Hampi! This ramshackle village, divided by a river is surrounded with heaps of precariously sitting giant boulders, ancient ruins & is a backpackers haven. Our daughter likened it to the Flintstone era & very Jurassic Park, she is spot on!
The area is really divided into two sites, the Hampi Bazaar, closer to the ruins & has many hostels, restaurants & shops. Virupapur Gaddi, is across the river & accessible by short boat ride from the bazaar area.
In full Laura Croft & Indian Jones mode we scampered across & through the various Hindu temples & ruins, marvelling at the intricate carvings & arcitecture, given that most date back to the 13th century.
The ruins are spread over 36 sq kilometres & divided into two areas, the Sacred Center & the Royal Center. Our rickshaw drivers ‘Michael Jackson’ & ‘King’ (go figure) were not only knowledgeable but also very entertaining. We came to meet this pair as we stepped off the train on arrival in Hospate, about 15K from Hampi. Hospate is nothing to write home about & is dirty, dusty town with little to offer, except being a transportation transit point. They zeroed onto us & were unrelenting until we finally agreed to let them take us to our hotel for 20 rupees (~40 cents). After chatting with them for bit we figured they were reasonable guys so agreed to hire them for the next day to do the grand tour.
We started off at the Vittal Temple in the Sacred Center, the undisputed highlight of the Hampi ruins. We were surprised at the lack of crowds & thus had great photo opportunities without hoards obstructing our views. There were however many school field trips visiting the area & the kids always wanted to shake our hands, take pictures, ask our names & enquire where we were from. We really enjoyed chatting with these polite, eager young folks.
We won’t bore you with too many temple details, but suffice to say they are truly amazing & in really good condition, despite exposure to the elements.
The area is also a farming community. Lush green paddy fields, Palm, banana & sugarcane plantations dot the landscape. Our rickshaw dodged the many oxen-drawn carts of freshly harvested sugarcane, while shepherds herded their goats & cows lazily wandered the same roads.
Hampi is a definitely a recommended stop for those visiting southern India. Some come for a few days but end up staying much longer. We however are on the move again heading to Mysore. Our only option for transportation is by sleeper bus. We first experienced this means of transportation in Vietnam & swore we would never travel this way again. However, with a national holiday (who knew) & tardiness in booking (again) we will discover if Indian sleeper buses are any improvement over our previous experience. Hey, who needs sleep anyway! 😴