Giri

This place was the original climbers hangout back in the day. It was demolished a little while back, but recently rebuilt. The food is pretty good, and cheap. The prices are comparable to the cheaper Indian restaurants, but it has a large menu that, like the guesthouses, includes western food and curries. In addition, it has some of the cheapest accommodation in town as long as don’t mind roughing it. They will rent out a mattress and blanket so that you can sleep on the rocks.

Lovely Family

When we had first arrived in Hampi, I avoided this restaurant after a friend told me that she had gotten sick eating here. Towards the end of my stay a different friend told me that it was perfectly safe to eat here and it was really good. I decided to go for it. I was glad that I did. Lovely Family has excellent food and some really good deals. The fruit salad is topped with coconut shavings and peanuts and although it isn’t the biggest, it is the cheapest fruit salad I’ve found. The lassis are also cheap and very tasty. Even though it isn’t on the menu, ask for a coconut banana lassi. You can do your part to help the environment by buying 20-liter water jugs here and refilling your water bottle. The jugs are much cheaper here than anywhere else.

Rishmook Cafe

This is the café at the end of road just before you get to the plateau boulders. I’m pretty sure I spent more time here than at any other restaurant in Hampi. The owners: Tom and Jerry (that’s really what they call themselves) are two of the kindest, most generous people that I have met traveling. The food at Rishmook was nearly as good as the better guesthouses, but usually a good deal cheaper and they have some of the heartiest dhal in Hampi. Regardless of food, what made Rishmook a special place was the vibe. This is where we would meet up before climbing, and where we would trade stories after climbing. The reason we would go here instead of some of the other places because of how awesome Tom and Jerry are.

VLR Travels

From experience and by what other travelers have told me, it seems that all of the travel agents are honest and give very good information. I’d still shop around if you have time though. I went here to check on some train tickets, but didn’t end up booking with them. The man working there gave me a lot of information and wasn’t pushy about getting me to book with him. In fact, he recommended that I book online myself to save money. In addition to this, VLR travels has the best wifi on the island. I know this isn’t saying much and you have to pay per hour, but even when Internet was down at every guest house on the island, I was able to get online here.

Bobby “One Love” Guest House

This is the most chill guesthouse in all of Hampi. The food is very good here and there is a lot to do. The wifi is decent, and the management tries to prevent people from doing hard-core downloading so that there is enough bandwith to go around for everyone. They have a big grassy back area that is super comfortable to lounge on or do yoga. You can also play volleyball in this area for those ambitious enough to have active rest days. Also, they have slacklines and loads of hammocks to chill at. The rooms are were too pricey for me to stay there, but if you eat there, they don’t mind you using the slacklines etc.

Anu Indian Restaurant

There are two cheap Indian restaurants in the main Hampi town. You can’t go wrong with either, but I prefer Anu since the workers are much more friendly here than at the other restaurant. The thali is pretty filling, but the dhal is watery.

ATM

This is the closest ATM to the island. Unfortunately, it isn’t always working, and like all Indian ATMs it has a low limit, but it’s still easier than going to the other side of the river in my opinion.

Hampi

I had never before been to a place that has just as many things that I absolutely love and completely hate. One minute I feel like I could come back here season after season, the next I wish I could leave immediately. The climbing here is endless; there are literally boulders as far as the eye can see. However, many of the rocks are blank, and most of the problems are sharp and of similar style. Food and accommodation are cheap, but many of the business people are unscrupulous and will blatantly lie if they can make more money. More than once, we made price agreements that vendors changed instantly once they found out that they could charge more to other tourists.

A few examples:

We rented a motor scooter from the place right after the boat crossing for an agreed upon price for a month. Two days later he hunted us down and told us that the price was now raised or we had to give the bike back. After arguing with him for 10 minutes, we begrudgingly agreed to return the bike after 10 days. Seven days later he started stalking us to return the bike and people we didn’t know were bugging us to return the bike.

We stayed at the Ravi Teja Guest House for a few days. After about a week, out of the blue, management told us that we needed to move out the next day, giving us the bullshit reason that they forgot that they had an online booking already by an Indian family. A couple hours later we saw them offering the room to some other random backpackers.

Of course you deal with this kind of dodgy horseshit in every third world country, but it never stops getting on your nerves.

The food here is pretty good, and cheap by Western standards, but almost every restaurant has the exact same menu and if you plan on staying for an extended time, you will get tired of the lack of options.

