I faintly remember my last visit to Hampi which dates back to 2000. It was one of the very few family trips I went crumpled inside a Maruti 800 which broke down many a times on our way to Hampi.
I planned to visit historical Hampi again in DEC 2015. After arriving at Hospet in bus at 8am I took an auto for 150rs after little bargaining to go to Hampi. It was approximately 20mins ride. During the ride auto driver suggested places to stay, see and pushed me to hire his auto for any trips around Hampi. Every auto driver there doubles up as a guide. 500rs for half a day & he would cover most of the places. That’s the price almost all the drivers charge. Unfortunately I had come to Hampi to spend time in Virupapur Gadde also called Hippie Island. I would rather say Hampi is divided into 2 which is separated by Tungabadra river. One side is the Ruins of Hampi & the other Hippies of Hampi(Virupapur Gadde).Though during the peak seasons backpackers storm this area, Virupapur Gadde is very rural in heart.
I got down from rick and walked towards river to take a boat to hippie island paying 10rs(20rs with luggage) It merely takes 2 minutes to cross. I climbed few steps and there I was flocked by locals to rent out cycle/moped/bikes. It was a vibrant mud road that stretches around 2kms filled with cafes, guesthouses, rental and artistic shops where mostly backpackers are seen during peak season. You find them chilling out in cafes, smoking up, riding mopeds, walking around with hoopla or simply doing nothing.Other side of the road has open paddy fields.
I walked down to Shanthi Guesthouse as I had booked my stay there. It has many huts with a swing bed outside. After quick check-in, I soon pulled out sunscreen from my bag pack that I had bought for this trip. Hampi without a sunscreen is a big no for me. To satisfy my empty stomach I stepped out to eat. Went to German bakery at the beginning of the road and their breakfast platter with ginger tea was the best I must say.
As I sat there sipping tea what next I thought. Now I had a choice to cross the river and take a glimpse of the vast ruins of Vijayanagara empire by walk/cycle/auto under the blazing sun. Hampi town is UNESCO World Heritage Site and was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its time where every structure here has a wonderful story behind it. But I decided to stay amidst hippies for I had come to Hampi with a mind to just relax. So I rented a TVS for 150rs per day + filled fuel for 90rs and along with my friend went for a ride. One can visit Hanuman temple or go towards river for a dip.
Without a second thought I went to Sanapur Lake. As we drove past I could see locals swimming , bunch of foreigners cliff jumping and many foreign tourist riding around in mopeds. Not having to wear helmet gave me the sense of freedom as we drove around in unknown roads, between the paddy fields though sometimes I felt I could run faster than my TVS.
Back at shanthi cafe in the evening I laid down on the mattress along with few travelers watching sunset which turned the paddy fields gold. My 9-6 job has always kept me indoors & I couldn’t recall the last time I had watched a sunset for this long. I chatted with Rose while she sat with me with a map to figure out her next 2 months of travel around south India.
I then strolled the street, peeped into every shop and tried many cafes. The one that caught my eyes was Gauthami cafe with it’s amazing wall hangings which were for sale. Dim lit, smell of the weed, laid down atmosphere, good music and the paintings all brought the place alive. Almost all the guesthouses have gigs or play movie in the night during peak season. As I walked past Nargis cafe the cheer was even more louder.
Day 2 began with ginger lime tea. I then stepped out on street and this time it was breakfast at Hema’s followed by renting a TVS along with my friend.
We went prepared today with extra pair of clothes for swim. After reaching lakeside, for 200rs we took a coracle where the boatman took us to a secluded place for swim away from anybody’s reach. After a good swim and few stops for clicks I was back in one of the cafe lying on mattress on the floor with low tables set up.
I had booked my return bus ticket to Bangalore from Hospet for 11pm. I decided to pack my bag and leave the hippie island by 5.30pm reason being the boats operate 6am-6pm between the ruins of Hampi & hippie island. So I crossed to the other side and was told the buses from Hampi to Hospet operate til 8 pm. Now I had more than 2 hours time in hand @ Hampi. Knowing that the sunset from top of Virupaksha Temple is not something to miss when at Hampi I climbed up and found solace watching the sunset along with many others.
I walked down to visit the only functional Virupaksha temple before going to Mango Tree for dinner. Mango tree serves varieties of cuisines and I would recommend it to anyone going there. It was 8pm by then and I took a local bus to Hospet for 13rs. I had a wonderful trip chilling @ cafes, eating and drinking to my hearts content, watching sunset, strolling the paddy fields and driving around in those almost empty roads not having to worry about anything.
>Dont forget to carry sunscreen, shades, hat to save yourself from scorching sun and enough cash that lasts whole trip
> Boats to Hippie island operate 6am – 6pm only
> There are plenty of guesthouses available to book on the spot( During peak season I recommended you book in advance)
> Beer & Nonveg is available in hippie island. Carry cards/board games if you plan to spend more time in the island.
> Have at least one meal in Mango Tree
>Start early in the morning if you want to visit the ruins as the heat can tire you out easily during the day
Note: Recently Forest Dept authorities have demolished few cafe’s and home stays in Virupapur Gadde.