Don't Worry, Be Hampi

Trip Start Jan 18, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2013

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Flag of India  , Karnātaka,
Monday, March 26, 2012

Totally without parallels, this magical place is unlike perhaps anywhere else on Earth! strewn with massive impossibly balanced boulder and decorated with amazing temples and monuments all whilst in this incredible rice paddy, palm tree covered environment there really is something for anybody and plenty for everyone. For me a real highlight of India and somewhere I wish I could have spent longer. As relaxing and peaceful as any beach with as much to do as any city finding a reason to leave can really become a bit of a head scratcher.

In Indian temple terms Hampi is actually something of an infant with most of its temples only being around 5-700 years old although with the state of ruin some of them are in you could be forgiven for thinking them older. In its day this World Heritage Site was actually a capitol of one of the largest Hindu empires ever seen which by the 16th century was occupied by an impressive 500,000 people. All this success was short lived however as by 1565 the city, then called Vijayangar was razed to the ground. Left almost untouched since then today it is a haven for backpackers and pilgrims alike.

Day 68: Monday March 26th
As a stroke of good luck upon arriving in Hampi (Getting off that bus was more than welcome enough) we bumped into Jule & Sina again. We went together to chck out some accomodation and after decideding against a couple of places that we had all been reccomended we checked into this lovely little (and very cheap place) on the far side of the river. The rooms were basic but more than comfortable with a welcome cold (Bucket) shower and a really cool communal courtyard with hammocks and suspended beds outside the rooms. 

After freshening up from our ordeal of a journey the 4 of us headed out into the boulder fields. I can honestly say I have seen nothing like this in my life let alone in the rest of India! The scenery is simply put stunning! looking like something out of the grand canyon. There really are no words for describing the beauty of this place it really does need to be seen to be believed and I would strongly recommend anyone to come here. Forget Mumbai or Calcutta, miss out the temples of Tamil Nadu or the ghats of Varanasi, just come and see Hampi! We spent a good few hours wandering through the boulder fields empty except for a few goat herders in total awe of the place. We didn't pass up on the opportunity to do a bit of climbing whilst we were there too. Unfortunately lack of water and fatigue from the trip to Hampi would eventually draw us back to our rooms, our adventure for the day though was far from over.

