A three-day itinerary to explore the town of epic ruins in the best way possible
Hampi isn't just a place, it is an experience. When you enter Hampi, time stands still. You are taken back to the era when this place was a mighty empire. The boulders extend their warmest welcome and the landscape has an old-world charm, unlike any other destination. It is almost like travelling through history. No wonder this UNESCO World Heritage Site bagged the 2nd spot in the New York Times’ prestigious list of '52 places to go in 2019'.
Here is a tried and tested three-day Hampi itinerary, including how to get there, tourist places near Hampi to visit, where to stay, and where to eat.
How to reach Hampi?
To reach Hampi, your primary goal needs to be reaching the city of Hospet first. Hospet is around 13 km from Hampi, making it the nearest city to the town. If you’re travelling from nearby cities such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, etc., there are two options; either hop on a train or take an overnight sleeper bus. Buses from all major nearby cities ply on this route, so reaching Hospet shouldn't be a problem. We hopped on a VRL Bus from Mumbai to Hospet as the train was taking comparatively longer time to reach and was also at odd hours.
Once you reach Hospet, you can take public transport like an auto rickshaw or the government bus to reach Hampi. Please be aware that auto drivers can quote extravagant prices, so be sure to bargain. Anything between Rs. 300/- to Rs. 500/- should be okay as the distance is just 13 km. The bus ticket is around Rs. 20/- per person, but it would drop you at the main marketplace and not your hotel, obviously. So choose accordingly.
If reaching Hospet is not possible, you can arrive at Hubli and then travel to Hampi. Hubli has an airport and also a railway station, so you can choose accordingly.
Hampi Itinerary: 3 Days in Hampi
Hampi is a timeless destination and some would feel that just a day is enough, while some would love to spend a few months at least. But, from a tourist standpoint, you can cover most places of interest in Hampi in three days. Here's a 3-day Hampi itinerary for places to visit in and around the boulder capital of India.
Hampi Itinerary: Day 1
If you’ve taken an overnight journey, by the time you reach your hotel and freshen up, it would be time for lunch. So, post-lunch you'll have half a day to explore Hampi. Hire an auto-rickshaw to take you to the prominent ruins that are a little farther from the main market area. Again, you need to put your bargaining skills forward. Rickshaw drivers may quote prices from Rs. 1000/- to Rs. 2500/- just for the half day. Try getting the best deal towards the lower end of this range. These are the places that you can cover in this half day.
The locals believe that you need to compulsorily have the Twin Rocks on your Hampi itinerary. They even believe that if you've come to explore Hampi; you need to start your sightseeing at the Twin Rocks. Legend has it that two sisters were turned into rocks (twin rocks) when they undermined the beauty of the landscape of boulders. Therefore, you begin here as a reminder to never repeat their mistake!
Prasanna Virupaksha/Underground Shiva Temple
This is the original Shiva temple which belonged to the royals back in the day. It is one of the oldest ruins in the town. The temple was discovered only in the 1980s, before which it remained buried for over four centuries.
In this complex, you will get to see many prominent structures. You’ll also get insights into the history of the Vijayanagara empire at the museum on-site.
Here are two noteworthy ruins inside the Zanana Enclosure-
Elephant Stables: The massive area which was the resting place of elephants back in the day.
Lotus Mahal: The famous symmetrical structure that is so Instagram-worthy!
Hazara Rama Temple
As the name says, this temple is dedicated to Lord Ram. A unique aspect of this temple is the astonishing stone carvings on the outer wall depicting the epic story of Ramayana. These extensive relics are a work of art and can’t be missed. This is one of the most visited tourist places near Hampi.
The Royal Enclosure was the power seat of the Vijayanagara empire. It hosted many significant functions, like the Dusshera celebrations. You’ll get to see the architectural might of the era in the prominent structures it houses. It is often referred to as an open-air museum.
Some of the most noteworthy structures inside the Royal Enclosure are-
Monolithic Stone Doors: These were the original doors to the Royal Enclosure. Each door is sculpted from a single piece of stone. It is believed that these massive doors could only be opened or shut by elephants back in the day.
Mahanavami Dibba: It is a three-tiered platform built for the King to enjoy the Dussehra celebrations from a vantage point. It is a structure with steep steps and many stone carvings.
