts on Hampi. I was there in 2011 and stayed in the Goa area for a few months. I went to Hampi on my own when I decided to leave Goa and finally see the rest of India. Hands-down, Hampi was my favorite place in India! It was so cheap, as I think I was spending about $4 per-day for a private room with bathroom, another $5 a day for a bike and fuel for the day and other then needing about $3-$4 to eat I was good to go. I just meet some really great locals there when I stayed there for a week plus. Best part for me was just renting a moto bike and driving around all day, getting lost and randomly walking into temples I seen. If I return to India, I plan to spend a month there this time and just relax, as the place is so laid back, chilled and a paradise for me to do photos. I came away with some great shots while there, if you want to see any you can here at my blog: http://foggodyssey.com/?s=hampi ).
Anyways, loved ready all your Goa and India post, brought back great memories :)
Thanks for sending that- I’m going to have a look now!
hello together, just came to this webside by chance. I stayed in Hampi together with my wife the first time in 1981, after that in 1984 and it was wonderful, nothing but nature, no electricity, we lifed at the house close to the bus Station in the rocks and I remember the Boom Shankar Tchai shop, there was this very friendly guy, Subramani-baba with his Family.hope I can come buck some time……….. Love Franz
how cool is that!!? funny how you can remember the small things:) awesome
Hello Rachel, thank for writing me back so quick. Well I remember a lot of those times ,because for me they were paradise.I was looking for the simple life just like the Indians lived.There were only 2 tchai-shops, the boomshankar were we met the other 5 western People for over a month,onthe first curve when you go down to the river and the shiva tchai shop about 500 meters situated in an old temple close to the river, there were no parties and nothing we used to play guitars and small drums , exept of us everything was quiet, we had to find our way back home in the absolute darkness, and we went to sleep around 10 o clock because there wasnt any nightlife and nothing to do but smoke and making love, we been on honeymoontrip for half a year, where we travelled about 12.000 km from the north to the very south.Enough story for tonight, see you , love Franz
Reading your post brought back our childhood memoirs when we had visited Hampi along with our parents! its such an amazing place!
Wow that’s so cool. I’m taking my parents in about 1.5 weeks!
Awesome.. n nice picture.. n how is it during new year??
not sure, but heading there again tomorrow AM so will see! almost everythign was booked
Those boats are called coracles!
Talking about Hampi, there’s a movie called ” The Pilgrimage ” , here’s youtube link http://youtu.be/CZ5Cx2EStQc, the movie explores adventures of few climbers from US & the time they spent exploring Hampi
cool thanks, i’ll check it out!
You have a new Fan <3
Just rightly put across about Hampi!
Hi, I am tytas, a doctor from new delhi. Heard about hampi few days ago and looked for it in google but found your website/blog more interesting. So how actually you felt about it? You are really enjoying the hippie part of your life? :)
Hey Rachel. A very nice read. My excitement level just doubled up after going through your blog. I’m actually leaving tomorrow for Hampi. Cheers ;)
Very well described! Your post makes me wish I’d spent far more time there. 2 nights just wasn’t near enough. And my own post is subsequently more lacking in detail!
Wasn’t aware at all about swimming in the lake.. I’ll have to stay on the other side of the river next time.
Hey Rachel, love the post and making me want to Hampi from Goa in a couple of weeks. Will April be totally insufferable haha? Would I be a complete fool to go then?
It will be hot and isn’t the best time to go but there will be less crowds and you can plan to do the sightseeing bits in the early am – it’ll be okay!
Thanks for the awesome article. How about visiting hampi during June end or July beginning?
Hey Rajesh, I haven’t been at that time, but I don’t see why not.
Planning to visit Tarkarli, and Devbag beach as a backpacker from Mumbai in Sept 2017. Any opinions or recomendations?
Thank you for information. Its very useful. will be visiting Hampi in rains, may be August
Hi Rachel, I really loved your post. Is August month a good time visit Hampi? Is 2-3 days time enough for our Hampi and Badami tour?
My favorite destination loved your post hoping to visit
Mango Tree is the only restautant I like in Hampi