Me and my friend Zoe decided to take 5 days out of Agonda where we have been staying to go and see a different part of India, we have heard a lot about Hampi from friends who have been before and it grabbed our curiosity. So the my first experience of this trip was the ‘getting there’ part, we decided to take the 7 hour train journey down from Madgaon Station to Hospet during the day leaving at 8:00 am and arriving at 3:00 pm. The train journey alone is defiantly an experience as not only do you see all the incredible scenery along the way including, mountains, jungles and waterfalls but also you might find some live entertainment. There was a woman and man walking through the train, the guy had a hand drum and the woman was singing clapping two pieces of stone together creating a rhythmic beat. On the train there is 3 seats to each bench, the bench is alternatively used as a bed with two other beds that fold out above it created a triple bunkbed for the overnight train rides, people might be on the train for days travelling across the country! We were in sleeper class which meant we had fans but generally the carriages stayed quite cool with a nice breeze passing through the windows. It could get a little cramped at times with people moving around and finding a place to sleep but all in all the journey was not so bad, just remember to pee before jumping on the train and try to hold it until you reach the other side… those toilets are not so clean or pleasant unless you are an expert squatter or have good aim!
On arrival in Hospet – Hampi it is easy enough to find yourself a tuk tuk to get you to your accommodation with many waiting for people to come flooding out the station gates. If you are staying in Hampi bizarre (the main center) then you are looking averagely at paying between 200 – 300 rupees which is a good price but always remember to barter! We arrived at Padma guest house somewhere we had reserved online a few days before however with the money crisis currently in India we only had enough cash on us for our costs during our trip but were planning on paying the hotel by card. We soon found out that the guest house only accepted cash and there for decided to stay the one night that we could pay cash for and found ourselves accommodation around the corner for the other 3 nights that would accept our card payment, the Padma hoteliers where very understanding and friendly about the matter. The ATM’s do not currently hold much cash at all, certainly not the 7,000 rupees we needed to withdraw and a lot of places are refusing to take 500 and 1000 rupee notes all related to the issues I mentioned in my previous post ‘A whole new world’
Hampi is famously known for its cultural heritage grounds which we really wanted to explore, so we decided to book a tuk tuk for the day to take us round the temples and ancient ruins. This is something you can discuss with your tuk tuk driver on the way from the train station, for the day it cost 1,200 rupees for both of us which is a good price and 500 rupees each to enter two of the temples which the one ticket has multi use for! On top of that remember some lunch money. This day includes many different sights including…
Small Ganesh, Big Ganesh, Krishna temple, Badavi Lingam, Ugranarasimha, Udana Veerabadra temple, Sister Stone, Under Ground temple, Lotus Mahal, Elephant stable, Hajari Rama temple, Watch tower, Rushkarani, Queens bath, Vittal temple, Stone car and many more just in the local area of Hampi. Most places had stunning viewpoints with Hampi’s known boulder grounds which travel for miles into the distance, these boulders that lay in all shapes and sizes really give this place a lot of character! There is also lots of wildlife to see, you will commonly see chipmunks darting around everywhere and lots of lizards and geckos scattering between the rocks, I also spotted hummingbirds and parrots! Be aware whilst visiting the temples you will find people asking you to buys postcards, info guide books, fruit, chai tea and much more be careful to get to drawn into it all or you will spend a fortune! Also if somebody offers to take your photo or give you a personal tour around the grounds remember nothing is free and they will ask you to pay them afterwards.
Hampi Bazar is the main centre where there are lots of little markets stalls selling handmade gifts and traditional products, the place is very petite and quite scruffy but holds its own characteristic that distinguishes it from any other place! There is a very nice restaurant in the bazar call ‘The Mango Tree’ which we was recommended and we will continue to recommend, it is very clean with a great selection on the menu. You leave your shoes outside and wash your hands before going in and the seating arrangement is a lot more cultural with cushions on the floor so you can eat cross legged at the table with a cushioned backrest, though there are also benches and tables if you would prefer. Hampi is a vegetarian state so when eating out you will only find a vegetarian selection however I have not had a bad dish yet and the combination of flavours make the food extra tasty!
