First impression is the Last impression
Cliched as it may sound, but for us the first impression of Hampi was a lasting impression and a great impression at that.
Trip on the fly
Our Hampi trip was made on the spur of moment. We booked one way train tickets which were initially wait-listed. 4 hrs before departure the tickets got confirmed and we were off. On the way to the train station, we quickly booked our stay and the return train (again wait-listed). After our Vizag adventure (or misadventure), we hadn’t had such a trip. But fingers crossed, we went along with the flow anyway.
Reaching Hampi and first impressions
Our train was right on time at Hospet and then reaching Hampi was a breeze (A good start to the trip). We easily got an auto from the station without need for bargaining and reached Hampi in about 30 min. Our stay was booked on the other side of the river, so we got dropped at the ferry point.
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was still rising over east sky. Cool breeze was blowing across the river bank. And the old bathing ghats on banks of Tungabhadra were a sight in themselves. So it was straight forward decision to wait till 8 am when the ferry starts even though the Coracle ride was on.
Almost instantaneously we got another reward as Laxmi made its way to the ferry point for morning bath. What a beauty! No, we are not lechers. Laxmi is the Virupaksha temple elephant. We would have definitely missed this exceptional morning Hampi ritual, had we taken then the coracles.
The mahout guides the elephant down the steps to the banks. The elephant then goes in the water and lies down simply. All the efforts are now on the hands of mahout. He starts scrubbing the huge beast from one end to the other. We, the common man can also try our hand at the task for a small fee. After the long bath session, Laxmi is ready to give blessings as well.
When ferry was up and running, we crossed the river and were swamped with polite enquiries for hotel and scooter hire. On the ‘other side’ of Hampi, scooters are better options than bicycles. We hired a scooter/scooty for the day which was handy to reach our hotel as well.
You have to pass Bukka’s Aqueduct to get to state highway. Symbolic of the hydraulics projects of Hampi, only ruins remains today. Every time we passed this bridge-like-structure, we were filled with excitement and fascination.
First impression: Hampi seems to be more popular with foreign tourists than Indian. You get a Goa-esque vibe in Hampi with global cuisine at local restaurants, foreigners on bikes/bicycles and scooters on rent.
We had booked a countryside “resort” for our night stay. Situated right next to the Sanapur lake and in midst of paddy fields, the resort had a perfect setting.
Though the rooms were basic, they were clean and had a wonderful swing on the porch to lie down or sit and enjoy the scenery.
You get multitudes of options in the restaurants in Hampi, not the least of them south Indian. You can get North Indian curries and parothas, or Italian pizzas/pastas or Tibetan momos or Mediterranean dishe out. The preparations were decent and tasty. Nothing extra ordinary and we didn’t find any signature dishes. But the drinks (fruit lassi and mint tea) were definitely worth trying.
Make sure you check what the dishes are exactly, otherwise you will end up with fried momos when you had ordered a veg momo (they only had fried option for veggies. What??).
Hampi can be reached via Hospet station which is connect by train and buses to major cities. Hospet is 9-10 hr train ride from Hyderabad and 9-12 hr ride from Goa.
Hospet to Hampi is 12-15 km and can be reached by bus or by three wheelers. Three wheeler autos charge INR 200 for each journey (fare is not per head).
Our stay cost us INR 1000 per night. You would get many homestay, hostel and cottage stays in the same range. Stay on the ‘other side’ of Hampi is preferable.
The ferry to cross Tungabhadra River costs INR 10 per head. Coracle crossing would cost INR 50 per person.
Scooter for a day would range from INR 150-250 depending on the vehicle you pick. The petrol pump is not nearby so better buy petrol at a premium (INR 10-20 per liter over the market price) from the shops or the scooter guy.
Food was not as cheap as expected, but wouldn’t have to shell large amount for good meal. We had meals at INR 400-500 for two. The rates didn’t differ much on either side of river and was similar across places.
Do you have a story to tell about your Hampi experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.