Solo Trip to Hampi

By Nirupama Rajan

One of the dreams of almost every young Bangalorean is to travel solo to at least a few of the places that Karnataka is famous for attracting tourists to. While choosing one option from this seemingly unending list of places is no small feat, if you have managed to narrow it down to Hampi, here are a few pointers that I hope will make your trip an even better one.

Solo Trip to Hampi

Whether you are a history buff looking for answers in the intricate stone carvings of this rocky wonderland, a writer hoping to find your voice in the stories that have unfolded here or merely someone looking to experience solo travel and see what all the fuss is about, everyone who visits Hampi is sure to find something very valuable to take back with them. While it is humanly impossible to detail all the places to visit and things to do while you’re there in one article, here’s my pick of the lot. Remember always when traveling, that it is never about how many boxes you check off of your ‘list of attractions’, but about what you take back from the ones you do experience, even if they are just one or two.

Getting there

The easiest option by far is to take a bus from Bangalore to Hospet. Both KSRTC and private companies offer plenty of these in sleeper, seater, AC and non-AC versions that cover the approximately 350 kms in 7-8 hours. Alternatively, you could take one of the several trains running from Bangalore to Hospet Junction. Hospet to Hampi is a distance of less than 15 kilometres and there are several government buses, private operators and autos that will help you cover this last bit of your journey there. You could also make a road trip of it and drive there in about 8 hours from Bangalore.

Accomodation

If comfort is a priority, I’d recommend staying in Hospet and making the trip from there to Hampi every day. I, for instance, stayed at Hotel Malligi in Hospet and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. They have great rooms, several culinary options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians and a great spa to top it off. If you are looking for something a little more rustic or if you’re on a tight budget, Hampi itself offers several quirky albeit simplistic hotels near the main temple and on Hampi island (known as Viruppapura Gaddi locally, it is accessible by a quick boat ride across the Tungabhadra river). A favourite among many travellers is the Mango Tree hotel near the main Virupaksha Temple.

Travel while there

In getting to Hampi and traveling while there, I used almost every conceivable form of transport- government buses, private buses, taxis, private autos, share autos, scooters, mopeds, motor boats, coracles, bicycles and even one of those golf cart-like battery cars! Autos will always be around and I can’t stress this enough. Hospet to Hampi can cost you between 200-300 rupees by auto depending on the time of the day, and travelling from one spot to another inside Hampi will cost you roughly the same. For about 700-800 rupees, autos will drive you to several prime locations one after the other. You could also rent bicycles for as little as 150 rupees a day- this I figured is most efficient as it is inexpensive and also lets you navigate the many narrow mud roads. While on Hampi island, you can rent scooters and mopeds for about 200-300 rupees a day to cover the large distances from one spot to another; keep in mind though that you won’t be allowed to take these across the river. The river can easily be crossed using the ferry service or on coracles- an experience you definitely shouldn’t miss while there.

However, even with all these options, I would personally recommend walking as much as possible. Walking elevates your travel experience to a whole new level and nothing – no, not even cycling – can give you that feeling. Hampi is the kind of place where you can look closely at a random rock lying at the side of the path and chances are, you’ll find a centuries-old carving on it; there’s just so much you miss out on when you’re not walking. Moreover, walking encourages you to veer off the beaten path, once again leading to several wonderful discoveries on the way. With every step you take, Hampi tempts you into taking one more, drawing you further into its intricate web of ancient stories.

Food

Now this is a tad problematic. While you’ll find bananas and tender coconuts all over, finding actual, reassuring food in Hampi can be a little challenging. Of course, there are several restaurants both on Hampi island and near the Virupaksha temple, and while locals are highly likely to offer to share their food once you befriend them, if you are a fussy eater, it’s highly advisable to carry fruit or packed food with you. Beware of the monkeys though, they’re everywhere and will do anything for a few morsels!

Major historical sites

Where does this one begin and where does it end? Suffice it to say there are well over a hundred historical landmarks in Hampi and even if you stayed for a month, you wouldn’t be able to spend as much time as you’d want to in each of them. The most prominent one would be the Virupaksha temple, originally built well before the Vijayanagara Empire that brought Hampi its fame. It’s a great idea to start exploring Hampi outwards from this focal point. Around this temple, you’ll find the Jain Hemakuta temples and the Ganesha temples, as well as the Krishna Temple and Krishna Bazaar. A long walk along the river from the Virupaksha temple will take you to the Vitthala temples, which is also the site of the famous stone chariot, hall of musical pillars, king’s balance etc. A little distance away is Kamalapura, and in and around this area, you will stumble upon the Zenana Enclosure, the Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stables, the Queen’s Bath, the underground Shiva temple and so on. The Hazara Rama Temple is also a short walk from here. There are information boards at almost every site, but carrying a book along won’t hurt. You could also cross the river and visit the temples on Hampi island (note that the distances here are fairly large, so it’s a good idea to rent two-wheelers). All of these only form the tip of the iceberg that is Hampi; there are many sites that you will discover only once you go there and several others still being excavated and explored. Anyone can find something new and valuable in Hampi!

