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On the Rocks…

March 26, 2008
by
Over the past few days, I had been wondering if I could get a good long break from work. And thanks to the timely coincidence of my completion of training, along with Holi, Good Friday, my prayers had been answered. I was finally out of the hullabaloo of having to run along with everyone and try to prove that you are still worth it to stick to your work every single day on some or the other pretext. A friend of mine from college, Harsha informed me that he was planning a weekend trip to Hampi and asked if I could join him and others who were planning to go. This buddy had quite a few things to rave about from his previous trip to the west coast few months ago, so I thought, maybe I should tag along with him….it all sounded so exciting. A group travelling to a place where most of us hadn’t been to before, on the banks of a river and a haven for foreigners who are on a trip across India. And I was game for it….

Finally on the D-day, 5 of us ended up travelling to Hampi, two of us from Bangalore and the rest from Hyderabad. This post is a chronicle of our journey to the city of Victory which over the years has been christened as City of Ruins….Hampi.

March 22, 2008

Morning: 6:00 AM

Me and Arun reached the town of Hospet which was 13 kms away from Hampi. After 5 months in Hyderabad, and 5 months in Bangalore, this small town looked like some other world!…so serene atleast in those wee hours. After 30 minutes, we got the first bus to Hampi and 2 kms away from Hospet we realized that we left behind the umbrella behind in the bus stand at Hospet, so it was later decided that my friend would go back to get that. The journey to Hampi was quite a smooth one…it literally reminded me of my village, those small roads, fields on either sides with occasional small little canals and the aroma of the dusk and the firewood. It makes one feel as if this was such an important thing that lot many of us have been missing for a long time!….

After about 8 kms from Hampi, the detour to Hampi starts and after couple of villages and lot of Plantain plantations you get the first glimpse of huge boulders….and then their count keeps on increasing. Finally, after almost 30 mins of drive from Hospet in the bus, we reached Hampi. Have to say some impressive structures greet you at the entrance of the town, among them are the Krishna and the Ganesha Temple. And that was my first impression of the place….quite difficult to understand the beauty of it! Should we look at it that it’s still standing even after 500 years of negligence…or appreciate the beauty and glory that once stood there….I was sure that I wouldn’t get answer to this question and ended up asking myself the same thing more than few times.

7:15 AM… (A little later after Arun went back to Hospet)

“Hello….Rooms sir, 80 rupees, 100 Rs, 120 Rs…rooms sir, just 2 mins walk from here” a tout was screaming (or should I rather say doing his part of the job) at a foreigner. Am pretty sure this sight of an Indian shouting at him would have knocked him out, the gentleman regained his senses and replied with a simple smile that he knows where he has to go. That’s when he took out his guide cum encyclopedia….Lonely Planet’s guide to India!!!….This was like a bible, a must in the hands of every foreigner who was laying his foot there (ahh…someone really said it right. Books are indeed your best friends!) And over the next 1 hour, found out that the number of foreign travelers to this place out number the Indians by a huge margin. I had never been to such a place, so was kinda expecting this one to be quite different from any of the ones that I had seen or been to before.

8:30 AM:

Arun comes back to Hampi along with his ‘lucky’ umbrella. We found out where our friends from Hyderabad, Ranga and Harsha were and set out in that direction. The thing with Hampi is, you can never really understand it’s beauty unless you explore it completely. One side it’s full of boulders, almost giving the entire place a barren look and immediately beyond those boulders in the Thungabhadra river surrounding which are beautiful agricultural fields. And Hampi as a whole is divided by this river. In the main town we have the Virupaksha Temple (Lord Shiva’s temple dating back to the 7th Century A.D, the main deity of the Vijayanagara Empire), the Vittala temple, monolithic bull , the main ruins and loads of places to eat and shop. And the other part of the town is cut across by the river and is aptly called the Hampi Island or The Other side of River. This part has lot of guest houses and few houses for the tourists to stay over for sometime. After the 2 minute boat ride to the Island, we guys met each other at this serene place named…”The Goan Corner”. Quite a popular spot for the foreigners, this place is perhaps neglected by many because of its distance from the main river, but after going to this place, you will realize that the same distance works out in its favour!!! A perfect get away from a busy life, this place had all the basic amenities to spend a memorable holiday. We guys were again perhaps the only Indians in that corner, but thanks to a pervious visit by a couple of us, we were known faces there! And since it being the eve of Holi, everyone was game for putting some enthu…we guys joined the celebration along with our fellow tourists [;)]…(hehehe……evil grin!!..:P)

