En route to Hampi we made a stop over in Bangalore (now known as Bengaluru), which is just another Indian city as far as I’m concerned – and perhaps I haven’t paid the city its correct dues and for that I am sorry. However I had THE most incredible 25 course Thali at MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Room, an establishment that started in 1924). The restaurant is still going as strong today as back when it first started with most of the clientele being local (always a good sign). The place was totally packed, so much so that there was a queue outside before the lunch sitting opened at 12:30.
An Indian dish made up of multiple tasting bowls of local cuisine (see pic below)
We arrived in Hampi and decided to cross the river to go and stay on the Hampi island. I am convinced that I was born a blond – crossing a river in the middle of monsoon season is asking for trouble, and well trouble was what we got. The evening we arrived it rained, no pored, for a solid 12 hours. The next morning when I woke up and wanted to go see all the amazing temples, I woke with the sick feeling of being trapped. Over night the river had come up in flood and due to the pace that it was rushing, no boats were permitted to cross. Although I remained chilled and relaxed for a further 3 days (my view was that of green rice paddies and beautiful boulders so I really had little to complain about), the first sunny day where the river had subsided a little, I moved back across to the main land.
Hampi, like my life, was under construction. When I finally made it to the other side, I found that many of the LonelyPlanet recommended guest houses were no longer available as those building had been bulldozed in the mass ‘heritage saving’ project whose main effort is to preserve the ancient ruins. Up and till recently many of the ruins were occupied by local villagers.
Finally I was able to see all that is Hampi. I hired a bike, and decided to get my cycle on. Its a good 30km cycle and then about another 10km of walking due to the location of the ruins, but a well worthy trip to do.
The ruins are basically split into ‘The Sacred Centre’ and ‘The Royal Centre’. The Sacred Centre includes the likes of Matanga Hill (which has a huge statue of a monolithic bull – I’m not totally sure what the significance of that is – but thought I would throw it in here), Vittala Temple (famous for the large ornate stone chariot whose wheels once turned) and the Sule Bazaar (aka Courtasan’s Street). Legend has it that in the 16th century, the bazaar sold precious stones, much the same the local bazaars now sell cheap chinese toys. Can you imagine just putting your hands into a bowl full of diamonds or flawless sapphires?
The Royal Centre includes the likes of The Queens Bath, The Elephant stables, The Lotus House, The Underground Shiva Temple. Being set fairly far from the river, it is a marvel that the ancients had fresh running water. I was totally blown away by the architecture – especially The Lotus House.
I often feel that as beings, we really have gone backwards in evolution and are currently in the dark ages. In the 1300s this ancient city had sewerage, fresh water to homes and structures which went on to last for over 700 years. We really have sold out – most of our products now days have a shelf life of a few years (if that), many rivers are not safe for human consumption and don’t get me started on sewerage systems here, which has regressed from what those wise ones had built hundreds of years ago. However having said that, Hampi has an incredibly rich history; a romantic feel of how life used to be like, an old city which had been so remarkably and powerfully built, but so crushingly destroyed.
My all time favourite though, was spending time people watching in the Virupaksha Temple. Locals come from far and wide to pay their respect to their deities, and I really admire their dedication to their gods.