Category Archives: Karnataka

Hampi: Beyond The Poetry in Stone

There is more to Hampi than the temples, carvings, monuments and boulders.



Beyond the timeless frozen architecture, Hampi is alive with farms, plantations, Tungabhadra river, animals and flowers.

Banana plantations

You will find cows, ox and buffalos roaming the street, besides goats and sheep!


And where there are cattle, there will be cowdung! Made into cakes and drying on walls ready to be used as fuel.

Dung cakes

There were horses, camels ( at Vijashree Folk village for rides) and even monkeys.



Luckily there were no real life crocodiles!


There were usual tropical fruits, bananas, pineapples and even watermelons.

Green bananas

Little birds on trees and power lines

Little birds on wire

Gypsy folks tending to the animals and sitting in the sun outside their houses, watching the tourists cars and auto rickshaws go by and catching up on the village gossip.

A gypsy woman outside her home wit hfamily

Busloads of school kids add to the constant bustle in Hampi.

School kids

Last but not least, there is even a little Arts and Crafts shop with copper and brass figures, idols, décor items ( hanging bells, lamps etc)  , old coins and puja items which make perfect souvenirs of this wonderful place. A awesome note to end the trip on!

Art shop

Restaurants in Hampi

Basic thali at mango treeTruth be told,you don’t go to Hampi for a fine dining experience. We were expecting home style south Indian food. Idli’s , dosa’s, vada’s, simple curries, Sāmbhar and rice. And we were happy to try some simple fare. Our only requirement was that the place be clean and people don’t rush us for food.We can make do with lunch at any hole in the wall place but dinners have to be relaxed and good. Otherwise it doesn’t feel like a vacation, in my humble opinion!

Our first two days in Hampi were a disaster as far as food was concerned. On the drive there, our colleagues had warned us to pack lunch as there are really not many options other than occasional dhabas and small stalls en-route till Raichur. The drive was covered with puris and parathas that we had made that morning. In Raichur there were restaurants options available where we ate on the way back. Shubhada was reminded of her childhood Kanada meals when we ate in Raichur. Simple, delicious and cheap!

Vijayshree Heritage Restaurant

The first evening, we wanted to try the Rajasthani thali at Vijayshree Heritage village. We went to their dining hall but were put off by the fact that we had to stand behind other people who are still having dinner so that we could grab their seat once they were done.  I suppose it could have been managed better. Also, they told us they daal-Bati wasn’t on the menu that night but would be the next day. So off we went to have dinner in their adjoining restaurant.

We were promptly seated but it took forever to get water, appetizers and even plain rice for the kids. We got curries but they didn’t get the rotis. So we had to wait for them while the curries cooled off. When they did get rotis they only got the partial order. Again, we were left waiting. Finally about two hours later my friend had enough of this. She barged into their kitchen so we got some rice to eat with the now cold dal. Almost everyone in the restaurant were complaining about the poor service.

After a long drive from Hyderabad all we wanted was a hot and quick meal and get into bed but it was an ordeal.The worst part was the lack of management so it was utter chaos.

Breakfast at Vijayshree Resort

If previous nights dinner was any indication, the breakfast in the resort was even worse. Its included in lodging so most folks just go to the breakfast buffet. They ran out of stuff – idlis, sambhar, puris. There was no jam for the cold toasted bread. Or spoons to stir sugar in the sugar less tea. Not enough tables and chairs as families waited for others to finish.We are fairly certain they cannot manage the place in peak season when lot of folks descend on Hampi. Breakfast was fairly better and hot when on last morning there was a fifth of the crowd on the first day.

The best part of breakfast was their location – in a open terrace overlooking their gardens and animals farm where they rear the horses, camels and cows. Varun loved looking at the chirping birds as they came by where we ate and we were grateful for being able to sit in one place during our meal once we managed to get seated.

Lunch at Karnataka Tourists Department Restaurant

I don’t know the name of this restaurant but its the only place that is open for lunch in the Karnataka Tourist Departments Hotel. We went there as this is the only restaurant that’s close to the Royal center where we could sit down and eat, per our guide. Usually I am not a fan of the state departments restaurants and hotels. Based on experience in Maharashtra, Rajasthan when I was younger and recent experience in Srisailam I didn’t have any hopes. Kids were hungry and we chose an option that was closest to us. Also, we figured things couldn’t get any worse than what we saw at dinner and at breakfast.

Later we realized how wrong we were. There was a long queue for payment. Even though it was a buffet, you are given only one plate. They don’t give a plate till you pay first. They don’t allow you to pay if they don’t have sufficient plates on hand. Most of the food pans were empty except for curd rice which surprisingly was good given that it was untouched.

Vipul and Shantanu managed to get two plated full of curries and a plate of rotis for the table. When we tried to go for seconds another bus load of tourists had descended and hungry tourists were screaming for food and jostling around the buffet table trying to get whatever they could.

I have never felt more like an animal while trying to have lunch in my life. Only pictures of animals in Serengeti trying to find way to the water hole in peak summer comes to my mind. Avoid this place if you can.

