Trip to Hampi and Day 1:
It was the first time I was travelling with both my very good friends and their spouses...AJ and I had spent last new years with Pranava/Manoj and we had made innumerable trips with Hamsa/Shyam. But his trip promised to be special as we were all going together!! I was sooo hoping and praying that the presence of Pranava and Manoj would deter AJ and Shyam from letting their 'ilayaraja love' loose ... siiiggghhh.. little did I know what was to come!
Anyways, since they were all in Bangalore we drove down on Friday evening itself, stayed overnight with Shyam and Hamsa. Saturday morning there were a lot of 'wake up calls' flying in and out..but then the driver had the last laugh and the last say. he came as per his suggestion only at 6 AM. So all plans of a eaaaarrrlllly exit wen kaput. None the less we reached Prana & manoj's place in less than 20 minutes and very soon had hit the Nice Road on the way to Chitradurga. Pranava never fails to live up to my expectations as she pulled out some amazing goodies to eat in the morning...including some yummmmyyy obattu With the innova smelling like a mini Mayyas we were off to a very good start to the day!
We stopped at around 8:30 AM for some Mallige idli - Pranava ofcourse had to order a Dosa. Amid all the chatter and the breakfast we couldn't help notice how the men were all acting weirdly in the same manner! =)) [See pics]. Once tummy was full we set off again and took a right from the Nice Highway to enter the road to Chitradurga. Some way down the road we realized this driver had brought Pranava's dad to their farmlands here and he regaled some of the tales of that visit. It seemed we had a little heiress in pranava here! ) Soon we came upon an area full of sun flower gardens and we stopped to take some pics...so lovely these flowers were - somehow showering an instant sunshine on our day! This is where the roads started getting narrower and fuller- a strike in Andhra Pradesh meant all trucks were taking this route to the industrial hub Sholapur. So we hastened to our destination and by around 11:30 were close to Hampi. At the very entrance of the city near the banks of the Bhadra river was another huge traffic build up....our driver navigated thru that to pull up in front of Royal Orchid- Kireetha- this is where we were booked for 3 nights.
Endlessly discussing how our 3 days in Hampi ought to be spent, should we lunch in or head out, should we try and visit Badami/Aihole or just keep it relaxed at Hampi- we headed to our allotted rooms. We were told this was only for the afternoon- evening we'd be moved to 'cottages that were pool facing'. So after some deliberation we decided to lunch in at Royal Orchid itself- turns out that was a baaaad decision. The chef just decided to serve us sugar coated dishes...and after a lot of disapproval we wrapped up lunch and headed out for our first glimpse of Hampi....curious to see what was in store for us. I had visited Hampi on a KSRTC tour years ago... my distinct memories were of the chariot, the Virupaksha temple and the Tungabhadra river. I was waiting to see how Hampi had changed- if at all......!
We headed out in the innova from the hotel...as we turned into the street leading up to the Hampi bazaar we saw a compound and entered what we realized was the Chandrashekara Temple and the Saraswati Temple. As we walked in the Chandrashekara complex it was already 4:30 PM. the golden rays of the sun was just seeping into the entrance tower (Gopura). We spent some time clicking some pics, watching some parrots perch themselves on a nearby tree and a squirrel grab a piece of cloth and climb up a wall with it. Then we walked over to the Saraswati Temple and the sunlight also had softened into a olden hue. We took several pics with the playful light and several silhouettes too. By the time we were done the sun was almost setting...we just hurried along forward and stopped at the Hazarama Complex. The temple was already closed but we witnessed a spectacular sunset... the colors on the sky would have made even gemstones blush! We lingered around till it was almost completely dark ruing the fact that we didn't even know what these complexes really were ...so we decided to ask around for the possibility of hiring a guide. Te watchman at the gate heard us and gave us his nephew's mobile number- he was a guide! Soon we spoke to him and asked him to join us the next day. All excited about this we went on to the Virupaksha temple upon the same guard's advice. He said the temple was open till 8 PM.
Cars we re allowed only till the parking lot near the bus station, from there it was a short walk to the temple. The temple itself was huge! Outside as we left our footwear a guy sold us the Hampi guide which I happily bought. We went in and spent a good amount of time viewing the temple itself. All in all it was a good experience and we came out at around 8PM. After we asked around a bit we decided to go to a restaurant called Chill Out. Turned out to be a quaint and nice restaurant!! The guys sat in a different table eagerly ordering their chicken and we sat separately and ordered some pizza, French fries and pasta. The food (except for the fries) was yummmm!! The place itself had mattress sitting arrangements, so we stretched our legs and spent an hour or two here. After having had our fill we slowly made our way back to the hotel.
