After four weeks of gardening, cleaning, drinking tea and generally being beach bums we were leaving the hippie humdrum that is Goa. Our hosts leaving words were " You will love Hampi
", so from the word go, we had big expectations. Our overnight sleeper bus was scheduled to depart at 6.15pm from a city called Mapusa.
Naturally, we got there two hours early! The time came to board our bus, which surprise, surprise, was nowhere to be seen. The man who we had booked our tickets with (Who looked like he hated every single second of his job ) ushered us over and told us to follow him. We followed him around to the other side of the bus station where all the smaller buses were stationed and waited to be told what to do. We were told that our bus was going to leave from a different bus station, at a different time. Entirely different to what was on our original ticket. We finally made it to Panjim where we waited two more hours (by this time it was dark) before eventually boarding.
The overnight sleeper bus was way better than we first expected. I think we expected it to be dirty, overcrowded and smelly but it was none of the latter! Our sleeper cabin was at the front of the bus and was pleasantly spacious! With a pillow to rest our heads, and cornflakes, nuts and bread as snacks, what else could we possibly need?
As the bus started rolling, we wound down the windows to get rid of the sweat that was literally rolling down our bodies. Ricky managed to get some sleep, I managed to keep one eye open!
The bus must have stopped at least twice every hour before we were eventually rudely awakened by a man yelling 'HAMPI ,HAMPI '. We could tell before we had even got off the bus that Hampi was going to be a place to remember.
With ruins of temples all over, you feel like you have time travelled back to a different era. We hailed a tuk tuk from one of the many eager drivers that were waiting and continued to Hampi boat point where we needed to cross the river. At this point we could either get a boat for 50 rupees ( about 60 pence ) or we could navigate our way across the stones to the other side. The river we had to cross was the holy Tungabadhra river. The river forms the northern barrier of the capital.
At the boat point ,even at 6am in the morning the river was heaving with pilgrims who come here every day, adults and children alike, to wash themselves and their clothes in the river. After doing this every morning, they continue on to the temple to pray. We reluctantly (Kirsty reluctantly) made our way across the river, jumping over massive boulders and wading through knee high water to get to the other side. After dumping our stuff at our home stay ( around £10 a night ) we headed back down to the main city and began nosing around.
When we first got to Hampi we had tuk tuk drivers telling us that Hampi was 30km, it's 30km to see all the sights, you will need a tuk tuk. A few minutes after being back in town we were approached by a man named Krishna, an official tour guide, who said he was running a bike tour of all the important sights for 450 rupees ( about £6 ). As we had no plans for the day, we accepted. We met him around 9am where he had two bicycles ready and waiting for us. He originally said three Germans were going to be joining us but as they were a no show, we set off on our merry way!
As there were so many temples, I will only rabbit on about a few. First, was the Virupaksha Temple. Virupaksha is the main centre of pilgrimage in Hampi and has been considered the most sacred sanctuary over time. It is still intact ( although it is surrounded by ruined temples ) and is still used for worship. It is definitely one of the most impressive temples in Hampi ( or that we had ever seen ). The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Who is Lord Shiva? He is considered the Lord of Transformation. Most of the temples in Hampi were destroyed in the 16th century by Muslim invaders. Temples that are destroyed are known as broken temples, and this means it is not a place for prayer.
Maybe most impressive to us, was Achyuta Raya Temple, built in 1524 AD and one of the last temples to be built before the fall of the empire. A little off the beaten track, we were lucky to discover this hidden gem! When we arrived there was no one else there which made for some amazing photographs. It's hard to walk and not wonder what would have been happening right where your feet were standing all them years ago! Nearly all of the temples have amazing wall carvings and you cant help tracing your finger along them!
Last but not least was the Pushkarni tank! ( Ricky's favourite ) This is a holy pool of water that was used by the royals in Hampi. Apparently taking a dip back in the day purified the body and the soul! The design meant it had channels going into the tank which bought water from a nearby lake.
Above is Kirsty, defeated by a 4 hour bike ride on no sleep!
After coming back to reality ( and taking countless selfies with Indians ) we decided to take a Coracle boat ride. A coracle boat is a design unique to India, made out of woven bamboo, interlaced to make a basket. The ride was 350 rupees each for half an hour which is a rip off but what can we do! At least he gave us a spin!
For most of the activities out here, there is normally a different price for Indians and locals. For example, at one of the temples, Indians could pay 30 rupees to enter, which is 35p, whilst foreigners had to pay 500 rupees, which is £6 give or take. So you did feel like they were taking the mick! However, the ride was very enjoyable and is an activity not to be missed!
We had heard of another temple called Monkey temple, believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman, one of the most celebrated figures in Hindu Mythology. You would assume from the title that there would be monkeys, and a temple there. There were neither. Zilch. Just 575 steps to climb up and a relatively impressive view at the top.
We had heard that there was an elephant by the name of Lakhsmi who resided inside the Virupasksha temple. So later that afternoon we made our way in to the temple to scope her out! We found her in the corner of the temple with her trainer. Adorned with painted art, and a bell around her neck, you couldn't help but stare open mouthed at her. She was breathtaking. Being right next to an animal of that size is what you could call intimidating. Her eyes, a thousand times to small for her grand body, but with a lot of story behind them, eyelashes to be jealous of and legs the width of tree trunks, she was truly magical! We also heard from a little bird that every morning she is taken down to the river for her morning scrub!
There she was, bang on time, at 8am. She clambered down the steps (surprisingly elegant) to the river, her mahout guiding her and telling her what to do. You could tell she was understanding what he was saying. Although, word has it, a while ago, she killed her previous trainer, so who knows what she was thinking!
We spent two nights and three days here but despite the heat, we could've been here for a week! It's an amazing place with a truly fascinating and rich history! This magnificent city will be hard to beat, however, we had to move on and head south, to meet our next host! We had so many pictures to choose from, so there will be a blog post dedicated to all the pictures that didn't see the light! We hope you enjoyed!
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