Last weekend, I went on a trip to Hampi with the Wanderers trekking team. Hampi, located about 370 Kms away from Bangalore is a UNESCO World heritage site. It was a group of 25 people who set out on Friday night from the Bangalore railway station. After a nightlong journey, we got down at the Hospet station, from where we took a bus to Hampi. After about 30 minutes, we were able to see huge stone structures on either side of the road and then we knew that we had reached our destination. As we walked along, we could sense that this was a place not at all spoiled by advances in technology or modernity. The high gopuras of the 7th century Virupaksha temple gave us a grand welcome. Then, it was a walk through some narrow pathways until we reached the banks of River Thungabhdra. Our resort was on the other side of the river and we had to wait for the boat to arrive. There we saw one of the most interesting characters in the whole trip-An old Swami clad fully in saffron and carrying a large clothbag. He always waves his hands in circles and points towards the sun. The only time we heard him speak some words were when some of us went behind him and made him talk. The foreigners' craziness towards Indian yogis was fully evident from the way some of them were seen crowding near him.
The resort was situated in a very calm area near some insanely green paddy fields. I guess we were the only Indians to stay in the resort. Even the owner told so. The ambience and arrangement of the restaurant there was likeable, especially the beds spread out on the floor and the slightly raised marble tables. After a short break, we set out on our first trip. A snake charmer was sitting on the riverside with 2 scary cobras(which according to some, looked cute). Many among us were seen posing for pics with this thing coiled around their necks. Me being very brave and a well known snake lover, stayed about 50 metres away and enjoyed the 'closeup' view. Our first visit was to the Achyutharaaya temple. The dieties and all the carvings were all defaced, thanks to the old Mughal rulers and Tipu Sultan. Still, the grandeur of the stone structures was one to behold. We had a tiring trek to the top of Mathanga hills right when the sun was at top. It was fun jumping over the rocks and then finally reaching the pinncale. The view of the temple from the top was one worth going all the way up. It was also very windy. Drinking water was a problem as there were no shops in the vicinity. We had to trek down and walk for some distance before we could help ourselves to some tender coconut. Then, We had a bath at a very rocky place in the thungabhadra river. Here, some gals from our group did some practice in 'accidental free fall into water'. The last destination for the first day was Anjaneyadri hills, the birthplace of Hanuman. We rushed to see the sunset but by halfway we all were tired and by the time we reached the top, the sun had already gone to bed. The autoride sitting at the back, facing the road past was real fun. At night, we saw many foreigners smoking weed in the restaurant thus reinforcing the rumours that Hampi is 'the' place for drugs.
The 2nd day witnessed one of the greatest events in the lives of many of us. Some eternal late-sleepers woke up at 4.30 in the morning and went to watch the sunrise on top of Anjanadri hills. 6 of us trekked to glory in the dark and reached well in advance for the sunrise. Even the sun was surprised that it came late by one hour at 7. 3 of us, including me was witnessing a sunrise for the first time in our lives. It was a perfect sight with the hills, the river, the temple and the sun -something straight out of the canvas which we used to colour up as kids. There was a big army of monkeys roaming around there. After this, we had a great bath in the Thungabhadra river. We visited the Virupaksha and Vittala temples. The architecture of Vittala temple was noteworthy. Sadly for us, the musical pillars here were closed for the public. All of us rented cycles and it was fun pedalling after a long time. The underground Siva temple was one of the highlights of the trip. The stone structure under the ground had knee deep water in it. Even the Sivalinga was half submerged in water. The Hazararama temple depicting the Ramayana in its carvings is an archeologist's delight. The Lotus Mahal and Elephant's stable situated closeby looked a bit more modern than what we saw until then. The big pond(Pushkarni) looked like a scene straight out of a movie. And thats where our trip ended.
On the whole, it was a great trip during which I met many wonderful characters. Some real funny, some real caring and some totally crack( :P ).
Thanks to Raja,Hiren,Deepa,Pavan for the pics. Most of the pics here are taken by them.