Hippie Island in Hampi, otherwise known as Virupapura Gadde or Hampi Island, is a mystical and enchanting enclave in the Indian state of Karnataka. After spending quite some time exploring Hippie Island in Hampi, we can share what we got up to, and what we consider to be the best things to do. We also include where to eat, sleep, and party. As well as how to get around, and other travel advice for exploring this extraordinary island in India.
The first thing to understand when visiting Hampi is that the town is split into 2-sides. First, you have mainland Hampi which is where you’ll find most of the famous Hampi ruins. It’s also the more religious and traditional side of Hampi, which is why you’ll struggle to find any alcohol or meat. The other side, and the place I’ll be talking about today, is Hampi’s Hippie Island.
In contrast to mainland Hampi, Hippie Island is incredibly laidback. While there are plenty of activities to enjoy, such as bouldering and exploring temples, most come here to relax and soak in the tranquil vibes. It’s especially popular among the hippie backpacker crowd (hence the name), who flock here to get blazed on weed and take a break from the mayhem of the ‘real’ India.
We arrived in Hippie Island after spending some days exploring mainland Hampi. Located just across the river, it was indeed the perfect spot to wind down after four action-packed days exploring the ruins. Modest hut style accommodation equipped with hammocks is the standard to expect on Hampi Island. But overlooking awe-inspiring views of the prehistoric landscapes and lush rice fields, you quickly come to realise it’s all you need.
Anyhow, we have a lot to cover in this article. So let’s get to explaining why Hippie Island in Hampi is one of our favourite places in all of India.
Hippie Island, Hampi – An Ultimate Guide
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First things first… Hampi or Hippie Island?
If you are short for time in Hampi, it may not be possible for you to split your stay between both sides of the river. If that’s the case, you’ll need to decide what your Hampi itinerary is going to look like.
To spend your days adventuring and exploring the ruins, it would be better that you stay on the mainland. Conversely, if you’re planning to take it easy, Hippie Island might be your better option.
Either way, you are not limited to spending all your time on the side where you are staying. As you’ll see in the section below, it’s easy to travel between the mainland and Hippie Island. So you can quite easily spend a day or an afternoon checking out what the other side is all about.
Getting Between Hampi & Hippie Island
In order to cross the river between mainland Hampi & Hippie Island, you must cross the Tungabhadra river by boat. It’s a short 5 minutes ride which can be picked up near the Virupaksha temple in mainland Hampi, or next to Vijayanagara hotel on Hippie Island.
The first boat to leave is at around 7 am in the morning and they run every half an hour up until around 5-6 pm. The boat journey should cost no more than 50 INR/pax each way.
It’s important that you keep an eye on the time should you need to cross back over to the side which you are staying. Sometimes there are coracle rides available during the evenings for 200 INR/pax. Otherwise, it’s an expensive 1-hr drive via rickshaw.
Where to Stay on Hippie Island, Hampi
To stay on the topic of this article, here I list only the best places to stay on Hippie Island. If you’re looking for recommendations for mainland Hampi, we suggest taking a look at our Hampi Itinerary.
Hostel – Waterfalls Guesthouse – Located a little away from the main strip of Hippie Island, this modest but cosy guesthouse is the perfect budget option. You can choose from a dorm or private room, while enjoying beautiful views over the neighbouring rice fields.
Camping – Chinnas Camping Area – Camping is pretty popular on Hippie Island and in Hampi General. Chinnas Camping offer the perfect idyllic spot to set up your tent. Here you can enjoy tranquil vibes amidst the surrounding nature. See our section further below regarding camping restrictions in Hampi.
Mid-Range – Leo Wooden Resort – While there isn’t much in terms of luxury accommodation on Hippie Island, Leo Wooden Resort is up there as one of the more comfortable choices. The riverfront property provide individual bungalows to each guest, each equipped with en-suite bathrooms, wifi and outdoor seating area where you can take in the unparalleled view.
For more places to stay in on Hippie Island, Hampi, you can check the latest prices here.
Things to do on Hippie Island, Hampi
While many visitors come to Hippie Island to relax, there are in fact, an abundance of activities to be enjoyed. We loved exploring this part of Hampi just as much as the mainland. And whether you are lounging on a hammock all day, cruising the picturesque roads by scooter, or out climbing boulders, you are guaranteed an awesome time on Hippie Island.
