Unexpectedly getting three days off, Rucha and I decided to make an impromptu trip to Hampi on the weekend of the first week of September, 2016. We booked our bus last minute and set off on our first ever trip together.
A little shy, a little formal, we decided to ‘do whatever we wanted individually’, not wanting to impose anything on the other. Rucha and I barely knew each other. We had just started working at Amazon, Bangalore. Both of us were a little unsure of what was to come, because we had (obviously!) never traveled together.
At the end of three days, however, (yes, I’m going to tell you everything we did) we ended up having a lot of inside jokes, a lot of laughs, fatter tummies and a lot of leather bags.
That night we took a metro from Indira Nagar to Majestic to catch our bus. Both of us took our motion sickness pills and made ourselves comfortable in the bus. Much to our dismay (but not surprise) it was a very bumpy ride and after seven hours of torture, we finally reached Hospet.
We got off irritated hoping to reach out hotel room as soon as possible and take a nap. Having bargained with a rickshaw driver, we settled for an amount of 350 INR and got into his rickshaw to go to Hampi.
All our irritation absolutely vanished as the rickshaw started and here’s why:
The ride was incredibly beautiful. We were amidst 20,000 coconut trees, the morning mist and cold, and the typical karnatic rock formations. We couldn’t have asked for a better start! After about an hour (which got over in 15 mins, I swear!) we reached the quaint little town of Hampi.
I thought I was back to the 1800’s. Warm locals waved and smiled as we passed by. This lifted our spirits incredibly. Our annoyance with the previous night’s bus journey was long forgotten.
Hampi being really small, the rickshaw driver knew exactly where we were to be dropped. We reached ‘Netra Guest House’, a modest but clean accommodation space with a rooftop terrace restaurant. We paid INR 450 per room per night to stay there (excellent for student budget trips!).
After having dumped our bags and gotten ready, we left in search of a small eatery for breakfast. Hampi is so small (read cozy) that we went around the main market place and were back at the same spot within 15 minutes. A little disappointed and skeptical, we decided on entering a dirty looking shop, the owner of which was making uttapams out on the streets. We waited for about three minutes and got served hot-off-the-pan uttapams on banana leaves. We were extremely hungry and as we took our first bite. I don’t think we had ever tasted something that tasty in our lives! The uttapams were very soft and the chutney was to die for. The owner didn’t just give us tasty uttapams but also a very reliable guide and rickshaw driver who promised to take us around and be our (unofficial) tourist guide.
After having gobbled up on the oh-so-much food, we set off to ‘explore’ Hampi. That day, we decided to be touristy and visit all the historical monuments and temples with our Guide Mr. Rakesh. We visited the Virupaksha temple, Lotus Mahal, Achyutaraya Temple and Vittala Temple complex with the musical pillars.
Our end destination was an alleviated space where the kings had festival celebrations during their reign. Here we decided to wait back for sunset. We just lay down there, admiring the beauty and pondering over what would have happened, had we been born in that era. After a lot of funny thoughts, we decided to head back to the marketplace, have some dinner and go back to our room.
That night after dinner we went up to the terrace of our guest house and looked at the many stars and ended our day with big smiles.
The next morning started with idlis from a vendor lady right outside our guest house. We were also accompanied by many members of the esteemed Vanar Sena. The cook’s husband told us that they were, in fact, a part of Hampi, and paid timely visits to the village.
We decided to explore the other side of the river on our second day. A ferry ride of Rs 10 each got us to other side of the river. As soon as we landed on the other side, we decided to rent bicycles. The another popular option is to rent a luna or a bike. For health conscious people, renting bicycles is a great option with cycles available at just Rs 100.
Barring the humidity, cycling through Hampi was blissful. With a few stops on the way, we decided to head to the famous Sanapur Lake. Most of these stops were voluntary, but there was one abrupt stop with gentlemen asking us if we wanted some Herbs. 😛
The Sanapur Lake was nothing like we expected it to be. To begin with, it was huge! There were sign boards put all around it claiming the presence of ferocious and deadly crocodiles. But the sweet, old coracle – man, told us it was just to keep drunkards away from drowning in the lake. He took us to the shore from where we could swim in the lake and also showed us the legendary ‘swirl in a coracle’ on our way back.
On our way back, we decided to stop by at a music café, which surprisingly turned out to be more or less a sweet household of hippies just having a casual beer and brunch party. They were welcoming enough to add two more to the list and not only shared beer and food but also lent us their luna to go for a drive around the spectacularly beautiful Anegunda village.
No trip is over without shopping! So we headed to the local leather shops located right outside our guest house. We almost ransacked the shop with a load of genuine leather bags and wallets which we bought at extremely pocket-friendly prices.
It was the time to now head back to Hospet as our trip to Hampi had come to an end. Our previous day guide’s friend took it upon him to drop us back to the Hospet bus stand. While we raced through the dark roads to Hospet, he enlightened us about the regular leopard and bear sightings in the village.
Our trip to Hampi and Hospet ended and before we knew it, we were back to Bangalore, but the memories and experiences live on. Hampi being a UNESCO world heritage site is a rather neglected tourist destination. Despite having references in the Ramayana, the popularity of Hampi remains next to insignificant.
Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. The town and its people remain unaffected by pollution, crime, and noise.
For those of you, who seek solace, peace, and tranquility, Hampi will give you all of it and also a few herbs for your hippie heart!
(Co-authored by Rucha Deshpande).
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