I can’t believe I’ve written two posts on Hampi without even mentioning what there is to see there! If you haven’t read them yet, check out my Royal Enfield ride to Hampi and a little about it’s hippy-trippy vibe.

The weather was unbearably hot when I visited in February. We crossed the river in a deceptively tiny boat who’s motor painfully spluttered while pushing along 5-6 bikes and 10 people. Walking through the city would have been fun if the weather was cooperative… but since it was scorching, we decided to hire a rickshaw.That turned out to be a really good decision because it saves so much time not having to search or ask for directions and we were thankful of the moments of shade it provided when we travelled. Secondly, autorickshaws charge depending on how much time you have on hand and what you want to see. If you tell them you have all day and want to see everything, you will have to pay around Rs. 600 which is not bad at all (could even be Rs. 400 if you haggle!) The drivers are very friendly and will give you a guided tour for an additional charge.

Virupaksha Temple will probably be the first stop. It predates the existence of the Vijaynagra dynasty yet still functions today. With it’s faint aroma of coconuts and incense, it stands at 160 feet at the end of an old bazaar lined with shops and is the only temple with its own elephant. Beware of people telling you that you need to pay to take pictures inside – it’s not true at all.

Ugra Narasimha Statue or Lakshmi Narasimha as it is more popularly called is a huge statue, slightly comical looking monolith. Narasimha, being half man and half lion is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, sits on a coiling snake and is protected by the serpent’s seven heads. A few steps away is another monolith, one of a ShivLinga that’s partly submerged in water.

The Lotus Mahal is one of my favourites because of the gorgeous architecture and cool, peach coloured stone. Just adjacent to it is a row of elephant chambers that still smell like elephants. This massive structure could hold a dozen elephants in their own separate “rooms.” Both the structures are noticeably cooler, almost like it was air conditioned. I spent a good 15 minutes sitting in one of the elephant enclosures because it was so peaceful and smelt like elephants. A pretty little watch tower is situated in the same enclosure.

Sister Rocks – You’ll inevitably find yourself face to face with two gigantic rocks in Hampi. Legend has it that two sisters visited Hampi and inspite of it’s beauty, belittled the place. They instantly turned to stone by the Hampi Gods who destined them to never leave the land. One of the rocks recently split in half and locals believe that it is because one of the sister’s lives had ended.

The Queen’s Bath – Another magnificent piece of work, this massive has corridors that surround a gigantic pool where the queen used to bathe. Open to the sky, this luxurious bathing area has lookout points from where the royal maids used to wait. Yet another public bathing area is called the Ancient Bath, an octagonal shaped platform with tiny steps and small bathing space that looks like it would have been too cramped for the public.

Vijay Vitthala Temple – Extravagant and stunning, this complex holds the icon of Hampi – a stone chariot. It is called the Garuda, the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Another fascinating feature of the temple is the musical pillars – hundreds of stone pillars that produce musical tones when tapped. I could have easily spend an hour here, people watching – but it was too hot and was the last, exhausting stop.

Visit the birthplace of Lord Hanuman – Although not technically in Hampi, the Monkey Temple on Anjaneya Hill in Anegondi is something you need on your bucket list. 600 excruciating steps will lead you to the top of the hill that’s crawling with monkeys. Once we reached the summit, you can jump from boulder to boulder and reach the edge from where the scenery is breath taking. My knees were jelly at this point and I was so out of breath it wasn’t even funny. It’s one of the most preferred spots that tourists come to in order to watch the sunset.
Tip – Keep your belongings close… the cheeky monkeys make off with items that rouse their curiosity.

There are a handful of other smaller shrines and temples to be seen like the Balakrishna Temple, Hazaar Rama Temple and Achyutaraya Temple that won’t take much time to visit.Also, don’t forget to ride in a coracle (round boat)

You can visit all the monuments by buying only one ticket that costs Rs. 10/- outside any of the temples. Some of them are free.

That wraps up my adventures in Hampi. Have you had any there? Comment below and tell me about it!

Cya next time!

They say Hampi is so small, you can see it all in a day, maybe two. I don’t agree. Hampi is unreal, bewitching and architecturally resplendent. Giant sun-baked boulders perch precariously over each other and stretch over miles of terrain with palm trees that look tiny in comparison dotted in between. Rice fields and banana plantations along tiny roads, a perfect azure sky peppered with white clouds make it look postcard perfect.

Toy-like motorcycles slowly puff along, looking misplaced in this “forlorn ruin” setting that still glimmers through the harsh destruction of time. Hampi was once a land of temples and more temples. It’s easy to get transported to the days of yore and begin imagining how things must have been then.

Have you heard of the Hindu epic Ramayana? Hampi is believed to be where most of it happened. The ruins that date back to the first century was once the buzzing ancient capital of the Vijayanagra dynasty – a strategic spot, considering that three sides hold unscaleable hills and the fourth, the treacherous Tungabudra river. Obviously, this is a UNESCO world heritage site!

There are many water bodies in Hampi – a river, a reservoir and a lake with water so blue you can’t resist jumping in. Which is probably why there are so many warnings forbidding people to do so because of crocodiles. Since most of these areas are enclosed, it doesn’t make sense for crocodiles to live there, and local waiters we made friends with told us there weren’t any. It’s just there to scare people off so that the water remains clean and accidents are prevented

I loved these dainty boats. One can go for a ride in them in groups of 6 or 8 for Rs. 200/- per person.

WHERE TO STAY:
Hampi is not the place to go to if you want luxury. Most of the accommodation is in thatched huts – so you may need to forget modesty and inhibitions and just change your clothes or bathe lightning fast. Not that anyone cares to peep into other huts. But it embodies simple, basic living with no modern amenities, including mobile network. Pretty refreshing, if you ask me!

