Another of the recommendations we had about what to visit in India was Hampi. We only had two days there, but if one wants to explore it thoroughly, probably would need several months to see this open air museum of more than 4,000 hectares of extension! Hampi is a village located in the North of the state of Karnataka and it was a capital of the Vijayanagara empire between the 14th and 16th century. It has a spectacular setting of hills with gold color rocks that mix with green plains and the beautiful blue of the Tungabhadra river. To add to the amazing landscape, there are literally thousands of ruins scattered all around that make you feel like Indiana Jones.
We join Shan and Filip, who arrived the day before, to go see the “monkey temple”. The touristic hub seems to be small—with a few hotels and restaurants of a laid-back atmosphere, but the truth is that there is much more accross the river. A tiny boat helps passengers traverse for a small fee. When we are finally there, we discover this OTHER side… People here wear dreadlocks, piercings and loose clothes. We had seen a lot of hippies in India, but I’m sure Hampi holds the national record of hippies per square meter.
We had planned to walk to the temple for sunset, but turns out it actually is quite far away and time is running short. There is no other way but to bargain with a tuc tuc driver and accept a higher price. And not only that, but we have to climb some 365437487464 steps that change our breath with sweat. The top rewards us with wonderful views though, making us probably stay for too long to have as much worth out of the stress to get there.
By the time we make it back to the river crossing, it is dark and the boat is at the other side. Except that it is not operating any more… However, there is an alternative. An illegally-operated basket-like vessel can take us for 10 times the price we payed for the real boat; they have to work in the dark and row manually to work unexposed. The other option would be to pay for a room on this side or offer our kidneys for a tuc tuc ride of several kilometers, so we finally agree and go aboard the donut. With the weight of some 7 people and some luggage, the rims of the basket touch the river surface and some water starts to get inside. Squating is the way to avoid sinking. After what seems like an eternity, we finally arrive safely at the other side. That sunset was one of the most expensive ones, lol.
Next day is ruin day. The weather is scorchingly hot so the best option is to rent a bike. After trying all the available ones at the shop to choose the least messed up ones, we depart with Filip and Shan for adventure, skin covered in a good layer of sunscreen. Filip and his phone guide us through a path along the river to go explore one of the many areas to visit. There are so many ruins with small carvings, sculptures and details; remains of ancient temples, palaces, houses, baths… And everything is for ourselves as the heat is not inviting. This is something we didn’t expect and we enjoy it thoroughly. It must have been spectacular in its glorious days.