Well, this section is meant for those of you who are new to the Indian mannerism and culture. You may skip reading the following if you are familiar.
Hampi is no stranger to a cosmopolitan makeup. Let it be the Arabian traders or the Portuguese horse merchants of the 16th century or the current day backpackers, Hampi dealt with all of them in a fair way. It’s no alien to different cultures, especially when they all melt in a single pot. But make no mistakes about it, Hampi is rural and conservative in its core. Respecting its values is an essential responsibility of the visitors.
It’s difficult to list and explain the whole scheme of etiquette in a couple of paragraphs. Any systematic attempt on this subject can easily burst into huge heaps of essays on the culture of this land as a whole. Any general etiquette applicable to India as a whole is valid for Hampi too. Use common sense generously... pick up the signals from your surroundings, you would do well in the etiquette department.
Hampi shares multiple themes in the same space. To the Hindu pilgrims it’s a sacred landscape with holy shrines. To a backpacker it’s a fairyland like exotic tourist spot. To the authorities it’s a vulnerable open treasure of history and heritage. And most importantly, to the local population it is their home.
However a few points commonly quoted is worth repeating here.
Hampi is no beach country. Dress modestly. It doesn’t means that you have to buy the whole set of Indian wardrobe to get acceptability in public space.
A man dressed in pants and T-shirt can feel at home.
So is a woman, if dressed in the ladies’ version of the costumes mentioned above.
Leave alone the dress code, a loose fitting cotton dress covering most of your body is the best bet against the hot and the dusty environment of Hampi.
You are expected to remove your footwear before entering temples. This is usually done at the entrances of the temple compound. Watch the local visitors for clues. In certain temples there are designated ‘shoe stands’ where you can safe keep your footwear for a rupee or two.
In general India favors right-hand actions. That is doing things with right hand is considered polite, and at times sort of a dictum. This is especially true in situations like where you handover cash and receive things. Left-handed people are not rare, but a tiny minority. By the way, it's not a taboo if you are left handed!
Eating with hand (no use of cutlery) is the norm. This is an art to be mastered, if you don't want to make a mess out of it. In a stricter sense, the table mannerism demands that your fingers should not get soaked up to the knuckles. Some concession is allowed if you are having a more liquidly south Indian meal spread over a banana leaf. Use right hand always. Left hand best reserved for holding the cup. However while eating at a local restaurant, a request for a set of spoons would not be frowned up on. In short, be perpetrated to eat food with your bare fingers or with some basic cutlery.
The bottom-line: What if a mistake is done? India's social landscape is by and large tolerant and unreserved. Display your greenhorn badge proudly, and you will be excused for the etiquette goofs.