11:00 AM

Our first visit around Hampi kicked off on a moped towards the village, Anegondi which apparently was the actual capital of the Vijayanagara empire before it was moved to Hampi. Travelling across the countryside under dark clouds and cool breeze is like having a beautiful dream…you do want to last longer, but the moment the climax comes you miss the ending. Here too…you want this thing to go on forever, but somewhere down the line, either we move far away from it, or it just stays of figment of one’s imagination. After reaching Anegondi, we realized that there were couple of temples in that part and nothing what we had expected to see….but to our surprise, we came across the unfinished bridge across Tungabhadra. (Some of you might have seen it, it was aired in one of the episodes of Roadies…). After some heavy showers and getting drenched, we crossed the river in a coracle…quite an experience.

1:00 PM

A little further down the road, started out tryst with the ruins. First was the Tallargatta Gate, and after some heavy posing for the camera we were on our way to the town of Kamalapura. On the way we were guided to a temple which was on top of a small hill. From outside, I wondered why someone would build such a huge temple so far away from the village or town amidst these boulders. The boulders seemed to have a story to tell, each one of them strangely arranged to give an unmistakable identity. Actually along with the lighting around under overcast conditions, it turned out to be a photographer’s dream! The temple was on its way of neglect and it remains to be seen, how long it’s going to sustain. But am sure even at that stage, it will continue to remain puzzling to those around as to how exactly someone could build it so close to the rocks. According to a legend, Rama and Lakhsmana took rest at this hill while they were on their way searching Sita and hence a temple. Probably this one temple would be more memorable to us to some thrills for some stunning camera work by Harsha!…Here’s one such pic from the gallery…

4:00 PM

We were on our way back to Hampi and the other side of river with a lot more to explore for the next day. Completely drenched along with some holi colours, the day was a good starter for what was in store for us!…

7:00 PM

“What do you do?”…”I do nothing man…”…..(heavy laughing in one corner)….”Look at him dude…he’s too lost!!”…(more laughter!)….Five of us sharing a jumbo…and then down to three trying out the missilistic pan!…[:P]….”It was like nothing….It’s awesome…it’s like nothing….indescribable”….”Check that chick out….I think that dude is hitting on her….”….”awww…comeon guys, lets leave”….

That was how the day ended on a extremely “high” note, it surely was going to remain in our memories baring the last 3 hours before hitting the sack!…[:P]…

Next Day…March 23rd. Sunday

9:00 AM:

I was woken up by a random lost drop of rain which managed to sneak in through the thatched roof. And after sometime, all of us pulled ourselves together and bade goodbye to “Goan Corner” and its wonderful host Sharmila…and “Vicky”!!!…(phew!!!…I so wanna go back there now!!…[:P]) and all those foreigners with whom we had shared little moments of joy. After crossing the river, we turned towards the “Mango Tree Restaurant”. This place is easily one of the best hangouts in Hampi…located in a Mango Orchid, the place offers a magnificent view of the island and the river. And on a rainy day it’s a different story altogether. Perfect place to spend as much time as possible just staring at things around….all the serenity!

