Along the Away

a traveler's tales

The other weekend it was time to get out of Bangalore again, this time Alicia and I headed to the historical town of Hampi, about a 7 hour drive north of Bangalore.

We booked tickets on the overnight sleeper bus for Friday night, returning overnight on Sunday (arriving in time to go to work on Monday morning – nice!)

The town of Hampi is situated amongst the ruins of the ancient capital city of Vijayanagara, the empire that ruled the south of India during the 14th to 16th centuries. The magnificent ruins of temples, palaces and buildings (some hanging in there quite well) cover a 25km square area and have put the site on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Hampi rocks

The landscape is all rock, boulder, stone, rock. Of all shapes and sizes, perched precariously atop each other in random formations, some looking suspiciously glued together (how are they not falling??), some littered about exactly where they fell, others forming the large piles reaching to the sky and defining the Hampi skyline. The ruins blend seamlessly into the scene, despite the hustle and bustle of a functioning tourist town nestled amongst them.

There appear to be hundreds of sites around the place, but there are a couple of areas with clusters of must-see’s so we chose to walk around the sites in the ‘Sacred Centre’ on one day and on the second day hired bicycles to explore the expansive ‘Royal Centre’.

The most significant site in Hampi is Virupaksha Temple, it is one of India’s oldest temples, built in the 7th century and has been in use without interuption ever since. The architecture is amazing, the sheer height and intricacy of the carved towers and pillars is awe-inspiring and their condition considering their age is mind-blowing!

After visiting the Virupaksha Temple we wandered along Hampi Bazaar, the main road through Hampi lined with food vendors, clothes and textile sellers and all the usual tourist town shops. We visited the Nandi Statue, walked up the ancient stairs and found many temples, statues and monuments. I won’t list them all here because they are many, and it’s not much use to you if you’re not there (in other words, I don’t remember the names). If you are going, we found the website Explore Hampi really helpful and even followed a walking tour and bicycle tour from the website (another reason to worship the iPhone).

Some visual highlights for me were:

Being out of the city and getting some SPACE! The landscape was so unique with it’s rocky horizons. I particularly loved the view from the Nandi Shrine, looking down at Hampi Bazaar with Virupaksha Temple at the end.

Walking through the temples and buildings, exploring the sites which we pretty much had to ourselves.

The Tungabhadra River was a refreshing sight amongst the dry, dusty landscape. And like in every place in the world, the energy of the water draws the locals to it’s side.

Bike riding around the sites was pretty energy-zapping in the heat, but it was still worth it. Whenever I travel I jump at the opportunity to hire a bike to meander around. It was good fun and a convenient way to cover the longer distances. And I only fell off once, but I was already stationary so it doesn’t count. Definitely not.

The weather was gorgeous. Actually it was bordering on unbearably hot, but looking back the pictures all I see is brilliant blue sky and a happy sunshine-y day which does wonders for wiping the memory of the sweat trickling, mouth parching, zombie-inducing bike ride in 40 degree heat. It was a lovely summer day on a bike with the wind in my hair. Let’s remember that.

The impressive statues of Hindu deities that we found in the temples were awesome too. Here is Lord Ganesha, in all his glory.

I also couldn’t get over how old these structures are yet they are still standing proudly and still in use. And everywhere!

I’ve bombarded you with photos but they don’t convey the natural beauty of the area, I definitely recommend you visit if you can! The locals were also very friendly, some stopping to ask me to take their photos :)

Beware the western hippies hanging out in the cafes though – how embarrassing! (Fully aware I will be one in 6 weeks, you can laugh at me then).

We were back to Bangalore on the bus overnight, time for work on Monday morning. It was not as bad as it could be owing to the rather comfy sleeper-bed situation on the Indian night buses. The rocking and pot-hole flying gradually becomes quite soothing, and the Hindi-Bollywood pop music (loud enough to keep the driver awake) will only serve to enrich your dreaming experiences – unless you are have ridden a bike for 5 hours in 40 degree heat, then you will be sufficiently exhausted for the soundtrack to not penetrate your sleep on the way back.

All in all, Hampi was a fantastic mini-break weekend and it was great to have the opportunity to explore such a historical area.

Until next time!

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Sydney based, coastal dwelling. When I'm not at work I'm somewhere outdoors, or in the yoga studio, or at my local cafe, or pottering at home.

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