I didn’t know what to expect from Hampi. Well, to be more specific, Hampi and the surrounding area. Known as one of the best and most unique ruin and temple destinations in India, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Besides the Rome-esque feel to the many sights, such as Vitthala Temple and Virupashka Temple, these ruins are situated among some of the oldest rocks on earth. The decomposing granite rises out of the lush green banana, rice, and sugarcane plantations to create a red-green contrast that seems to come straight out of a Dan Simmons science fiction novel.
Hampi itself is a hot, bustling bazaar with several nice rooftop restaurants that create great respites from the desert sun. Across the river (one must take a 10 rupee ferry) is the “greener side to Hampi,” Virupapur Gaddi, which is where I stayed.
With a little effort, it is easy to find a guest house for under 300 rupees. I stayed at Sri Durga Guesthouse, which is near the end of the village and also makes it very easy to get out into the countryside by motorbike and/or scooter.
Now I did do a full day exploring Hampi’s famous ruins, somewhat following the guidebook, but I can only see so many ruined civilizations before I get bored out of my mind. But even though I may have had stopped searching out ruins, I certainly found myself walking amongst pillars of an era long since past every day. The surrounding area is riddled with little gems of architecture, whether it’s a dilapidated ruin overgrown with shrubbery or a temple tucked in with the ubiquitous boulders.
All the major guesthouses have bike and scooter rentals, and if they don’t, then the guesthouse owner can certainly find you one with ease. I rented a Honda Hero that was on its last legs, but the engine fired up every time and the brakes worked. The tires were bald and the lights barely worked, but it was wheels, and after a whole day of searching out a flawless bike, I had to settle on what I considered to be the least piece-of-shit.
There are two major attractions that I should mention. And besides these, Hampi is gold mine for exploration. Those two places of interest being the Hanuman Temple (Monkey Temple) and the reservior near Rangapur (just ask for the reservoir and anyone will direct you). The Hanuman Temple is the place to be for sunrises and sunsets and the reservoir is the place to be to escape the heat. Both pretty self explanatory reasons.
In total, I spent 10 days exploring, and I could have easily spent another 10. But India is a massive country and there is so much more to be seen.
Below are a few photos from the Holi Festival, which happened to land on one of the days I was visiting Hampi.