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I need to get from Mumbai to Hospet/Hampi in mid (to late) March and will probably book a bus but if something goes wrong and I'm not able to book it from outside of India, I'd like to know what other options are there?

I've seen that there are only two trains a week that go from Mumbai to Hospet directly. Do you know of any connecting rides that I could take and what are my chances of getting a reserved or RAC ticket 3 days before the departure.

Are there any other means of transport? How much would a cab ride cost (I am aware that I'd have to pay for return to Mumbai as well)?

EDIT: Is it possible to get a bus in Mumbai to get to Hospet (or at least Hubli) on short notice or do all the tickets have to be reserved in advance?

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2 Answers

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Riesko, there are many options as to how to get to Hampi. I can suggest you clearly, if you can tell me how much time & money you can afford in traveling to Hampi. Also, I would like to know if you particularly want to travel by train (as many foreigners like to have that experience of traveling by train in India)?

If you are familiar with how things work in India and if you have the patience to use the slow public transport, then you have different options to travel by bus. You can look for bus schedules to either of these cities/towns (Hubli, Dharwad, Bellary, Hospet, Bijapur, etc) and then take the next bus, which is frequently scheduled to Hampi.

If you would like to fly and save a lot of time, then I would suggest you to look into flight schedules to Hyderabad/Hubli and then take the bus/train to Hospet (closest to Hampi). As for flight schedules, Hyderabad has more options than Hubli.

An other option is to rent a car (specially if you are traveling with some other people) and drive there. I guess the road ain't that bad between Mumbai/Bombay and Hubli (as it is Mumbai to Bangalore highway).

EDIT:

Here's something :

Bluelines, Canara Pinto and Sharma are the daily private volvo bus service operators. Their offices are at dadar and they have pick-up points for passengers in the city.

Source: Volvo Bus Services From Mumbai To Bangalore

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Thanks for your answer, I updated my main question... One more flight would be too much as I have a flight to Mumbai and from Chennai so want other means of transport for that trip leg. –  John Doe Jan 16 '12 at 19:17
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Riesko, you have to look for bus services running between Mumbai and Bangalore. I guess, there are a couple of good ones, in which you can probably sleep and relax. Almost all of these bus services run through Hubli. –  bchetty Jan 16 '12 at 20:53
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@rlesko: If you want to take a bus from Mumbai to Hubli, there's pretty much one every 2 hours from all major bus stops in Mumbai. So you wont have to book much in advance. Turn up on the day, buy a ticket and hop in. But yes go for Volvo buses run by the above operators. –  JoseK Jan 23 '12 at 5:18
    
Great, thanks for the info! Can I get on Volvo buses as well without a booked ticket? –  John Doe Jan 23 '12 at 19:15
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Long distance buses in India is a pretty unorganised sector. Bookings aren't usually made online! So one option would be get to Mumbai, then book a bus ticket with a local tour operator. There is one online bus ticket booking site called RedBus but they don't seem to have scheduled services running between Mumbai and Hospet. (This doesn't mean bus services don't exist, as RedBus has ticketing deals only with select bus companies.)

EDIT: So it turns out RedBus does have connections between Mumbai-Hampi, but only allows bookings 30-days in advance. If you can wait for making bookings, then this is an option.

There are two direct trains between Mumbai and Hospet:

  • Yeshwantpur Garib Nawaj on Tuesdays
  • Jodhpur Yeshwantpur Express on Thursdays

You can also indirectly go from Mumbai to Bangalore or Goa by train, and then further onwards by train from there to Hospet. My personal recommendation would be to get to Goa, because it's a place worth seeing itself and the Mumbai-Goa stretch of the journey on a network called Konkan Railway is one of the more scenic rail routes in India. From Goa, you can catch VSG Howrah Express that runs from Goa to Hospet every Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Sunday.

I wouldn't advise taking a cab because the distance between Mumbai to Hampi is non-trivial.

On whether you can get a reservation or RAC booking three days in advance: As a rule of thumb, on most 'express' trains this is not possible, so don't count on it. Make the booking as early as you can. If for some reason you really have to leave it till the last minute, buy a ticket for the unreserved coaches instead (N.B. not all trains have one), although you should understand that unreserved coaches usually are filled over capacity so don't expecting more than sitting/standing space even though you have a ticket. Certainly not for the faint-hearted traveller.

When making bookings in advance, on most train booking sites such as IRCTC, Cleartrip, MakeMyTrip et al you can click on the 'check availability' link to find out whether there are seats available, and if not, what your waitlist position is. If your waitlist position is below 20 and you have a couple of weeks left for the journey, you often do end up with a reservation or RAC.

EDIT: (To answer the question on whether buses need to be reserved in advance.) If you're using an online booking system such as RedBus, then yes, it is advisable to book in advance. RedBus doesn't operate its own services, it's just a booking system used by select bus operators. If for some reason you are unable to book online, ask around at local travel agencies and you will be able to find bus tickets within a few days notice, if not same/next day.

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There are buses between Mumbai and Hospet on RedBus, that's where I found the connection. The thing is that you can book a ride only 30 days in advance so it can't be checked for March but it can be checked for certain day in the week since they run all year long. –  John Doe Jan 16 '12 at 16:55
    
Ah crap, I didn't read your question completely. Will update this in a bit. –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 16 '12 at 17:02
    
Thanks for your answer, it does give some insight into what other means of transport I could use. I would actually need a plausible connecting train rides plan from Mumbai to Hospet so that I don't get stranded at some obscure train station and have no way of getting to a bigger city. A goal is to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. I'm going to Hampi only for 1 to 2 days and then I'm off to Bangalore for a day and then have a flight from Chennai so it's a tight schedule. –  John Doe Jan 16 '12 at 17:06
    
Don't make your schedule too tight. While this is not as common in non-winter months, trains do sometimes get delayed from one to several hours. If have to make a tight schedule, then choose trains that have 'express' in their name. In case of logjam due to signalling failure or what have you, 'express' trains get priority over trains that have 'mail' or other qualifiers in their name. Delays shouldn't be a huge concern in March though, since it mostly happens due to fog in winter months. –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 16 '12 at 17:19
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