Finally, you will get sick here. People told me that when I was in Nepal, I would for sure get sick. I managed three months there without getting sick once. So when people told me the same thing about India, I wasn’t very worried. The warning very much applies to India. I’ve been sick several times and for the first month, my shit was solid maybe three times.

Like I said, a little bit of love, and a little bit of hate.

Bouldering

There are literally boulders as far as the eye can see and you can spend many a lifetime climbing here and still barely scratch the surface of what’s available. On the other hand, many of the problems are low quality; sharp with uninteresting movements. Despite this, there are definitely plenty of classics at every grade to keep you coming back season after season. If somehow you send everything you want to from the guidebook, there are plenty of developed areas that haven’t been put in the guidebook and even more untouched areas waiting for you to open up.

The guidebook is very good, but full of grading errors. Since most of the problems are crimp ladders, make sure to take advantage of the guidebook’s icons telling you when a problem has slopers, arêtes, dynos, etc. so that you can get more variety in your climbing.

If you need to get psyched, check out the old Chris Sharma video Pilgrimage, or this more recent video https://vimeo.com/134398755 which stars Jerry, Tom and Jerry’s climbing shop.

Finding accommodation:

Guest Houses:
In Hampi, a higher price doesn’t always correlate with better accommodation. Take the time to ask prices at every guesthouse and make sure to take a look at the room as well. Some guesthouses offer tents or outdoor hammocks, but you don’t mind living outside of the main strip, you can find rooms for the same price or even cheaper. Keep in mind that even if you make a long term deal with a guesthouse, they may kick you out if you don’t eat there often enough or if they find other people that are willing to pay more than you are being charged. They will give you some bullshit excuse that they forgot about a booking made months ago and you will find yourself looking for a new place to stay.

“Homestays”
On the main road just before the broken bridge (aqueduct) there are several locals who will rent out one of their spare rooms to you. Like with the guesthouses, prices and quality are all over the place, so shop around. A better option is to ask around the villages outside of Hampi Island. I had a great experience renting out a room in the village on the hill above Devamma restaurant. Just walk around the village and if ask the people you pass if they have an open room or if they know someone who does. You will get a better deal if you rent by the month, but if you need to leave early, you may need to pay for the entire month.

I recommend paying for day-to-day for the first couple of nights to see if a homestay is really for you. You will be getting a pretty authentic experience, which may or may not be to your liking. Loud people (especially children and parents yelling at their children), loud animals, lack of running water, shit all over the place (both animal and human), and lack of other amenities like a fan or mosquito net are some of the drawbacks. For me however, not being hassled by vendors all of the time, being closer to the cheaper restaurants, and having a genuine experience far out way the negatives.

Hampi Boulders

Hampi Boulders

There are literally boulders as far as the eye can see and you can spend many a lifetime climbing here and still barely scratch the surface of what’s available. On the other hand, many of the problems are low quality; sharp with uninteresting movements. Despite this, there are definitely plenty of classics at every grade to keep you coming back season after season. If somehow you send everything you want to from the guidebook, there are plenty of developed areas that haven’t been put in the guidebook and even more untouched areas waiting for you to open up.

The guidebook is very good, but full of grading errors. Since most of the problems are crimp ladders, make sure to take advantage of the guidebook’s icons telling you when a problem has slopers, arêtes, dynos, etc. so that you can get more variety in your climbing.

If you need to get psyched, check out the old Chris Sharma video Pilgrimage, or this more recent video featuring the local crusher Jerry, owner of the Tom and Jerry Climbing Shop and Rishmook Cafe: https://vimeo.com/134398755.

Western Tandoori

westernTandoori

Imagine someone telling you about a restaurant where you can get enough naan and curry to stuff two people for less then $5. Then imagine that when you get there it’s closed for the holidays and won’t be opening again until you leave for you trek. If you imagined feeling like getting kicked in the nuts, that’s how I felt too!

Luckily, when we got back from our trek, Western Tandoori was open again and it was even better than we expected. While many of the items on the menu weren’t available because of the fuel crisis, we were well contented with what was available. The menu consists mostly of breads: naan, roti, and paratha; and things to eat with them: curries, paneer, palak, and omelets.

There are many other restaurants that offer similar menus, but other than a random tandoori we went to near the US embassy (like an hour away), none have been as tasty.