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Old 21st November 2012, 23:26   #1
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Post Travelogue: Bangalore-Hospet (Hampi)-Badami-Pattadakkal-Aihole-Hospet

To start with a few disclaimers out of the way ...
  • As my status indicates I am a newbie on TBHP. Iíve been thinking of posting an intro but have not got around to that yet. I hope that this travelogue will, in a way, be the first steps towards that intent.
  • This is my very first log of any kind on any platform and hence may be laden with naivety.
  • Iíve travelled a fair bit myself over the years but I donít intend any of my log to sound like expert speak. I do acknowledge that several of you in this forum are KMs ahead of me in that.
  • Iíve not managed to figure out a way to keep detailed time logs and hence have only start and end times as accurate. Intermediate times are close approximations.
  • I also realize that my log may be more of a documentary than a story :-)
I start marking out potential holiday slots on the calendar as soon as the holiday calendar is announced at work. We have 8 mandatory and 2 optional holidays. So the exercise is essentially to pick the optional holidays that allow maximum holiday time to save earned leaves for more vacations. For 2012, I had marked out Diwali for a long-ish outing utilizing both my optionals but later amended that by using one optional for a Singapore trip with extended family. For lack of research and falling prey to assumptions, I had always thought Hampi to be a very long drive and kept putting that trip off. Only recently did I wake up to the fact that it is only about 6 - 8 hours drive time away. With this, and also knowing that November is more agreeable weather wise, we fixed Hampi as our destination for Diwali holidays. Iíve a group of friends who normally plan trips together with us and one other couple jumped in right away for the trip to Hampi. My wife was just plain excited and the other couple had undying conviction in my planning ability effectively placing the entire burden of planning and logistics on me.

I used TBHP extensively for research on everything Hampi - routes, places to stay, things to do, where to eat etc. After deliberations, I decided on the following:
  • Onward: NH4 - SH19 - Bellary bypass - NH63. After combing through TBHP, I figured this suited me best because i) though NH13 appears to be ok as per some recent posts, there would still be a high density of mining truck traffic. Also, there have been frequent mentions of traffic jam near Hospet due to construction work, railway crossing etc. I also do have a preference for good state highways.
  • Stay: Royal Orchid. To my expectation on comfort, that was the best choice. I checked with Vijayshree resorts but decided against it when they mentioned that I canít enjoy an evening tipple even in the privacy of my room. Also, I was a bit skeptical about the heavy Rajastani theme for 3 days of our stay.
  • Return: NH63 - Bellary bypass - NH63 - Ananthpur through Uravakonda/ Kuderu - NH7. My friend expressed a desire to be back home for Diwali lunch with his Mom and daughter and I thought NH7 probably offered me the best chance to make good on time. Also, I hadnít driven that section on NH7 before.
  • I had a pet intent of doing Badami - Pattadakkal - Aihole as well if possible
My motto at work is ďIt is something I do to earn money needed for my next vacationĒ. Doesnít mean I slack at work though, just in case you get the wrong idea :-) I normally feel the excitement building up a couple of weeks before the trip and I get into a loop of satisfying the craving through internet which only fuels up the craving even more. My wife would often keep asking for details, quiz me on preparations and repeat this almost every day. In any case it is all good for us.

So finally it was the day before the trip, Nov 9. We now have an almost automated packing routine which doesnít take much time overall but we spread it through the day. We slept earlier than usual without compromising much on our social side of Friday evenings.

On Nov 10, we were up by 3 AM. Well, that is too early I know and Iíve a tough time explaining to anyone why we need an hour and a half to get ready in the morning. So we went through the routine and was ready to leave by 4:30 after a hot tea (a key component in our routine). We loaded the car and got on the road by 4:45 towards R T Nagar to pick up my friend and his wife. Though much aware, I find it always incredible to see the amount of chaos on road at these times. Every one is maniacal and turns into a vehe-wolf or some such monster. Anyway we made our way staying calm and out of trouble reaching my friendís place by 5:15. They insisted on coffee and being early morning we gladly obliged. By 5:45 we loaded up their luggage and hit the road. First stop was Shell before Mekhri circle where the attendant took his own sweet time after a sweet ďnamaskaraĒ. Iíve been training myself to curb my obsession about time and not have any ETA planned at all. So I didnít mind the sweet delay at Shell.

