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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Hampi

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After flipping through my new friend Chris’s (from Sadhana Forest) Hampi photos, I was really psyched to go there myself. He told me about watching monkeys stealing handbags from the local shopkeepers (!); I saw plenty of them on the roofs and climbing the gopuram (above), but didn’t stop to take photos since I’d already gotten a good one at Mamallapuram.

The Virupaksha Temple is situated at the foot of one longish street of restaurants and travel agencies–but not a single grocery store, figure that one out (‘Where do you get your food?’ I asked one travel agent.  ‘At home,’ he said. Yeah, right. I didn’t see any evidence of home gardening anywhere I went, and even so. They must have a top-secret no-tourists-allowed grocery store hidden someplace).

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Inside the Vitthala Temple.

The ruins at Hampi are spread over a large area (something like 26 square km), so it’s hard to see everything even if you do rent a bike.  I decided not to because my calf was still acting up, but if I could do it over again I’d take another paracetamol and suck it up.  There were a couple of ruins I really wanted to see (like the elephant stables), but gave up around 4pm after spending too much time in the heat. On the other hand, there are so many temples that, as majestic as they are, they all start to look the same after a couple hours.

It was strange to me how few Western tourists I met. I heard one pair comparing Hampi to the Roman forum as I walked by (ancient empire, check. stunning monuments, check…), and marveling at how quiet it was.

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Goat stampede!

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There was something rather Indiana Jones-like about wandering through these ruins. Minus the Nazis, of course.

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Lakshmi, the temple elephant. Chris said I’d get to see her if I went to the temple around 8am, and sure enough, there she was. After giving blessings to the locals, her trainer rode her down to the river, where he sudsed her up.

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Beautiful, but you couldn’t pay me any amount of money to bathe in it.

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And a couple photos from the Mango Tree, the fanciest restaurant in Hampi. The food is good (and not as expensive as everyone says) and the views over the river are really lovely. Here’s a photo of my thali meal (mentioned in my Madurai post). Not a ‘proper’ thali, where the waiters keep coming by until you’re all rice-and-chutneyed out, but you get the idea.

On my way out, I spotted these kitties under a bench. Too cute.

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After Hampi I took an overnight train (from nearby Hospet—Hampi is a half-hour rickshaw ride from the train station) to Hyderabad en route to Aurangabad (where I’d base myself to see the amazing caves at Ellora and Ajanta). Hilariously skanky “hotel” room, awesome medieval fortress at Golconda. Looking forward to showing you those pics!

2 Comments to Hampi

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    July 28, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    It’s good to know that monkeys are making a scene all over India 😉
    The ruins look awesome! That’s the great think about so much of Asia–most white people don’t get outside the big cities. I am definitely adding this to my next India itinerary.

  2. August 8, 2011 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    written up nicely…some photographs are really conceptual…

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.