Other things to do

My favourite things to do in Hampi by far were to just keep walking or riding and stumbling upon great views unexpectedly in places that are completely off the tourist path. Mathanga hill near the Virupaksha temple and Anjanadri Hill (supposedly the site of Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom in the Ramayana) on the island provide unbelievable views of the sunrise and sunset and people flock to these points at these times. The museum at Kamalapura is full of artefacts and information boards- this one is a must for history buffs. There are several, chilled out restaurants with a shack-like feel on the Hampi island that you could unwind in towards the evening. Also visit the Daroji Bear Sanctuary and the Tungabhadra dam if you have any time left. Talk to locals, and they’ll probably give you ten more things to do and if you have an extra day, take a cab and visit Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole- these sites are several hundred years older than Hampi and offer a whole new perspective of history.

Other things to keep in mind

Fending off guides and autos will probably be your biggest challenge, especially if you want to explore all by yourself- remember that it’s perfectly okay to do so, even if the guides insist that you won’t understand anything without their guidance. Talk to locals wherever possible without intruding upon their privacy- they will let you in on so much more information than you would get otherwise. Make sure you have one of those guide books, maps or postcard packs; it makes navigating and asking for information much easier. Wear comfortable shoes to make walking easy. There aren’t many places where you’d have to take them off anyway. Visiting Hampi during the off-season is just as much fun as the December-January period. Consider the rain and the heat though- the heat in Hampi can be really taxing. The sunrise and sunset views may also be elusive during the monsoons. Remember to carry water and food, but beware of monkeys. Most importantly, lose the phone and the headphones- it’s the only way you can truly lose yourself here.

Solo travel is what you make of it. It goes beyond the place you visit or your form of transport; no amount of reading up will prepare you for the actual experience; so sure, read up on all the articles you can find, or read none- the important step is to actually take that leap. Solo travel gives you the freedom to discover things on your own terms- that is the most enriching bit, so gift yourself the courage to do that.

Feel free to email me at nirupama.rajan81@gmail.com if you have any queries regarding solo travel to Hampi, especially as a woman.

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The Best of Both Worlds

By Nirupama Rajan

Area: Panduranga Nagar, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore, House Link

When I was graduating from school back in 2015, the prospect of college was extremely exciting mainly because it meant I was finally going to move out of my parents’ house and live by myself. I remember having all sorts of dreams about the kind of cosy apartment I was going to have, all the fancy food I was going to cook and all the late night hours I was going to stay awake through, streaming movies and sitcoms using my unlimited internet.

Unfortunately, despite the number of new buildings shooting out of the ground every single day in Bangalore, getting an apartment in a city like this is not as much of a breeze as one would expect. For starters, the size of your wallet seems smaller and smaller with every house you visit. Then, considering the rent and the comparatively high cost of living, you obviously have to share your apartment with other people- and believe me, finding students whose parents are willing to let them stay in an apartment where they have to cook, clean and pay the bills by themselves when they can just stay in a less expensive PG or hostel is not easy at all!

And so I had to give up on my apartment dreams for a while. For an entire year, I tried all sorts of things. I stayed in a PG where I felt like I was waking up and going to bed in a tiny cardboard box every day (and I won’t even get started on the food). Then I moved into an apartment-like set up with some people and I thought I would finally be happy despite the fact that our allowances could only afford a house in a shady locality whose walls would become a playground for fungi of all kinds every time it rained. However, very soon it became apparent that running behind my flatmates to pay the bills (the people at BESCOM actually threatened to cut off our power supply several times), looking for new domestic help every month and then haggling with them to arrive at a pay that would suit everyone in the house, hunting for repairmen every time the faucet broke and so on, left me absolutely no time for myself!

And so, after a year of experimenting, I finally moved back into my parents’ house. As luck would have it however, that is exactly when my parents quit their jobs and decided to move to another town. Once again the hunt for the perfect apartment began- meeting brokers, meeting owners and their various pet animals, posting “looking for flatmate” messages on every social media platform known to mankind…

It was on one such evening, when after spending hours on my laptop with 5 different property sites simultaneously vying for my attention that I stumbled upon simplyguest.com. To be honest, it seemed too good to be true; no brokerage, fully furnished, all bills taken care of, and a great looking house at an actually affordable rate! By now my thoroughly suspicious mind was reading between every line looking for a catch. However, my father convinced me to at least go take a look and so I met up with Mr Subbu the next day.

