Hampi Itinerary for 3 days – a perfect road trip from Bangalore
As we sailed in the Tungabhadra river I could picture myself as one of the thousands of foreign travelers and merchants who were drawn to Hampi in the 14th-16th century. The lively road trip from Bangalore, the grandeur of the ruins, the sunset at Tungabhadra – they will be etched in my memories forever. This is a detailed account of our Hampi itinerary for 3 days and an equally invigorating road trip from Bangalore to Hampi. So join us on this virtual trip to the Rome of the East as we immerse ourselves in its glorious history.
An introduction of Hampi – a UNESCO Heritage site
When you start planning your trip to Hampi, it’s important to know a little bit about the history of this place. Hampi is famous for being the capital of the great Vijayanagara empire of the 14th and 15th centuries. However, the documented history of Hampi goes back to the kingdom of Ashoka. The region was successively ruled by many great Hindu dynasties before the Vijayanagara kingdom was formed.
Read 10 exciting facts about Hampi that are unknown to many.
Update: Hampi has recently been ranked 2nd on NY Times’ best destinations in 2019. So do not forget to include this on one of your long weekend trips in 2019.
3-day itinerary – Day 1
It’s ideal to leave Bangalore by 6 am so that you face less traffic and can reach Hampi by noon. However, we started late. By the time we freshened up at our hotel and had our much-needed lunch, it was almost 4 pm. Hampi has two distinct areas separated by the beautiful Tungabhadra river – the main Hampi and the North Hampi. There is, of course, another less explored part of Hampi, which is wildlife! Yes, we will talk about it later.
The Hampi bazaar was just 2 km from our hotel so we started with the hope of exploring them. This part of Hampi is often rightly referred to as an open-air museum. You don’t need to search for sites, it’s all around you.
Royal Enclosure Area | Hampi itinerary
The most prominent structure here is the Mahanabami Dibba which was used for Dushera festivities. Other significant places to see here are the King’s audience hall also called the 100-pillared hall, the Queen’s bath, the Octagonal bath, the stepped tank, the public bath, and horse stables. The royal enclosure was the seat of the emperor of the Vijayanagara kingdom and naturally the home to many significant monuments. There are over 45 structures in the Royal enclosure, or should I say ruins of the glorious structures that once existed. We parked near the Danaik enclosure and walked straight to the Queen’s bath. From there we just explored the area on foot. You can use our walking map of the Royal enclosure area to explore the monuments.
Danaik’s Enclosure Area | Hampi itinerary
Danaik’s enclosure or Dannanayaka enclosure is adjacent to the Royal enclosure, and an area which historians are divided on. Some believe it to be the mint area of Hampi, some the seat of administration (Danaik meaning chief administrator), while some say it is the military training area. Most of the monuments here were completely destroyed, hence the ambiguity.
As we entered the beautiful Hazara Rama temple, a monument that has withstood the test of time; we could hear the evening azaan from the Mohammedan quarter. The Mohammedan watchtower offers a great panoramic view of the Hampi bazaar. This place is famous for bouldering, a perfect adventure in the rocky landscape of Hampi. The weather was cloudy and pleasant, but not ideal for watching the sunset. We climbed one of the smaller rocks to watch the dramatic landscape in the evening.
Hemkunta Group of Temples
As we went past the Royal enclosure towards the Tungabhadra river, our eyes fell on the canvas of stone on our left side. It was a cluster of ancient temples on the Hemkunta hills, known as the Hemkunta Group of temples. The architecture of these temples is distinct from the rest of the Hampi group of monuments. These temples were built between 9th and 14th centuries. Traces of fortifications show that this area was a protected zone during that era.
“Adda” at Tungabhadra River | Hampi itinerary for 3 days
The next stop from here normally would be Zenana Enclosure, which is just 750 meters from the Danaik’s enclosure. However, we decided to visit the Tungabhadra river for a coracle ride. Unfortunately, the coracle ride closes at 6 pm, and by this time it was dark. We sat at the banks of the river and enjoyed the serene calm, unlikely of such a tourist hot-spot. We had the quintessential Bengali “Adda” (chit-chat with friends on topics ranging from nature to politics).
That was the end of our first day at Hampi. We returned to our hotel and played cards till midnight.
Day 2 Itinerary- Hampi in 3 days
Our plan for the next day was ambitious but doable. If you have just one day in Hampi, this could be your itinerary. We decided to start the day at 9 am with a tour of the archaeological museum of Hampi. Luckily this was exactly opposite to our hotel.
Archeological Museum of Hampi
Now that there is a single Hampi ticket which includes entry to the Archeological Museum and two of the most imposing complexes in Hampi, you should ideally cover these three places on the same day. The archaeological museum is one of the best places to begin your trip to Hampi.
The museum has a beautiful lawn with some pillars excavated from the ruins. Inside the museum, you will be greeted with a large model of the city. This will give you a solid orientation of the city and help you with planning. It would have been ideal if they had audio guides available in the museum but they don’t. All the relics are supported by sufficient information written in English, Hindi, and Kannada. Some of the notable collections here are the idols of Hindu deities and the coins of different eras from the Chalukyas to the kings of Vijayanagara. Another interesting exhibit was the one showing the evolution of the Devanagari script.
