When Megha and I reached Hampi, we felt a little confused. A crowd of people surrounded us as soon as we got down of the local bus plying between Hospet and Hampi, shouting madam Guest house, madam Auto, madam Hampi tour guide. They did not let us talk, nor move. Irritated we tried walking ahead ignoring them, while they followed us.
Finally I lost my temper and shouted, will you let us talk and decide what to do? It was then that they gave us space and many left except 3, who were hell bend on sticking around us to get some business. We finally decided to look around for a home stay, asked them to show us some good options in the bazaar. We had done our research and hence were aware of the ongoing rates but thanks to the Christmas weekend, the prices had sky rocketed to 800 w/o wifi and 1400 with one. Luckily after some serious hunting, we got an economical stay option that too in a hut. We stayed at Hamsa Guest house right at the beginning of the bazaar. The place was neat and well-maintained but had a common bathroom which we thought was manageable.
After getting ready, we had to hog on food and hence we started hunting for a good restaurant in the bazaar and landed at the “Tibetan Kitchen”. It served all kind of food including English breakfast to Italian, Tibetan and Indian cuisines and was decently priced. The food was freshly made tasted good and the quantity was huge. We had ordered for 2 different things and it took us an hour to complete it.
After a wonderful lunch we spoke to the restaurant owner to figure out what to see.
We had decided to travel slowly, with no set itinerary in mind but talking to people and travellers around to figure out what is worth exploring. We started with the usual Virupaksha temple. Since it was Christmas day, the place was full of people and that turned us off. We still explored the temple, but thanks to our hippie attire, we got grim looks from people around. Many school children were there, i guess it was their school picnic, and they waved and wished us “hi”. I felt like an alien in my own country, but gradually started enjoying it.
After an hour spent at the temple clicking pictures and observing the carvings, we exited the temple asking people about other places to explore nearby. It is a little difficult to interact with people, firstly language becomes a barrier and secondly there are too many places to see. In and around Hampi there are 3 sunset points and 20 pushkaranis. Still confused where to head, we took a walk down the bus stand to Krishna Temple. We explored the temple leisurely as it was not at all crowded and then headed to view the sun set.
On the way I bought a tourist book to understand the places and plan our itinerary for the next 3 days. The Hemakuta hill, the sunset point, was secluded when we reached. We settled at one of the edges of the hill, but in some 10-15 minutes people came pouring in, talking an shouting and thus we hunted for a lonely corner and there it was. We noticed a few travellers sitting at the verge of the hill elevated by few huge rocks. We went up there and occupied the rock at the edge of hill facing the sun. Silently and peacefully, while I watched the orangish tint diminishing into oblivion, I felt it was taking a part of me along, a part that is confused and scattered by so many thoughts. We sat there, all of us, Megha, I and other fellow travellers, post the sun set as well, probably all lost in the moment.
Later at night, we explored the Hampi Bazaar. Our first day ended, but we were still not convinced of our travel to Hampi yet, we were still looking for something.
Next day, rather than explore the ruins, we went across the river. We had no clue what things we could explore there. We asked a local book seller and she told us about the temples around. We rented a bike and headed to visit the temples. On reaching Hanuman Temple and hearing about some 500 steps to climb, we bowed our head in respect from below and moved ahead.
People then guided us to Lakshmi Temple and I decided to visit it. As I climbed up the steps and sat at the last one to take off my shoes, a lady called me and told me to come up and give reverence to Shabri’s Ashram. A thought crossed my mind, did Shabri really stayed here, when I entered the area? While I was lost in my thoughts, the lady asked for “dakshina”, I gave her a confused look, took few coins out of my pocket, put it in the box and left. It was then that I realized, my Faith has moved beyond temple and rituals, my Faith is within me.
It gave me a sense of satisfaction and I told Megha that I do not wish to explore temple ahead and we took a detour to Sanapur Lake.
When we took those narrow lanes and the slope up the hill, we came across a wide stretch of wall which was leaking from a few places. On reaching the other end of the wall, I parked the bike out of curiosity and turned. And this is what I saw.
We then moved ahead, towards the lake. Contrary to the crowd we met at various temples, this lake was completely unexplored and away from the hustle and bustle of the tourists. We sat near the lake for some time, enjoying our solitude, and then decided to experience a ride of the coracle boat.
Day 2 ended with a sun set again at Hemakuta Hill. Despite of the people around, that day, I felt peaceful there. Probably because I realized how strong and genuine my faith was.
(Our experience doesn’t end here. The trip taught me many things but the post is already too long. Stay tuned for the next post and my suggestion on places to visit in and around Hampi)