Pushkarni/Stepwell: This is another instagrammable spot you cannot miss. The Stepwell displays a remarkable symmetrical layout in a 5-tiered water well.
This royal bathroom was exclusive to the Queens of the Vijayanagar empire and their handmaids. The rectangular structure is simple on the outside but well thought out from the inside. It consists of an elaborate sunken open-air bathtub surrounded by arched corridors on all sides.
The Vitthala Temple Complex houses significant structures displaying some of the most intricate carvings in all of Hampi. You’ll be able to witness some stellar craftsmanship and architectural genius in the structures here. Hire a guide to show you around so that you don’t miss some intricacies in the ruins.
The two noteworthy structures inside Vitthala Complex are:
Musical Temple: Also known as the Ranga Mantapa, this place houses over 50 pillars, designed as musical pillars. When tapped, these emit musical notes.
Stone Chariot: This is one of the most famous structures in Hampi. Also seen on the new Rs. 50/- currency, this magnanimous structure is pure beauty carved in stone. A guide can help you understand the amazing aspects of the carvings on this structure.
Hampi Itinerary: Day 2
Begin your second day by waking up early and hiking to the top of Mathanga Hill to watch the sunrise. It is one exhilarating experience watching the sun come up and light the magnificent landscape of Hampi. Please be sure to carry torches and check the route carefully.
Hike down from Mathanga and reach the beautiful complex of Achyutaraya Temple. It has a photographic double-walled entrance and exudes so much royalty. This temple is not so popular, as its location is quite secluded. You can get brilliant pictures without much intrusion here.
Hippie Island or Virupapur Gaddi is a scenic haven just across the Tungabhadra River and we highly recommend you include it in your Hampi itinerary. You can take a coracle ride or just hop on a public boat to cross the river. On the other side, you can hire a bike for a day and explore the interiors on this other side of Hampi. The entire landscape here is filled with paddy fields and coconut tree and is a sight to behold!
Here are two noteworthy places you can visit-
Sanapur Lake: This calm lake surrounded by the boulder landscape is a sight to behold. You can participate in cliff-jumping and take coracle rides here.
Anjaneya Hill: This place is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman and is one of the most popular religious tourist places in Hampi. Reach the top of the temple by taking a flight of whitewashed, criss-cross steps. The view of paddy fields, coconut trees, and ruins from the top is breathtaking.
Hampi Itinerary: Day 3
On the last day, explore the ruins near the Hampi market, on foot.
Located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, this temple is the centre of pilgrimage in Hampi. It is the only temple that is active to date. When you’re here, don’t miss taking blessings from Laxmi, the temple elephant.
If you don’t enjoy hiking, you can head to the Hemkuta hills to see the sunrise and sunset. It houses many clusters of temples too.
Sasivekalu & Kadalekalu Ganesh Temples
You'll see gigantic monolithic statues of Lord Ganesha carved from a single rock at these neighbouring temples.
Other places to cover:
If time permits, include a visit to the Krishna Temple Complex, the Chakratirtha, Hampi Bazaar, Lakshmi Narasimha Statue, the Monolithic Bull, and the Badavilinga Temple.
Where to stay in Hampi?
It is best to stay near the market area as it is central to most tourist places near Hampi. Many local-run lodges are quite basic, yet manageable. These are best, as many attractions are accessible on foot from this area. If you want something more deluxe, you’ll have to stay a little outside Hampi’s main area, where you’ll find bigger hotels.
Where to eat in Hampi?
The best place to eat in Hampi is at Mango Tree Restaurant. You can have all your major meals here. They have an amazing ambience, diverse seating spaces, and a wonderful variety of food. It is a vegetarian place, just like most places here. You must try their popular dessert, Banoffee Pie, which is a crowd favourite.
The best alternative to restaurants in Hampi is the street stalls. You must try them to enjoy a variety of local delicacies, such as idlis, appams, mirchi pakora and so much more.
Hampi: How to explore it in the best way?
On foot. This is the best way to explore Hampi and its tourist places. Except for the ruins that are a little away from the main market area, all other sights and ruins are well within walking distance. Exploring this town on foot will give you an immense sense of belonging to the place. You will be transported back in time and be compelled to fall in love with the ruins.