Prehistoric Hampi

After a week in Hampi it was time to take the bus back to Gokarna and Kudle beach and most of our group went separate ways, apart from my friend from Russia. I could count on him to came with me back as we had left most of our belongings behind in Gokarna. 

Hampi

Arriving at Hampi about 7am we went to a guest house on the busier side of town called the Golden Garden; it’s tucked away about five minutes walk from town. There are picnic tables in the centre and has a good communal area where we spent a few days relaxing creating henna designs, yoga, and playing music, all the time surrounded by monkeys swinging from the palm trees around the guest house. The Golden Garden is a great place to stay, the hosts very friendly, the prices are inexpensive and I can recommend staying here.

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The Golden Garden

The next two sunsets were spent at the Shiva temple around a twenty minute motorbike ride out of town. The view is magnificent and almost makes you feel like you’ve just stepped into prehistoric Jurassic Park. Endless, enormous, almost round boulders scatter the countryside and on top of the highest hills temples have been built. A river runs through the town, separating the two sides of the river with the greenest rice paddies covering much of the low-lying countryside.

A gang of monkeys hang around the outside the temple waiting for tourists to feed them. Unintentionally I had some bananas and threw one to a monkey who perfectly caught it from above ten metres above me and had it peeled and eaten in about five seconds. I had to then make a quick escape as more monkeys began gathering around me after spotting the bananas. Not wanting to get attacked by a group of monkeys for a few bananas I made a quick escape.

rice fields

Hampi is definitely a special place. The local people are extremely friendly and although this is a popular tourist destination it is also a very shanti place; especially over the other side of the river I was soon to discover. I heard from the local people and from travellers since that the Indian government wants to relocate the small town away from the temples as a way to preserve them. The local people and travelling community are not happy about this. My impression of Hampi is that it is functioning quite well the way it is, it is a small town and seems able to sustain itself and does not detract or harm the temples surrounding. 

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The town of Hampi was once a fort, which was able to stop the Muslim invasion from the north, the reason why majority of the southern temples have been preserved. The population of Hampi used to be over one million but now functions like a small town with the main industry being tourism and rice.

There is a boat that is constantly the river that you can take to the other side for 10 rupees one way. Building a small bridge I guess would take this profitable business away from the locals. The other side of the river is very peaceful and quiet with mostly travellers. There is only one main street next to the lush, green rice patties surrounded by the enormous boulders and mountains. There is also excellent bouldering in Hampi and many people hire mats and climb in the morning and evening when it is cooler.

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view

There are rumours of crocodiles in the rivers and big cats and tigers in the jungle around Hampi; I’m still unsure on the validity of this however I think it is pretty safe where there are villages close by. The sweet lake is a great place to swim and feel refreshed from the heat. There is a bridge just a few metres height that you can safely jump from, float under the bridge and climb up the rocks on the other side.

buffalo

My first day on the other side of the river I rented a bicycle, thinking it would be better for me to get some exercise rather than to get a motorbike. Half way to the lake I was exhausted. The bike was too big for me, heavy, no gears and many hills; walking would have been a better option. The next day I got myself a bike. Half way I was stopped by a Greek man on a motorbike who offered to give me a lift the rest of the way. I was very appreciative of this and only had to then ride home halfway.  

lake

The Hanaman or monkey temple is about five kilometres out of town and best to visit in the cooler times of the day, mainly due to the 1000 plus steps to climb to get to the top. It was around 3pm when I was there and still very hot. The view from the top is amazing and you get a really good view of Hampi. There are many monkeys here, all well fed and know exactly how to interact with tourists. I swear the monkeys pose when they are being photographed as they know they are going to get fed bananas by many of the people.

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The monkeys are people-watching

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Many people gathered up there to play music and watch the sunset. A group of Indian children take hot chai and cold drinks to sell at sunset after school each day. They are very skilled in their business talk, first befriending you finding out your name, then asking you to buy chai before putting on the hard sell making you feel guilty if you don’t purchase one. I bought a few chai’s but the children obviously love sugar and the tea was way too sweet. One day I took up my hula hoop and poi and the children put down their chai’s to play. It was so good to see them laughing and having fun and not thinking about making money for awhile.  

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Walking up the hill to sell chai

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view

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temple

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sunset

After a week in Hampi it was time to take the bus back to Gokarna and Kudle beach and most of our group went separate ways, apart from my friend from Russia. I could count on him to came with me back as we had left most of our belongings behind in Gokarna. 

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