Hampi is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is located in the south Indian State of Karnataka. The city constitutes numerous temple complexes which are in ruins, from the great Vijayanagara Empire. It is around 350 Kilometers from Bangalore and can be a perfect destination for a long weekend.
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A visit to Hampi was in our bucket-list for a very long time. I had read a lot about the glory days of the Vijayanagara empire and how the city of Hampi was at the epicenter of this great empire. History text books and articles highlight what a great city Hampi was during the peak of the Vijayanagara empire. The only reason we were unable to visit this place was due to the limited accomodation options that one can find at Hampi. The moment we got to know that Hyatt Place has come up at Hampi, we planned a trip to Hampi. A long weekend was around the corner and the plan was to drive down from Bangalore on a Saturday and return on Monday.
Did a quick check online to read up on the possible routes that one could take to Hampi and finalized on couple of routes.
Route 1: Bangalore -> Tumkur -> Sira -> Hiriyur -> Challakere -> Ballari -> Hampi
Decided to take this route while driving from Bangalore to Hampi. This route is more scenic and around 25 kms longer than the other route. The traffic is very thin on this route and the roads were in excellent condition. The tarmac was very smooth and the route will take you through landscape littered with huge boulders. We were able to maintain an average of around 80Km/hr as the roads were practically empty.
Route 2: Bangalore -> Tumkur -> Sira -> Chitradurga -> Kudligi -> Hospet -> Hampi
Took this route on our way back to Bangalore. The stretch from Chitradurga to Hampi is the part of the Mangalore – Sholapur highway and hence you will find traffic (read as many trucks) plying on this route. The roads were in great condition but not as great as the route through Ballari. We did find those occasional pot holes which did not give us the confidence to press the accelerator. Was able to keep decent speeds and maintain an average of around 70Km/hr.
Itinerary of the drive:
Bangalore to Hampi
We started at around 6:30AM on a Saturday morning and the plan was to reach Hampi by lunch time. It is better to leave Bangalore as early as possible in order to avoid the early morning traffic at the toll gates near Nelemangala. Almost 50% of the drive was on NH4 which is 4/6 lane highway till Mumbai. This stretch is bliss and one can easily maintain 3 digit speeds. Traffic was heavy till Tumkur, but once we crossed it, the highway opened up.
Eating joints on this highway:
a. Kamat Sira – I generally skip this joint as I kinda reach this place within 90 mins of the drive from Bangalore..
b. Cafe Coffee day – There are couple of Cafe Coffee day outlets that have come up the NH4 stretch. We took a quick 30 minute break here to have our breakfast and a cup of hot coffee.
Tip: Ensure that you have your breakfast in one of these places as you would not find any decent place (in both the routes) to have your breakfast after you exit NH4 and head towards Hubli.
Inspite of the fact that it was a long weekend and a queue of cars heading out of Bangalore, we were able to make good time after Tumkur and we reached Hiriyur at around 9:45 AM. As you take the Hiriyur by-pass road keep an eye on the exit on the left that will connect you to Hiriyur – Bellari Highway (NH150A).
Tip: We missed this exit and zipped past and ended up taking a state highway to reach NH150A – lost a good 30 minutes navigating through the state highway which was in horrible condition.
Once we were back on the Hiriyur – Bellari Highway (NH150A) it was a scenic and comfortable drive all the way till Hampi. We had made our reservations at the Hyatt Place Hampi which is located inside the Vidyanagar Township near the JSW steel mill. As the hotel is located inside a gated colony, it is very safe and a well maintained no frills property. We managed to reach the hotel by 1:30 PM.
Tip: The hotel is around 40 Kilometers away from the ruins of Hampi and you might find it a bit tough to commute and visit the ruins if you do not have a vehicle at your disposal.
It would take you around an hour to reach the Hampi ruins from Hyatt Place.
Journey back from Hampi to Bangalore:
After spending couple of days exploring Hampi, our return to Bangalore was planned on the subsequent Monday. Our plan was to leave the hotel at around 10 AM – after having our breakfast and take the route through Chitradurga. I did a quick check on Google maps and found a route which would completely by-pass hosapete and join the Mangalore – Sholapur National highway at Kudligi. Checked with few locals and got to know that the route was very scenic and one would practically be driving parallel to the Tungabhadra river. They did mention that the roads were not in great condition, but since we had a complete day at our disposal, we finalized on this route.
And what a disastrous route it turned out to be. The route was very scenic, make no mistake about it, but the roads were non existent. Since we were visiting in the month of August, this region had received good amount of rainfall and the roads had turned into slush. We did not have a 4×4 or a SUV which would have negotiated these roads and ended-up driving at snails pace to reach Kudligi at around 12:00 PM. The fact that we covered a distance of around 50 Kms in 2 hours should highlight the state of these roads.
Tip: I would never advice anyone to take this stretch unless you have a SUV or a 4×4. On hind sight I felt that I should have taken the road to Hosapete and continued my journey to Bangalore on he Mangalore – Sholapur National highway (NH50) – an additional 50 kilometers drive.
It was a relief to hit the Mangalore – Sholapur National highway (NH50) which was in good condition. We were able to reach Bangalore by 5:30 PM which included a stop at Kamat Sira for Lunch.
If you are planning to visit the ruins of Hampi, I will recommend you to take the route through Bellari as it is in great condition. Moreover, the traffic is very thin and the landscape is very beautiful, making it a leisurely and enjoyable drive.
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