Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole… with kids!

If you are a fan of UNESCO World Heritage sites, then Hampi would most likely be on your list for India.  For adventure junkies, there are a lot of possibilities, but, we of course, were travelling with our young kids, so the itinerary we followed was a little different.  We went to Hampi in the month of January, to participate in the GoHeritage Run that was planned there (it is a yearly event now).  We took advantage of the long weekend and made it into a fun packed three day family trip.  Here is what we were able to accomplish.

Day 1:  We drove to Hampi from a nearby major city and reached there around 10:30am.  We headed straight to Hampi Bazaar — our GoHeritage Run bib pickup point.  After picking up our kit, we headed to the Virupaksha temple which was going to close in the afternoon.  The beautiful architecture of the temple gave us a glimpse of what was in store at Hampi.  After the visit, we spent some time admiring the landscape of Hampi Bazaar and imagined what it might have been like during the glory days of the Vijayanagara Empire.

After walking around for a while, we found a small eatery where we ate some freshly made food for lunch.  One thing we learnt travelling in India is that avoid uncooked foods in unknown places… it is a lot safer to eat freshly made, cooked food. After lunch we hired a guide and headed towards the Vijaya Vittala Temple Complex.

The Vijaya Vittala Temple complex contains some of the most beautiful temples we have seen.  There is a temple which has built-in musical pillars.  Once upon a time, people were allowed to touch them and play the different notes.  Now, you have to listen to recorded sounds (which is fine since we would want the monument to remain intact for many years to come). 

After checking out the complex, we started exploring the area surrounding it.  We found the “King’s Balance” and slowly made our way to the river bank.  After exploring for a bit, we headed to the old palace ruins.  The area is in ruins, so don’t expect to see ornate palaces.  It was however interesting to see how the step well was used to store and transport water to other areas in the palace grounds.

At the time of our visit, the travel distance to Anegundi was about an hour and a half.  Anegundi was going to be our night halt, so, after a brief drive around the rest of Hampi, we headed to Anegundi and settled into our resort room.

Day 2:  We woke up early in the morning and headed to the run.  This time around, we crossed the river on a coracle which the kids really enjoyed.  The 5k run was also very interesting.  It wasn’t your typical run… we went through ruins and had to walk in some areas due to the terrain.  However, we were able to see a lot more of the ruins which we could not cover the previous day.  After the run, we took a boat ride back to the Anegundi side.  After a quick breakfast, we headed on a day trip to cover Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole before returning back to Anegundi. 

One smart thing we did was that we took a packed lunch for the kids.  This really helped us as we were able to find only a truck stop along the way and while it was okay for the adults, I am glad the kids did not eat there.

We reached Badami around 2pm.  Exploring the caves was a lot of fun.  The rock cut sculptures are amazing and the rock color simply enhances them further.  We then headed towards Pattadakal.  The temple complex in Pattadakal is well laid out and maintained.  We were able to explore the area fairly quickly and headed towards Aihole after.

The temples in Aihole are amazing.  Fortunately we had just enough time to explore the area before heading back to Anegundi.  The dinner at the resort was simply divine.

Day 3:  Once again started the day very early.  Around 6:15am we headed to Anjanadri Hill to witness the sunrise.  Legend has it that Lord Hanuman was born on top of this hill.  You have to climb a lot of stairs, but the views are well worth it.  After a divine morning, we headed back to the resort for breakfast. 

After breakfast, we shopped for some products made with Banana fibre (an art specific to the area).  We then headed to Hospet to check out the Thungabhadra Dam.  After spending some time there, we had our lunch at a local restaurant in Hospet before heading back home.

A few tips and thoughts:

  1. Carry packed food if possible while exploring.  You may encounter limited food choices
  2. Spend at least 2 days in Hampi.  At the end of it we felt another day in Hampi would have been nice.  If possible, also spend a day in Badami to spend more time exploring the surrounding area.  My last check, there is a GoHeritage Run there as well.
  3. Hampi Stay – Hospet versus Anegundi – Both are special in their own ways as stay options
  4. Badami – it is a paradise for climbers.  Do consider the available options if interested.
  5. Anjanadri Hill – Do not miss… go early in the morning as it gets pretty hot later in the day.  Matanga Hill is another option.  Unfortunately, we missed it due to lack of time.

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