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Trip Report Heyloo Hampi

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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 :D With the innova smelling like a mini Mayyas we were off to a very good start to the day! :D
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!! :D 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. :D 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!! :D 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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    Day 3:

    It was a toss up between whether we want to see some aerial views of Hampi and soak in the architecture in this place some more or do a rushed trip to Badami/Aihole. The sane group that we were we all agreed it would be good to just spend all the time here in Hampi and see it in some detail. So for Day 3 our agenda was to wake up at 5 and pick up our guide who'd take us on a hike up the Matanga Hills- the highest point in Hampi- from where we'd get some amazing views of the ruined city itself!! Gosh, it turned out to be the best decision ever! We started from near the bus station and trekked up to the mantap on top. We spent nearly an hour at the mantap looking around at the marvelous 360 degree views we were getting. The climb itself made for plentiful photo opportunities and we took them all! As the sun broke through the skied we saw the beautiful Tungabhadra river meandering gracefully through the ruined Hampi- she seemed like the one source of continuity and life amid an empire that rested in ruins all around her! For some time each one of us was just taking in the sights, not a word spoken not a line exchanged.... slowly we regrouped, sat together for some time and then asked the guide if we were heading back the same way we came. Turned out we were headed down another route down to the Achyutaraya complex at the base of Matanga. Gleefully we headed down, deftly avoiding some steep falls and some creepy millipedes!! We got some more fantastic views of the achyutaraya complex and soon ended up there. The columns and carvings were again detailed. We walked around the complex- didn't venture in for fear of the bats. Then the guide took us to a small temple behind this complex- Goddess Shakti. We all bowed in obeisance at this small and peaceful place of worship. Soon we were walking down the corridors of the bazaar outside the complex- a bazzar where prostitution had been legalized and taxed. Suddenly AJ spotted a Hoopoe and soon Shyam and AJ were chasing that poor bird down for a close up. The rest of us parked our self in the shade of the side columns closer to the pushkarni. We could spot some kingfishers and smaller birds in this area- it was a pleasure to have the luxury of observing all this instead of making a mad rush to our next place. Soon our guide shepherded us down a path to the river where we stopped for a delicious freshly cooked breakfast at a small outlet just by the river. Monkeys and cats were trying to compete with us for the food =)) We had some freshly baked idlis, some deep fried chilli bajjis and some really sweet tea! Once done with our breakfast we headed to a nearby ram temple before heading back along the banks of the river to the Hampi bus station- we were back where we started by around 11 AM.

    Once we got back to the car we were wondering whether to head back to our rooms for lunch and a siesta or if we should continue our sightseeing. We decided to have lunch at the popular Mango Tree- but turns out it is now in the Hampi Bazaar and not on the banks of river Tunga like it was last year! The food was not as yumm as what we'd had at Chill Out. None the less th etrek had exhausted us...so we had a lazy lunch, then ordered a couple of coffees. I even managed a short nap in the restaurant itself and then we were good to go. We went out to visit the Kadalekaalu Ganesha- a temple that houses a Ganesha that has a tummy that looks like a Gram Dal- hence the name Kadalekalu Ganesha. From here you get a good view of Virupaksha as well. We spotted a small owl in this temple. Shyam got some good pics. I got one in my digi cam as well. poor AJ went running back to the car to get his camera- but we all know owls don't wait for none :)
    From here we went to Sasivekalu Ganesha next, then the Yoganarasimha statue. Shyam was telling us about a shot of this statue that got the National Geographic Pic of the year award. Shyam and AJ spent hours getting the right angle of this fierce statue... we were all exhausted by then. Once done we went straight back to the hotel room and crashed. We were to head back out in the evening but rain stopped us from heading out again. We spent the evening with a round of drinks in the room! :) Again another very good day of roaming Hampi and its many wonders

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    Aaarrrggghhh how soon the trip was coming to an end. Well, we didn't want to think about it just yet... :-|
    We still hadn't seen Hazarama temple, so we headed out after an early breakfast. The hotel was very kind and extended our check out time to 2PM. So we kept everything pretty much packed and headed first to the sitting rama tempe. The temple itself was beautiful, being relatively away from the center of the city it had survived the plunderers. Pooja still continues here, so we left our footwear in the car itself. Soon wehad finished the 'darshan' inside and went outside to the back from where we got some amazing views. A yogi (saint) from Ayodhya had perched himself in worship & meditation there. The rocks had carvings of the linga and other gods, we saw all of it and headed out. On the way to Hazarama we also saw an underground Shiva temple. Finally we entered Hazarama and spent nearly an hour going thru the entire Ramayana story with our guide. Amazingtemple this.Even though we were getting delayed our guide wanted to take us to what was the elephant mounting station and the mint from the vijayanagara empire. This is just behind this temple complex. Finally- our Hampi trip had come to an end :((

    With a heavy heart we headed back to the hotel, said our good byes to our guide and checked out of the hotel.

    Hampi had certainly earned a special place in our hearts- one that inspired both awe and respect for what we Indians always took for granted- our glorious past & heritage. That this level of advancement, prosperity and intelligence existed on our lands a mere 500 years ago was an eye opener to the 'aping western ways of life' sham that our generation of Indians were falling trap to. There certainly seems many hidden lessons in our heritage that made more unique sense to our lives in India that were are failing to learn about or apply.

    Our drive back to Bangalore was pretty uneventful with the 3 of us women yakking away non stop. The one aberration to this rule was when the men started talking (read screaming) of their experiences when it came to picking up their wives from office!!! oh god!! that was one hilarious conversation and have never seen the men create such synchronized cacophony over any other topic!!! =))))) All in all a very good and memorable trip for many reasons!!

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