After a tumble of emotions leaving Goa (not a fave and probably could give it a miss if you’re travelling around India) we took our first train journey to our next state, Karnataka, to the little town of Hampi.
But first we took an eight-hour train ride during the day from Goa to Hampi, sat in economy class of India; sleeper. The stories we’ve heard about trains have been pretty horrendous and alternatively were told by other backpackers that overnight buses are the best way to get around. Completely disagree! Don’t listen to local travel desks in India, they get commission for booking you on buses. If you can, try to opt for trains, but book well in advance!
We had to push two guys off our cramped-together seats but eventually we were sat amongst the colourful, loud and quite smelly carriage. Toilets are a massive no. I mean if you’re desperate then go but I luckily avoided. I attempted reading my book but the distractions of food vendors and shocking sights of prostitutes slapping men for money made the time go. An experience in itself travelling by train, but it’s quick, efficient and you get to see the sights of India.
Welcome to Hampi
Geologist, lover of architecture, sightseer or adventurer then Hampi is a place not to be missed in South India!
Where to stay in Hampi & Eat
Staying in the centre of Hampi Bazaar, Tom and I set ourselves up for three nights at the lovely Gopi Guesthouse. Definitely recommend! The rooms were really good for Indian standards, and by the sounds of the other guesthouses available in the area we stroke lucky. Accompanied by a lovely rooftop bar overlooking the famous Virupaksha Temple it served delicious coconut vegetable curry (which I stuck to religiously) along with coconut and banana porridge for breakfast. A lifesaver of food after disliking everything in Goa. The juices are great too.
Another fantastic restaurant we tried before leaving was also located in the main Bazaar, called The Mango Tree. With a friendly, buzzy feel, you sit amongst each other on pillows on the floor, playing cool Indian music and serving delicious dishes. I went again for a coconut veg curry and it was the best.
Sunsets are not to be missed in Hampi. On our first two nights we climbed the famous boulders that scatter across the land for miles, with hidden temples amongst many of them, here we watched stunning dusty red sunsets surrounded by monkeys that are out in full swing attempting to knick something, anything, everything!
A definite recommendation is to find yourself a rickshaw driver, that speaks good English, and hire him for the day to take you round all the temples and explain the meanings and stories behind the spectacular ruins. We were recommended one from another traveller, paying Rs 500 for a 5 hour tour was fantastic, however we hit midday sun in the desert-like setting and felt that was long enough.
Another day we spent on Hippie Island; a quick boat ride over the river for Rs 10, you reach yet more boulder mountains and beautiful lush green paddy fields that stretch for miles. This is predominately where the “hippies” reside for months on end staying in guesthouses with very minimal amenities. Here we found some lovely cafes serving up good food and coffee! Try the German Bakery for its cinnamon buns or if you are wanting to stay this side of the river many travellers raved about Goan Corner, but to grab a room you have to try your luck by just turning up first thing in the morning.
Along the way to hiring a moped we met a lovely English couple, one being from Hull – Tom was the happiest I’ve seen him on this trip! Being on the same safety wave length we both demanded helmets with the bike. Be warned travellers, India does not give out helmets unless you really really haggle and pay out. Stupid as police stop you along the way and fine you for not wearing one. We ended up paying Rs 390 all together with helmets and petrol for a days hire. Whizzing around the island is a fantastic way to see the sights.
Also would recommend climbing the 575 steps up to Monkey Temple to watch the sunset over Hampi. Just watch out for those monkeys again!