Hampi!








The humps and the bumps of the road had a telling effect on our opinion of the yogasutras outside our lodge facing the Virupaksha temple. Musty bedsheets and rattled bowels cleansed, we set out on hired bicycles to explore the ancient ruins of the Vijayanagara capital of Hampi. As the cauldron blazed atop our heads, we stood the heat up and entered the temple. Couple of Garbhagriha visits later, we were left having to be awed by the monolith pillars, Yalis and pesading horses. Pachyderm assuagement and minority brownization later, we were exiting the doors to face the sun one more time. Cycling our way uphill, we were to come face to awed-face with the 4.5m huge, monolith Ganesha. Kadlekai Ganesha was uber-massive, so much so that only flashes of selective flesh made the cut to the sensor. Later, a series of Jaina-style Shaiva mandirs were seen along the downward slope. Firangs rubbed sun-lotion on each other's backs as I had my bladder relieved and studied the lintels and toranas of the ancient temples. Explaining whatever I could, we romped the unreal terrain scrounging for a chance to elucidate. The style and architecture represents, it seems a symbolism. To play out Earth on Earth. Walked back to the cycles and chatted up with the Aato rajas. Admired the less massive, but more elegant Sasivekalu Ganesha from a distance and headed towards the Krishna temple. Finally found some brown company there. Well, almost. Fine, intricate structures atop the crude granite slabs propels the faith of the sculptsman. Out-of-the-world Apsaras with the finest of endowments hold up motifs of the Dashavatara of Vishnu. Endlessly colonnaded halls were walked by, turtles in a holy water site were tolerated and citizenly activities performed. Eventually, we got out and headed towards the monolith Narasimha that sat majestically beneath no shelter. The Badavilinga neighboured him in space and not comfort zone - it came with a shelter. Frantic praying and more awe-inspiration later, we cycled some more distance further up and visited the less grand Chandikeshwara temple and passed on the Veerabhadra temple. Our gastric call became all too strident and we cycled to this cool restaurant called Mango Tree. Lunching with the firangs, the concept of Roti Curry was once again back to being national pride. A good meal later, we travelled back to the Main Bazaar and walked to its end to see the monolith Nandi that sits opposite the temple. This was also the base of the Matanga hill that would be scaled tomorrow. Presently, we saw ourselves manoeuvring the trippy terrain to reach the Achyutha Raya temple and wonder at it's collonaded halls and 500 year-old themes. Down this temple street was the Courtesan's street or the Soolai Bazaar. After a visit to the dry Pushkarni, we set out for the Viththala temple. This was supposed to be one of the more crucial spots in the Hampi itenarary, given its Stone chariot and musical pillars. The sunlight was receding as quickly as the gastric juices were rising. It was truly a grand site to watch the sun bid his goodbye with the temple at its foreground. A better photographer would have made much better use of the eerie play of light and cloud. The renovation at the main temple forced us to admire the acousitc brilliance of the Tuluvas from down below. As the moon came upon to twinkle upon the sky, we bid the majesty goodbye and frantically walked our way back to base camp. We recevied some real shady assistance and it was a wonder we returned safely on the other side. Picking our cycles from the traffic police station, we came to the Italian wooden oven restaurant. The trippy place had art on sale and the music, along with the people around had my senses heightened. Al Fungi, Falafel and Veg Sizzler later, we were down and out. There was a desparate move to score some pot but that didn't happen. The night passed on with quite a few incidents. The village without power and my sleep absent without the exercise. Eventually I had a very good sleep and we woke up the next day to find the sun already having risen. Not wanting to let that dampen our hopes, we still made sure we climbed the Matanaga hill, in the blissful heat of the morning sun. The trek was a little treacherous and we were well rewarded with coffee on top. After making it back down, we went to this place that was recommended in the Lonely Planet. The food was filling and we got our cycles back to exploring the ancient ruins. The site of a mutual support between two massive rocks has come to be called the Sister Rocks. Then, we visited the underground temple that was full of water at the Garbagriha. After a visit here, we visited the series of Islam architecture buildings that also characterised the Vijayanagara style to some extent. The ruins of the noblemen's quarters and all the royal buildings are extant only in foundations. We then came to the Hazara Rama temple. This temple has stories of Ramayana and the Luv-Kush story etched forever on it's walls. After circling the temple, chasing the plot, we chose to go to the Lotus Mahal. Not greatly thrilling, we found the elephant stables less wanting in the thrill factor. All the more thrilling was the Mahanavami Dibba, a building from atop which the festivals were celebrated during those times. Also, there was the majestic stepped tank. We then went to the ASI museum, after which we paid a brief visit to the Queen's bath. A majestic building, I wanted to lie down right there, lullabied by the echoes across the breadth of the massive pool. We then lunched at the KSTDC Mayura hotel and fo Mayura hotel and for once, we got our money's worth in food. After a decent lunch, we headed to the Saraswati temple and also saw the octogonal bath. Everything done,we cycled back to the hotel and changed and made for the bus to Hospet. A couple of hours later, we were on the bus headed for Surathkal. All in all, a fantastic trip. World Heritage Site 2 check :)

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