Back to Hampi! The old Vijayanagar empire was the first stop on the Hampi loop of the goMowgli tour. We start in Hampi and then onward to cave temples at Badami, and the temples of Aihole and Pattadakal for a 3-day tour.
Important: Make sure to read my 8 Things to do in Hampi post because this one goes into less detail since I’ve written about this place before.
Guide to Hampi
I always tell people it’s one of the coolest places in India because it is, which is why it’s packed during season (Nov-March). I have also described it as part Jurassic Park, part Flintstones because you can totally picture both dinosaurs walking around or people living in the little nooks and crannies of the rocks.
It was such a poppin’ place and kind of ruled all of India in the 16th century that people would buy their rice and such with semi-precious stones. Umm, wtf! That’s insane and I wish we still did that now; I’d be selling rice.
A little Story about Shiva
The Hindu epic, Ramayana takes place in part in Hampi, making it a very famous place regardless of the stones. Shiva and Parvati were married here (I hadn’t realized she was his second wife, and his first Sati (check spelling) had committed suicide via fire- which is still happening in some villages in India today- because her father didn’t approve of her and Shiva’s love. Shiva was so angry that he started getting up to trouble. It gets even more complicated knowing the Indian cupid shot Shiva with an arrow hoping love would make him nice again and he then fell for Parvati… who was Sati reincarnated. But Shiva being the destroyer he is, used his third eye and burnt cupid because let’s be honest, who wants to get shot with an arrow? All in all it’s good, because later they had a baby called Ganesh!
Vijayanagar was defeated eventually as the story always goes, and now people are trying to conserve all they left behind- which is one of the 7 wonders of India. Since the last time I was here I noticed instead of rickshaws taking you around, you had to take a little golf cart thing and lots of shops near the temples were completely gone. It’s a UNESCO Heritage Site, but it’s also the home of locals (and a few sloth bears) so they are still working to keep everyone happy.
On Being in Hampi a Second time…
I’ve visited Hampi before with Ben 2 years ago when I’d known him only a week! I’ve always remembered it in my head as being one of my favorite places on earth. While Hampi is still as majestic and unbelievably beautiful as always, I realized in those two years I didn’t relate as much to the backpacking style anymore.
two years before in Hampi with Ben
waiting on the boat that crosses to the chiller (backpacker) side of the river
On the whole goMowgli tour, which was obviously very off-beat, this was the first “tourist” place and I was dying to get out and back into the “real India” rather than crappy restaurants serving tea and calling it coffee, everyone playing Bob Marley, and little shops selling all the same trinkets (oh wait, this sounds a lot like Goa! Actually, I avoid places like this in Goa- but it’s harder to do in Hampi). So, I won’t say Hampi’s changed but I have. It is the PERFECT place for a backpacker and regardless of the Bob Marley and hooka craze, I’ll be bringing my parents here when they visit because Hampi has that charm where everywhere you look it’s interesting, photo-worthy, and unexplainable.
What to do in Hampi
Read up on my trip to Hampi last time here for lots of information on where to stay, eat, etc in Hampi. It’s important to know the cool side of the river to stay on is the one without the temples and that the boats stop taking people across at 530 PM. No exceptions. This time I stayed at EverGreen and I don’t recommend it.
There’s way more detail on these in the other post but as a reminder these are the main things to see in Hampi:
- Museum of the Vijayanagara Empire.
- Virupaksha temple (Lakshmi the temple elephant bathes at 8:30 if you want to go watch and get blessed)
- The view from Anjanadri Hill
- The Hemakuta temple which has the monolithic sculpture of Narasimha (Remember how I said Vishnu had 10 reincarnations? This was one.)
- The Nandi statue
- Vitalla temple which is from the 1500’s and was used for music. Kids were throwing rocks to make music on the pillars and now it’s under heavy construction. This is where you’ll see the famous stone chariot. You need a ticket here.
- Royal Center: Lotus Mahal where the queen used to chill & some elephant stables.
- Renting a bike to ride to the lake for a little cliff jumping– didn’t do it this time because it was rainy, but loved it last time I was here. You can take a coracle ride in the lake. Beware of crocs.
Because I was on the tour with goMowgli, I just kind of turned off my brain and followed them around- nice! After a day here of sightseeing, we just chilled out with the rest of the rest of the tourists, as that’s all you see here (and yes, I’m aware I’m one of them!), and had a pretty good pizza at German Bakery. I was excited to start our day early as we headed off to Badami… more temples, but a completely different vibe. Talk about a 180!
If you’re on the tour with goMowgli, as always you get to pick where you stay. I recommend a place I stayed before and will take my parents called Shanti on the other side of the river; or one called Mowgli next to it. Amazing place. Costs a little more but so worth it to have a quiet night. As part of the tour, the guides here are included and there are no extra “paid” activities because chillin’ by the lake is free! If you’re not on the tour, you can get here by bus easily, or by train but the train will bring you to Hospet about 20 km away where you can catch a rickshaw. Done train and bus to Hospet, both are okay.
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