Vijayshree Restaurant Rajasthani Thali

After a long day visiting Vithala Temple, Royal center , other temples in Hampi and watching the sunset we came back to the resort after a long day. Kids didn’t want to sit in the car again. they just wanted to run around. So we didn’t have a choice but to eat at Vijayshree. With the lure of daal – bati we went have the thali earlier than previous night hoping for lesser crowd.

Excuse the poor photos – they are all with my Iphone and the lights were dim.

Dining hall

Folks sitting down for thali

Server at Rajasthani restaurant

We stood in a line behind other folks having dinner and once they were done, we sat down. It was fun sitting down and eating food. As a typical thali place, once most folks are seated, a person comes setting plates and cutlery on the table. Another server comes first with condiments (chutneys, papad and salt), followed by curries, rotis and rice. They keep coming back to replenish. Later they also served us dessert and buttermilk.

The meal was simple and delicious. The only bad part was people standing behind us goading us to eat faster and make room for them.

Mango Tree Restaurant

Path to Mangotree


After our poor dining experience in Hampi so far, we were determined to have good food today. Not just good food but good service and ambiance  Mango Tree comes recommended as #1 in Hampi and doesn’t fail. The walk through banana plantation and set under a huge Mango tree, this was a beautiful location overlooking the Tungabhadra river. Our hearts sank when we saw the shoes removed and kept in a shelf outside the restaurant ( you have to remove shoes to eat here). There were at least couple of hundred shoe pairs there. But the manager was really good, telling us when we can expect to be seated, asking us to form a line and maintain decorum while folks waited outside. He was so polite and cooperative -made us feel welcome and attended to even though it was super crowded.

Shoes outside Mango tree

When we were seated about 20 – 25 mins later, we were seated on the most unique seating. Little stone terraces overlooking the river. Low stone tables and slanted backrest so you could just stretch your legs, lean back and relax. Even though the place was thronged, they didn’t make us get up and leave when we were done.

Terraces and low seating at mango tree

View from Mangpo tree

We relished their thalis and buttermilk ( don’t miss!) while the kids had fries and finished the meal with fresh fruits from the plantation and nutella crepe! Don’t miss this place. I can only how imagine this place can be on a less crowded weekend.

Banana nutella crepe

Its only drawback its vegetarian only. But we ignored that given how tasty the food was. Finally food Gods had smiled on us 🙂

Malligi restaurant

The night after our trip to Tungabhadra Dam, we went to Malligi restaurant for dinner. Great ambiance  music, clean and good food. And at last drinks! We were there on Christmas eve and celebrated! Kids also loved this place. The restaurant is similar to any city, the food and service was what made us feel at home. Things that we take for granted adds a little dose of pleasure on the trip in an unexpected manner when they are not available.

Don’t miss this place if you are in Hospet.

That was our food round up. I am sure there are better restaurants or that if we had visited any other time of the year, we could have had better experience in the ones we tried. But we won’t recommend Vijayshree Heritage to any of our friends planning a trip. And as far as the Karnataka Tourism restaurant  goes, it just confirmed my belief, state managed hotels and restaurants are not for young kids where the low levels of cleanliness and hygiene can cause stomach troubles. Stick to Tripadvisor ratings at least in small towns of India unless you have an iron stomach 😉

Flowers of Hampi

Winter in Hampi is beautiful with flowers and lush plantations adding life to the stone carvings and pillars. Birds and animals also add to the activity around the time less carvings.

Vijayshree Vilage resort has inviting gardens with broad lawns and flowering shrubs. And the garden was in bloom much to my delight. The flowers reminded me a bit of our Seattle home. My mom loves flowers so this post is for you mom!

I don’t know the names of all these flowers, if you do, do drop me a comment below.

Pink Hibiscus

Trumpet flowers

Purple lavendar flowers

Orchids of sort

Lilies of Hampi

White spider lilies

Yellow flowers

Hope you enjoyed a bit of colorful flowers this weekend!

An Evening @ Tungabhadra Dam

Tungabhadra dam  Taking a break from the temples, monuments, tanks and other relics of Hampi, we drove to Hospet to visit the Tungabhadra Dam, a multi purpose dam providing irrigation, electricity, flood control etc. Also, it helps form the large Tungabhadra reservoir which looks particularly sublime at Sunsets.

Canal near Tungabhadra dam

Vast tunghabhadra reservoir

Both the kids were asleep, a rare treat, and we pushed them up the paved path up after parking. Only government cars are allowed to drive up to the dam.

Roas side seller

Red bug

Along the way we bought some goose berries and sunflower seeds to snack on. We saw paths leading to other attractions nearby – a light and sound show, deer park etc.

Walking on the dam and taking close up pictures of the dam is not allowed for security reasons and they had stationed couple of guards to ensure that folks don’t break this rule.

We were there to sit and enjoy the sunset as long as the kids allowed. We had some tea and snacks and soaked in the sunset. Soon before sunset, the kids woke up. They stayed put through their drowsy state through the sunset.