We had to work our way through traffic till hitting the elevated road to Tumkur at Yeshwantpur after which we could kick the pace up a bit. Roads were still not clear enough to clip and we were still staying sedate. But I do have the Calvin syndrome - Everyone who are driving faster than you are maniacs and everyone slower than you are jerks. So staying sedate, there were quite a few maniacs on the road rushing toward their own destinations. The Tumkur toll was unexpectedly crowded. Iíve figured out my formula for toll booths (when all lanes are more or less equally crowded) - Look for the one with more trucks/ buses (typically the left lanes). There will be lesser transactions and when each vehicle moves you gain more in terms of distance. However, it was not to be this day. There was a big scramble and rush towards the left lane and after some hair pulling and nail biting moments we cleared after about 15 minutes or so. The roads opened up after this and soon the earlier maniacs started looking like jerks :-) We made a scheduled break fast stop at Kamath Upachar in Sira at around 7:30. It was not the most intuitive access from our side of the highway, i.e. if you donít want to take short cuts. But we seemed to have timed our stop perfectly since no sooner than we ordered, 3 buses made their stops and the place just exploded in chaos. We were back on the road by around 8 towards Hiriyur. The road was good but the frequent detours do slow you down a bit. I remembered from the forum that you need to take service road at Hiriyur to make the right turn to SH19 but I didnít recollect the exact nature of this exit (the service road exit is a fair distance away just before the yellow railing signifying start of town limits). Consequently I missed the exist and had to drive a couple of KMs up to make the U turn and head back to make the turn to SH19. SH19 was absolute pleasure. Near empty roads, flanked by sunflowers in bloom, changing terrains, not many speed breakers (as was probably the case before as reported in other posts), a few herds of cattle/ goats to wade through but overall extremely enjoyable and relaxing. We stopped for a couple of photo ops and but otherwise kept going. Taking the right turn at Obalupuram onto Bellary bypass is well marked and fairly straight forward. The bypass road is in good condition. But things change dramatically once you turn towards Hospet on NH63. Road is patchy at best and broken frequently with pits, holes, bumps, breakers and what not. Throw in a few local buses, Sumos and maniacal mine Lorries to the mix and you get a sense of fun on this road. The density as such is not high but since the breaks in speed happen so frequently it looks dense all the way. The mine lorries show clearly who is the boss in bad patches and speed breakers by going offroad at breakneck speed. They often morph between maniacs and jerks. This continues close to 25 KM from Hospet after which the road surface becomes smooth again. Overall I didnít mind the ~40 KM of this bad stretch. Finally we hit Hospet, crawl through the narrow and busy streets to reach the hotel at 12:15. We checked in, dumped luggage in our rooms and headed straight for lunch. We oiled our joints with a pint of carlsberg and had a tasty a la carte lunch. The plan was to rest for some time after lunch, meet at the lobby by 4 and head to Hampi for our first stop.

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The room was chilled and no fiddling helped to set the AC at a more reasonable temperature. So we had to alternately switch it on and off. We called a technician to help, but besides explaining some obvious basic electrical funda to us he couldnít do much. I noticed that he gave some nice sweet pats to the AC unit to coax it to work and help his pride, but not to much avail. So this ensured that we didnít fall into deep slumber and were up and ready by 4 as planned.

