Hampi Itinerary: how to spend 3 days in Hampi

This post is a travel guide with a 3 day Hampi itinerary. Hampi is located in the state of Karnataka in South India. It was the capital of the Vijayanagara empire and is still home to hundreds of ancient temples. The ruins cover a large area and it is easy to be overwhelmed as a first time visitor.

Most backpackers stay much longer than planned, because of the relaxed atmosphere, the slow pace of life and the range of activities available. It would take months to see all the ruins in Hampi and once you get tired of history you could enjoy the outdoors and go hiking or boulder climbing. The rocky landscapes in the area are just as impressive. 

I made this Hampi itinerary after my own trip. I loved Hampi so much that I stayed there for almost a week. For those with less time, I would say 3 days in Hampi is the minimum you need. This way you can see the most important places without rushing things.

Hampi itinerary: Lady selling souvenirs in Hampi near the vittala temple.
You need at least 3 days in Hampi to see the most important sights

Hampi history

It’s hot in the fierce sun and sweat is dripping from my back. In front of me, the rocky landscape of Hampi absorbs the heat and provides little respite from the sun.

It’s the second day of my Hampi itinerary and I am on my way to the Vittala temple. Everywhere I look I see remnants of the old Vijayanagara empire. One of the largest and most powerful empires in medieval India In the 14th century, Hampi was the capital of this vast Hindu kingdom and it was described as a prosperous and wealthy city untill it was defeated by Muslim armies in 1565.

Hampi was a major center of political, economic, and cultural activity during the Vijayanagara Empire and was known for its grand architecture, rich cultural heritage, and impressive monuments. The town was home to many important religious structures, such as the Virupaksha Temple, the Hampi Bazaar, and the Royal Enclosure, which served as the residence of the Vijayanagara kings.

Hampi’s history goes back even further though and people identified the area around Hampi to be the monkey kingdom of Kishkinda as described in the Ramayana. Before the Vijayanagara empire, the Hoysala kings, famous for the Somnathpur temple near Mysore and the Belur and Halebid temples, already built the first religious buildings in Hampi

Nowadays Hampi is a small town catering to backpackers and religious pilgrims that visit the still functioning Virupaksha temple and monkey temple. Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage site and there are over 1600 remains of temples, palaces, horse stables, ganesh statues and other structures.

Hampi itinerary: view from the monkey temple
The rocky landscape around Hampi

A 3 day Hampi itinerary

Hampi itinerary day 1: Virupapur Gaddi & Anegundi

When making a 3 day Hampi itinerary with the best places to visit in Hampi it is good to realize that the area is dividided by the Tunghabadra river and that the sights are clustered around three centers.

Most places to visit in Hampi are at the side of the bazaar with one cluster around the Virupaksha temple and another cluster around the Royal enclosure. The other side of the river called Virupapur Gaddi also has some interesting ruins and offers a more quiet and peaceful experience.

To cross the river you can take a boat that leaves frequently once full. Virupapur Gaddi also has some nice homestays, good restaurants and plenty of places to rent a bike.And that is exactly what I would recommend you to do on your first day. Driving your motorbike with the wind through your hair among green rice fields is a highlight in itself.

Anegundi village

The first day of our Hampi itinerary we explored Virupapur Gadi. Our first stop was the small village of Anegundi. The Kishkinda Trust is running several projects here to promote rural tourism and to empower the community. The sleepy town remains an off the beaten path destination which is part of its charm and so are it’s green rice paddy’s and palmtrees. On top of that Anegundi has some temples as well.

Ancient temple in Anegundi village
Ancient temple in Anegundi village

Durga & Monkey temple

On our wayt back from Anegundi we stopped at the Durga and monkey temple. The temples are still used and a favourite stop for religious pilgrims. The monkey temple is of great importance to Hindus because some believe that the Hindu monkey god Hanuman was born here.

Both temples require an effort to climb endless steps to the top of a hill that offers a magnificient view over Hampi. The Durga temple is less high and less crowded, but the monkey temple offers a better view.

the Durga temple is a more off the beaten path place to visit in Hampi
Durga temple

Sanapur Lake

The sanapur lake is a nice spot to end the first day of your Hampi itinerary and watch the sunset. The blue lake surrounded by rocks gets few visitors, but is a great place to visit. Read more in this guide from Our Taste for life about Sanapur lake

Sanapur lake near Anegundi village
Sanapur lake

Hampi itinerary day 2: Hampi by Tuk Tuk

The second day of our Hampi itinerary we were contemplating whether we wanted to hire a motorbike and drive around ourselves or go with a tuk tuk to see the places to visit in Hampi on the Virupaksha side of the river.

We decided that the weather was too hot and treat ourselves on a tuk tuk for the day. This turned out a great decision, because the roads were much dustier and rockier than in Virupapur gaddi. On top of that our tuk tuk driver showed us some temples that were not in our guidebook such as an underground shiva temple and a large statue of Narasimha, the incarnation of Vishnu.