1. Cliff Jumping at Sanupur Lake
After a sweltering day of sightseeing, there is no better way to cool down than a refreshing dip in the lake. Despite warning signs of crocodiles, backpackers flock to this spot for swimming, cliff-jumping, and soaking in the sun. You will even find local guys here selling cold beers and other substances should you fancy something stronger.
It seems that nobody has actually ever seen a crocodile here. Which makes sense considering it is a closed-off reservoir. That didn’t stop us feeling nervous as we took the plunge though! Perhaps you will feel more comfortable opting for the relaxing coracle ride instead.
Although there appears to be a lack of reptile dangers, there are some spots where whirlpools and strong currents are present. If you can’t see anybody in the waters, ask a local where it is safe to swim before doing so.
For more information see our full blog post: Sanapur Lake in Hampi
2. Experience World-Class Bouldering
What was once an activity reserved for experienced climbers, bouldering is now accessible to all visitors seeking adventure in Hampi. For those who don’t know, bouldering is a form of rock climbing. And with the Hampi landscapes packed to burst with boulders, there is no better place to try it for the first time.
Bouldering in Hampi is more popular on the Hippie Island side of the river, where the endless sensational views left us speechless. It is moments like this that make you remember just how beautiful the world can be.
While not a requirement, it is advised not to attempt this activity without a guide. You will find a number of small tour operators promoting the experience; however, Tom & Jerry Climbing Shop comes highly recommended. They have all of the necessary knowledge and equipment to help keep you safe.
If you choose to go without a guide, you should be very cautious when bouldering in Hampi. There are no hospitals in the area, and in extreme cases, it could be difficult to find you if you get injured.
DON’T FORGET TRAVEL INSURANCE!
It is worth checking your travel insurance policy to ensure you are covered for adventurous activities such as bouldering. World Nomads is great if you want to make any changes to your policy during your travels and offer add ons for such activities. Complete the form below to retrieve a quick quote.
3. Watch the Sunset on Sunset Hill
Sunsets in Hampi are quite the enchanting experience. Watching on as the sun disappears over the mysterious bouldered landscapes is something we will never forget.
While there are many spots to enjoy the end of day spectacle, it doesn’t get much better than those spent on Sunset Hill. Every evening, crowds of tourists and locals alike, gather on the hill-top for a sunset jam session. Here you can expect drum circles, dancers, chai walla boys, and heavy clouds of suspicious-smelling substances!
To get to sunset hill, you can walk parallel to the main strip of guesthouses and restaurants, with the rice fields on your left, until you find a mountain of boulders. You will need to climb the boulders to reach sunset point, but it’s a relatively easy climb and not too dangerous.
4. Visit the Hanuman Temple on Anjaneya Hill
The Hanuman Temple, AKA, the Monkey Temple is one of the best places to visit on Hippie Island. Set atop the Anjaneya Hills, just 3km from the main strip, it also provides unrivalled views of the captivating Hampi landscapes.
According to local beliefs, Anjaneya Hills is the birthplace of the Hindu Monkey God, Hanuman. It is therefore quite ironic that swarms of pesky monkeys are continuously roaming the grounds. While on that note, be wary of the monkeys as they are known to turn aggressive. But, so long as you ignore them, and lock away any food that you might have, they are sure to leave you be.
Located at the peak of the hill, The Hanuman temple serves as a pilgrimage for local devotees. Although, to get here is no easy feat. To reach the top, you must first tackle a gruelling 600 step climb. While we enjoyed the challenge, I would recommend visiting in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler.
The temple itself is small but vibrant, and it’s always an empowering experience to watch on as locals make their offerings. You can go inside if you like, but you’ll likely be asked for a small donation by the guy offering blessings as you go in. The temple was quite insignificant compared to others we’d visited in India, so we watched on from the outside and marvelled the view.
We didn’t experience it ourselves but I’m pretty sure the hilltop would make a great sunset spot as well!
5. Go Temple Hopping on Hippie Island, Hampi
Unsurprisingly, the Hanuman Temple isn’t the only temple on Hippie Island. There are several others worth checking out, even if they are lesser-known than the popular monkey temple.
