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In the past, I used to plan a trip whenever a long weekend was around the corner. These days, however, long weekends see a plethora of tourists crowding destinations. Hordes of excited tourists, snapping a million selfies in every corner. I am not disdainful towards these travelers – everyone has a right to discover how beautiful our country is. But, I would much rather let them enjoy, and avoid traveling on such weekends.”
I experienced this tourist rush when I visited Coorg during a long weekend last year. One day while in Coorg, we visited only one attraction, Abbey Falls. It took us 3 hours to reach there and 4 hours to return, thanks to the insane traffic. If I wanted to drive with all the cars honking and traffic moving at snail speed, I’d rather be in Bangalore!
After that, I waited for almost a year before embarking on a long weekend trip. Of course, I continued traveling on normal weekends. When my friends suggested Hampi for a long weekend in June, I was not very convinced. Frankly, I didn’t have the patience to again go through what I experienced in Coorg. But, when we figured out a possible way to avoid the crowd, I happily grabbed the wheel and started our road trip.
Where exactly is Anegundi?
Hampi as a destination is very famous among both, Indian and International travelers. Almost all of my Couchsurfing guests had marked Hampi as their next destination from Bangalore. The visitors love Hampi due to the shopping streets, architectural marvels, imposing boulders, swaying palm trees, an impressive reservoir and oh, so stunning sunset viewpoints. With the calm Tungabhadra river flowing on its side, Hampi offers a unique flavor as compared to the hill stations and beach destinations around Bangalore. On one side of the Tungabhadra river is Hampi, while crossing the river brings you to a much quieter street. This street meets the State Highway. Cruise for another 7 KM and as the tourist cars disappear, you will reach Anegundi.
However, you can’t cross the river near this street in your own vehicle. You will have to opt for a boat. If you want to take your car from Hampi to Anegundi or vice versa, you will have to travel 20 KM to a bridge as shown in the map below. Rather, if you are staying in Anegundi, you can bring your car to the street mentioned above, till the Tungabhadra river bank and park it there. Take the boat and visit the Hampi town on foot.
If you don’t want to stay in Anegundi you can stay at some guesthouse in the vicinity of Tungabhadra river. Some recommended stays near the river are Laughing Buddha, Goan Corner, Sai Plaza and Mowgli’s Guest House. These accommodations, however, are just basic and you shouldn’t expect any luxuries here. If you have a higher budget, I would recommend staying at Hampi’s Boulders.
Most of the stays have their own restaurant and the food we tasted at some was way more delicious than I expected. The most delectable meal we had was at the German Bakery. At all these restaurants, you will find mattress and pillows instead of conventional chairs. Some of the restaurants also serve Hukka. With the crackling sound of coal and a fluffy pillow behind my neck, I couldn’t hark back to a moment this relaxed from my recent past.
Things to do around Anegundi
When we reached Anegundi, a typical village scene conjured in front of us. Kids balancing their tires, their mothers running after them, a group of mustache laden men talking about current affairs over tea, an enthusiastic bunch of youngsters dressed up with bright sun glasses and riding their mean machines. The entire setup was so authentic, so rural.
A dilapidated gate welcomed us. The folks here didn’t know much Hindi and we struggled to understand the exact amount to be paid for a water bottle. We were short on cash and got confusing advice upon asking for ATM. “Is there an ATM nearby? Is there not?” We were kept in suspense for long. Eventually, we did find an ATM.
A couple of KMs into the gate, we arrived at our homestay. The hosts were a lady and her daughter who gladly received us. We ate home-cooked food and drank sweet tea many times here. After checking in, we rested for a while before exploring Anegundi. This homestay in Anegundi is generally priced at a very decent rate of Rs 500 per night. However, we ended up paying Rs 2,000 per room for the long weekend.
When I go for a trip, I generally create an itinerary or at-least bookmark the best things to do in the destination. But this being a long weekend, I had no plans to visit the mainstream attractions like Virupaksha temple. You can read more about the more popular side of Hampi here. Instead of visiting these famous temples and other landmarks, we decided to let the road from Anegundi take charge.
The Virupaksha Temple as seen from the hippie side of Hampi. Between the temple and us, flowed the Tungabhadra river.
The Tungabhadra river.
