Published: February 10th 2012February 10th 2012
Leaving Palolem and Goa behind we began our journey to the remote and ancient ruined city of Hampi, an upsettingly long 400km drive away. Whilst driving up a hill and approaching a blind bend, a bus which had previously tried to pass us gave it another try. As the bus drivers cab just about passed ours the bus driver swung violently left and directly into us. Fortunately we managed to stop very quickly but the bus had by this point scrapped past the right hand side of our truck with some force. In the panic and shock of the situation, my first thought was that I must immediately eat the piece of chicken in my hand, I felt sure the situation could not be resolved until I had done so. As you can tell I (along with everyone else) was a bit shocked. The bus was actually in much worse shape than us, having scrapped a fair bit of metal back on the front left wheel arch whilst we only suffered a slightly bruised bumper. One of the many benefits of driving around in a mega tonne solid steel Mercedes beast is that not much on the road can damage/push us
around. No one is exactly sure what happened and why, two theories are circulating:
1. That an oncoming car heading towards the truck made him slam into us to try and move out of the way of the oncoming car
or the more popular and believed theory that
2. He hit us on purpose as we hadn’t moved out of his way and slowed down to let him past previously
Either way, he was driving like an absolute fool and putting the lives of both vehicles passengers as well as other road users at serious risk. We took photos of the accident scene to prove our innocence in case the police became involved. At first the bus driver wanted to get the police involved, but realising he was in the wrong and we had evidence to prove it he quickly decided it would be best if we all left and moved on. This suited us as the police would probably have favoured the bus driver (even with over whelming evidence against him) and would also have delayed our already long (and only recently begun) journey. Seeing as our vehicle wasn’t too badly damaged, we decided to
Hampi is an unusual and very beautiful place. The town and nearby area is surrounded by hills which are littered with enormous (some humungos), smooth, flintstones style red/brown granite boulders which are pilled on top of each other in seemingly gravity defying formations. Many of the huge boulders (often worrying close to homes) look like a small gust of wind could easily send them crashing down in a path of devastation and destruction. Apparently the rocky landscape was originally formed by an underwater volcano (hence the smoothness of the rocks and their impossible positioning on top of each other), over the years movement of the tectonic plates shifted the land 700m above sea level to it’s current position 400km from the coast. As the land slowly shifted upwards gravity held the rocks in their strange formations and today they remain beautifully but perilously perched on top of each other. The rocks are very similar to those seen on Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor cheese rings, I wonder if they have a similar geological story? In the middle of these rock formations are lush green paddy fields which provide a fantastic and unique contrast to the red granite boulders,
a very positive and beautiful example of human intervention in nature. Hampi village is split in two by a small picturesque river that is littered with the unusual boulders and bordered by lush green river banks. At sun set it is a very magical place to relax and watch the sun go down, especially when looking at the tall pyramid shaped Hindu temples on the other side of the river.
The following day we took a guided tour around the ancient temples and palaces of Hampi. The ruins stretch out for many miles and in it’s hey day Hampi must have been a spectacular city and indeed was the capital of the region in ancient times. The tour was interesting and the ruins at times impressive, but the real highlight was the combination of the ruins and the unique contrasting landscape of lush green paddy fields/banana plantations and baron moon like rocky landscape. This was particularly impressive from a rather pleasing view point which looked down onto the town, the main pyramid shaped temple and across the river to the other side of the town.
Other than the fantastic landscape, the one immediate thing you notice about Hampi
is the amount of hippies. Hampi must have more hippies per square metre than anywhere else on the planet. I’ve never seen a place with so many douche bag, stoned wasters. Just outside of the main village is a hippy commune where about 20 hippies live around a giant tepee where they get stoned, sing songs and generally contribute very little to anything at all. I kid you not. If you work in the dreadlock industry I would highly recommend moving to Hampi as there are a lot of white people crying out for your services here. I’m not a massive fan of hippies (as you can probably tell), for one they contribute almost nothing financially to the local community and they seem to have no political agenda (anymore), or are at least completely impotent/uninterested in progressing any form of political agenda, instead preferring to get wasted and leave their empty bottles and rubbish all over a beautiful town. Maybe I’m wrong but I always imagine the early hippies of the 60’s to have had a political agenda (albeit a little naive) and to do some actual protesting in between getting wasted. Maybe the real problem is that most modern
hippies aren’t actually hippies but wannabe idiots dressed in silly clothes who just want to get wasted and hide away from responsibility. I’ll stop there before I start to sound too much like a ‘disgusted’ Tunbridge Wells Daily Mail reader. Whilst I’m not a fan of the hippies, they do add an element of interest in Hampi, so I guess ultimately they help a little by being a tourist attraction of sorts.
On our final day in Hampi I chilled most of the day, laying outside in the shade away from the fierce day time heat. It was nice to have some down time as the tour schedule can at times be very full on. About 16.30 a few of us set off from our hotel for Hanuman temple. Hanuman temple is supposed to be the birth place of Hanuman the Hindu Monkey God. Hanuman is one of the most popular of all Hindu gods as he was instrumental in saving Lord Shiva’s wife from an evil demon (I may have my facts a little off here), Hanuman temple is as such one of the most important temples/pilgrimage sites in India. The walk from the hotel to the temple
passed by lush green rice paddies and crumbling ruins including a fantastic ruined aquaduct which I presume was used in the past for irrigation. The temple is perched high on a steep hill and is accessible only by 580 steps of stairs. The climb up wasn’t actually too bad as the stairs were spaced moderately and weren’t stupidly high (unlike the more challenging climb to Tiger Temple in Krabi, Thailand). The 360 view from the top over the valleys, rice paddies, rivers and ruins view cannot by described by words or captured by camera, it was truly epic and breathtakingly vast and beautiful. If it were not for some small signs of human life I could easily have believed that I was looking at a prehistoric Jurassic landscape, raptors running across the plains would not have seemed out of place. I’ve seen many great views but I think this easily comes in my top 3, I advise everyone to go, especially at sunset.
Next stop the Jungle....
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