RTW Trip Hampi, India Day 88 to 90: Biking Boulders in Hampi
Another overnight bus took us to Hampi in northern Karnataka, the land of UNESCO World Heritage Site ruins, boulders, and a river bathing elephant. What’s great about this religious center, is that you can cycle around to a bunch of different ruins, and can easily spent two full days doing this.
The overnight bus from Palolem wasn’t so bad, but you arrive very early in the morning in Hospet, and then can take a short ride to Hampi by rickshaw. A friend told us that we could just walk around Hampi to find a place, and it is totally true! In fact, Hampi town is so jam packed with guest houses and homestays, that you would be able to look at several places within a 5 minute walk.
When looking for a place, do note that cheaper places are on what they call Hippie Island, which is a short 5 minute ‘boat’ ride across the extremely shallow waters. Hippie Island is the only area in Hampi where you can obtain meat and beer. If you are hanging out in Hampi town and staying in Hippie Island, be sure you are aware that the last boat to back to Hippie Island is around 5 or 6, so you definitely don’t want to miss it!
We ended up staying at Sunny Guesthouse in Hampi Town. Do note there are two places called Sunny Guesthouse: One in Hampi Town and one in Hippie Village. To be honest, this was one of the worst places we stayed in India. We should have looked at more than a couple places, as we later found much nicer accommodation for less. While already very cheap and central with okay wifi connection, I got a rash from my armpit to the top of my neck only on one side of my body. I later realized it was from my pillow, which probably hadn’t been washed since who knows when. This place only has a couple rooms, so you will notice that when the rooms are full, the family sleeps on the floor in the garage like area, which made us feel awful. The mother wanted us to eat our meals here, but in order to do that, you would need to eat in this garage-like area with no real place to sit. We opted to eat at sit down restaurants elsewhere, and she made us feel guilty about it… Several times. There are definitely better places and the prices are quite competitive so it might help to look around.
-Get up early in the morning to watch Krishna, the famous temple elephant get washed in the river. This happens every morning probably around 8am. Someone told us 7am, and we got there way too early!
-Rent a bicycle from the morning (for the best selection of bikes) and just go and explore! There is a basic map that gives you an idea of which areas to go.
-Go to Hippie Island for a charming moped ride around the island to see banana harvesting, farming, and small, charming village life. Rentals can be made when you arrive on the other side.
-If you need to buy clothes, please go to the clothes vendor across from Sunny Guesthouse in Hampi Town. The nicest man that is oh so accommodating runs the place and can help you with your needs!
Where to eat:
–Ganesh Guest House also has a rooftop restaurant with pretty decent homemade pasta. You can sort of see some of the temples from their roof, and they also have a few books on Hampi if you want to read up on the place before doing your bike tour. The pasta is not exactly authentic Italian, but we loved it considering it was close enough and was something other than curry. The staff are nice there too.
–Laughing Buddha Restaurant is a place where you can laze all day. Located on Hippie Island, you can get beer, views of the river, and a good variety of food. I prefer the back seats where you can literally lie down as you wait for your food. Their internet is decent and free! I also particularly liked their veg thali.
–Mango Tree Restaurant: always popular, bohemian atmosphere, friendly staff and good veg thalis served on a banana leaf. While delicious, I found several ants on the banana lead which kinda grossed me out. More protein, anyone?
–Sagar Hotel: Local food stall with a couple of seats serving idlii, chai, curries and other breakfast items. A local I befriended suggested I go here. Was delicious, but I think I got the tourist price.
–Archana Restaurant: great view of the river and Hippie Island! A friend stayed here and said he had the best momos here, but we fell in love with their giant fried potato parotta (was sort like a giant potato empanada). You won’t be disappointed!
Costs for Day 88:
Tuktuk to Sunny Guesthouse 10
Sunny Guesthouse 500
Ganesh Restaurant: cheese omelette, cheese tomato sandwich, tea, orange juice 210
Temple fee and shoe fee 8
Boat across river 40
Coconuts x2 and water 70
Aloo ghobi, pizza, beer at Laughing Buddha Restaurant 420
Mango Tree Restaurant: Veg thali, chana masala, mango lassi, lime soda, coke 350
Total cost for Day 88: 1998 rupees / 2 = $15.74 per person
Costs for Day 89:
Sagar Hotel: idlii, curry, chai 40
Tomato cheese sandwich, oj, and papaya juice 170
Sunny Guest House 400
Bike rental 100
Hampi ruins pass 500
Archana Roof Restaurant: potato parotta, papaya salad, veg momos, water, coke 250
Ganesh Restaurant: Veg pakora, lime soda, 7-upx2, pomodoro tagliatelle, eggplant tagliatelle 420
Total cost for Day 89: 1960 rupees / 2 = $15.44 per person
Costs for Day 90:
Archana Restaurant: masala dosa, cheese tomato sandwich, ginger lemon tea, oj 230
Non AC sleeper Train to Mysore 1300
Bike rental 100
Boat to Hippie Island return 40
Laughing Buddha Restaurant: veg thali, veg pizza, water, beer 430
Toilet paper 40
Prince Restaurant: coke and the thickest mango juice ever 80
Bus to Hospet 30
Cookies crackers 30
Chana nuts, masala madness, salted tangles (Indian snacks) 20
Total cost for Day 90: 2402 rupees /2 = $18.92 per person
What I learned: When you arrive in Hospet/Hampi, you will have loads of rickshaw drivers giving you a local map, trying to sell you on a tour of the ruins by rickshaw. They tell you all the best places to go, so take note! We took their advice but not their tour. The bike ride isn’t difficult and is part of the fun. I also think if you take a rickshaw, you will go through all the ruins in a short amount of time.
Actual dates of travel: Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 2014