Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara and is literally a photographers dream. Pilgrims flock here to wash in the river and strange boulders dot the landscape looking ready to fall at any minute and you can practically trip over a temple or ruin if you are not careful.
I spent nearly a fortnight here staying in a guest house literally a stones through from the big Virupaksha temple looming over the town. Lodgings are basic, roads are narrow and expect to find cows roaming just outside your room and monkeys on your balcony or stealing food from the many rooftop cafes dotting the town. In fact there are so many monkeys that they are a bit of a problem and locals can often be seen chasing them off with a stick.
To get there I took an over night train to Hospet the nearest railway station then a rickshaw to Hampi itself. The village is actually in two parts divided by the river Tungabhadra. Meat and Alcohol is not allowed but if you persevere you can find beer served to you under the table especially over the river and there is a local off licence a few kilometers away. Any rickshaw driver will take you.
Over looking the town is Matanga Hill which has a small temple on top. I stopped several times going up the hill for its breathtaking views and to watch the monkeys that live on this hill. They don’t seem afraid of tourists invading their territory and any snack held out will soon be snatched by these cheeky little blighters. The view from the top is stunning and you will often see people here for the sunset or sunrise. Well worth the walk and the climb, wear sensible shoes though as the drops are long.
Temples. The area is just full of temples many within easy walking distance but you may be better hiring a rickshaw for the day 600 rupees. He will take you to them all and you can enjoy them at your leisure. Across the river is the monkey temple perched high on top of a mountain. Its accessible by steps going up the side of the mountain. Its not very impressive at all but it is worth the climb just for the views below.
Also across the river is an area used for the sport of bouldering. Its like a mini version of mountain climbing just using boulders and a crash mat. Beware!! I saw many a person walking around on crutches. I went walking around this area and decided to go a bit off track. After about a hour of getting lost I came across a sign warning me about travelling alone and bandits in the hillocks. Never having bandits in the hillocks before I carried on bravely before coming across this view.
I was not too far away from home but on the wrong side of the river. Luckily I came across some locals who for a small fee paddled me across the river on a shallow round boat called a coracle.
They dropped me off on some rocks about a mile away from where I was staying. On some of these rocks were carvings very well preserved showing gods and symbols. I took a few pictures before heading back going through yet another temple ruin and under the shadow of Matanga hill.
Hampi is a magical place just begging to be explored. The views are amazing and the place has a really chilled feel. The town itself is due to be moved in the next fews years in part of a deal with Unesco. I can understand the reasons but it will be a shame not to be able to chill on an evening under the watchful eye of the Virupaksha temple anymore. Every morning people come on a pilgrimage and bathe in the river water the locals too. Also the Elephant from the temple is brought down to be washed. After being ridden to the river by its carer and followed by children and adults alike the Elephant lays on its side and tourists are encouraged to come and give old Nelly a scrub. After this she will often give people a blessing by either laying its trunk on your head or spraying you with water. Truly amazing animals.
Out of all of India Hampi has been my favourite place so far. The views, the temples and the pure tranquility you feel here is a balm to the sole. Plenty of walks and plenty of things to see and do. I would definitely return again.
Thanks for reading.