Setting sun

Time to go home

And then it was time to go home – for us. School kids, young families and couples were entering the park at this time for the light and sound show that starts at 7:00 pm.

An imposing structure, the Tungabhadra dam was a welcome change from all the temples that we visited. Next up, we wanted to go out for really good dinner. Even though it was early by Indian standards we headed to Malligi restaurant which came highly recommended and to our relief didn’t disappoint!

Psst: Missed earlier posts on Hampi trip? Read about our drive to Hampi from Hyderabad , Vithala Temple Complex  ,  Exploring The Royal Ruins of Hampi , Temples Temples Everywhere , Sunsets of Hampi, Virupaksha Temple Complex  and Krishna Temple Complex & Stepped Tank as part of the Hampi trip series.

Krishna Temple Complex & Stepped Tank

  Temple complex krishna temple

Krishna Temple Complex  is the last of the temple complexes we visited. Hampi has several more temples – the Ganesha, Ugarnarsimha, Badavalinga etc but we didn’t really visit the rest. We needed at least another day to visit them all with toddlers in tow.

I hope, you are not fed up of the temples of Hampi by now but the place really has beautiful temples wherever you look that I had to do justice to them!

Entrance tower Krishna temple

Krishna temple main entrance

Krishna Temple Complex

Krishna temple 2

Pillars and elephants in krishna temple

Krishna temple has the similar setting as Vithala and Virupaksha temple complex, central main temple with pillared hallway, pillared covered hallways on both sides and smaller temple complexes around. The most interesting thing about this complex was the stepped water tank across from here.

Stepped tank near Krishna Temple

Hampi Puskarni

Krishna temple tank

Set with boulders on one side and banana plantations on the other, filled with grey-green water, it was a cool place in the afternoon heat. A gentle breeze was blowing. A few backpackers sat sketching on the steps of the tank. Varun and Dhruv played while we sat in shade. It was the most serene place we visited in Hampi. If you have an afternoon to while away this is a beautiful place to sit, relax, meditate, practice yoga etc. Very few tourists cross the road from Krishna temple to visit this tank. Even those who do don’t linger for long. So you can actually have the place to yourself.

Plantations and Pillars

By then we were hungry and decided to go to Mango Tree restaurant, # 1 on Tripadvisor for its ambience, food and setting. We had poor dining experience thus far on the trip so went in with low expectations. Fortunately for us, food gods smiled on us and we had one of the loveliest meals in Hampi – we loved it so much that we didn’t want to leave the place; but had to due to enormous crowd waiting outside the restaurant.

Stay tuned on our dining experiences in Hampi. Where to eat and what to avoid!

…to be continued.

Psst: Missed earlier posts on Hampi trip? Read about our drive to Hampi from Hyderabad , Vithala Temple Complex  ,  Exploring The Royal Ruins of Hampi , Temples Temples Everywhere , Sunsets of Hampi and Virupaksha Temple Complex as part of the Hampi trip series.

Virupaksha Temple Complex

Temple complex from neighboring hills

We started Day 2 in Hampi with Virupaksha Temple complex, even though we all had collectively vowed no more temples. We toyed with the idea of taking a boat ride, staying in the resort and going swimming or simply taking a massage but then we remembered the long drive and how we would probably not come here again till the kids are older ( and understand that sand and dirt is for walking on and not for playing in;). So, temples were back on agenda.

Any who, we didn’t get a guide and decided to venture on our own. 2-3 temples max, a long lunch and a relaxed evening was the plan for the day.

First up was Virupaksha Temple Complex.

The most popular temple of all and with an imposing entrance tower or gopura, this is a live temple where puja’s are performed every morning. It is right by the Hampi Bazar and is probably the first temple everyone visits in Hampi. It’s a beautiful introduction to Hampi with its carvings, pillared halls, imposing entrance tower and of course, cows, monkeys and the gentle temple elephant!

Virupaksha Gopuram

Inside the temple complex

This temple was very crowded when we went, but my guess is that even on non peak holidays, it wont hold a match to the Vithala Temple Complex in terms of carving details and architecture.

Temple Elephant in Virupaksha temple

Temple Elephant belssing Varun and Vipul

The kids wanted to watch the elephant, and play on the steps. We didn’t force them to go inside the temples as the crowds seem to set off the worst behavior in them.

Painted ceiling of Virupaksha temple hall

Pillared halls

Pillared hallways on other side of the temple

We watched the cows, monkeys and elephants with them, chased them through the pillared hallways. We watched pilgrims come in and seek their blessings. We obliged a group of girls who asked us to take their photo! We spent some time here before walking over to the neighboring Jain Temples.


to be continued.

Psst: Missed earlier posts on Hampi trip? Read about our drive to Hampi from Hyderabad , Vithala Temple Complex  ,  Exploring The Royal Ruins of Hampi , Temples Temples Everywhere and Sunsets of Hampi as part of the Hampi trip series.

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