Was extremely enthusiastic about the Hampi trip this time. It happens to be my 3rd trip to Hampi and i never for once felt that I have had enough of it. My entire office knew about this trip days before I left because I used references to the "upcoming Hampi trip" in every sentence. And then it happened!
We took the night AC sleeper Corona bus to Hospet and after a little filter coffee in hospet, took the next bus to Hampi. We were all flocked by guides and auto drivers as soon as we hopped off the bus and despite shooing them all off, one kid held on to our group till we crossed the river and reached Virupapur Gadde. I had stayed here earlier and had a fair idea of prices. The way locals try their innocent brains to squeeze off some extra money is pretty funny. Anyway after the first timers tried their luck to haggle prices at Mowgli guest house, we picked the owner guy, haggled a bit and checked into the huts.
Mowgli has cylindrical mud huts with conical thatch roofs. These huts for Rs.300 have double cot with bed, fan, attached bathroom with w/c potty, health faucet and shower. Freshened up,
crossed the river and went to Ranju's Khanawali (local style restaurant) for local thali meals.
And then we walked along Hampi bazaar up to Monolithic bull, up the stairs that lead to the next set of temples, Achutaraya Temple, Sule bazaar (yes, they had a prostitute market), the pushkaranai (bathing tank for after deeds), Purandara Mantapa and finally the Vittala Temple.
Purandara Mantapa was a good rest spot with Tungabhadra river flowing strong and swift for the Independence Day and the boys had a topless dip. Vittala temple with the Stone Chariot and the musical pillars was yet again a marvel. Despite being a second time, these continue to amuse me. Awesome!
6 people jammed into a single auto rickshaw and rode back to Hampi town, crossed the river, freshened up and went to Laughing buddha for a good dinner. Dinner was great, low platforms serve as tables while you relax on beds on either side of it. The best thing is you can sit, sleep, squat or sing and not bother. It was a night of some great Kannada songs by your's truly and co.
Nextday was August 15, Indian Independence day. So we decided not to venture into any sightseeing fearing the touristy crowd. Walked around Virupapur Gadde, went free rock climbing and I tell you, the rocks in hampi are a wonder to climb. And when you get up there, you shout, meditate, scream, sing and celebrate Independence! One of the best Independence Days I celebrated. Again had a ball at Laughing Buddha over a 4 hours dinner.
The last day, we had a light breakfast (which was a bad idea), checked out of Mowgli, crossed the river, hired
bicycles and went sightseeing to other spots. My second visit to underground Shiva temple, Mosque area, Hazara Rama temple and Mahanavami Dibba. The day went as good as ever, except we returned super hungry and still tried to cover it off with light snacks to save space for a big dinner. Your's truly had already earned the title "always eat" so managed to stuff in a Nutella Pancake. Relaxed on the beds and almost dozed off at New Shanti, the psychedelic place. And then went to Mango Tree for dinner to finish off a good trip.
Getting there: Bus ride from Bangalore is 6-7 hours long. Best to take the night sleeper bus. Try the Corona sleeper for Rs.400
Places to Stay: Any of the guest houses. For non family crowd who want to chill more than sight seeing, cross the river and get a room in Virupapur Gadde. Walkin accomodation, you dont need to book. Refer to Lonely planet guides for the price range
Getting around: Best by bicycles and walk
Places to eat: Try "Mango Tree", "Mowgli" and in the season even "Sheshbesh" is pretty good. Average meal cost per day: upto Rs.500, but worth the experience