Tucked away within majestic boulders and heavily laden with culture and history lies the lazy hamlet of Hampi.
The capital of the once famed Vijayanagara empire, Hampi does not disappoint even today. There is a sense of ancient royalty in the air when you walk through the lanes of old Hampi, well preserved ruins that are proof of what a magnificent place this must have been then surround you on all sides. The monolithic architecture makes you wonder if there had been some sort of a Greek influence here or vice versa. Interesting sights to see, tales to hear and architecture to marvel at, Hampi leaves you spellbound. But Hampi is just not about its ancient history or the famous temples, its beyond that.
Being in Hampi is like being at two places at one time, the main village that houses a major
chunk of all the important monuments and temples and the tiny ‘Hampi Island’ as called by the locals. While the mainland is bustling with everyday activity and has an element of a maddening yet energizing chaos , the other side of Hampi is a far cry from all of this. One has to take a ten minute ferry ride to get to the island or if you are lucky then you can cross the river sitting on an elephant! Once there, you will find yourself immediately transferred to a place that has a lazy and soothing vibe to it. At first you won’t believe that there actually exists a place like this, walking down the lane to find a decent accommodation for yourself you will come across places like “Bob Marley Lodge” or “The Laughing Buddha”. A string of hipster styled lodges and shacks- all well equipped with an European eatery will make you wonder if this is the same little Hampi you had read about in your history textbooks in school!
A very popular destination with backpackers, mostly Europeans, this side of Hampi has a more relaxed and chilled out vibe. You will find clean and cheap accommodation in majority of the lodges but don’t expect anything fancy, in fact anything amounting to luxury would actually destroy the charm of the place. You can choose from an array of continental cuisine for all you meals and when in Hampi, drink plenty of Beer, for that is the only form of alcohol that you get here.
Hampi has a lot to offer if you are willing to let go of the conventional. From lazing around in your hammock in the lodge to riding in and around the village on a rented moped, Hampi gives you a chance to experience things you wouldn’t do on a vacation otherwise. Personally my best experience at Hampi was at this place called “The Teepee”, a massive tent and an open air restaurant under massive boulders. Once there you can pick an instrument of your choice, sing, dance, drink or even tight rope walk if that excites you! It’s a place where strangers seem to be friends, you dine with them, sing with them and this place gives you the chance to just let go. It’s a beautiful feeling to watch the sunrise to the sound of music being created by you.
This is but just a snapshot of what Hampi is like. There is so much more that I can tell about the place, but some things can only be experienced. Hampi will surprise you with its diversity.
There are no direct buses to Hampi, one has to take an overnight bus from Bangalore to Hospet and from there Hampi is just an auto-rickshaw drive away.