Hampi: Paradise for the adventurer

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 Rahul Das 0 Comments


The ruins at Hampi

Rock climbing, cycling, trekking, swimming, boating and camping. We’ve all had numerous opportunities to try them out, haven’t we? Now picture yourself trying out ALL these activities at a single location. And no, the site I’m referring to isn't one of those pseudo-adventure resorts. What I'm talking about is doing all this amidst the deserted ruins of a three hundred year old empire!

Well, that’s Hampi for you, capital of the Vijayanagar empire and also another of India's 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


At the Vittala Temple

The three of us were in our final semester at NITK and were running out of time to visit the one place we hadn't explored until then. One evening, we promptly made up our minds to skip a few classes in order to acquire a four day break to visit Hampi. Here's sharing our experience with you.



OUR ITINERARY


Day 1 – Thursday, March 12:
00:00 to 05:00 – Train from Surathkal to Madgaon
07:00 to 15:00 – Train from Madgaon to Hospet (where we passed by Dudhsagar again!)
15:00 – Auto from Hospet to Hampi

Day 2 – Friday, March 13:
Exploring the site and visiting the ruins

Day 3: Saturday, March 14:
08:00 to 15:00 – Kamalapur and Virupapur Gadde
16:00 to 20:00 – Train from Hospet to Hubli
23:00 – Train from Hubli to Madgaon

Day 4: Sunday, March 15
06:00 - Arrival at Madgaon
07:00 to 12:00 – Train from Madgaon to Surathkal



THE EXPERIENCE


1. Arrival at Hampi


Ruins by the Tungabhadra

On arriving at Hampi, the auto driver who had brought us from Hospet Junction dropped us at a shack next to the Tunghabhadra. Without further ado, we rented bicycles and spent the evening riding around the town. The site was deserted sans a few foreign tourists. The broken stone temples, the humongous boulders, the green banana plantations and of course, the mighty Tungabhadra flowing through the town gave it a magical feel that I had never quite felt in any place that I had been to. Although only ten kilometres separated Hospet and Hampi, it all felt like we were in a different world altogether!

At dusk, we visited the market and had an amazing dinner at our shack, after which we walked to the river and sat at the broken stone monuments by the river.

2. Exploring the ruins


An elephant bathing in the Tungabhadra

I was reminded of my solo adventure to Kurnool while the three of us swam in the Tunghabhadra the next day at dawn. We spent the day riding, walking, trekking and climbing boulders to capture the feel of the town the best way possible. After lunch inside the Virupaksha temple, we were, a few hours later, offered a traditional meal by a few villagers. 


Entrance to the Virupaksha temple

The road where the Emperor’s grand processions were held, the market where diamonds were sold even on the streets, the temples that were some of the grandest in the country - the prosperous town of Hampi was pillaged and razed to the ground by the Deccan sultantates after the Battle of Talikota in 1565. It seemed incredible to us that all that was left of the grandeur and pomp of the Empire was rocks and boulders that meant nothing today. It was a way of being taught that nothing really is permanent in our world.

3. Camping amidst the ruins


After another satisfying dinner, we decided to check out from our shack. After waiting for the town to go to sleep, we walked discreetly to the ruins near Hemakuta and waited for the perfect opportunity to give the security guards the slip. We sneaked up the boulders, searched for a safe spot and pitched our tent. And thus, we had illegally camped amidst the ruins of the ancient empire!

What a night!

4. Kamalapur

The locals we had spoken to the previous night suggested that we visit Kamalapur, a locality situated ten kilometres from the ruins at Hampi. It was our last day at Hampi, and taking into account all the final year farewells and events we had lined up back in NITK, this was going to be the last of all those adventurous trips the three of us had gone on together. We spent the morning riding through the barren parts of the ruins near Kamalapur before heading back to Hampi town.

Temple pond near Kamalapur


5. Virupapur Gadde - the other side of the river

We went on a boat that took us to the other side of the river and found an exciting hippies' restaurant. With the view of the river, the psychedelic pictures on the walls and the tasty food to eat, lunch was an interesting affair.




6. Return


The train from Hospet to Madgaon wasn’t available on Saturdays and this meant that we had to take a train to Hubli followed by another to Madgaon. We could have avoided the trouble of taking three trains simply by going on the direct bus from Hampi to Mangalore, but where was the fun in that?

Exhausted after all those sleepless nights in Hampi, we were back at NITK on Sunday afternoon.


TIPS


 Commuting: Like Pondicherry, Hampi is best experienced on bicycles. Rent one the moment you arrive at the town.

 Stay: With plenty of shacks in Hampi, you shouldn’t have a problem looking for a place to stay. However, understand that these shacks lack the comforts that hotels provide. Make do with what’s available.

 Food: Cheap and delicious. What more could you ask for?


I've seen a lot of travel bloggers raving about Hampi on various forums on the internet and it isn't very difficult to see why they do so. Ironically, despite it being one of the best places that can be visited from NITK, I know of only a handful of people from college who've been to Hampi. A pity, to be honest - something that needs to change. There's something about the ruins and the history associated with Hampi that lets you lose yourself completely in it. Couple that with how it brings out the adventurous side in you and you'll find that Hampi truly is an adventurer's paradise.