The first I suggest you check out is Durga Temple. This temple is not dissimilar to the ornate temples on mainland Hampi, but with far fewer crowds. It’s a couple of hours drive from the main area of Hippie Island; however, if you rent a scooter you can make a day of it and cover the other temples & attractions on this list.
Another temple worth seeing is Sri Vijaya Lakshmi Temple. Located just 7km from Hippie Island, you’ll find the sacred temple perched beside the Pampa (Lake) Sarovar. The lake is significant in Hindu mythology, so if you’re interested in Indian history, you’re sure to find the trip interesting.
6. Rent a Scooter & Explore Hippie Island
Although the island is relatively small, the easiest & cheapest way of getting around is by scooter. You can rent a scooter from most guesthouses for around 300 INR per day. The roads are not in the best condition; however, it’s best to take it easy anyway. This way, you can enjoy the breath-taking scenery that adorns Hippie Island.
As we cruised the precarious roads, we encountered lush rice paddies, quaint local villages, and prehistoric landscapes. The culture in Hampi is every bit as fascinating as its history, and we loved spending our days immersed in it all.
7. Try a Bhang Lassi
If you are going to experiment with bhang in India, there is arguably a no better place for it than on Hampi Island. There is something about the unique landscapes and mystical energy, that makes for a beautiful and spiritual experience.
For those who don’t know, Bhang is an edible form of cannabis. It comes in a variety of strengths in India and is often very potent. There’s a thin line as to whether or not it’s legal in India, so be sure to be discreet should you choose to participate.
Bhang Lassis are often easy to find on Hippie Island and it’s probably the safest place in India to try. Just look for ‘special Lassi’ on the menu, or don’t be afraid to ask around. Although if it’s your first time, you should read these 15 tips for experimenting with Bhang in India before trying Bhang.
8. Go to a Jam Night
There are a few bars dotted along the main ‘strip’ on Hippie Island, and most evenings one of them will be hosting a jam night. We enjoyed an awesome night at Chill Out Bar with a local guy on the didgeridoo and Natalie on the drums (Yes, there’s a fun fact for you!)
9. Explore Mainland Hampi
If you plan on spending most of your time on Hippie Island, you still mustn’t miss out on exploring mainland Hampi. Here you will find some of the most important Hampi ruins, including the Elephant Stables, Vitthala Temple, and the Stone Chariot. The ruins are a fascinating slice of history, and an essential addition to your Hampi itinerary.
If you want to cover the highlights on mainland Hampi, it could easily be done on 1 or 2-day trips from Hippie Island. Although, be sure to keep an eye on the time so you don’t miss the last boat back.
10. Do Nothing
As I mentioned, many people come to Hippie Island in Hampi to do sweet FA! Surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty and an addictive laidback vibe, there’s seriously no place like it in India. Even Goa doesn’t have the same tranquillising effect as Hippie Island!
There aren’t many places in India where you can take a breather from the mayhem. So our advice: make the most of it while you can. Smoke some weed, read a good book, take a nap in a hammock… do whatever it is that makes your soul happy!
Where to Eat on Hippie Island
When it comes to good restaurants on Hippie Island, there isn’t too much to choose from. That said, we did find a couple of places that became our regulars. Laughing Buddha is the favourite among many, where you can pick up a delicious pizza or local food. We also enjoyed the food at Top Secret Cafe and the cakes from the Germany Bakery.
Alcohol, Drugs & Parties on Hippie Island, Hampi
One of the reasons that Hippie Island remains a favourite among the backpacker crowd, is the illicit world of alcohol and drugs that exists here. Although it remains a taboo in the holy city, alcohol, weed & other psychedelics are readily available on this side of the river.
Alcohol is sold under the radar in many of the bars. And if you’re looking to participate in something stronger, you only have to discreetly ask around to find it. If you’re lucky, your stay might even coincide with a secret party under the stars!
*Tip – Buying alcohol in Hampi can be very expensive, however just 3kms out-of-town is a bar where you can buy anything from local beer to imported vodka at a reasonable price. Just ask any rickshaw driver and they will take you there & back for around 200 IDR.
*Warning – LSA seeds are a cheap & popular psychedelic seed available in Hampi. When taken in a large enough quantity they can produce similar effects to magic mushrooms & LSD; however, avoid taking with alcohol as they can make you violently ill – So I heard from a friend anyway!