Vittala Temple and stone chariot

The famous stone chariot that is on most pictures of Hampi is in the beautiful Vittala temple. The Vittala Temple is built in the mid-16th century during the rule of King Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire. It is one of the well-preserved monuments in Hampi, known for its intricate carvings, rich history, and architectural beauty.

Insider tip: The temple is a long 2 kilometer walk through rocks and boulders, but it is worth every step you take. If you want to escape the heat I would advise you to do this early in the morning or the afternoon. Tuk tuks are not allowed to reach the Vittala temple, but if you really don’t want to walk there is a crowded white tourist van going up and down.

Vittala temple and the stone chariot
Stone chariot at the Vittala temple
Hampi itinerary: Vittala temple
Vittala temple

Laxmi Narasimha

Narasimha is a Hindu deity and one of the avatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu. He is depicted as a half-man, half-lion being and is considered a fierce and powerful form of the deity. The name “Narasimha” literally means “man-lion,” and the deity is revered for his ability to provide protection and support to his devotees.

The large statue of Narasimha in Hampi is among the largest in Karnataka. Next to the statue is a small temple with a big Shiva lingam inside.

Elephant stables & Lotus Mahal

The former royal palace grounds offer some interesting sights. Not to be missed are the elephant stables and the lotus mahal. These well preserved buildings are known for their unique architecture, which features a blend of Hindu and Islamic styles, including domes and arches, and its intricately carved walls and pillars.

The Lotus mahal was used by the royal women and is believed to have served as a place for relaxation, entertainment, and possibly for holding meetings.

Hampi itinerary: Elephant stables
Elephant stables
Hampi itinerary: Lotus Mahal
Lotus mahal

Queens bath and stepped baths

Hampi is a dry landscape and the baths must have involved some advanced engineering. Access to clean drinking water remains a struggle for people in the area, even now. The queens bath is a beauty inside, but the stepped baths used by the citizens of the kingdom are no less impressive.

Hampi itinerary: Queens bath
Queens bath

Hazara Rama temple

Last, but not least of our tour was the Hazara Rama temple. When our tuk tuk driver stopped we almost felt we had seen enough for the day. We were wondering whether to drag our tired bodies into the sun again for one more temple.

But this was not just another temple. This was like a book with the detailed carvings on the walls telling endless stories. Elephants marching forward, women dancing, warriors fighting and horses getting ready for battle.

Hampi itinerary: Hazara Rama temple
Hazara Rama temple

Tip: The Vittala temple requires a ticket that is also valid for the royal enclosure (lotus mahal and elephant stables) and the archeological museum in Hospet. We visited the museum as part of our tuk tuk tour. My advice is that if you have enough time on the second day of your Hampi itinerary, it is worth having a quick look, but not a must see.

Hampi itinerary day 3: Hampi on foot

Our tuk tuk tour left us in awe, but also tired and overwhelmed. The Virupaksha temple and some Ganesh statues are just accross the river from virupapur gadi and we decided to leave them for the next day. The third day of our Hampi itinerary we explored the area on foot.

Laxmi: the temple elephant

I always have mixed feelings of tourist activities involving elephants. In South India many temples have a temple elephant that hands out blessings to people in exchange for a few rupees.

Laxmi is Virupaksha’s temple elephant and every morning around 8 AM she goes to the river to get a bath. Her caretaker gently washes her and she seems to be enjoying this daily ritual. Still, I feel that a crowded temple is not the place for an elephant.

Laxmi the temple elephant bathing in the river

Virupaksha temple

The Virupaksha Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is worshipped as Virupaksha. The temple is considered one of the oldest and most sacred shrines that dates back to the 7th century. It was a major center of Hindu worship during the Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1565) and continues to be an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus.

Virupaksha temple is thus still functioning and of great importance for Hindus. It is therefore the most crowded of all temples with both people and monkeys. The monkeys are fun to watch, but you should take care if you carry any food items or even just a water bottle.

Monkeys in Virupaksha temple
Monkeys in Virupaksha temple

The monolithic ganesh statues

Behind the Virupaksha temple are two impressive monolithic statues of Ganesh. The hindu god with an elephant head who loves sweets and removes obstacles. Sasivekalu and Kadalekalu Ganesha are an easy walk up the boulders behind the Virupaksha temple and should not be missed.

Hampi itinerary travel tips

The best places to stay in Hampi

There are three places where you can stay in Hampi. First of all there is Hospet which has the nearest railway connection. The town is a transport hub and not very scenic, but offers some decent hotels. It is also convenient if you need to catch an early morning train.

The second option is Hampi bazaar. Here you will find yourself right in the centre of Hampi. However, there is a constant struggle between the hotel owners and the authorities that rather see the hotels go to preserve the archeological heritage.