We checked with our Hotel concierge about what we could potentially do in Hampi that evening. They suggested, sort of automatically, to go to the Tungabhadra dam. Well, so much for a straight answer. We decided to do our first stop at Virupaksha temple. The road to Hampi was average - narrow, some stretches had work going on leaving no shoulder on one side, and fairly dense traffic. We probably ended up taking a left before the main entrance to Hampi but the road was good to drive on. We passed the Ganesas and were greeted by the parking attendant and a bunch of guides. We paid for parking, refused the guides and went ahead to the Virupaksha parking lot. Some kids started following us while we were parking trying to sell CDs, books etc. We politely refused and walked on. I had to soon turn back and get something from the car and was stunned to see some deep fresh scratches made near the right rear wheel arch. I was cheesed off but couldnít do anything without knowing who the culprit was. We complained to a policeman hanging around near by. He heard us, assured to check and promptly buzzed off on his bike. My energies flagged a bit due to this but didnít stay down too long. We did our tour of Virupaksha temple which was not very crowded and spent some time on the Hemakuta hill. Overall we spent a couple of hours there and then decided to head back and rest for the day. We spent some time in the room chatting and sipping beverages before heading for dinner.

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The next day we met for breakfast at 7, so of course we were up by 5:30. After a heavy breakfast we started towards Hampi by 7:45. We decided to stop first at the Vittala temple to try and beat the crowds. The plan worked beautifully and we were the first to park. An enterprising guide accosted us and we quite generously took his offer up. He took us through various attractions in Vittala temple complex and finished in about a couple of hours. He wanted to accompany us through the rest of our trip which we didnít entertain. After thanking him and feeling quite thirsty we left Vittala temple. The parking lot was much more crowded by this time. We decided to drive through and stop at various attractions that came by. We stopped at the Octagonal tank, Queens bath, Walled ruins, Hazar Rama, Royal enclosure and the underground Siva temple. I was a bit frustrated that tripods were not allowed anywhere at all. I was told by the morning guide that it is not allowed inside Virupaksha and VIttala temples but allowed elsewhere. Well with bright sun glaring down one may question the need for tripods, but I had some elaborate plans which were quashed. It was not unbearably hot, but with all the walking and dehydration we were tired by the time we were done with the royal enclosure. We headed straight to the highly recommended Mango Tree for lunch. The location was great and we got a great place to sit. Food was good by Hampi standards but average otherwise (I may be calling out Emperorís new clothes here given the love for Mango Tree by many). But by the time we were done, the place was unbelievably crowded. We then proceeded to the Krishna temple, Bazaar, Sasivekalu Ganesha, Kadlekalu Ganesha and a few more monuments before heading to the museum at Kamalapura. After the museum we wanted to drive up to the domed entrance, got lost and recovered, drove past Pattabhirama temple, drove through some fields to something that looked like the domed gateway and then headed back to the hotel. We were back at Royal Orchid by around 5:30 PM. We spent rest of our evening resting followed by the usual chat, beverages and dinner. We also realized that we got a good flavor of Hampi by now and decided to cover Badami, Pattadakkal and Aihole the next morning.

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We started the next morning with breakfast at 7 and hit the road by 7:30. We decided to cover Badami first since that was a must do for all and I thought it would be good to cover any bad stretches of road on our way up and enjoy the smooth four lane drive back from Aihole. We took the NH13 - Kushtagi - Gajendragarh - Badami route. The road was excellent till Kushtagi, good till Gajendragarh and patchy after that all the way until about 10 KM from Badami. The caves were spectacular and views from the caves of Agastyathirtha even more so. Again, being early, we enjoyed the place in relative quiet. We decided to drive to the Bhoothnath temple, and the security there gave directions - Get on the main road, turn right and turn right again at a circle ahead. We got onto the main road and turned right but after that was transported straight out to another universe. It was the market day and the main road was not drivable with crowds, lots of vehicles of all kinds and cattle. There was no circle or any right in sight to take and after several tense moments, had to make a U turn and head back to the caves for another attempt at getting directions. A local kid accosted us and offered to take us by foot. He took us through some inside routes in between houses, by the ghats and some narrow by lanes to reach the other side of the lake. The Bhoothnath temples at the end of the lake were nice but quite desolate. The kid did a decent job of taking us around there, covered the museum on the way back and after an hour dropped us back at the parking lot. We gave him a bit more than he asked for and decided to head out to lunch. My fellow tourists were not keen on driving through the main road market again but unfortunately Badami court was on that side of town. As we were driving to Badami court, I saw the Heritage resort and recollected some comments on TBHP about this being relatively new and good for vegetarians. We stopped there and had a decent Veg thali before heading to Pattadakkal. Pattadakkal was 20 KM from here but it took us 45 minutes as the roads were very patchy and a pain to drive on. The Pattadakkal temple complex is exquisitely maintained with finely manicured lawns and a high degree of cleanliness. We roamed around covering all monuments there and rested a bit before heading out to Aihole which was 16 KM from Pattadakkal. The road was much better to Aihole. Reached Aihole in about 20 minutes and decided to cover only the main monuments - Durga temple and Ladakkan. As we parked a lady selling mosaru accosted us. We were instructed before to tell that weíll come back as a avoidance tactic and not have them scratch the car. This taught us another lesson as the lady was waiting and reminded us of our earlier promise forcing us to buy at least one pot of mosaru from her. My wife sportingly consumed a pot of mosaru and gave her a big wave and also the money! From Aihole we left by 4 PM and went north to hit SH20 and drove east to Hungud to take NH13 back to Hospet. SH20 was very smooth and NH13 an absolute delight. Well, the only catch on NH13 is increased instances of all kinds of vehicles coming against you the wrong side on the divided 4 lane highway. No amount of cursing could solve the problem, so we kept a look out for these morons and made our way back in good time. We were in Hospet by 5:30 and stopped by Hotel Siddhartha for south Indian coffee and snacks. Just after we took our seat and placed our order, large groups of foreign tourists started coming in all ordering Masala Dose in their interesting accents. The whole place smelt and felt quite different after that. Anyway we finished our snack and hit Royal Orchid which was less than a KM down the same road. Our usual routine continued and we closed the day with dinner.

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Next norning we were ready for breakfast by 7 on the dot and by 7:45 we were rolling. I was very much tempted to try alternate routes through Kamalapura to Bellary (we had checked with a few locals when we visited the museum but their response was not conclusive). But I finally decided to stick to the known devil and brave NH63 to Bellary. However, it didnít seem so painful on the way back and we covered Bellary via the bypass in about an hour and half. There seemed to be a road to Uravakonda from Bellary bypass avoiding NH63 but upon enquiry found that a bridge was broken and hence cannot be taken. But NH63 turned out to be just fine as well. It was smooth and had only reasonable traffic. About 10 KM at the start of the SH (not sure of the number) to Uravakonda is patchy and becomes smooth once you get close to Andhra boder. It was a very nice, scenic drive and we hit Ananthpur by 11 AM. We plugged on, stopping for coffee and rest room stops on the way reaching on time for lunch in R T Nagar with my friendís family at 1:15 PM. We had a nice lunch and at about 3 PM decided to head back before the Diwali festivities choked up roads and reached home at about 4 to mark the end of another great trip.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 09:49   #2
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Default re: Travelogue: Bangalore-Hospet (Hampi)-Badami-Pattadakkal-Aihole-Hospet

Nice photos & great travelogue.. Congratulations on your first post..
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Old 22nd November 2012, 16:04   #3
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore-Hospet (Hampi)-Badami-Pattadakkal-Aihole-Hospet

Thats a nice travelogue penned by you. Great snaps as well, now I am planning to visit Hampi soon.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 16:19   #4
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore-Hospet (Hampi)-Badami-Pattadakkal-Aihole-Hospet


Great photographs. Loved the sunflowers. Congrats on your first tlogue. Keep travelling and posting here!


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