It has almost been a year since then, and for that entire period, I have been a SimplyGuest tenant with no complaints and no plans to move out unless I have to leave Bangalore itself. Living conditions wise, this has by far been one of the most peaceful years for me in the recent past. I get to have all the benefits of an apartment- I can cook my own food (and I didn’t even have to get my own cookware) and I have access to the whole house, not just to one tiny room that’s been allotted to me. I have also made some great friends and I don’t have to worry about my rent increasing if any of them decide to move out. No curfew means I don’t ever have to worry about getting home late from a party, and my friends can also come over to my place when we have to do group assignments.

The house is always clean thanks to the help who are extremely regular. I don’t have to worry about any of the bills because they are all taken care of by my rent and most importantly, I can always rely on Subbu and Ambareesh who go out of their way to solve any issues we might have at home, whatever time of the day it is.

The terrace is by far my favourite place in the house; I’ve spent several evenings there (and even slept there overnight) just watching the planes fly by and enjoying the breeze that is always cool regardless of the season. The house is also in a great locality, so when I lean over the terrace walls, I see clean streets instead of garbage dumps. When I’m too lazy to cook, at least ten different cuisines are available at restaurants within a few hundred metres of the house while there are 3 parks in the near vicinity that motivate me to run every morning.

I guess I can say that SimplyGuest has truly given me the best of both worlds- the security and the reduced responsibilities that come with regular PGs and hostels, as well as the freedom that comes with an apartment. Over the last year, the house has slowly become a home for me. The only downside is, it’s going to be that much harder to say goodbye to the place and my roommates when it’s time to leave.

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Experience of a SimplyGuest flatmate – Home not House

Someone rightly said always choose the people you live with, not the place ~Anonymous

living together in a shared flat

Area: BTM Stage 2, Bangalore, House Link

I started living in a shared setup when I started my first job. I had an option to either take a PG or live in a shared flat by SimplyGuest. I chose to take the flat which for me was the better choice.

There are pros and cons to living in a flat as opposed to a PG. One of the biggest advantages of living in a flat is the privacy. I love my privacy and independence. There are some days where I just want to be alone and not have to deal with other people, and being in a flat allows me to do this.

There are some weeks we barely see each other. Everyone had work/ family schedules etc. We had dinner/drinks together at least twice a week to iron out anything that anyone was annoyed about. And we used to have parties all together every month and would all invite our friends, nothing out of hand, just some fun.

Additionally, I don’t have to eat at a specific time If I wanted to I could go out and get Taco Bell at 7 o’clock and eat it while watching Netflix in my room. I don’t feel bad about not eating with my flatmates. We are all on different schedules so we eat when we can. You always have the different kind of cuisines cooked at your place, no Aloo always. Which is a huge relief as we get to eat what we want to and not follow a menu or hog outside food. We don’t have to wait for eating on a timing. We always have food in our fridge courtesy one of my flatmate who is a foodie and hence we always have supplies to enjoy a weekday or a weekend evening.

One of the best things about sharing a flat is that there is absolutely no need to introduce my ‘friends’ as cousins to be with them for some time or trying hard to find a place to do so. After shifting into a shared flat by SimplyGuest I have been able to spend time with my friends and enjoy my evenings.

We have a TV in our flat and hence all of us has our share of time on TV and there is no need to do a real-life drama to watch TV. We also have a PS4 and hence we enjoy all the stuff together.

Sharing things with flatmate is quite easy as the trust level is way high then living in any other setup and hence I save a lot of money on the one time use things that are available with my flatmate.

We don’t have the restriction of entering our home. Yay, we can party all night but we also take care of our Flatmates and make sure that we don’t disturb each other. We don’t have to make deals with the security guard to sneak into the house.

One of the best part of living in shared flat that you can make people clean the room. SimplyGuest providers are awesome and make sure that we don’t have issues with cleaning. They deep clean the house every 2 months

We always have our share of the bathroom time, we always have our timings and nobody disturbs us here. No arguments over bills, SimplyGuest pays it all and no hassle and no need to waste the last Sunday figuring out the finances which we don’t remember.

We all have our bad and good times and flatmates are always there in our good or bad times. We become a family and that’s the best part of it.

On the other hand, I don’t have to really tell anyone about my plans and live my life peacefully.

Written by – Mayank Pokharna on pokharnatalks.com

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