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Published: January 28th 2014
Oh all we ever seem to do is catch a train. I am sure by now you guys are all trained out. I really like train travel and its all so comfortable and well organized. We met a couple in our compartment the husband lectures in tool and dye cutting and she is a professor of engineering/ they had recently been to South Africa so we had lots to talk about. Every youngster we speak to is studying engineering of some sort there is a glut of engineers here and so they in the end take on crappy jobs just to get a job often not even in their own field. And we have the problem in South Africa that we only have one place in Durban where they teach Tool and Dye cutting and that is a huge problem for us as we have to import all the tools we need and no one able to repair them. Very short sighted of our government to close those colleges.
Our meet and great rickshaw was waiting for us that is the first time I have ever had that service in India. We didn’t have to deal with the touts what
a pleasure Thanks Padma Guest house. First we had to try and confirm our onward journey as we were wait listed. We had moved up the ranks and were told we were now number 5 and 6 on the list but don’t worry we will definitely be on. Better had otherwise it might mean we would have to suffer a 10 hour bus drive and Terry would not like that at all and me too trains are so civilised.You can never go hungry or thirsty on a train journey. all the time you hear a food wallah coming up and down the corridor singing what they sell Chaaaaaai or lassi lassi, cooldrinks.,pani water then food calls biriyani, bajias of some kind or another.
We drove past a few villages up some hillocks and down into little vallies. Then a few ruined temples and then more and more until at last over the last hill and we had arrived at Hampi. It had a big dusty bus station – by this I mean an area where busses stopped nothing formal, with the cutest cart shops selling chai and fried snacks (always lots of fried stuff) like chillies in
a bhaji batter that are quite nice once in awhile, and then a couple of rows of carts selling tourist stuff. Hampi is a very special place for locals to come on pilgrimage so its always busy.. On the opposite side there was a post office, school and a few guest houses where’s ours was. It was very nice basic but clean. We had breakfast muesli of a crude but tasty home made kind with big chunks of roasted coconut pieces, curd yoghurt ,honey and fruit (tourism city) then it was out to explore the town and we made arrangements for rickshaw driver for the afternoon to do some temple visits. The main section of the town was down the road closer to the river. The streets were mostly dusty and unpaved old houses all now converted into restaurants,guest houses, money changers, shops selling everything from clothes to leather goods and jewelry and of course bakeries selling western style munchies.A good money making venture by 3 older guys is to dress up in traditional clothes say you are a magic man and get photos taken for a hundred rupees. Good wicket guys!!! the only other thing that disturbs the peace
roof top restaurant
Bob Marley alive and well and played in every roof top restaurant
is an occasional steal of bananas by a cow might start a rumpus with the banana wallah.
We only did the free temples in the afternoon set over many miles its almost like Bagan with the multitude of buildings though very different style and of course religion. In many ways Anchor Wat is closer in religious terms. It was hot and dusty and thankfully we had our trusty rickshaw waiting for us after each temple visit. For sunset we were taken to a lovely spot on the hill where priests were chanting the Ramayana 24/7 there is never a break they never stop there are always 2 priests taking it in turns oh and using a microphone so its loud even if no one is there. Besides monkeys and dogs there were some beautiful wild vivid green parrots flying around and our guide said this is the only temple where they hang out and for sure they were the only ones we saw during our stay. The whole area is full of balancing rocks. Its like there was one huge explosion which I am sure there was and huge boulders of rocks were thrown into the atmosphere and then
came and landed here some of them balancing in the most precarious way. In fact some of the temples too are balancing in a very precious manner too. The sunset did not disappoint either except for the few too many other people who came as well. Well not hectically but one always wants mostly solitude at these moments.
We knew exactly where we wanted to go for dinner as the word had it they sold special Lassi’s and the word was not wrong. Walking around the village after dinner was incredibly special. There is a special peacefulness amongst the mingling of cows, dogs, monkeys and people all in a very unhurried manner that is far away from the big cities. Tourism sure has changed this valley forever but not in a bad way at all. There is no alcohol so that for sure is a big factor. During the day there are many many local tourists who come to make puja. I was up before sunrise the chai shops were already crancking up so of course I had one to start the morning. Then I followed a bus load of pilgrims down to the river to watch
them bath and do their morning rituals. After bathing its off to the Temple.
All the women were wearing fresh flowers in their hair and everyone with fresh bhindi’s on their foreheads. As it was Republic Day the school children were all dressed up in clean uniforms, flag stickers pasted to their cheeks a few had flags. The school was being bedecked with banana fronds the main flag waiting to be unfurled. We could hear them from our guesthouse later singing and saying what I suspect were poems or stories. Everything is always done with microphones and on loud. That is the Indian way.
Terry had hung his bananas in a packet from the burglar bars in our room. The next thing we noticed they had gone. It must have been a monkey who came past and smelt them, broke the fly screen and stole them – would so have loved to have seen him in action the bugger so smart and as Terry says something he will never do again. The pay for Temples were more special of course and one building t that I really liked was a stable for the Kings elephants which I think
was one of the most beautiful. The roof was domed with about 9 domes and 3 different patterns of domes. The insides were decorated in stucco.The elephants had a view out of big doors ways that are now open. they could have been closed originally with wooden doors now long gone. Small openings for people to get through. The walls around this building were amazing all put together without mortice and reminded me so much of my travels to Cusco with Toni. How did they do it without the sophisticated tools we have today?
You stand amongst the ruins of passageways where shops once were, where a whole community lived, ate and prayed and one can only try and imagine the splendor which is nothing now compared to what it was.Yet so splendid in what remains.
We packed early and went for a last dinner and walk about this lovely town it would be a very early call the next morning 5 am departure as I am nervous and we needed to confirm we were on the train. So it was good bye Hampi and I am so glad we came - I loved this place
and off to Goa.
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