This past weekend I, along with Daniela, Peiran, and Troy went to Hampi. Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its many ruins. I had a delicious dinner by Babu which included Paneer and grilled vegetables before embarking on a 1.5 hour bus ride from Whitefield to the Majestic Bus Station in downtown Bangalore. Upon arriving at the bus station I purchased snack and walked over a bridge, passing two older limbless men, and then through a tunnel to the train station. After finding our train on platform 7, I boarded the 3AC Car for a ten hour journey to Hampi. We had to book the train tickets two weeks ago and even then there was limited availability with dates so we left Saturday night and returned Tuesday morning at 6 AM.
As I entered the 3 AC compartment the two lower bunks were already filled with bodies under blankets. I took a top bunk along with Troy and Daniela and Peiran below us. There are two sections each with three bunks and a curtain to separate the bunks from the hallway. However, the curtain really serves no purpose as we were placed beside the door which created unnecessary noise with passengers utilizing the restroom which consisted of a hole to the tracks below and the hallway lights created an additional disturbance. I will digress from complaining as I was fortunate to have AC and not be a sardine in the sleeper section which consists of most of the cars and is packed with travelers who do not have assigned seats and is the most economical as it is only $5 each way whereas ours was about $12 each way.
I awoke slightly before our 7:42 arrival where the train stops for 3 minutes in Hospet, a town 13 KM from Hampi. The side train doors were open so we took turns peering out and feeling the morning wind on our tired faces after a restless night’s sleep. Immediately upon disembarkation, two rickshaw drivers approached us, yes because we are clearly foreign, and offered to take us guest house shopping. There are not hotels in Hampi so travelers stay in guest houses which vary in size and amenities. We walked outside of the train station but eventually accepted their invitation and drive the 30 minutes to Hampi and accepted the first guest house we examined. The elderly lady who runs the guest house was extremely friendly and provided towels and her stand sold soap and other necessities, including snacks and chilled bottled water. There was no AC but we had rooms next to each other and the fan worked. There was no distinction between the shower and the toilet so the nozzle soaked the entire bathroom when showering with the minimally pressured cold water.
The same rickshaw drivers gave us a complete tour of Hampi for the day. The town of Hampi is adorable and compiled of very narrow windy streets and shacks filled with restaurants with westernized menus and shops selling various souvenirs from marble elephants to scarves to harem pants. First, we went to Mango Tree Restaurant which overlooks the river and you sit on the ground with a stone table and I had a chocolate and banana pancake, however, Indian pancakes resemble crepes as they are extremely thin. I explored many ruins and temples. The monsoon season is off season for many tourist attractions in India so the town and sites were near empty which created a tranquil environment. At the elephant stables, a school group of 40 well-dressed children introduced themselves and had us take multiple pictures with them. Additionally, I saw a cistern, the lotus mahal, a giant Ganesh statue, an ashram, the queen’s bath, and stone chariot and countless other ruins. The mountains are covered in giant boulders that lean on each other and miraculously stay in place despite being on a steep slope.
After site seeing we ventured to the Hampi Bazaar and made some purchases before going to dinner on a rooftop restaurant (India loves their rooftop restaurants, lounges, and clubs) for dinner. That evening we walked around other shops and returned to the guest house to sleep.
The following morning we ate breakfast at another rooftop restaurant where I had a delicious nutella and banana pancake. To my surprise there was an elephant with the three Lord Shiva white stripes on its forehead in front of a small shack in the village. Troy, Daniela, and I rented bicycles for 30 Rupees or 75 cents for the entire day. We did need to pay another 10 rupees each way for the bikes to cross the river via wooden boat. In order to see the other side of Hampi, one must pay 15 rupees to cross the river which is pretty shallow but will flood in August due to the heavy rains. The other side of Hampi is much more rural so we road our bikes for about 20 KM in order to reach the Monkey Temple. We passed several village shops, rice fields, mountains, and even had to steer through a herd of oxen in order to continue our journey. The roads are extremely bumpy and even the ‘black road’ is barely paved. The rain came and went several times but we did not mind getting soaked as the scenery was perfect. I felt as if a dinosaur could walk by at any moment. The crumbled Aqueduct added to the ambiance. The Monkey Temple on Anjenaya Hill was my final destination where I climbed the 600 stairs to the top. Hanuman is the monkey Deity and a top the hill resides several monkeys, a temple, and Sadhu people who are wandering monks who wear ochre-colored clothing, symbolizing their sanyasa (renunciation). A dog led me up the 600 stairs where I rested and enjoyed the view and saw real Sadhu people, compared to the imposters who dress up like Sadhu people in order to get money from tourists. After enjoying the breathtaking view a top the mountain, I rode back to the river where I crossed and returned my bike before having dinner and returning to the train station for a 10 trip back to Bangalore where I arrived at 6 AM this morning before going to ITPL for a full day of work.
|Chocolate and Banana Pancake|
|School group at the Elephant Stables|
|Random Elephant outside our guest house|
|View from The Monkey Temple on Anjenaya Hill|
|Ruins on a hill a top Hampi|
|View of Ruins|