Durga Temple & Bali Gufa (Caves)
As soon as we hit the road from Anegundi, we saw a left turn, turning into a rough road, wrapped around a hillock. We didn’t know what was in store for us at the end of that serpentine curve. I turned our wheels left and started revving the engine on the road. We found ourselves the Durga Temple, an abode of Goddess Durga, tucked in the lap of the hillock.
The steps leading to Durga Temple
After offering prayers, we headed towards the hillock’s peak. We came across the Bali Gufa, the cave where Bali, the mythological character from the Ramayan, meditated. After spending some time in the caves, fighting away darkness with our mobile torches, we snapped some images there, while wondering where exactly would Bali have meditated.
Imposing boulders while walking towards Bali Gufa
Some snaps which were taken in and around the caves
Once we had explored the caves and clicked images, we headed towards the hillock’s highest point. The path was paved with boulders and it took us around 30 minutes to reach the top. Hiking without footwear slowed us down as we had removed them before entering the temple and caves.
When we reached the top, a gushing breeze bounced off our faces. Our hair started going haywire in the wind. A somewhat flat landscape in front of us had made the wind force palpable. We reached the edge of the top and stared at the panoramic landscape, speckled with hundreds of light brown boulders. At a slight distance, we saw Anjaneya Hill. Perched atop that Hill is the temple of Anjana Mata, Lord Hanuman’s mother. A total of 600 steps helps you reach there. However, instead of rushing to Anjaneya Hill from where we were, we decided to soak in the moment, enjoy the cool wind caressing our cheeks and with an impressive landscape to admire.
However, the dark clouds at the distant horizon were drifting slowly towards us. Just above the Anjaneya hill, we saw a downpour in the form of gray streaks dominating the sky. A heavy shower with a furious wind was impending upon us in a few moments. We stayed back until it actually started raining. But, when the raining clouds positioned upon us, we had to run abruptly and take shelter. Being cautious of the slippery rock surface, we did find shelter but the swooshing winds got the better of us and we were left all drenched.
Waiting for the rain to reach us. Till then, we just sat there!
Once the rain stopped we walked carefully back to our car. We returned to our homestay in Anegundi to change and have some hot tea with pakoras. With the company of sporadic drizzles and a calm wind, the pakoras tasted even better.
In the evening, we again headed out to explore Anegundi surroundings. We decided not to climb the Anjaneya peak as the view would be similar to the Durga Temple hilltop. So instead, we went to Sanapur Lake – A placid lake with very few tourists and clean water.
Towards the Hippie side of Hampi, the Sanapur Lake becomes a must visit attraction due to its calm waters and tranquil surroundings. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the lake from the main road or do a bit of offroading and reach the Lake. As we had visited Anegundi before the monsoon set it, the water level was not that high. But, the wind still created ripples in the calm waters. You can also enjoy coracle ride in this lake for Rs 50 per head. We spent the evening here, just relaxing and experimenting with the lens. At twilight, the scattered clouds and setting Sun created alluring hues of orange, pink and violet.
The coracle rides in Sanapur Lake
Capturing the twilight hues!
Sanapur Lake is truly a beautiful gem in the Hippie side of Hampi. Another great experience would be visiting this lake at midnight. There are no restrictions on timings as such but beware of thugs. We visited Sanapur Lake again the next night. Of course, we didn’t take the car to the lake but instead stopped on the highway from where we could see the Lake glimmering in the moonlight. There was this one guy who followed us till we parked our car. He was trying to sell us ‘stuff’. After we denied him multiple times, he left just to approach again shortly. This time, he told us that he had lost his keys. He urged one of us to go with him in a dark corner and help him find the keys. Well, there was definitely something fishy going on and we had to reprimand him.
Apart from the Durga Temple and Sanapur Lake, we didn’t explore the Hampi town much. I have kept the temples and other architectural artifacts for some other time.
Anegundi turned out to be a great bet! Devoid of the long weekend traffic and innumerable tourists, Anegundi was an ultimate offbeat destination. I am so glad that the long weekend didn’t turn out to be a crowded long weekend.
Have you been to Hampi? Did you stay in Hampi town or in the hippie side? Do share your experiences with me in the comment section below.
If you are planning to visit the Hippie side of Hampi, I am all ears! Shoot your questions and I would be glad to help you out. I can also get you good deals on some of the stays at Anegundi and around.