Entry Fee – Rs. 40, including Vijaya Vittala Complex and Zenana Enclosure Complex.
Open time: 10 am to 5 pm
Photography – Free
Vittala Temple Complex
From the museum, we drove straight to North Hampi on the other side of the Tungabhadra river. The best alternative of driving is taking a boat from the banks of Tungabhadra to go to the other side. When you search on Google Maps, use “Vijaya Vittala temple” since there is another Vittala temple almost 100 km away from Hampi.
The Vittala Temple is the zenith of architecture in the Vijayanagara kingdom and a must-to-include place in your Hampi itinerary. From the parking area, you can either walk 1.5 km to the temple complex or you can hire a tuk-tuk. At Rs.20 per person, the tuk-tuk takes you to the main temple complex from where you can explore the Vittala Bazaar, the temple, and the river. On your way back you just have to wait in queue for a tuk-tuk to arrive.
No matter how packed your schedule is you will have to spend at least 2 hours in the complex. The Vittala bazaar was the large market of North Hampi. A series of parallel pillars on both sides lead to the main entrance of the Vittala temple complex.
As soon as you enter the complex you see the spectacular Stone chariot, the icon of Hampi, right in front of you. It was built out of multiple granite blocks put one over the other. The intricate carvings on the joins completely hide the crease giving an impression of a monolithic shrine.
This is where we saw the overwhelming crowd that we were (not) missing till now. People thronged upon the stone chariot waiting for their turn to take multiple photos, while we continued our way to the main hall. We then entered the gate of the main Vittala temple. There were two temples here. One of these had the famous musical pillars, pillars that were used to create music. We spent an unexpected amount of time experimenting with our music composition skills on the pillars.
The other temple had intricate carvings depicting stories of mythology and history. The stories were inscribed in words on the wall in the Kannada language. After exploring and photographing the temples in the scorching heat we went to the riverside to relax and enjoy the breeze.
After spending an hour by now we walked towards the King’s balance, followed by the other side of the Tungabhadra river. The experience was magical and I could just stay there the whole day if I had time.
At the banks of Tungabhadra river in North Hampi
Anjaneya hills and the Monkey temple
The Anjaneya Hills holds a significant place in Hindu mythology. Believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman, a Hindu deity who helped Ram in his battle against the Ravan. At the top of the hill stands the Hanuman temple also known as monkey temple. The flight of stairs along the hill leading to the temple is completely shaded and one has to leave their shoes behind when they visit. Believers visit the temple to seek blessings of Lord Hanuman while nature lovers undertake the journey to see the most beautiful sunset. We had to skip it because of the timing but will make sure to come back on our next trip.
From here you can head to the Hampi island, also called Hippie island. The place earns its name owing to a large number of Goa-style shacks and the laid-back lifestyle in the region. Most backpackers choose to stay in this part of Hampi, in small huts at a ridiculously low price. The road to Hippie island is not ideal for driving hence it is advisable to hire a tuk-tuk or a bicycle if you visit it in the evening.
The Hippie island didn’t look too special in the afternoon. Of course, there were some interesting artifacts and cool dresses on sale out there. We had lunch at one of the shacks here and headed to our next stop.
Hippie island is the favorite spot for foreign tourists. It comes alive at night when live music bars open up, and people gather for a bonfire.
Daroji Wildlife Sanctuary
While Hampi is famous for the rocky landscape and heritage monuments, it is has a surprise hidden for wildlife lovers too. The Daroji wildlife sanctuary is home to the endangered sloth bear among other species like peafowls, mongoose, etc. However, there are a few points to note before you visit-
- There is no organized safari, the entry fee allows you to enter the forest and explore it on your own
- There is no jeep or car rental service here, so you need to hire a car from Hampi
- Entry Fee is quite expensive at Rs. 250/- per person
- No extra fee for the car, but you are not allowed to enter the forest without a car
- There are no toilet or drinking water facilities here
- You need to climb a watchtower which is not disability-friendly
- Best time to see a bear is after 3 pm but you should have at least 2-hours
Four kilometers from the main entrance lies the watchtower, where you need to park the car and climb up. This is where you are supposed to take out your binoculars and high-zoom cameras and start looking for sloth bears. The forest is dense and the black bear is difficult to spot. We stayed there for about 30 minutes and returned without seeing a glimpse of the animal. Patience is the key to watching wildlife, that’s something we learned on our six-hour Bandipur tiger safari. However, we wanted to return for the coracle-ride, hence we had to leave by 5:00 pm.
If you have only 1 day in Hampi, just skip Daroji National Park and Hippie island.
Coracle Ride in the Tungabhadra, Hampi
The coracle ride is one of the least advertised, yet most amazing attractions in Hampi. We parked for free near the Virupaksha temple and walked towards the Tungabhadra river like we did the previous day. There were no signboards so we had to keep asking locals for guidance. We walked into a cave that descended into the Tungabhadra basin. This is where the round-shaped boats were waiting to take us on a memorable tour.