General Travel Advice
Here’s some general travel advice for Hippie Island, that I hope will make your trip to Hampi more comfortable.
The Best Time to Visit Hampi
The best time to visit Hampi is from October to February when the weather is dry and not too hot. We visited in October, and while there was some rain, most of the time it was clear and pleasant for sightseeing. During the peak hours of 12 pm – 3 pm, the sun could get quite hot; however, it was just about bearable for us pale-skinned folk. It’s best to avoid Hampi during the months of Summer or Monsoon
It’s worth noting that there are no ATMs on Hippie Island, Hampi. The closest is located 7 km from the island, in the town of Anegundi. Although, you will often find it out of service or out of cash.
It’s worth carrying enough cash to see you through in Hampi. Which isn’t much, as everything is pretty cheap here.
Alternatively, you can withdraw money at one of the agencies on Hippie Island; however, be prepared to pay a 3% fee.
Wherever you go in India, it is important that you dress appropriately. It is recommended that female travellers respect the local tradition of covering shoulders and legs from the knee upwards. Not only is it respectful, but it will help to avoid unwanted attention.
The dress code for men is a little more relaxed; however, it is recommended to avoid revealing vests or tank top. It’s worth reading this guide to social etiquette in India, to ensure you act appropriately to local customs.
Be Aware of Scams
In all touristy areas, there are travel scams you should be aware of so consequently, you can avoid them. There are also known to be skilled pickpockets operating in Hampi so be sure to keep your valuables secured at all time. We use either a small padlock or compartmental bag to keep our valuables safe when out exploring.
We recommend educating yourself on Travel Safety in India to help you avoid any sticky situations.
How to get to Hampi
By Air: The closest airport to Hampi is Hubli Airport situated 144km away.
By Train: The closest railway station to Hampi is Hospet Junction situated 10km away. Hospet is connected via train from across the region, however, booking trains in India can be tricky. It is advised to book at least 3 days in advance. And even then you aren’t always guaranteed a ticket. For this reason, we always used the bus network in India. You can book trains up to 6 months in advance using 12go Asia.
By Bus: Hampi is accessible by bus from a number of destinations across India. To check routes, timetables and ticket prices we recommend using Redbus. In our experience, they are extremely reliable. They are one of the few companies who will accept payment with an International card, and they are contactable by phone should you have any issues with your journey.
HAMPI MAP LOCATION
As travellers, it should always be a top priority to travel responsibly. We already leave a substantial carbon footprint just by flying to our travel destinations, so that’s even more reason to make a positive impact when we get there.
There are many small steps you can take to becoming a responsible traveller, and we highly encourage you to educate yourself before travelling to Hampi. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to minimise your footprint and make a positive impact:
1. Do not leave any rubbish on the ground: You will see a lot of rubbish on the ground in India, but that doesn’t make it ok to add to it. Bin your trash!
2. Limit your single-use plastic consumption: This can be tough in India as we wouldn’t recommend drinking tap water even if it has been treated/sterilised. However, you can say no to straws and plastic bags. Take a reusable bag with you everywhere.
3. Respect the local culture: Be courteous of the local culture and act in such a way that leaves a good impression. Learn a little of the local language (hello and thank you is the minimum), greet the locals in a polite manner, and respect dress codes & traditions. We recommend carrying a Sarong with you to cover up where needed.
More on Hampi
Are you planning a trip to Hampi? Check out our other articles to help plan your trip.
- THE 10 HAMPI RUINS YOU MUST NOT MISS!
- THE ULTIMATE HAMPI ITINERARY & TRAVEL GUIDE
- CHASING A SECRET WATERFALL IN HAMPI, INDIA
- SANAPUR LAKE, HAMPI – A RELIABLE GUIDE
- MATANGA HILL – THE BEST SUNSET SPOT IN HAMPI
- HAMPI PHOTO GALLERY – 20 PHOTOS TO INSPIRE YOUR TRAVELS
- TOP 15 INSTAGRAM SPOTS OF INDIA
- One month in India – Ultimate itinerary & guide
Did you enjoy our Hippie Island in Hampi itinerary & guide?
Well, that concludes Itinerary & Guide to Hippie Island, Hampi. We hope you enjoy your time in this magical country. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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