Hampi! A place where every rock, every stone, every nook-corner-turn-lane has a story to tell.
I have been wanting to visit this one place ever since Hirak had uploaded photos. It took me two years and two cancelled plans to finally be there.
Considering you are not the I-cannot-move-my-bum-without-flights type, Hampi can be visited from Bangalore by either train or road. The timings for both are quite the same. I wanted to take train and so we did (and also, it's a cheap bet). We took the Hampi express on a Friday night when Bellandur to RT Nagar was covered between 5:30-8:40 :D
So we had to say bye bye to dinner plans with A. Packed our dinner and immediately took another cab to the mighty Yeshwantpur and reached just in time for the train. Now Yeshwantpur, even though is the main station of Bangalore, the crowd is nowhere similar to Howrah ( the racist in me rises). There were strange looking men and loud aunties. N, who was taking her first train ever, that too, sleeper, looked like she would start crying any moment. The train was not late but since it was late in the night, I missed the flavour of chai-chai-chai, or maybe, Bangalore is weird like that. The train finally started to feel like the trains I have taken all my life during summer and winter vacations, early in the morning when there was wind, less people and yes, chai-chai-chai.
We reached a little later than scheduled to Hospet. Now, when you reach Hospet the autowala-s would come and ask random rates, depending on the season. If you're very tired, bargain a little and set off. If you're not tired, take the Govt bus right outside the station (rates are 14rs to Hampi and 17 to Kamlapur). Nomatter what you take, on the way to hotel, you will see the small town and the life there. If you like it, be sure that you'll love your stay. If you don't like it, be sure you will not like anything anymore about your trip.
We stayed at Hotel Mayura which is managed by Karnataka State Govt. It's probably the best that you can get here and I strongly recommend the hotel. The restaurant inside the hotel serves good food and the uncle who servers will come tell tales and listen to your order with rapt attention and serve you with a lot of love.
Now about the town trip, if you're staying at Kamlapur, auto is your best bet. The bike hiring happens only at Hampi so if you're planning to opt for it, make sure you plan accordingly (maybe stop over at Hampi, which is approx 4km from Kamlapur, and get your bike). Renting own car is a loss if you're not traveling to Hampi in zoom car because the rates are vague. We took auto for half day tour, mostly because for both half and full day tour, the number of places are exactly the same. One more suggestion here, if you are a lover of history, make sure you get a guide. Hampi will not make any sense to you if each of the bricks don't tell it's tale. However, if you are not a history fanatic and are visiting Hampi just for a new experience and generic knowledge, don't even think of getting a guide, your driver himself is enough, plus the boards which will be everywhere.
From where the queen took bath to where the king had his meetings, stone door, secret chamber, Hampi amazed me. Especially because it was the closest place to Dongargarh that I will ever see. Our day ended at the Virupaksha temple where the elephant blessing scene nomatter how gross, was quite fun. The the rains finally spoilt our sunset view but sitting there, inside the dark old temple, with incessant rains, I actually felt goosebumps. I had never felt history so closely. The town is impossibly empty in the night and don't be surprised to see a Scorpio out of nowhere every now and then on the road. I saw a million stars after a very long time that night and could not stop comparing Hampi with Dongargarh over and over again.
Next day of laze and late was mostly about the stone Chariot which is the Hampi USP. There is a battery car service from this temple gate to the temple entrance which is driven by only ladies! Inside, getting a correct shot is a difficult task for the sheer amount of people who visit the Stone Chariot. We got ours anyway! Very close to it is the Tungabhadra river. All my plans of diving into the river went down the drains when the boatman near the shore announced that due to crocodiles and snakes, they have set bombs inside the river so that the ferry service continues without much difficulty. Huh! So now, if you cannot and do not take the ferry for crossing the Tungabhadra, the next option is the new bridge is is spectacularly beeeeeautiful but, 25kms extra. After doing all this you reach the opposite side to a village like every other village, a pond which is hyped for no reason and a hanuman temple with 500steps which we could not take since we ran out of time.
The ride from here till the Tungabhadra dam is almost one and half hour, with vast green lands, hills afar, blue grey sky, golden to orange sunlight and gush of fresh winds. This ride was one of my favorite moments of this year, minus the constant news of India's score in the finals over phone.
Tungabhadra dam is nice but
hyped, the light and sound show beside the dam is okay-ish where they tried to do something similar to Brindavan gardens.
Finally we left for Hospet. Dinner was this hotshot star restaurant dhaba which surprised me with 90rs beer! Anyway, the performance of India on the giant screen did not let most people eat much. We packed our food and started off for Hell-ore. N was not scared this time and soon it was a Monday morning at Yeshwantpur-a and the same 3hour drive back. But Hampi, you beauty :')