The otherworldly landscape of Hampi was one of the first locations to be plotted on ‘Map Marker’ back in June when we first began planning our route. While researching we found that there were two schools of thought on how long to spend in the area. On one hand were the people who believed that the main sights could be viewed in a day or two and on the other were those who felt that time slows down in Hampi and to really get a feel for it requires a much longer stay. We plumped for 4 Days and 5 nights.
Initial impressions were WOW! Neither of us had seen a landscape quite like it. But before that… a little context is required because as unusual as the scenery is, Hampi’s history is just as extraordinary.
In mid 16th Century, during its prime, Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagara, boasted an army of over one million men and was the second largest city in the world. After being razed, depopulated and destroyed by a Deccan alliance in 1565 the ancient city pretty much vanished off any map until it was rediscovered in the early 19th century. Now it is a UNESCORTED (ha ha. Sometimes autocorrect is too amusing to uncorrect) world heritage site of significant value with hundreds of monuments including temples, bastions and royal enclosures.
We planned to spend one day exploring the monuments and another day travelling across the river, visiting the waterfalls amd dining at a restaurant called Laughing Budda. For the remaining two days we were to roam around the bazaar and climb a strongly recommended hill to watch a sunset.
True to form, some of our plans met with greater success than others. Our day exporting the landscape (really autocorect? Export an entire landscape?) and monuments started well enough but was cut short by me suffering a sudden and uncharacteristic bout of heat exhaustion. Throughout the trip I have been hot and sweating buckets but on this occasion I proudly announced to Jess ‘I’m hot but not sweating. I must be acclimatising.’ Not so. Turns out a lack of sweating in 35C heat is not a good thing. I was left feeling exhausted for the next 24 hours and my face had suffered a little from exposure to the suns rays. As this had never happened prior, despite being more active in hotter climes, I put it down to a side effect of the antimalarial drugs which I had begun taking jusy two days earlier – which I have since ceased.
The time we did have that day, and the next day when we hired bicycles, left the pair of us in awe at every turn, marvelling at the power and beauty of man and nature. How time and wind can erode entire slabs of granite into boulders which looked like they’ve been meticulously stacked by hand is too much for my brain.
Some down time followed the next day, much of it spent in cafes where we lounged on floor seats drinking and eating, and Jess even managed to find time for a much needed pedicure.
Climbing the hill to view the sunset proved to be both shorter and easier than we expected… but unfortunately a storm hid every shaft of light. No romantic sunset for us but for me personally the trek was worthwhile because when the rain came so did dozens of giant millipedes!
Accommodation in Hampi is best described as basic and mosquito numbers were high – Jess insisted I killed all the ones in our room (which turned out to be 14) before we could settle. We make a pretty damn effective team in this respect. Jess sniffs and flushes them out, like a spaniel, and I end their short malaria filled existence with a clap of my hands.
Hampi is a remarkable place and anyone with any interest in Geography or History (also botanists and mycologists based on the amount of magical grass and mushrooms I was offered) should endeavour to visit.
Our upright sleeper bus getting to Hampi was much less debilitating than the horror show to Bangalore. To get from Hampi to Pune (our next destination) is via a short train ride, a three hour wait and then a 7 hour sleeper train.
Not if you board the wrong train!
A 2 hour, 50p each train ride can then easily morph into a £60 jeep-taxi mission, reminiscent of Clarkson era Top Gear, to try and make it to the next station in time for our connecting train. After three hours of rain soaked roads with a rather haunting taxi driver, we walked into the station at the exact moment our train to Pune arrived.
Another lesson learned for Lee and Jess.