You need to haggle here. The tours are not organized as such, and the prices are quoted on demand-basis. The four of us could negotiate a 30-minute coracle ride at Rs.1000 in total.
The sailor showed us some of the floating temples and precarious rocks on both sides of the river.
The tour ended with few rounds of spinning in the river. I must say it was a thousand bucks well-spent.
Our last stop of the day was the Virupaksha temple, one of the oldest active temples in India. It was created in the 7th century, after which it was enhanced during the Chalukya era and followed by the Vijayanagara era. The intricate carvings on the well-maintained temple make it difficult to believe that it is so old. This grand shrine is a must-visit place in Hampi and one of the monuments that were awarded the status of UNESCO world heritage site. Unlike many active shrines, there is no specific dress code for entering the temple.
The temple is also famous for a small slit in the wall which exhibits a pin-hole camera effect in the day when the sun-rays pass through it creating an inverted image of the main tower.
Day 3 in Hampi Itinerary – bidding adieu
The last day we checked out of the hotel at 9:15 am. We wanted to visit the Zenana enclosure before we set off on our way back through route 2.
The name Zenana suggests that it was a secluded area for royal women, a harem. The most notable structure here is the Lotus Mahal. It looks refreshingly different from the usual architecture of the Hampi group of monuments. This used to be the social hangout area for the royal ladies. Unlike most other monuments of Hampi, it is made of limestone and bricks.
Lotus Mahal at Zenana Enclosure
The Zenana enclosure, unlike the other to “enclosures” we visited before, is indeed enclosed by high walls. The area within is well maintained with lawns and large trees and a map of the area to help you out. Unlike the Royal enclosure, there are security officers here, probably the reason why we didn’t notice the acts of vandalism by tourists that we saw in the former.
Some of the other prominent structures here are the basement of the queen’s palace, the guard’s quarter and the beautiful elephant stables. The design of the elephant stables strangely sync with the lotus temple. Many archaeologists differ from the view that the Zenana enclosure was a harem at all. The proximity to elephant stable and guard’s quarter, according to them suggests that this area was used for military purposes. The proponents of the harem theory claim that the guards’ quarter was for the eunuch guards to protect the royal women.
Elephant Stable in Zenana Enclosure, Hampi The basement of Queen’s Palace
We had to pay Rs.40 entrance ticket again since our previous ticket was valid for just 1 day. However, we didn’t mind because just the Zenana enclosure alone was worth the money spent. Hampi is not just an outstanding must-visit place in India, it is one of the cheapest places to explore. The only exception is probably the Daroji wildlife sanctuary, which didn’t really justify the value of the entrance fee. We departed for Hampi with the hope of returning soon.
How to reach from Bangalore to Hampi?
Hampi is just 350 km from Bangalore and it can be reached via train, bus or by car. The train is the most preferred means because they are cheap and comfortable. However, given the high demand, the trains in India need to be booked in advance. Buses are easier to book because of their availability. There are a number of private Volvo buses that you can book from Bangalore to Hampi within the budget range of Rs. 500 -Rs.800.
Driving Route for Bangalore to Hampi Road Trip:
This was our choice of conveyance from Bangalore to Hampi. We got a little late and started at 8:00 am from our home. There are two driving routes from Bangalore to Hampi. The shortest one is via NH 48 (345 km) and the slightly longer one is via the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway (365 km). We took the shortest route on our way to Hampi and the second route back. I think the second (longer) route is much better for driving. The best thing is that you can stop at Veerabhadra temple of Lepakshi in the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway route. It is also another wonder of the Vijayanagar era.
Related: Best One-day Trips in Bangalore
Where to stay in Hampi?
There are a plethora of options to stay in Hampi, a backpacker’s paradise. There are guesthouses in Hippie island at economical rates. I would recommend staying in the Hampi town, close to the Hampi Bazaar, where you can see most of the heritage group of monuments. We stayed at Clarks Inn Hampi. At around Rs.2500 per night including breakfast we got an indoor swimming pool, gym, play zone, and amazing interiors. Check prices on Hotels Combined and MakeMyTrip.
Hampi is usually hot and dry almost throughout the year. Despite that tourist of all kind throng to Hampi for everything it has to offer. However, according to me the best time to visit Hampi is in the monsoon when the temperature is cooled down by the light showers. In fact, it is one of the best places to visit in monsoon in India.
How safe is Hampi for solo women travelers?
I found Hampi very safe for women, just like most of Karnataka. Some places near Tungabhadra are quite deserted. I would advise exercising the minimum caution that you would do anywhere else.
What to wear in Hampi?
I have seen women in shorts and tank-tops and saris alike. There is not many restrictions on what to wear even inside the temples. Although I prefer comfortable traditional attires as they go well with the backdrop. Wear good shoes for adventure activities. Check out the best travel shoes for India.
Hope you liked our 3-day itinerary for Hampi. Please share your thoughts in the comments section and pin it for your future trip to Hampi.
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