11:30 AM

This time we took some better bikes to explore the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire. We started off with a Ganesha and Krishna temple followed by an underground Shiva Temple little further down the road. Just at the back of this temple is the main part….something which stood once for its glory and the legend that gold, diamonds, rubies were once sold in huge quantities in its streets…the ruins. It’s actually unbelievable that a 600 years old thing could come down like that…and all that remains were some walls here and there and basement of what would have once existed. Thanks that this place was declared as a UNESCO heritage site, otherwise God knows what all we would have lost by now. There were ruins of what would have been a busy street, lots of public baths, temples, mosques (those kings were secular too!!), bazaars, elephant stables, even a minting place. Spanning 59,000 sq mts, this huge complex of remaining basements and other pillars is a site worth exploring. Maybe you could get into a game, guessing what activity could have been in which street and things like that. The most impressive of all is the Durbar, which is a three-tier structure, offering a panoramic view of the whole area. Adjacent to this are the Hazara Rama Temple and the Stepped Tank…both of them stand as an example of the lavish Dravidian Architectural style. What’s disturbing at first was to find no idols in any of the temples that we had been to in the ruined city. Later we realized that the subsequent conquerors post 1565 must have destroyed them or they could have been stolen over the years post the downfall of the Vijayanagara Empire…

3:00 PM

We were still hanging out in that place and trying to explore more things, the stepped tank was beautiful and the water transport system to this place was interesting to watch! This is where rain eventually caught up with us and along with it, brought some stunning variety of clouds consisting of a beautiful mélange of azure and black. Should say, it’s really difficult to say whether we were chasing the clouds or vice versa. Everywhere we went, as Harsha puts it…was ”A Wallpaper Material”…and thanks to Ranga’s SLR and Harsha’s thrills, the shots have come out brilliantly….here’s a small glimpse of it…Both these pics were shot within a gap of 10 minutes, so you can imagine how things were that day…


4:30 PM

Our last tryst with the Vijayanagara Empire culminated with the Queen’s palace and the Elephant stables. This complex also has a Lotus Mahal, which is constructed in the Indo-Ismalic style. It was a bit disappointing that only it’s style of architecture was described in almost all these places. This makes it a little difficult to understand the significance of each structure (A guide along with you would help a lot!!!). I remembered that Hampi was quite famous for its Stone Chariot and we found out that it was in the Vittala Temple couple of kms away from Hampi on the banks of the river. But we couldn’t reach it on time…that place closes down at 5:30 PM!!!…[:(]

6:00 PM

A visit back to Mango Tree Restaurant to laze around a bit…and 5 of us sat there staring at the orange sun going down the horizon, the motor boat going silent….little bulbs glowing across the river and life coming to a stand still…..peace…eternal peace…

It was just 2 days of trip to this place which we thought was gonna be blazing hot! But it took us totally by surprise with the overcast conditions; I think it added more to the glamour of this place and the rain!!…Rain and its unpredictability…. Would say, it was a perfect trip for 2 days and life seemed so different…it’s like you have no clue what you would do next, but you always knew that this was your view for a perfect outing…or rather a Perfect Life!… I wish I could have captured that serenity, that music of the river dancing down the rocks, the vision of the ruins which speak a lot for themselves. I know I cannot do that….but some pictures would serve as an alternative to remind me of that wonderful time. And I believe, every time I close my eyes and try to remember few things related to fun and happiness, these 2 days would come back again and again…I haven’t traveled much, but of the little I have, I would put this one in the bracket of the finest I have ever been to….I guess this was because I was traveling with a bunch of great guys…thanks Harsha, Ranga, Arun and Praneeth!….I so wish everyone from Kastle Vista should have joined us….but anyway, that leaves me a good excuse to go back to this place some other time….and this time, I wish I could stay for more time there…it’s a great place to write…to think…to laze…to ogle[:P]…to do…to get lost in the beauty….to get on a high …..on nature ([:P]). And that’s what I call….Nature, On the Rocks!

Click Here to check out few more pics from the trip on Harsha’s Gallery….

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2008 1:33 pm

    Looks awesome!
    Did you photoshop those pics??

  2. Hemanth permalink
    March 26, 2008 1:35 pm

    @pd

    All the pics are either by Harsha or Ranga….I don’t know if they have post-processed it or something…maybe they could tell you better…

    Cheers

  3. March 26, 2008 2:38 pm

    The post is a way lot shorter than what I thought it would be. After reading this, Hampi is on top of my list of “Places to visit before I die” 🙂
    Have to agree that the pictures taken by Harsha are brilliant and your description was great (as usual)! Cheers!!

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