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    Getting around
    The cycle is the preferred mode of transport for tourists and locals alike and can be hired for Rs.40 a day. Auto rickshaws also ply from Hospet to the World Heritage Site and cost between Rs.100 to Rs.150. Cabs can also be hired from Hospet.

    Getting there
    Trains from Majestic, Bangalore start at Rs.205. Cabs from the city cost Rs.6,000 up. Buses start at Rs.600 one way. A road trip via NH4 and NH 13 takes six hours.

    Stay at
    For a comfortable stay, opt for Royal Orchid Central Kireethi. It offers a total of 134 rooms, Wi-Fi services, pool side bar, spa, gym, and scrumptious food from the 24 / 7 coffee shop and an indoor bar too. The staff are extremely helpful and  courteous and ensured we had a smooth stay. Rs.3,500 upwards. Details: 08394300100

    Uramma Heritage Homes offers various options from cosy studio homestays for
    couples to rustic cottages for local flavour. Run by Kishkinda Trust, you can also sign up for various local tours and volunteer work. Rs.200 upwards. Details: 09449972230

    Dine at
    The place is teeming with BnBs. We stopped at the popular Mowgli Guesthouse at Hampi Island, for pizza and beer plus its view of paddy fields.

    If you’re craving something sweet, pop into German Bakery for delicious apple pie and chocolate-based desserts.

    Visit Durga Huts for its mood lighting, easy vibe and readily available musical instruments for an impromptu jam session.

    It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that the picturesque region of the majestic Vijayanagar empire, has something to offer for every traveller, be it history buffs, adventure seekers, temple hoppers, nature lovers, thrift shoppers or even beach bums! And while the crowd pulling, Hampi Utsav may be in January, it’s a great place to visit all year round. We explore further.
    About five minutes away from the Hospet railway station is The Royal Orchid Central Kireethi, our home for two days. A starkly modern building that dwarfs its neighbours, it is comfortably midway between luxury and budget. Armed with coffee and a light cotton scarf, we were ready to revisit our high school history lessons.
    Historically speaking
    Set amidst boulders and greenery, the UNESCO world heritage site is perfectly placed. The dusty town and garish concrete buildings of Hospet give way to picturesque landscapes. Our first stop, the Vittala temple, houses halls, pavilions and smaller temples, the marvellous stone chariot, and musical pillars. A few minutes away, the royal enclosure too is worth a visit, where the Mahanavami Dibba, a raised platform, offers a view of the sprawling palace ruins and its grounds. The Virupaksha temple, continues to serve as a place of worship , thronged by locals and tourists alike.
    Adrenaline rush
    We headed to the other side of the river, and trekked up 600 steps to get a bird’s eye view of the serpentine river and its lush surroundings, at the famous Hanuman hill. Adrenaline junkies, like us, should stop at the Sanapur lake, where a lone rock juts out into the water and forms the perfect spot for some deep ‘lake’ diving. But a word of ca1ution, avoid the treacherous submerged rocks straight down. For something a little more tame, a coracle ride is highly recommended. We found that it was quite terrifying until you get used to its easy pace.
    Nature’s call
    We suggest you do not leave without spending some time by the banks of the river. We found a spot that makes a pretty picture punctuated with large rocks and tall plants. Dipping our feet into the soothing water gave us a welcome respite from the sweltering heat. Experience idyllic village life, with travspire.com, which organises village walking tours in Anegundi. You can opt for a special lunch amidst the greenery, prepared by a local family, participate in farming activities and stop at a local house for tea, like we did.
    Get thrifty
    Hampi Island or ‘mini Goa’ as the locals call it, is a haven for relaxation and thrift shopping. The hippie in us instantly lit up as we followed the main drag, jam packed with shacks and little buildings offering yoga classes, concerts, leather products, brass jewellery, hair accessories and clothes. We spotted intricately crafted, filigree work jewellery that make great souvenirs (or kitschy presents). Also visit the Banana Fibre Workshop in Anegundi for banana fibre craft, Lambadi embroidery and Ilkal fabrics.
    The writer was invited by The Royal Orchid Central Kireethi.
    —Rashmi Rajagopal

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