So our new accommodation for the rest of our stay was a guest house called Archana where the people are very friendly and the rooms are quite reasonable with wifi and a fan! Though the water was not so warm like we were told and the food was not the greatest. We had a bottom floor room which meant outside we had a small garden area with hanging egg chairs and a nice river view. We were told to keep the door and windows shut otherwise the monkeys come in… After we had walked all day in the heat temple exploring we had a quick afternoon nap but were shortly woken by a racket coming from the window right above our heads! MONKEYS! Scattering and jumping around the small alley that runs behind the rooms, the adults and babies were quite curious to come and say hello and show off giving us an afternoon show! They have been around a lot in the day time over the last 3 days, including out the front where you can get very close to them without them feeling threatened or at all bothered by your presence.
On day two we decided to go swimming at lake Sanapur which is about an hours drive from the bazar, we planned to go in the afternoon but saw our tuk tuk driver Coffee late morning who invited us to an open invite Indian wedding with him, it was his friends sister getting married and we thought it would be a cool experience! It wasn’t far from us and there was a small hall set up with a lovely colourful backdrop on a stage decorated with ribbons and flowers where the bride and groom would stand to have their photos taken, we were even asked to have a photo with them being the only white tourists who came along! Before the service the children were fascinated by us and we had quite the fan club! One little girl wearing an adorable pink dress with a dead cheeky personality kept saying ‘selfie selfie!’ the children had great fun taking my phone and being photographers for the morning! Afterwards we were allowed to take from the buffet for lunch there was a range of curries, rice and sweet deserts to choose from. We were dished up a little of everything to try and were told to eat the sweet food before the savoury which is very backwards to us and also had no cutlery, so hands it was! Eating curry with your hands it not so easy but defiantly an experience! The whole morning was lovely and we were so thankful to have been invited! The marriages are arranged and love falls after marriage if you are lucky which again is very different to how you would imagine tradition back home. The bride’s father unfortunately had passed away many years ago which meant the bride’s mother was not able to be present during the ceremony but only after during the celebrations, the mother can only be present with the father which meant she was very sad to not take part but also to give her daughter away and not have her living at home any longer, but also very proud. The girl was 18 years old which is an average age to marry in India the groom was older and people blessed them by throwing rice over them (like confetti) it wishes them good luck.
Afterwards we carried on to lake Sanapur, the drive was really pretty with lots to see, you also cross over the newly built bridge over the river where the crocodiles hide, on the bridge they lay rice across one side of the road to dry out in the sun before it goes to be matured in storage for 2-3 years to make it good quality. The lake is huge and also very beautiful! Though it is a shame at the amount of litter washed up but passed that the water is fresh and if you can find a good rock to climb up and sunbath it really is a blissful day! It’s a nice place to take some speakers and a few beers with good company too. For the evening we were taken up to monkey mountain which was only about half an hour away where you can park up grab a soft drink and also buy some bananas to feed the monkeys once you reach the top, it is good karma too so better to grab a bunch! The 575 steps up the mountain is defiantly challenging and I would not recommend doing it in the mid-day heat however this place really is best for sunrise or sunset so usually the cooler times of the day. Watch your bananas on the way up as the monkeys will run past grabbing as much as they can from your bunch before you have even reached the top – little devils! From the top of monkey mountain it really is incredible, after feeding the monkeys and getting a few pics you can walk across the top of the rocks to the best sunset view. Coffee pointed out to us the sign written on the rocks, ‘do not paint on the rocks’ – it was written in paint! Sunset is around 6pm and the bright red sun going down over the boulders and rice paddies really was a special memory.
Hampi has not been my favourite place on the map to visit but has defiantly got a lot of character, history and unique places to visit. 3 days here is enough to do all the main attractions and feel complete with your trip, but for the short time we have been here we have made some lovely memories and the wedding defiantly gave it a personal touch! If your ever in the area be sure to ask for Coffee, his services went the extra mile and made our stay here very enjoyable!
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