Hampi rocks!

Hampi Travel Blog

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After returning from Mysore, I only had about a half hour to change and repack before heading off to the Bangalore City train station for my trip to Hospet. I was expecting it to take 40-60 minutes to get there with Bangalore traffic, but the cab took a back road and it was only 20! So i had over an hour's wait at the train station. People were milling about everywhere, but most trains in India are quite well organized now. There is a computer reservation system with waitlist to prevent overbooking, and you can check where your status is online. I grabbed a quick masala dosa meal and waited for our train, which ended up leaving a half hour late.

I had purchased AC1 tickets to Hospet the closest town to Hampi with rail service; tickets in india are broken up into three different AirCon classes and non-ac sleeper on overnight trains. The cabin was very basic, a 2 person upper/lower bed and no room to store luggage. The windows are heavily tinted and sealed, making it hard to see the countryside go by (but our train was at night so not much an issue). The conductor soon came along and provided clean sheets and blankets, and I fell asleep soon after leaving the station. I awoke a few times in the night, then finally got up when my cabinmate got off at an earlier station. It was light by this point and i could see the view going through the flat countryside.

We arrived at Hospet junction around 7:50 AM and immediately one of the autorickshaw touts attached themself to me and said do you want to go to hampi, etc. He quoted a really expensive price (according to the LP book), we haggled and he came down some (still expensive), but a guy was standing nearby and said that is a good price (of course he is friends with the driver). I agreed anyway, the difference only being a few $$ then set off for Hampi, about 13km away. We passed by lots of people going about their morning duties, bullock carts with bells on their horns, etc. The area around Hampi was surrounded with huge boulder strewn hills and banana plantations. The auto soon arrived in Hampi Bazzaar, which was full of tacky tourist signs for Internet, Henna tattoo, etc. I first went to visit the Virupaksha temple, spending awhile with a guide there before wandering around the side of the temple where I watched a snake charmer and a group of elaborately dressed and made up Sadhus.
There are many tourists here, mainly the cool backpacker variety with their tevas and dreadlocks, but there were also lots of locals.  I went back to the tuk-tuk and up the hill to the Ganesh temple, when I came back out my driver wasn't there but someone was there who said he was 'his brother'. Yeah right. So he drove off and I walked down the hill to town, the 'brother' was there waiting again in the same tuk-tuk I had come in on, so maybe he was actually telling the truth. Too much a waste of time.  I got in and we went around visiting the other ruins. By this point it was taking longer than I thought to get around, so of course the price for the autorickshaw went back up to the original asking price, but now for 8 hrs instead of 4. I guess that's still ok, but probably double what is should have been.
Foo.  In retrospect, it would have been best to hire a one-way auto from Hospet to start at Vitthala, walk to Hampi Bazaar, then use another auto to visit the other ruins before going back to Hospet.

The ruins here are simply amazing though, well worth the trip and I can see why people would want to spend lots of time here. The scale of this place is just immense. Parts of it are Muslim influenced, other temples are like Ankor Wat, but the surrounding scenery of strewn and stacked boulders definitely makes this a unique place. Since I was only here for the day I'll miss viewing the sunset/sunrise, which are very popular. There were several school trips visiting the ruins today, all the kids were shouting and waving hello. I hit most of the major ruins today, but there were still a few ones that could only be reached by walking from Vitthala.
My poor feet were raw by this point and so decided to give those a miss. We did see the Vitthala temple with its stone chariot and musical columns. You're not supposed to touch the columns anymore but everyone still does it. It's quite impressive, each set of columns looks the same but gives off a unique pitch. All the temples here have some of the most intricate and amazing rock carvings I have seen; nearly every surface is covered with carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses, hunting/war parties, and elephants, elephants, elephants everywhere.

After Vitthala, we came the long way back to the Hampi town for a late lunch (4:00) at the Mango Tree restaurant, a really relaxing place overlooking the river below.  I had paneer masala and a mango lassi and sat awhile chatting with a Dutch girl and British guy sitting next to me.
She was going to be traveling through india for 10 months! No plans, just stay however long in one place. I haven't done that really, even on my longer trips i always had to be somewhere else. I kind of miss out with that. I also had met a Japanese-American man earlier in the day, he was traveling India for three months. He had been all over the world and never had a camera! I'd find that hard never to have photos of where you had been, though somehow liberating as you're not always looking for that perfect shot.

So I'm back in Hospet now awaiting my train back to Bangalore.  The train stations here have a quota system, there weren't any tickets available on the Hospet to Bangalore route, but there were seats available when booking the previous station (Munirabad) to Bangalore.  I planned to just get on in Hospet and hope noone noticed.
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photo by: sky69