India - ruined in Hampi
How lucky we were that we got train tickets to go to Hampi before christmas. This was nearly impossible and I still have to thank this wonderful and patient travel agent in Agonda who booked us the tickets 2 weeks in advance. As it was a day train and only a 7,5 hours trip from Madgaon to Hampi, we did not care about a general class ticket. The journey was great and the landscape especially in the beginning around the Dandeli Wildlife Parc really beautiful. In Hubli a horde of army guys came onto the train. But they were very kind and respectful. The train was packed but the journey still pleasant. Arriving in Hospet we were immediately attacked by the rickshaw drivers who wanted to take us to Hampi. No thank you - the local bus is much cheaper, convenient and fast. Only 30 minutes later we were in Hampi.
Famous Hampi - how many travelblogs have we read from bloggers raving about this serene spot. About the special atmosphere in Hampi. Well, the first thing we noticed was: Hampi is packed with tourists. Mainly indian tourists. Well, it is high season, accomodation is hard to get and really expensive (especially considering what you get). We had booked 3 nights in a non AC simple room in Hampi Bazaar for 2.000 Rupees! Across the river, where we originally wanted to stay, everything was booked for the next 2 weeks. Cheaper digs were impossible to find (despite one wants to sleep in a shit hole). Wow - glorious Hampi. It did not start that glorious and peaceful for us. Later, we found poor travellers sleeping in restaurants for one night as they did not get a room. We were lucky though. But the cost of the rooms ruined our budget. Anyway, we stayed a fourth night at a different place. It was awful, but the only way to see all the sights.
After our bad start in Hampi we headed to a roof top restaurant to enjoy the sunset and the views. That was indeed relaxing and nice! For dinner we ended up in the Mango Tree Restaurant in Hampi Bazaar. It was very relaxed, friendly and had amazing food! So we came here every single night.
Next morning it was time to explore Hampi. As our room was directly on the path to the river, we woke up at around 6 am when all the school groups and other people who slept in the temple (and that were hundreds of people) went down to the river for the morning routine. OK, we followed them (not for our morning routine ;-)), but simply to watch the happenings. Well, when we say morning routine - this includes everything! People were shitting in the bushes and in between the rocks. They were all taking a bath in the dirty river where big crocodiles are supposed to be. They were washing their clothes, cleaning their teaths and so on.... It was a big event and great fun to watch.
Later we had a relaxing breakfast in a decent rooftop restaurant. First we decided to get an idea of Hampi by foot. We started to walk up Hemakuta Hill from where one can get a nice view over Hampi Bazaar. Furth on we went to the Krishna Temple and as far as the Lakshmi Narashima Tempel. Back to Hampi for a late lunch and than it was time to hike up Matanga Hill, the best place to enjoy the beautiful sunsets here.
The next day before further roaming around Hampi we had an important task to do. Where will we go after Hampi. Later than the 26 of december there was no space left in Hampi for us. As we thought to travel to some remote areas we excpected to not face any problems in finding a place. BIG mistake! We wanted to stay in Badami for 2 nights - everything fully booked. A travel agent found us a room in Bagalkot and he was also able to book a long distance bus for us later on, as all train tickets for the next 2 weeks were completely sold out. No need to say, that the remaining tickets were not a bargain! We were a bit frustrated - where is the fun of travelling when you have to prebook everything? And it was really ruining our budget. But we had no other possibility. Later the day, it was Hampi time again. We rented some bicycles an drove to the ruins further away, like the famous Elephant Stables,
the Lotus Mahal and the Vittala Temple with the stone chariot. It was fun and it was really beautiful and once away from the most famous temples it was a very peaceful atmosphere. And of course, we visited the Virupaksha Temple - the only temple that is still in use here. Lucky enough, we could join a wedding ceremony there! On our last day, we decided to cross the river to Virupapur. There is a totally different feeling on this side of the river. We were very sad that we could not stay here as we liked it much more. It was still busy and full of tourists but has a more rural feeling with nice views over rice terrasses and boulders. We had a relaxing time and lunch in the Secret River View Guesthouse with fantastatic vies over the river to the Virupaksha Temple. Later, we walked over the boulders into a little valley an further down the river to the next coracle crossing. This was wonderful! No crowds, just some climbers hanging around the boulders. The landscape was stunning! For the first time we realised why so many people rave about Hampi. When we reached the river again we crossed over in a coracle and walked back to Hampi along the river, visiting some more temples and ruins. We ended the day with another sunset on a rooftop and a fantastic dinner in the Mango Tree Restaurant.
Well, Hampi did not leave us speechless. It is not a MUST visit place for us although it is nice. Maybe the crowds were to much - but anyway it is very touristy. The landscape is beautiful and the ruins are beautiful - we missed the special spirit we heard about so often. We simply did not get it. We had a good time, it was nice to see all the ruins, there are some relaxed places to hang out and have a good time. But that's it. 4 days of ruins were enough. We were ruined ;-) by the ruins and the prices here.
So if you want to go to Hampi, do it. You will have a good time. But avoid peak season when you will not get a bed cheaper than 1000 rupees for a cramped room (if you can get a bed at all).
Curiously about what was coming next, we took the bus to Bagalkot? Never heard of this place? No problem, you are not alone....... That is our next blog.