25th June – 27th June – Hampi
Our trip to Hampi went relatively smoothly, we even bargained 50% off the price of a taxi from Hospet (where our bus stopped) into Hampi a 30km trip. We arrived in Hampi around 8am and checked out a few hostels before settling on one that was close to town and the river; we couldn’t argue with 150 rupee a night either ($5NZD each!). Although the psychedelic coloured mattresses took a bit of getting used to!
Hampi is a World Heritage Site which lies in Karnataka state in India (the same state as Bangalore – although 8 hours north). It is now a tiny village that runs predominantly on tourism (both foreign and Indian), but in the 1500’s it was a bustling town of 500,000 people and one of the most important Hindu temple sites in India. It was later over thrown and much of the city burnt to the ground, although the huge number of temples still remained – thankfully for us.
We stayed in Hampi for 3 nights, we were really there to chill out soak up the culture and enjoy some good food – the fact that it is a small town made it pretty easy to do this! We spent out first day exploring the village and catching up on things like postcards, blogs, calls to loved ones and of course enjoyed a few nice meals. We took the local ‘ferry’ across the river to the other side of town for a quick look around and then retired to a riverside cafe/shack that served us up a few cups of Chai (tea) while we played connect 4 and introduced a few of the locals to the game! Wilson was quite the Connect 4 host! That evening we found a great rooftop restaurant, called Durga Huts, which is run by a couple of brothers and they’re doing a good job. So we were able to lye about on futons, munching on Mushroom Masala and Paratha’s watching the World Cup games; although not sipping on Kingfisher as alcohol is not served in Hampi out of respect to culture and temples.
Day 2 saw us catch up with Mr Paul, although I get this wasn’t his real Indian name…, he’d arranged the day before to drive us around the temples which lay in the countryside around Hampi. Again Jono and I decided that we’re quite the efficient ‘templers’ (tourists who travel around looking at temples) – given that we gave ourselves 3 hours to get around them all, those passionate about temples spend a good 3-4 days seeing them all! These temples really were pretty awesome, it was great to walk amongst them with very few other tourists about and Mr Paul educated us about what each temple was used for/symbolised and also gave us a quick lesson in Hindu culture. The carving in the temples was very intricate and there were also some interesting Kama Sutra depictions on some of the temples…. At the end of the temple tour we headed to a hotel just outside of Hampi that is allowed to serve beer. There we polished off a big Kingfisher and generally chatted about fly fishing for an hour – it seems to have become a popular conversation toward the end of our travels, one would think we’re missing NZ and the pristine rivers it offers up!
We were late to start our final day in Hampi after staying up till 2am to watch the world cup matches. We had a further look around town, I purchased a book, White Tiger – a great read for anyone travelling around India, gives you a view of how India is run and some of the corruption that exists (recommended to me by Cel’s cousins – thanks John and Grantham). Oh I’ve forgotten to mention the monkey’s – Hampi is full of monkeys. They spend their days climbing around the temples and walls of Hampi and as it turns out, the restaurants. I had sat down at Durga Huts (restaurant) to catch up no my travel diary – thought it was time to enjoy an Indian snack so ordered Onion Pakoda (kind of like an onion fritter). The owner, Hari, brought the pakoda over to my table and was laughing…turns out while the snacks had been sitting on the side board ready for delivery to my table, a monkey had shot up and stolen one off my plate. He said “You’re lucky, you got to share lunch with a monkey”; sure enough there was a monkey sitting on a fence eating one of my pakoda – funny stuff.
Our final outing in Hampi was to explore the temple in the town centre, this is a high temple that dominates the center of town. Jono and I split up, he went up the hill to get some photo’s of the sunset, while I walked about the temple getting photo’s of the temple in the later afternoon sun. On my way around the temple I was asked by a family to take a photo with them, so there I was me and 8 Indian people in a photo, classic stuff. On my way out of the temple, I was asked by a young guy on the gate if I wanted to head up inside the temple…why not I thought and was obviously prepared to pay the young man something for is entrepreneurial skills! 5 minutes later we were climbing up a ladder and heading around the back of the temple and then into the stairwell of the temple itself. It was a cool experience, getting to see a 360 degree view of Hampi and the surrounding area. A sweet way to end 3 days in Hampi!
The next morning we were up 4:30am and into Hospet to buy a ticket and catch the train out to Goa. All went smoothly and we boarded the train at 6:30am; I’ll do a separate blog spot about Indian train travel!
Next stop Goa…and hopefully the taste of a beer after a dry spell in Hampi!