Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Top 9 Things To Do In Hampi

Hampi has a carefree soul. It’s a place where ‘doing nothing’ and simply absorbing the local atmosphere comes naturally. However, there are a lot of things to see and do in Hampi, which you should not miss if you ever make it there.

My first day in Hampi was pretty average. I didn’t do anything to speak of. To be honest, I thought Hampi wasn’t as great as it’s made out to be. But, that was just an impression, which was far from the truth. When I allowed my curiosity to shake hands with Hampi’s essence, I discovered a place that just keeps getting more and more enchanting.

So, here’s a mini guide to Hampi -

Let the majestic ruins of Hampi beguile you.

There is something about the ruins of Hampi that it’s hard not be impressed. The fact that they are 700-800 years old makes them even more fascinating. There is a sense of stillness and a feeling of awe when you walk amidst them.


Do a bit of temple hopping.

Hampi is a haven of ancient temples. I paid a visit to a few prominent ones – Vittala temple, Virupaksha Temple and Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy temple. What I liked the most about these temple complexes that they are not mere temples, but they have their own characteristic ambiances.


Soak up the nonchalant spirit of Hampi’s countryside on a bicycle.

Most tourists prefer motorbikes over bicycles for exploring Hampi. The former is available for INR 200, while the latter can be hired for only INR 50 for the entire day. The joy of bicycling through the rustic countryside of Hampi is something else.


Embrace the laid-back vibe of Anegundi Village.     

Anegundi Village is only 6-7 kilometres from Hampi. It’s known to be even older than Hampi, which makes it more interesting. It looks clean and well-organised. Since I went there in the afternoon, I could feel its relaxed and ‘do-nothing’ atmosphere.


Check out Anegundi’s handmade products shop and meet Meera.

As you take a round of Anegundi homes, you will find a handmade products shop by the name of Anegundi Bananafibre Craft showroom, which is run by Tikav Handicraft women artisans Anegundi group.


While I was snapping a few pictures of the women engaged in knitting, Meera, the lady who supervised the shop, entered the room and inquired politely about my photography. She was just curious to know what I would do with the pictures. She was happy to learn that I was a travel blogger. Then she told me a bit about her that she’s originally from Belgium and was Michelle before being Meera. She migrated to India 30 years ago and never went back. She lived in an Ashram and seemed to be quite content with her life in Hampi.

Bathe in the sunset and sunrise hues.

Although I could manage to see only one sunrise out of the four mornings that I spent in Hampi, sunsets were easily the highlight of my trip. Fortunately, I got to enjoy sunsets right from where I stayed - Shanthi Guest House. There is a river near the guest house, in which you can see the beautiful reflection of the setting sun. However, the best sunset is witnessed from Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy temple. See more photos here.


Enjoy noshing at multi-cuisine restaurants.

I did not eat any local speciality of Hampi, because I was too preoccupied with the exotic food choices available. I enjoyed eating at Shanthi, where I stayed. Also, I had a sumptuous breakfast at Goutami Restaurant, which had a nice German bakery too.


Besides all the good food that I gorged on, I also had a ‘food disaster’ while I was returning from Anegundi village – there’s a small coconut water stall right opposite Hanuman Temple (you need to climb 500 steps to reach the temple). The man who runs the stall apparently stops tourists to have coconut water and pursues them to have lunch at his stall. I was one of the tourists who got duped by his sweet smile and hospitality. You know what he served? Plain rice with Kurkure, watery curd and something that merely looked like a veggie - It was the weirdest food I had ever eaten in my life!

Watch the day go by at Tungabhadra River.

The funniest part of my stay in Hampi was taking a ferry and paying 10 bucks every time I wanted to cross the river. Apparently, they don’t want to build a bridge in order to preserve the heritage of Hampi. Anyway, it’s fun to see the life at the river – women washing laundry, people chilling out, kids chirping around and the usual buzz through the day.


Wander aimlessly and discover the quirky corners of Hampi.

Hampi has a lot of quirky elements – colourful shops, old doors, ‘hello’ crazy locals (every local says ‘hello’ to every tourist) and the bathing elephants. It’s like the more you walk the more you get to unveil Hampi’s charming uniqueness. Strolling along the array of shops, guest houses and restaurants across the river is a good way to savour the 'hippie' vibe of Hampi.


How to reach Hampi: Hampi is 13 km from Hospet Railway Station. The auto guy charges INR 200 to drop you till Hampi.

Where to stay in Hampi: The guest houses across Tungabhadra River are nice. I stayed at Shanthi Guest House that cost me INR 3000 for 3 nights.

Does Hampi sound like a place you’d like to visit?