The third option is Virupapur gadi. You will have to cross the river with a small boat that runs between 7 am and 5 pm, but this is the most scenic and peaceful location. Homestays with good reviews in this area include Srinivasa homestay, Arjun homestay and Vinayaka homestay

Hampi itinerary: Ladies carrying water
Ladies carrying water in Hampi

The best places to eat in Hampi

Hampi has no shortage of vegetarian friendly restaurants. Most of them have a laid back atmosphere catering to backpackers on a budget. Again there is a cluster of restaurants around Hampi bazaar and Virupapur gadi.

Hampi bazaar: Mango tree in the middle of a banana plantation is a big favourite among travellers and I understand why. Their thali’s are excellent. For good homemade pasta head to nearby Suresh restaurant.

Virupapur gadi: The food at um cafe was ok, but my main reason for coming back was the relaxed atmosphere and the great view from their rooftop terrace.

When to visit Hampi

Hampi is best visited during the cooler months of October till March. It is also the peak tourist season, so it’s advisable to make advance bookings.

From March onwards it can get unbearingly hot in Hampi and July will bring monsoon rains till September. The area experiences heavy rainfall and many monuments and ruins may be inaccessible.

What to pack for Hampi

Even in the cooler months the sun is strong and there is little shadow among the rocks. Always bring a sun hat and sunscreen to Hampi. Sturdy shoes or sandals are another must for hiking the rocky terrain.

At last bring mosquito repellent. Locally you can buy Odomos that is great against mosquitoes.

Safety in Hampi

During the day hampi is a very safe place. However, the rocky landscape is also the home of snakes and sloth bears. Therefore it is better not to walk around the ruins at night. If you want to see sloth bears you can visit the Daroji sloth bear sanctuary not far from Hampi.

Solo female travel in Hampi

Hampi is not more or less safe for solo female travellers than other touristic places in India. There is no reason not to go to Hampi as a solo female traveler, but it helps to dress conservatively and use your instinct. If it doesn’t feel good it probably isn’t.

Romance and other scams are not unheard of and it is better not to get too friendly with local men that are eager to talk with you or guide you around. Remember, nothing is for free. It is also better not to walk around alone at night in quiet areas. 

How to get to Hampi

Hampi is in the north of Karnataka. The nearest city is Hospet. Hospet is a transport hub with frequent buses and trains to places in Karnataka and beyond. 

If people visit Hampi it is often the only place they visit in Karnataka, but Karnataka has so much more to see. Don’t miss beautiful Mysore with its palaces and great food or the temple beach town of Gokarna

Hospet to Hampi: From Hospet you should take a riksha to Hampi (15-20 minutes). If you stay in virupapur gadi take the boat to the other side of the river. The boat runs from 7 AM till 5 PM.

Train to and from Hampi: Hospet has a train station. You can check time tables and book your tickets online directly through the Indian railways (IRCTC). Unfortunately this is not always a straightforward process. For a small extra fee you can use 12goAsia or Makemytrip. There is a daily nighttrain from Bangalore to Hospet.

Bus to and from Hampi: There are also daily nightbuses From Hospet to Goa or Bangalore. Be aware that some offer a pick up from virupapur gadi included in your ticket. However, this means that you will be stuffed with 6 people in a rickshaw for a one hour journey to a bridge crossing the river to reach Hospet from where the actual bus departs.

It might be more comfortable and quicker to take the last boat (around 5 pm) to the other side of the river and take a rickshaw from there to Hospet on your own cost.

Sustainable travel to Hampi

Hampi is one of the top tourist sites in Karnataka. Karnataka is a beautiful state, but to preserve its culture, it is important to be aware of the possible negative impacts mass tourism can have.

Support the local community: You can support the community by purchasing goods and services from local vendors, artisans, markets and restaurants. It is better to try South Indian cuisine that uses local ingredients rather than imported foreign foods. South Indian food is very vegetarian friendly and it is easy to follow a vegan diet.

Stay in small scale sustainable hotels: It is also better to stay in locally-owned guesthouses or homestays to support the local economy directly. These accommodations often have a more positive impact on the environment compared to large hotels.

Where possible, I can recommend staying in a homestay for an authentic cultural experience. You might want to bring a small book with pictures of your family to break the ice.

You can also try to look for guesthouses or homestays that prioritizes sustainable practices. That said, environmental awareness is still low. It’s up to you to use water sparsely, turn off lights, air conditioning, and heating when leaving your accommodation.

Use public transport: Karnataka has a well-developed public transportation system. It is easy to reach Hampi by train or bus. Opt for public transport, whenever possible, instead of private cars to reduce carbon emissions.

Leave no trace principle: I encourage you to take all your trash back with you when you visit the temples in Hampi and don’t leave any trash behind. In other words, leave no trace of your visit. Even better is when you bring something to pick up any of the trash that other people left behind.

Respect the culture: Besides environmental concerns it is also important to respect the culture. People will appreciate it, if you dress modestly. Learning a few basic phrases in Kannada, can go a long way in building meaningful connections and to learn more about the local culture. Not everybody is happy to have their picture taken. When in doubt, ask permission.

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