For our evening meal we decided to go to the highly recommended Mango Tree restaurant back on the Hampi Bazaar side of the river. We left early as the last ferry back was at about 6.00pm. Our meal which was easily as nice as advertised however took us to about 6.30 and after the last ferry. We had been told however that we could still get back later by another boatman who would just charge us 100 rupees each rather than just 15. Figuring that by this point as we had already missed the cheaper ferry we may as well make the most of being on this side of the river we went to get some drinks and have a chat in one of the restaurants. After a very pleasant evening we decided to head back at about 9.00. This is where our troubles would begin as unbeknownst to us it turned out that the "emergency ferrys" only ran for about another hour after the normal ones and had now long since stopped. The only way back across was to pay over 600 rupees each for a drunk boatman to ferry us across the river. Not only was this a most unappealing prospect but for that kind of money we could be checking into a luxury 5 star resort for the night. With that in mind we had little choice but to find a room on this side of the river! Fortunately a tuktuk driver found us a place that although dingy with unfriendly, unaccommodating owners wouldn't set us back quite as much as the ferry back. Squeezing 4 of us into a double bed was a bit of a squeeze though however not as amusing as the rather bizarre impromptu bed time story we composed involving a blue beaver, a yellow ball and a land of sweets and chocolate. Id say you had to be there for it to make sense but im not sure that it did even then to be honest. We decided to make the most of a bad situation and get up early in order to watch the sunrise over the ruins something we could not do normally staying on the over side of the river.  
Day 69: Tuesday March 27th
We woke up early, relieved to be out of that room more than anything else and made our way to the ruins just to the side of the main bazaar, climbing up onto the higher rocks to get a good viewpoint. My curse for sunrises/sets seems to have struck again as the sun rose again behind a blanket of clouds. A little disappointed we headed back across the river and resoled to get at least some use of the other beds we had paid for that night. A quick nap later I lounged around in the courtyard hopping from suspended bed to hammock watching T.V. and reading and just enjoying the genuinely peaceful surroundings. Jule & Tim were both pretty low on money and as there are no ATM's in Hampi we decided to hire some bicycles and ride the few miles to a nearby town that did, checking out a few temples along the way. Whilst they were an absolute bargain at just 30 rupees for a days hire they did leave a little to be desired, with poor brakes and only the single gear going either up or downhill became somewhat more eventful. It was still very fun nonetheless and Tim & I treated ourselves to an Ice lolly on the way back. We made very sure that we got back in time for the last ferry today choosing to eat in the White Elephant back on our side of the river so that we would not feel pressured by time. It turned out to be abit of an overindulgent night (Particularly for Tim & Myself) as we all ordered drinks and had more than one course. In fact our entire time in Hampi was conducted in a similar vein with money being spent on Lassi's and fruit juices like no-ones business.
Day 70: Wednesday March 28th
Jule & Sina were both very keen to see the elephant washing that apparently took place every day down by the river. So we went down and had our breakfast with a good view of the river hoping that we would spot them. Unfortunately despite our patience they never showed so we went off to do something that Tim despite having never done it before seemed pretty keen to try and which if im honest I was more than willing to have another go at, Motorcycling! My last effort in Pushkar had admittedly had a slight sour note when I scrapped up my arm and leg but even with that, minor incident I had thoroughly enjoyed myself. Of the four of us I was the only one with any experience and I had to play devils advocate a little in order to coax Jule & Sina into giving it ago. As it turned out they both took to it like ducks to water and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We could only get these motorbike/scooter cross things that I was I admit more than abit sceptical about however as it turned out they were still pretty nippy and despite the pathetic horns (More than a touch important in India) pretty safe to ride about. We toured around the temples as well as going for abit of a joy ride although to my disappointment none of the others seemed to have my speedlust. Not that I really let that stop me, although certainly not quite as nippy as the bikes we had had in Pushkar they were still adequate enough to give you a bit of a thrill. It was a long day, we certainly got our moneys worth with the bikes, Sina's even ran out of petrol about 20 yards from the shop we hired them from! Everyone seemed to be a bit weary that night as we went out for a nice meal at the Mowgli restaurant for our last evening together.  

Day 71: Thursday March 29th
As they say all good things must come to an end. Today was to be not only our last day of our adventure in Hampi but the last the 4 of us would be travelling together. Jule & Sina were heading off to Kerala, Tim was going up to Mumbai and I was bound for Arambol in Goa. Before we headed off though we had just enough time for one last trip out. One of the more less talked about sights of Hampi is the monkey temple which we had all heard glowing reports about. A hill top temple inhabited by loads of apparently slightly too friendly monkeys. As it was a few kilometres away (Its amazing how quickly you start talking in native terms here) we decided to hire a couple of motorbikes again. As we were all abit tight on money however we decided just to get 2 and share them. After a pleasant ride there in which amazingly we only ended up going the wrong way once we were presented with a pretty foreboding hill climb. As is often the case in India it was the heat that provided the bulk of the resistance. As Jule pointed out though the harder the climb the more we would appreciate it when we got to the top (It was actually somewhat of a coincidence that Jule, Tim & myself had/were all studying psychology at university). Unfortunately this was not actually going to be the case and we were all a little bit disappointed that when we reached the top there were no monkeys there whatsoever! We started to second guess ourselves about if we had come to the wrong temple however people clearly bought bananas here for the monkeys and during our assent a lady coming down had commented however crazy the monkeys were. Not only that but there was a "Monkey Watchman" who guarded your shoes. We were left with the conclusion that they must have simply gone in search of some shade given the heat. We had a look around the temple and the wishing tree before finding a nice secluded (and crucially shaded) spot hidden on the rock-face with had great views out over the landscape. 

It was with a heavy heart that I left Hampi that evening, I was staying in pretty great hotel, in an astounding place with awesome people but as the signs around the place state "Don't worry, be Hampi". So saying goodbye to the girls Tim and I shared a tuktuk to nearby Hospet where we were to catch our respective buses. This really is a place I would recommend anyone thinking on coming to India to go and see, it has blown so many other really nice places completely out of the water and is one of the few places in India that I would really like to come back to one day 
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