Hampi, Karnataka – Ancient India’s Heart and Pride
Every week since I was assigned in India, I made it a point to have a weekend getaway within the country as much as I can. The more states I covered, the better.
After hitting Aurangabad a week before, I looked for a nearby historical place within Karnataka region as I only have a weekend to work with. With such limited time, I cannot afford to go any farther. Upon a good recommendation of an Indian colleague, I began to research about Hampi (which I can cover for only a day!).
This post is originally published in Kristine’s blog here.
Traveling to Hampi by Train
Since I am based in Bangalore, Karnataka, it was only 8 hours via local sleeper train. Why not? I’ve always wanted to experience sleeping in local Indian trains. So I booked my separate – roundtrip train tickets a day before the actual preferred train schedule via IRCTC.
I chose Hampi Express as it will take me to Hospet for 8 hours from Bangalore on my preferred day (friday) and time (11:00 PM – 7:30 AM of the following day).
Note that you need an Indian credit card to pay online. Your international (non-Indian) credit card will simply not work with government websites.
What I did to pay for my online train reservation was transfer an amount from my non-INR savings (DBS) to my colleague’s Indian bank account so that I can use her credit card to pay for my train fare. Rs 1636 = PHP 1,187.
IRCTC does not have the roundtrip booking facility, so you need to book the Bangalore – Hospet Stn and vice versa separately.
Just a tip: As roundtrip reservation is not available, make sure to book firstly the last leg. Because if you are able to book your first leg but was not able to reserve your “going back” trip due to non availability, you might waste your money on the first trip.
Getting around Hampi
Hampi from Hospet Stn is only 16 KM (around 20 minutes by Auto – rickshaw) and I only paid 150 rupees. But upon reaching Hampi, I decided to rent the whole auto and the driver as tour guide for 700 rupees to take me around as it’s virtually impossible to walk to all the places. Hampi is an ancient city where ruins are almost everywhere. But in order to get to the more interesting places in a faster pace, you need to hire an auto (ALL ruins within Hampi are interesting, by the way).
If you have a lot of time in your hands, you can also hire a bike by simply telling the auto driver to drop you off to Hampi Bazaar.
Background: Hampi is an ancient capital of the Vijayanagar Empire. My auto driver / tour guide told me that it is used to be more progressive than Beijing and Paris.
Also read: Cambodia Budget Travel Guide 4D 3N
When trying to negotiate with the Auto driver, ask for a map and where he’s planning to take you. As much as possible cover below:
- Hampi group of monuments (Vittala temple and Stone Chariot)
- Virupaksha Temple
- Royal Enclosure (the one with Lotus Mahal)
- Riverside Ruins
- Queen’s Bath (which I didn’t take pictures, darn!)
- Hampi’s Bazaar (my auto did not take me here!)
- Matanga Hill – my driver was supposed to not take me here.. But I asked him that as per “Google”, there’s a place somewhere with a great view of the city which he said he does not know. When I told him, i’m going to add another 300 rupees, well, he remembered this one place with a great view. 🙁
When you haggle with the auto driver, ensure to take note of the places he will take you to and that it will cover all the best places. They have a habit of setting an amount, say 700 rupees but leaving behind some major places.
Hampi is quite huge and to get to all the beautiful ruins, you have to stay at least 3 days.
Another thing that irked me was that the auto driver wanted to cover ALL places straight for 7 hours without any lunch break (he planned for me to eat lunch at the railway station at 3 PM after dropping me off – end of the tour!). I literally had to tell him to bring me to where the nearest restaurants are by 1PM even if we are 10 kms away because my hunger and dehydration is taking a toll on my headache.
Hampi is quite dry and hot, it is mandatory that you allow yourself an hour break for nourishment and rest by 12noon or 1PM at most.
I toured Hampi from 8AM – 4PM. Thereby, left the place on the same day via the 9PM Hampi express from Hospet Stn and arrived in Bangalore KSR at 7:30 AM. The train fare was same as the first leg.
Tips on Network Sims
When in India be sure to get a local SIM from local stores so that you can always check the internet if your tout is telling the truth.
I do my top up online through Airtel. Again, i asked help from my Indian colleague to use her credit card to pay for my top up (INR376 = PHP 273).
I don’t normally use the talk time that much so that package’s 125 talktime is all I need for the whole month. I just do an additional data top up of 1GB online for INR154 = PHP 112 when needed.
Follow Kristine and her adventures on her blog ‘Musings of my Soul’.
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