Day 2 Hampi:
Day 2 began with us picking up the guide - Srinivasa (+8762-022449), he took us straight to the Vittala complex. We had to take a golf cart ride to the entrance- it was about a km and half in, some nominal charges ( I think Rs20 pp) is to be paid for this service. So off we set to our first temple complex visit. Even as we rode up we could see what was the erstwhile bazaar. The guide explained the route also has a pushkarni and one of the older banyan trees. We got off right at the entrance of the Vittala Complex. We had to purchase entrance tickets- the guide tipped us to save it since we could also use it at the Lotus Mahal and other complexes. So we safely stored it away!
As we entered the complex he immediately spotted the rather popular Chariot - before we could start taking pics he took us aside and gave us a quick run down on the complex and details that he's point out as we took our tour of the place. Srinivasa was a very informed and understanding guide. We spent about 3 hours in the Vittala Complex- not only did he give us unending details about everything we asked he also patiently let us be as we soaked in the history, took endless number of pictures in each of our cameras, sat and spoke about what we were seeing and thinking. By the time we headed out of the complex he was already guiding us to take a small jaunt to the river behind this complex.
As we walked from the Vittala Complex, there were several structures to see, we stopped at each one of them and finally reached the banks of the river. It was just a few minutes before Pranava and I were soaking our feet in the cool running water of the Tungabhadra river. The men were no where to be seen it was then we realized they had headed to the nearby mantap and found a place to soak their feet that was not even exposed to the harsh sun!! =)) So naturally we went there too to be told it was the Panduranga Dasa Mantapa. We respectfully left our footwear outslde and all of us huddled on the edge of the mantap - our legs in the strong currents of the Tungabhadra river. We spent nearly an hour like that talking and having fun- finally hunger took its toll and we decided to head out from there. As we headed out we saw this guy selling sugarcane jiuce- so Shyam and I stopped for a drink. It was sooooo tasty we had another glass! Soon wewere back at the golf cart pick up area- an ice cream cart enticed us and we yielded to the temptation. Soon the golf cart arrived and it was time to say bye to the Vittala Complex. The men still had the energy to volunteer to walk back inside of the golf cart ride, so we 3 women just sat at the benches near the entrance and caught up on conversations!! Once the men got back we decided to head to the Hampi Bazaar for lunch- Mango Tree restaurant- turns out it is a bit overrated. But the coffee was very very good!!
Once we were done with lunch we felt exhausted! it had been a hot morning and a lot of walking!! So we decided to head back to the hotel for a siesta. We'd visit more complexes in the evening. Once we got back we immediately fell asleep by the time we got up and set out again it was pretty late. But we did visit the king's palace and surrounding pushkarni, public bath and underground passages by when it started raining!! Then we rushed to the Lotus Mahal- it stopped raining a bit but once we got out of the car it started raining again. AJ decided to leave his DSLR in the car itslef and after Hamsa pointed that out Shyam decided to do the same. We rushed into the Lotus Mahal Complex with SHyam acting like a cat at the sight of rain/water! =))) We stepped into the lotus Mahal and the guide explained how it was built to act like a naturally air conditioned area. The upper storey was cordoned off so we remained below. We were also told about the sentinel posts around. Soon the rain let up again and the guide asked us to follow him so we could see the elephant stables. Beautiful structure- there was also a guy selling tender coconut water there. So we all yielded to temptation. Just as we were finishing off it started pouring again- so we decided to take shelter int he stables. The sight we saw was beautiful...the sun was sticking its neck out of some dark clouds, rays of the sun extending its arms thru the branches of the trees in front of us. The rain continued to pour down and it made for an excellent sight- the glistening drops of water thru the bright rays of the sun. We were having some fun looking at our shadows in the stables. Soon the rain let up and we came out of the stable. As i turned around for one last time I saw a wonderful double rainbow frame the stables!! What a sight...even as we stood mesmerized I pulled my I phone out and took a panorama of that sight!! The calm was broken by some incessant chattering form one corner- thats when I realized Shyam was ruing the fact that he left his camera behind and boy oh boy- did he give Hamsa a tough time about her suggestion to follow AJ's act!! =))))Gosh we laughed sooo much that we had tears in our eyes... this was something we'd hear thru the rest of the trip by the way... More importantly Shyam was convinced this would be a NGC pic of the year! Still laughing we went out of this complex - again today we were too late for the Hazarama temple- really?? It was jinxed or something!! Once we got back we relaxed for sometime and again headed out for dinner to a restaurant pranava's dad had recommended. Shyam & AJ had a gala time inducting Prana and Manoj into the nothing box video on youtube! Food was ok- all in all a very good day indeed! Day 3 & 4 my reports shall follow soon!
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Trip to Hampi and Day 1: