Wanderlust in The Land of Ruins
Have you ever been very burdened with work or studies, meeting deadlines, and feeling bored out of your mind? Great, I've got company! Well, I held onto this feeling and impulsively texted a friend I'd never met before to plan a 3-day trip to Hampi. Crazy? Hold on to that thought!
After what seemed like a never-ending week and a busy day, we made it. Finally, we were at Platform No 8, catching up on each other's lives. The feeling of leaving our routine behind to explore everything that we had planned was exciting. More so, when it involves full-fledged research packed into a spreadsheet!
At 10 pm, we boarded ‘The Hampi Express’ took pictures, and warmed up to our co-passengers. Our most awaited train journey began with the feeling of how when we wake up, it will be in a place we have never been to before, people we have never met, and all of the adventures about to happen were sinking in.
At least, that's what we thought. In the next 60 seconds, the air suddenly felt thicker as we realized that we had boarded "The Ajmer Express" which was taking us away from our destination at a great speed in the opposite direction. It all came crashing down on us as we were trying to stay calm to find a way out. Our co-passengers were our saviors who found us a passenger train that we could board in the next stop to reach Hospet as we earlier intended to. As we waited for the next stop, we couldn't help but laugh at ourselves for the mess we had gotten into.
It was around 11:15 pm, we were stranded in a railway station without a single soul in sight except for the shop vendors. As we stood on the skywalk overlooking the railway station in Tumkur holding tickets to the passenger train, I said, “Such a beautiful full moon, I know we messed up but I guess it’s worth the view, eh?” and we admired it for a few seconds to only realize that it was a street light and we were losing it. We were supposed to be sleeping cozily, 2 hours into our memorable train journey but we were about to board a train with no idea about when we were going to reach.
In the next few minutes, our crowded train arrived with no place to sit. We managed to find a place after hours and tried staying up the entire night to get a hold of the nightmare happening around us. It was a dreadful night, to say the least, and we survived it somehow.
The view of the sunrise never felt so fresh, it meant we were going to reach soon.
Have you ever wondered how 'soon' is a relative term? Hundreds of people got in and out of the train and it seemed as if we were never going to reach but random strangers kept our hope alive. Villages, towns, and cities passed by and we finally stepped foot on the platform in Hospet Railway station after a 15-hour train journey, the first one ever for both of us.
We took an auto to Hotel Malligi, a luxury hotel in the city of Hospet that we had booked a week ago. We checked in, ate to our heart's content, and slept like sloths. We had a lot planned but we decided to go for a swim, chill in the hotel and call it a day. An adventurous one at that!
A beautiful morning with a delicious breakfast overlooking the swimming pool is indeed a great way to start the day. We checked out to begin our second-day exploring Anegundi.
We called up our hostel manager there and he guided us to take a local bus on its way to Gangavathi, a small town as it is cheaper and the property overlooks the main road anyway. We were a little skeptical because of the adventures we had already but the best way to experience a city is by traveling locally. So we thoroughly enquired, boarded, took pictures, and enjoyed feeling like a local away from home. Local shops, school kids in uniforms giggling, busy streets warming up to the sun, beautiful rice paddies, and scenic boulder views on both sides.
We couldn’t get enough of it, or so we thought. After a few mins, the bus conductor informed us that this is indeed a bus to Gangavathi but it takes a different route to get there. Obviously, not the one we wanted. C’mon, you’ve been with me on this journey till now, you thought it would work out for us? I admire your optimism though!
Without a single idea of when the next bus will be arriving, we got down in a random village. Kids gathered up as they were surprised to see tourists.
They were curious about everything. The way we spoke, our attires, accent, and our gadgets.
We spoke to them for hours and they waited with us for our bus which never showed. After what seemed like an eternity, a very sweet lady arranged an auto for us and we reached our hostel finally.
We checked into our hostel, rented a two-wheeler, and left for the Sanapur Lake. The water was minimal due to summer and it was very hot but I had the privilege to watch my friend sketch the picturesque view of the lake and the famous boulders.
We left for Hippie Island sometime later. It is usually reached by a coracle boat but we decided to take the roadways which are probably not the most ideal way but the road less taken did lead us to these beautiful rice paddies. We parked our vehicle on the side and walked over to what seemed like our own heaven. We were supposed to be at the Anjaneya temple for the sunset as it is a must-visit place. It has a beautiful view indeed but we both implicitly agreed that we were going to enjoy the view looking at the rice paddy fields swaying with the cool breeze listening to soulful music.
In these brief moments, you realize that the best travel experiences sometimes are not about the must-visit places. Travel is not usually what we plan and it’s the uncertainty which makes it amazing. It was one of the best evenings of my life.
We left after a while to The Laughing Buddha café in Hippie Island, one of the oldest cafes and had the best meal overlooking the coracle boat, the lake, and the temple.
It is wise to head back before 7 pm if you aren’t staying in Hippie Island as it isn’t safe. Adding to your earlier optimism, our Google Maps stopped working and it was quite an adventure given how there is only one petrol bunk available in the entire area. We reached safely before a Leopard could spot us! Yep, Leopards are rumored to frequent these roads after dark! Later, We had dinner at our hostel and sat on the lawn stargazing, thinking of the beautiful day we had and being grateful for rice paddy fields. Slowly, the second day was over before we knew it.
The final day was here and the realization that we had to head back home was onto us in its silent way. We weighed in our options and decided it is better to book an auto for the sightseeing of Old Hampi. We bid goodbye to our hostel and got lost in the views of the Anegundi.
The Old Hampi tour we had booked in an auto-rickshaw is a convenient way to explore Hampi as they have a list of temples to show us and will wait for us with our baggage as well. The only concern of ours was that we wanted to add something to their list. The Matanga Hills, beautiful hills overlooking the Virupaksha Temple and the Tungabhadra river is a sight to dwell in. We negotiated a fair deal and was very excited to be there for sunset and so our Old Hampi tour began.
The Vijaya Vittala Temple and the very famous Stone Chariot is where we spent most of our time. The Dravidian architecture is one to get lost in and it takes you back in time to think about the Vijayanagara Empire and its grandeur. The musical pillars of the Ranga Mantapa and the Stone Chariot attract tourists around the world and the intricate architecture is noteworthy.
We then headed to the Archaeological Museum, the famous Queen’s bath, the Hazara Rama temple, explored the ruins of the Royal Enclosure which once housed 45 buildings including the durbar halls, underground chambers, etc with the help of a local guide.
It was around 5 pm now and we decided to head to the Matanga Hills, a must-visit place for sunsets. It has been quite some time now without a plot twist, right? Here you go! Our auto driver suddenly decided to inform us that he never intended to take us to the Matanga Hills after all. He told us that it is very unsafe for girls and he wouldn’t be responsible if something were to happen to us and we shouldn’t dare to visit it despite paying him extra for it. Let’s admit it, nothing in this trip has happened as per our schedule and we weren’t about to give up on this beautiful place now. We told him we wanted to go there regardless and it was one of the best decisions we made. We felt like little daredevils in our world as we stepped out to trek the hill. It was an easy trek and the view was priceless. We met a bunch of like-minded travelers, shared a beautiful sunset overlooking the Virupaksha temple, talked about our travel stories, and made new friends.
Later, we visited the famous Virupaksha Temple and had dinner at the authentic Mango Tree Restaurant, a lively place with delicious food. We left Hampi with a bunch of memories!
We started this journey with a spreadsheet on our phones and came back with tons of travel stories to tell everyone. Sure, there are more beautiful places to visit, things to do and explore than what we did but this trip will surely go down the memory lane as one of the best.
I still make spreadsheets and research a place before I travel to get an idea but I let travel happen to me.
And oh yes, we boarded the right bus back to Bangalore!
This was a descriptive experience of the beauty of spontaneous, wonderful travel, some of our favorite kinds of experiences. If you would like to read more blogs like this, do visit Travelrope and check out some descriptive adventures taking place in Leh, Uttarakhand, Kedarkantha, etc. - they document some of the most fun experiences ever. If you liked this post, you should also read some blogs by the Solo Backpacker, who documents his adventures and travels across India, backpacking alone!
One great blog we've also been loving is The Bum Who Travels - he has written some amazing pieces on India's valleys and heart-stopping places in the Northeast that he very beautifully documents. Also check out Everything Candid, who has written many pieces covering beautiful destinations in India and other countries as well as some cool road trip journeys!
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