Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
135Trip End Ongoing
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We decided to get a rickshaw from Hospet train station into Hampi instead of the bus to get there quickly. Typically for us though, we were one of the first off and into a rickshaw but one of the last to arrive. The rickshaw driver had THE slowest, dumpiest rickshaw in the world! It would have been quicker to walk!! We were very unimpressed as all the other travellers went flying past in their speedy vehicles one after the other. We actually had to get out twice to push the thing up some hills!!!! Needless to say we were extremely unhappy campers when we finally arrived in Hampi to find most places full. We trudged around for a bit before eventually finding a place to crash.
We packed up and found a cheaper place to stay over the more lively side of town right next door to a bakery!! Fantastic cakes! We were ready to explore.
Hundreds of years ago Hampi was the place to be. Not only was it a regional trading centre but was the capital of one of the largest Hindu empires in Indian history. In the 16th century it's bazaars were world renowned. It seems really strange now because it appears to be a bunch of temple ruins in the middle of no where so the fact that it used to have a population of over 500,000 is amazing! They say there has been a city here since around the 14th century!
There are loads of temples to see here and the landscape alone is fantastic. It's like a massive, enormous river of epic proportions used to be here and has since dryed up and dumped hills of huge rounded boulders. What's left of this river has created a lush green strip filled with banana plantations and water running right the way through feeding life and colour into the valley.
We took a walk out to one of the larger temples called Vittala. It's an interesting walk following the river and walking over huge rock faces perhaps made smooth over thousands of years by raging waters. For a place that's five centuries old, the stone carvings are amazing. Still very detailed. There are some ugly structural helpers (concrete pillars) keeping the place standing but it's still very impressive. Surprisingly, it was never consecrated. There is a large carved stone carriage in the front of the main temple with wheels that used to turn!
The ticket for Vitalla also allowed us entry to two other sites that day so we hired bikes and rode out. Not having ridden for over 2 years, a no-speed bike plus hot weather, small hills and some sand proved how unfit I really am. I don't know how I managed it round the Annapurna Circuit!
We were in the Royal Centre now with the Lotus Mahal (a lovely pavillion) and the brilliant Elephant Stables. It would have been fantastic to see elephants still housed there, although cruel I suppose as their single enclosures seemingly large to us would have been small for their massive frames. There are a load of other temples to see around that area and one that appears to be sinking. It's the Underground Virupaksha Temple. You can't go inside as it's floor is underwater. Well you could, but a 500 year old sinking temple? Nah. We took photos from the outside.
It was seriously bakingly hot there so we were glad of the nice cold shower back at the ranch. There is also some great food in Hampi, which of course we sourced!
We did pretty well for a hot day too. I counted at least ten temples we'd visited!!
Oh yeah, for skating fans out there. I cut out a corker article from one of the Indian newspapers headed 'Russian women too big, too strong'. It goes like this.
'Russia has a string of young male prospects ready to plunder future Olypic gold in figure skating but top coach Alexei Mishin says his countrywomen are fit only to work on the railways. "Russian women are not very good for figure skating," Mishin said. "They are good for building rail tracks in Siberia, for example. They are just too strong and big." ....................'
How's that?!! Bet Irina Slutskaya would have something to say about that!!!
We took a leisurely breakfast and wandered out to take photos around Vittala temple, walk along Sule Bazaar (which they're restoring now) and visit Achyutaraya Temple. Absolutely amazing places. I would love to have seen it at it's peak! It was awsome looking down the bazaar towards the temple.
That was enough for the day. Yesterday's activities seemed to have drained us of energy. On a walk around town at dusk we saw the elephant of Virupaksha Temple being taken to bed and to top it all of I had fabulous falafels for dinner!
We managed to get ourselves up early to visit Virupaksha Temple, one of the earliest structures (1442) and the most centrally located right at the western end of Hampi Bazaar. If you go in early it's free! It's big but I found not as interesting as the others we'd seen already. The most detailed part being the very high main gopuram (tall bit). It has a very interesting carving high up on one side of a woman doing an American (you'll have to look at the pictures). Not quite sure what this has to do with the Hindu religion but I'd like to find out!
After breakfast we walked down Hampi Bazaar where the locals have moved in, took a look at the monolithic stone Nandi (bull) there and climbed the hill to the magnificent scenery from the roof of a temple at the top. Marvelous 360 degree views!! From this height Achyutaraya Temple looked wonderfully scerene surrounded by bush and banana trees. Absolutely breathtaking. Gave me a kind of Flintstone feel.
Our last day. David wasn't feeling to flash. I put it down to a bit of heatstroke. It had been incredibly hot walking and riding around the last few days. Eventually we took a short walk to see the huge 4.5 metre Ganesh housed in a small temple on a hill then took a walk around some other temples in the same complex and that was it.
Tomorrow we're back to Goa but we'll stay in Panaji and perhaps trys to find a quieter beach.
Hampi is an incredible place. Fantastic scenery and temples. Very laid back and for all the tourists we saw on the train, we only bumped into a few at the actual sites.