Ruins with a soul – An ultimate guide to Hampi

Hampi happened to me during the republic day long weekend of 2016 – centuries old ruins, boulder strewn landscape, coracle rides, neon green paddy fields, just positive and chilled out vibes.

The huge, heaped, boulders of Hampi transform the rocky hills of northern Karnataka into a magical, mythical landscape. There is truly something magical about Hampi and that’s why it is stays high on the backpackers trail.

Historically, Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, a vastly powerful Hindu empire bought suddenly to its knees by Mughal rulers. It now remains a UNESCO world heritage site and lot of efforts have been taken to restore the lost glory of this place.

How to reach Hampi?

  1. Train: Hospet is the nearest railway station to reach Hampi. From Hospet, you can hop onto a local bus or hire a rickshaw to reach Hampi. Rickshaws generally costs 150-200 INR
  2. Bus: There are a lot of buses to both Hampi and Hospet from Bangalore which costs abour 600-700 INR.

How to get around in Hampi?

Most guesthouses in Hampi have the option to rent a moped. It costs about 150 – 200 INR a day. They are the best and most popular mode of transport

Know you season

Hampi is generally hot all year round. The best time to visit this place is from Nov – Feb. Avoid the summer months from March – May.

Where to stay?

Before I get to where you should stay, let me just brief you, there are 2 sides to Hampi.

Hampi Bazaar (Temple town) and The Hippie Island which is on the other side of the Tungabhadra river often reached by a 5 minute coracle ride.

The hippie island is the most preferred place to stay and truly a great experience.

We stayed at Mowgli Guest house. Most guest houses on the hippie island open up to the view of bright neon green paddy fields.

Waking up to stunning views of neon green paddy fields at Mowgli Guest House

Other options to stay in Hampi are

  1. Shanti Guest house – Hippie Island
  2. Top secret river view – Hampi Baazar side
  3. The white elephant Hampi – Hippie Island
  4. Hema guest house – Hippie Island

Top 10 things to do when in Hampi

  1. Explore the Hampi Bazaar and the Virupaksha temple – Here is the catch, the moped that you hire on the Hippie island aren’t allowed on the coracles. The best way to explore this side of Hampi is by opting for one of the guided tours or hiring a rickshaw which will take you around the entire place covering the prominent places.

Virupaksha temple – The focal point of Hampi and the first thing you’ll see as you enter Hampi.

Hampi’s focal point – The Virupaksha Temple

Urga Narasimha Statue – Carved out of a single block of stone. You can see in the picture below how the statue was vandalized by the Mughal rulers. The limbs are broken. The statue of Lakshmi sitting on the slab and resting on his lap was also seperated from the main statue.


Underground Shiva Temple – This is a monolith whose base is perennially submerged in water. The water flows via an underground channel that was constructed during the Vijaynagar Empire. Infact, the Vijaynagar Empire was known for having developed an extensive irrigation system built around the Tungabadra river.

Kadalekalu Ganesha Temple – This statue has been inspired from an incident in Hindu mythology when Lord Ganesha ate a lot of food till his stomach almost burst. In order to protect his stomach, he tied a snake around his belly. 

  1. Laze around the Hemakuta hills – The Hemakuta hills is generously spread hill which hosts more than 30+ temples and shrines mostly dedicated to Lord Shiva. Most of it are in ruins, the idols and statues from these temples are kept in the museum.

People lazing around the Hemakuta hills on a cloudy day in Hampi

Some of the many temples spread across the Hemakuta Hills

The Watch tower ( seen in the background) on the Hemakuta hill used by the the guards to keep an eye on the enemy

  1. Visit the Zanana enclosure that houses the Lotus Mahal and Elephant Stables.

Lotus Mahal : The beautiful two storey pavilion used by the queens to chill in those days

The row of chambers was used to house the elephants that were used for royal processions back in the day. There are 11 stables and all of them interconnected

  1. Explore the Queen’s bath that was used as a swimming pool by the Royal Family.

    It is believed that the pool used to be filled with fragrant water and flowers wherein royal women would bathe.

  2. Revisit Ramayana at the Hazara Rama Temple : Hazara Rama temple literally means a Thousand Rama. The walls of the temple carry the story of Ramayana while the outer walls portray processions of horses, elephants and soldiers, as seen in this picture.
  3. Visit the Vittala temple for the most iconic and photographed – Stone Chariot. This is the place that houses the mysterious musical pillars.

    The musical pillars of the temple

  4. Don’t miss out on the very ornate Stepped tank and Mahanavami Dibba.

    The gigantic Mahanavami Dibba

    The very ornate and proportionate : Stepped tank

  5. Go to the sunset point on Hippie Island – Hike the famous sunset point and witness a stunning sunset over the rice paddy fields with some amazing jamming sessions. Often, local children who sell tea join the jamming sessions and sing along.
  6. Hike the Monkey Temple or Matanga hill for stunning sunrise and sunset views

    A steep climb to the Monkey temple

  7. Whizz around on your moped and go cliff jumping at the Tungabadra dam.

Where to eat?

Mango Tree is the most recommended place here. And I cannot brag enough on how awesome this place is. Make sure you head here for lunch. This is located on the Hampi Bazaar side.

When in hippie island, explore the following : Laughing buddha ( great place to have a chilled beer), Hema’s café, Evergreen café amongst others.


  1. Hampi is generally hot all year round. It is advisable to start the day really early to beat the heat. Do carry an umbrella or a scarf.
  2. Hire a govt authorized guide to explore these places.
  3. The coracle boat ride closes by 5.30 pm. So, if you are staying in Hippie island, plan your itinerary accordingly

Overall, I loved the laid back life at the hippie island, whizzing through the boulder strewn landscape on our moped and evenings spent chilling across the shacks on the hippie island.

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