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Published: November 17th 2014
The journey to Hampi entailed my first bus ride in India. The bus is none A/C so it's hot as fuck! The beds are pretty uncomfy and it's pretty hard to sleep because the bus is rocking everywhere, turning corners, stopping etc! Definitely need to stick to the train in future. When I first get on the bus, I find my bed, and it's like the size of a normal single, but I'm meant to be sharing it with someone, turns out to be some European chick. Her and her friend have been separated and her friend's got a full bed to herself...So of course, I do the chivalrous thing and offer to swap with her friend, so as to avoid the awkward situation of having to sleep next to a randomer, fuck that! and to get my own full bed. I assume the beds are set up in this way because Indians don't have the same discomfort with invading strangers personal space, as evidenced by their queueing.
I arrive in Hampi, I'm not really sure what to expect, the only things I really know is that it was an old kingdom and meant to be fucking class!. Turns out Hampi is actually just a small town, surrounded by the old kingdom, temples, palaces everywhere etc. There's 2000 temples in Hampi! Not a sniff of me visiting all of them!
Hampi is essentially the Rome of India, the kingdom there was very rich and powerful, they conquered most of south India in their time and had trading routes with Rome, China...etc, and they're still excavating to find more ruins. Some people I met there likened it to Ankgor Wat in Cambodia.
I find a guest house "Funky Monkey", really good stay! 250rs a night, fucking class food! The best Thali (Indian dish with Chapatis, two curries, rice and a pudding) I've ever had! The guy running the show, Shiva, is a really cool guy, dead sound.
The first day I wandered to the main temple, I meet an Indian man (Krishna) who works in the tourist office as a guide, he's giving me a free map (which turns out to be a photo copied piece of shit which you can't read, no wonder it's free), and explains the route I should walk from Hampi up to the Vitthala temple (The apparent main attraction in Hampi), I also organise to go with a tour group with Krishna the day after, 450rs they hire a push iron (bicycle) for you, Krishna comes with you as the guide and you go round the southern part of Vijayanagar, 3km away.
Walking away from the temple, and this is the case with every main temple in Vijayanagar, there's like a long continuous room with pillars stretching the length from one temple to the next, 750M, this is what used to be the bazaar (Indian market), on the bottom floor they used to sell gold, diamonds, precious stones...etc. At night they used to cover the gold etc with a sheet and leave it there, and no one would steal it! Imagine that today!. On the top floor they sold flowers, looking at the worn down, decrepit looking buildings it's hard to imagine people selling gold there, but this was 500 years ago!
The next thing I come to is fucking amazing! It's the Achyutharaya temple (meaning Karma-sutra temple), if you're in Hampi definitely check this out! This, for me, was the best thing I saw! I don't think many people visit because there was no one around, and I went there twice. Overgrown grass on the floor, walking around was fucking enchanting! It felt like I was walking around somewhere I wasn't supposed to be, but it also kinda had the same feeling as walking around Liverpool castle up Rivi at the same time, definitely would be a good place for a rave.
Up to the Vitthala temple, 250rs to get in? Fuck that. I use the extremely good zoom on my camera, climb up to a vantage point on top of the bazaar and get pictures of the inside.
The tour the day after was class! Met some cool people too, really good to walk around the temples and actually know what things are, and it makes it way more interesting once you know the history behind things. The tour takes you past the biggest statue of Ganesh in I think India, but maybe just the south, I can't remember. The statue is broken from when the Muslims laid siege to the kingdom, which was the eventual end of Vijayanagar, they went round and smashed loads of temples and statues etc, hence why most things are in ruins. We then go a slightly smaller statue of Ganesh, this was for the public, the other for the royal family. This statue of Ganesh is unique because it's the only one in India that shows Parvati (Ganesh's mum) around the back of him with her arms reaching round, which is why he has four arms. Then down to a statue of Shiva, which was also destroyed by the muslims, but the historians excavating Hampi attempted to fix it with plaster, they did a decent job....apart from building his legs crossed rather than one being down, they're now banned from trying to fix any statues haha. Just on a side note, on this trip I've realised Shiva is a mother fucking gansta! He's regularly depicted holding/smoking a chillum (what Indians use to smoke weed) and he's the god of destruction, so he goes about killing people. Maybe religion in the West would be more appealing if god was this cool!
It's 250rs to get into the main palace complex, where only woman used to be allowed in as it was the queens resting quarters, basically just more ruins. Although there's small building which the queen used for dancing, which has ancient A/C built into it! Some clever fuck came up with the idea that if you run pipes through the walls and then fill them with water, somehow it works like A/C, unfortunately I don't know the science behind that!. Most of southern Vijayanagar's ruins are exactly that, just foundations in the floor. BUT! the ticket for the palace complex also works at the Vitthala temple on the same day! Spot on. The Vitthala temple actually turned out to be pretty cool so I'm glad I went, there's a stone chariot in there which is like the main thing to see in Hampi, it doesn't roll, obviously.
Next day I hire a push iron (bicycle for none northerners) 50rs for the day, and head across the river to Anegondi and Virupapuragadda, 20rs at the river crossings for you and the bike, they take you across on a little boat. Anegondi isn't as the guide book describes it, it's a small village, most of the things the guide book suggests to see are fucked. The palace, which the guide book says is still intact is actually more or less burned to the ground, and the temples aren't really worth seeing. The ride from Anegondi to Hanuman's temple is beautiful, surrounded by cotton fields and banana plantations, and of course the amazing landscape of the whole area.
Thousands of years ago the whole area was under water, which is what makes the rocks all like boulders, it's so strange to see, it looks like something from Star Trek! It appears to be piles of boulders in random areas, but they're "mountains" (nothing is a mountain to me anymore) made from rocks, and because it's been under water, the water has shaped the rocks this way. Some of the boulders are perched so precariously on top of each other! They look like they're going to tumble down and fucking crush you at any second!.
The view from Hanuman's temple is out of the world, the landscape of the area, with the temples dotted about is amazing! Truly one of the best views I've had on the trip, and that's saying something!
Virupapuragadda is basically a small village on the other side of the river to Hampi, I come back this way so I can complete a loop, you can also stay on this side of the river, and in hindsight that would've been the better option. Upon arrival at Hampi, I assumed there wouldn't be anyone over the other side of the river, but it turns out most people are actually staying on this side, it's quieter, nicer looking, more chilled out and the added benefit that you can buy alcohol, which is illegal in Hampi as far as I'm aware...There looked to be so many cool people to meet over there too! Fuck! Definitely next time.
I spend the last day just lounging around. Now, off to Gokarna and the beach for some much needed rest...haha.
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