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Friday, 12 December 2014

I Witnessed The Best Sunset Of My Life…

…from Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy temple in Hampi. It was the end of my trip in Hampi and I was heading to Hospet train station when I thought about stopping by somewhere to catch the sunset. Many thanks to my auto guy who took me to this beautiful ancient temple from where I could see the best of Hampi.


To say that I was mesmerised would be stating the obvious. I was overwhelmed to see the waning sun bathe the entire panorama with its poignant hues, and on the other side, the benignity of the full moon waited to enchant us.

Although I am happy with my photographs, they are not even close to what I saw with my eyes. Well, I am still SO excited to share the pictures with you –


Where was your best sunset so far?

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Being ‘Solo’ In Hampi

I had read somewhere that Hampi was one of the ideal destinations for solo travel. So, when I went there I was pretty confident that I would be comfortable exploring it on my own. And, as I began my trip, I did feel that everything was rolling smoothly. I’d say it was even better than my previous solo travels.

Solo in Hampi
  
I often get asked about solo travel that ‘how to do it’ and ‘where to go’. After travelling solo to so many places – Rajasthan, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Mumbai, Matheran and now Hampi, I have only one thing to say that solo travel is as normal as travelling with a companion. In fact, travelling alone has so many pluses. The only flipside of it is that there is nobody to click your pictures. You have to ask strangers to do the favour, which is okay as long as they are good photographers.

Strangers turn your photographers

Hampi is a fabulous place for solo travellers. As far as female solo travellers are concerned, being cautious is the basic rule to follow in any part of the world. Yes, Hampi is pretty safe. I didn’t feel any kind of anxiety anywhere. The locals are respectful. It seems they enjoy the fact that Hampi receives so many tourists, especially foreign.

However, I wouldn’t say that a woman travelling alone should be too carefree. Hampi has many deserted places across the Tungabhadra River. You can wander wherever you want, but always look around and try to comprehend your surroundings. It’s basically a quiet and peaceful place, where you can relax and do your own thing. So, enjoy the laidback atmosphere. But, while you walk alone, make sure to look back and see who’s coming behind you. I think that’s something you would do in your hometown also. 

On my way to Anegundi village

I bicycled my way to Anegundi village, which I would say was one of the highlights of my trip. It was definitely fun with a dash of adventure here and there. A couple of local men, riding on a bike, said a mischievous Hi baby to me and touched my bicycle as they passed by. It was a bit of a nuisance, but I guess they were harmless.  

Also, I lost my way while returning to my guest house. Thanks to a buffalo shepherd, who had sensed that I had come beyond the familiar area and thus, guided me to go a kilometre back to get to my guest house. At first, I doubted his intentions and refused to believe him. In a little while, another local guy also stopped by to confirm that I was going the wrong way. That’s when I called up my guest house manager to get the real picture of where I was. By the time I realised my mistake, the shepherd had left. I couldn’t thank him for saving me from a bigger trouble.    

Shanthi Guest House
    
I stayed at Shanthi Guest House. I’d say that it’s quite a nice accommodation for solo travellers. The manager and the staff are helpful and polite. Being a female solo traveller, I didn’t feel any kind of discomfort. The best part was that even the fellow guests at the guest house were nice. I believe a girl or a woman should never stay at a place just because it’s cheap. You never know what kind of people are staying there! It’s always better to pay a little more and stay safe.

Meeting Sana at Shanthi Guest House

My solo stay at Shanthi Guest House got even better when I met some lovely fellow travellers - I bumped into Sana, a tour guide from Mumbai, who led a group of foreign tourists. While I was amazed to see a girl conduct tours, she was pleased to know that I travelled alone and blogged about it. We formed a mutual admiration society.

Foreigners embracing Indian culture

Sana’s guests were zesty and friendly too. They belonged to different parts of the world – Australia, Scotland, England, Germany and Russia. I had a wonderful time with them as I joined them for dinner (at Sana’s behest). The most fun part was that they all got dressed in traditional Indian clothes to experience Indian culture.

By the time my trip was about to end, I had a faint urge to stay a little while longer. Hampi grows on you. Now when I am back, I can say that it’s indeed an ideal place for solo travellers.

Have you been to Hampi alone? What was your experience like?

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Friday, 5 December 2014

Glimpses Of Hampi – A Photo Essay

Hampi is a place for photographers. However, I’d like to admit that I didn’t find its landscapes and boulders any different from what I saw on the Hyderabad-Bangalore highway. Of course, the ancient ruins and the gentle Tungabhadra River do impress. But, it’s still a kind of place that grows on you. I’d say that Hampi demands slow travel. There is no need to tick off anything. Just wander on your own and discover the little spells of magic hidden away in the secret corners.

So, here comes the first set of pictures from Hampi -

The temples


The countryside


The river


The sunrise


The sunset


The moonlight


Did you enjoy the first glimpse of Hampi?

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