The overnight train to Hospete – the junction stop for Hampi – was Noah’s first experience of Indian Railways so I thought First AC was the only way to go. Not exactly glamorous but perfectly acceptable.
As we left Bangalore after 10pm our compartment was already in bunk format, with the bedding pack laid out on each bunk, so we busily made up our beds as the train left the station.
Once the officious uniformed Indian Railways inspector – and his clearly long-suffering minion – had come to check our tickets (our E-Tickets! Printed out on line from t’intynet! Not even in the UK is this possible!) we snuggled down for a 7 hour overnight journey.
On arrival at Hospete we’d planned to take the bus to Hampi, but were persuaded into a very reasonable auto-rickshaw ride instead by the charming Kofi in his chariot ‘BARTIE’:
This turned out to be a good idea, as by the time we saw the other backpackers we’d spotted at the station wearily trudging into Hampi we had already checked in at the clean but basic Rocky guest house and were tucking into a splendid breakfast at The Mango Tree. Speaking of backpackers, we’d opted to stay on the south ‘bazaar’ side of the river, which is less of a backpacker ghetto than the north side but with better access to the main ruins which were the point of visiting in the first place.
Handily, we’d done a deal with Kofi so his brother Venki squired us around in Bartie for the next two days between the different UNESCO World Heritage sites:
Noah in front of the Virupaksha temple – 2 minutes walk from our guest house, and a still-functioning temple dating back in parts to the 11th century although the tower is 14th century:
Noah checking out the Queen’s Baths:
Restored stepped tank or well – the water infrastructure of the ancient city was impressive:
Assorted impressive ruins:
Lotus palace and stables for elephants (of course!)
The rather splendid Narasimha and some entitled idiot with a 3D camera.
The bazaar / market-place of the ancient city:
Temple elephant going for it’s morning ablutions.
You can pay this small child to carry you to the north bank (backpacker ghetto) in his coracle. We politely declined.
Apart from the temples, Hampi is mostly about rocks balanced improbably on top of other rocks, because geology:
Indiana Noah and the Temple of many angry monkeys:
Shiva temple with excellent views across the very green valley:
How the rocks were split to make temple-building materials:
Did we want to walk up to the monkey-infested Hanuman temple – 534 steps in 28 degree heat and 85% humidity? That would be a no:
At this point our driver wisely realised that we were more likely to be interested in engineering than religion and offered to take us to see the Tungabhadra Dam:
On the way we passed through some beautiful lush countryside and several busy villages – travelling by auto-rickshaw is definitely the way to see the world!
Also since my last trip to India there has been a noticeable increase in the public toilet facilities, with these popping up all over the place. The topic has been something of a political football in certain parts of the country of late, but in both Bangalore and Hampi/Hospete there were many public loos such as these in evidence. I can’t comment on the maintenance of them but I imagine it’s an improvement on some of the truck-stop nightmares of my early travelling days…
The dam had some rather nice gardens nearby as well as less charming attractions in the form of a gloomy aquarium, a muddy, melancholy ‘deer park’ and a somewhat overpopulated rabbit….something.
The walk back to the car park where we met up with our driver was lined with motivational quotations, or something approximating same:
All too soon it was the end of day 2 and time for Venki to drop us off at Hospete Jn station for our train back to Bangalore. Clearly he had done this run before as – given that we were slightly early – he dropped us at a hotel that was clearly the ‘purveyor of cold beers to hot sweaty foreigners’ go to spot.
Return journey in 2-tier AC:
Brought back fond memories of the epic 52-hours Delhi to Trivandrum in 3-tier non-AC that Tamsin, Charlie and I enjoyed/endured in 1996!