After 4 blissful days in Goa, It was time to take a deep breath and dive back into the real world so we caught a train and headed east to a place called Hampi.
The ancient capital of the Vijayanagara Empire; Hampi is a world heritage site about 6 hours East of Goa. Ancient ruins lay scattered over a fascinating landscape of giant boulders and crumbling mountains offset by an oasis of lush green palm trees and paddy fields. There’s an extraordinary feeling of peace to this place – an eerie calm with whispers of an ancient empire in the wind.
Split by the Tungabhadra river, on one side you have Hampi Bazaar; a bustling village jam packed with little shops and restaurants surrounding one of the main attractions; the magnificent, Virupaksha Temple. Then on the other side you have Virvapur Gaddi and smaller villages where it’s a bit quieter and more relaxed. When we arrived we travelled across the river in a tiny boat before jumping in a rickshaw to reach our accommodation for the next 4 days.
We stayed in the loveliest place called Gowri Resort tucked away below the dam in Sanapur, about 6km away from Virvapur Gaddi. The family who live there are really friendly, and although the accommodation was basic, the swing chair on the front porch, overlooking the vast expanse of rice fields more than made up for it.
It was extremely peaceful and away from the hustle and bustle of the main towns. Each day we enjoyed some home-cooking from the family kitchen and it was some of the best Indian food I have ever had – especially the breakfast. Wow – if you ever get the chance to eat Idli Dosas for breakfast, get involved!
OUT & ABOUT
The ruins are scattered over a huge area of 26km² so it’s virtually impossible to see them all on foot. The best way to get around is to hire a moped or a bicycle.
The only map we could get our hands on looked like it was drawn by a child, so with this as our only guide, we made a rough plan and headed off to find the remnants of the ‘The Forgotten Empire’. We tried to see as much as we could, but we also took it easy and set about seeing things at our own pace.
The temples are colossal structures of granite rock decorated with beautiful carvings . They’re well worth the trip, but I must say it was difficult to take it all in at times. There’s so much to see, and the history’s very interesting, but there’s not much information readily available and a lot of it can pass you by – which is a shame.
We had some funny moments in Hampi. I managed to lose my phone on the first day (standard) and so attempted to report it to the main Police station for insurance purposes. Over the next 2 hours a hilarious kafuffle unfolded; I spoke to 10 different policemen who went from thinking that I had stolen an iPhone to thinking I wanted to buy one before finally getting the point and handing me a bit of paper saying that I had lost my phone.
Crossing the river with the moped each day was a particular highlight. You have to get ‘The Bike Boat’, which involves precariously navigating across a narrow plank of wood over water onto a crammed boat with 10 other mopeds and motorcycles with riders. This is no fun if you’re in a hurry, but we found it very amusing. I dread to think how many tourists have actually fallen into the river.
If you’re planning to visit Hampi, I’d recommend doing some research before you go and maybe bring your own map. I’d also recommend hiring a moped as It will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Plus, it’s really hot in Hampi so having the wind in your face is a welcome relief from the baking sun.
Although we weren’t always entirely sure what we were looking at, we had a great time wandering around, climbing mountains, discovering hidden gems and scooting about from place to place. But, after 4 days chasing whispers of this ancient empire, it was time for us to hit the road and embark on the final part of the trip. A mammoth 22 hour train journey beckoned…
Next stop – Kerala! x