I stayed at Whispering Rocks at Sanapur which is decent. These huts are relatively comfortable as compared to the other options available – cemented rooms and caves – yes, caves. I’ve heard good things about Gopi Huts and Mowgli Huts so you may want to check those out because they offer great views of the rice fields! Accommodation in most places ranges between Rs. 500-800/- per day for two people, while caves cost Rs. 4000/- and can accommodate around 8 people. Go figure!

One can even choose to stay at Hospet, which is around 13 kms from Hampi. Sanapur is another option that’s 4-5 kms from Hampi and involves a 2 minute boat ride across the river. Hampi itself has a few lodges but being a temple town, no alcohol is served.

WHERE TO EAT :

the past in the present 6
The city has the cutest, most colourful cafes that are surrounded by trees and chirping birds.. Surprisingly, the food isn’t basic at all. You have a range of Lebanese food, Mughlai, South Indian, Continental and even Italian Fare. There are so many options that you never have to eat at the same place twice.

What I loved most about them was the hippie-like vibe in every place. Low marble tables and mattresses on the floor to sit/sleep on eating makes you instantly feel like you’re on holiday. Trippy music in unknown languages, psychedelic lamps, a casual ambiance with cool breeze – blissful!

That reminds me… everywhere you go, you’ll find people smoking up or trying to sell you weed, including the person who rows the boat! It’s pretty strange the way people openly deal and smoke. Hmm….

So that’s pretty much it about the cooler side of the river. In my next post, I’ll talk about what there is to see and do on the other side of the boat ride. Stay tuned!

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Bye!

An unplanned trip introduces you to your wiser version – one where you don’t have to rely on itineraries. It’s an opportunity to cut loose and be a little irresponsible while you still can – which is not a lot for me, considering my A-type personality. But for someone whose day is packed with meetings and deadlines, deciding to drop it all, pack a bag and leave in a few hours helps regain that feeling of control.

Hampi in Karnataka was the biking destination – a historian’s must visit place, an architect’s marvel and a photographer’s paradise. A group of Royal Enfields, driven by old classmates and friends departed from Goa, Pune and Bangalore at 5 am. We planned to cover a distance of 320 kms from Goa in 8-9 hours and spend two days taking in the rocky scenery.

We made good time that morning, being all fresh and excited about the journey. Goa and its sleepy houses were left behind. Up ahead, there was the Chorla Ghats, with their windy, hairpin curves and abundant forests on both sides. We rode higher and higher, into the cool, foggy air, enjoying the spectacular scenery and disrupting the silence with the noise of the bullets silencers.

Coconut trees turned to fragrant, flowering mango plantations when we stopped at a lone tea stall – the only one we’d seen in three hours. There were around four truckers at the stall – all who gaped open mouthed at our two shiny Royal Enfields and walked around them in circles, whispering, as we sipped our hot, tasteless tea a little farther off.

In case you’re planning a long distance road trip, I suggest you use the “Sygic” app. It’s a lot like Google Maps, but shows you places to eat, the nearest hospital, petrol pumps, hotels, mechanic shops, the nearest police station, and a whole lot of other things as you drive along. I found it to be accurate 80% of the time. On other occasions, it showed us restaurants where there was nothing but barren land, and pointed out that the nearest petrol station was 160 kms away, when in fact, there was one around the bend. Still, better than Google Maps!

One thing I hadn’t anticipated was how difficult it would be to not talk for hours at a stretch. With the noise the bikes were making, and the helmets the guys were wearing, my attempts at making small talk were in vain. They had to slow down and say “Whaaaat?”… several times. Not worth it, so I proceeded to listen to every song on everyone’s playlist by myself, while admiring the view.

There are two things you shouldn’t put off until later when driving or riding inter-city. Petrol pumps and loos. When you pass by one of these, it’s natural to think, “Oh, i don’t have to fill up on gas or use the washroom right now, so I’ll just wait until the next one.” You never know how far the next one will be, and holding your bladder while on a bumpy road is not fun.

The best part of the entire ride was when a peacock, spooked with the sound of our Enfields actually flew IN BETWEEN my friend who was driving and me at the back, it’s wing brushing my forehead! We turned back to find out what it was, and saw it land on the road and run into a field. To call it gorgeous would be an understatement.

After covering half the distance, we stopped for an amazing breakfast of omelets and coffee and headed out again. The ride was getting monotonous now as we had reached a road that never seemed to end – with absolutely nothing to see on either side but empty fields that occasionally turned into a small town and back to fields in a matter of minutes.

My friends who were driving are seasoned bikers know a thing or two about long bike rides. Apparently, long distance bikers keep their headlights on all through the journey, day or night. And since this is something most people don’t know, it was freaking hilarious the way every single person did the “lights on” hand gesture as we passed. Men on bullock carts, women at bus stops, school children attending class under a banyan tree along with their teachers… everyone did the hand snapping “lights on” gesture and shook or slapped their foreheads when we whizzed past, like we haven’t taken their career advice and have chosen to study something “useless.”

Finally, just when our thighs and back begin to get unbearably stiff, we see gigantic boulders – the first sign of Hampi at 2 pm. It looks like the perfect set for a Flintstones movie – with rocks of all shapes and sizes that stretch as far as the eyes can see. Or perhaps, the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park would be more at home here – I can just picture them jumping from boulder to boulder and flying above.

The last time I visited this ancient, ruined city was in the 8th grade, monitored by teachers who wouldn’t let us explore on our own, and with old style reel cameras with bad pictures that once clicked, you just had to live with. This time though, it was so much different…

I’ll tell you how in my next blog post. Stay tuned 🙂