Last year I visited Hampi by myself, impressed by its boulders and monuments I took along 8 other backpackers this year. Our trip in short! Complete set of photos can be found here. This year we are heading to Hampi this Diwali, check out the details here
It is half past ten in the night when we set out of Bobby’s, the moonlight guiding the way. We are on the dirt track that leads to the boulder lined hillocks, frequented by climbers from all over. We reach the base of the hill and lie down on the hard, cold granitic surface. Not many words are exchanged, there’s only one thing weighing in on our minds – the last night in Hampi. After spending the past few days living like locals, it dawns upon us that after all we are only travellers to this region. A tinge of sadness overcomes us as we watch the bright moon cast its white glow all around us, around then grey clouds march in from the east. This seems like monsoon all over again, the clouds engulf the shining satellite leaving behind only a pale halo over our heads. We wait for it eagerly to appear and it does, after a while only to be covered again by a thin wisp of a cloud that resembles a veil that doesn’t hide everything but that doesn’t reveal too much either. The moon appears elsewhere now and it seems that it is in motion, we feel the earth’s rotation a bit more clearly now and we are tripping on the magic of Hampi without smoking anything. A fruit bat makes its way and we wonder if owls would also fly overhead.
We find ourselves fondly reminiscing about the past few days, since the time nine travellers set out to visit this magical land. From the bus ride between Bombay and Hospet to the boat ride to Virupapur Gadde – the Hampi island. The strenuous cycle ride to Sanapur, the refreshing dip afterwards, the lunch at 4pm at Jambhovan (with no sight of bears) and the scramble up the 563 steps of Anjanadri hill to watch the setting sun cast a glow on the erstwhile Vanara kingdom – Kishkinda, a langoor tugging at our bag, watching a pair of Indian Mongoose walk past unmindful of us, the cycle walk on the winding roads under the night sky and the reassuring ginger lemon honey served with love by chef Ashok of the Oh La La Cafe. The early morning runs, the yoga sessions, the birding sessions and heavy but healthy breakfasts, the walks by the Tungabhadra, the rides on the coracle that stops at temples and carvings ignored by guidebooks and blogs, tales of nautch girls and car festivals, the erotic imagery on the walls of Vitthala and the music emanating from its pillars, collectively pausing to photograph the Hoopoe and combining lunch and dinner to dunch at the Mango tree now at an ordinary location in Hampi bazaar, missing the ferry and enjoying the coracle under the moonlight, sharing the silence as waters of Tungabhadra glistened under the moon, more soup, laughter, dumb charades, strange happenings by the river bank and the silence of the night.
The moped rides across the ruins, experiencing the grandeur of the kings, imagining Tenali raman sharing his pearls of wisdom and solving life’s greatest mysteries as Krishnadevaraya (with the smallpox mark distinct on his face)looks appreciatively, the wars and invasion, the Kanishka expedition, the dance festivals, the bustling bazaars, the pushkarnis with women bathing – now left alone, ravaged by the invaders, ignored by the rest and now slowly being restored, enjoying the silence amidst the ruins, the successful hunt for hot bondas and another climb up Matanga hill to catch the sunset, exchanging notes with other travellers, watching the moon rise over Achyutaraya temple and another coracle ride under the moon, ginger lemon honey followed by steaming momos and soup and the walk under the moonlight.
It isn’t cold that night, maybe the cloud cover is to be blamed. We continue to lie down and stay captivated by the moon that reflects the radiance of the sun but still holds its charm over us. Our final day in Hampi dawns and there is no hint of the sun. It is gloomy, overcast and exactly like our many monsoon treks. Incidentally, we are going bouldering. We try our hands on the huge rocks, small crimps to support us, to test the strength of our muscles and mind, a crash pad to break our fall and a thunderous applause to encourage us, we scramble and we tumble, but eventually make it to the top of a few boulders, the light breeze is our reward and our sweaty brows cool down a bit, a malkoha peeps through a bush while a mongoose ambles about. Sooner, a thunder fills the air as our mopeds, scooters and a Bullet ride away to the lake, where it all began. Some of us choose to float away on the coracle while others ride away to Anegondi, one of us climbs Matanga and each one of us has their own story to tell, all this while there’s a light drizzle, bags are packed, keys returned and as the sun moves westwards, our tumtum roars on the new station road, the last tumbler of filter coffee at Shanbhag follows and a Volvo bus ambles near the Hospet court to take us back home. Just like the lingering taste of strong filter coffee, the flavour of Hampi, the magic of Kishkinda, the grandeur of Vijayanagara will continue to linger on our mind.