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Old 12th October 2014, 10:11   #1
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Default Pune to Hampi-Badami-Pattadakal-Bangalore-Chennai

Even though I have done a lot of driving in the US and in India, I had never planned on a trip that was 1640 km long and that too in India!! I have a lot of friends who have driven much more than that, but all said and done it was exciting nevertheless.

Travellers: Laxman Iyer and Megan McCrindle
Car: Mistubishi Outlander

Monday 28th October 2013, 4:30 a.m.

We got the bags, the water, the goodies, the camera all ready the previous day and were ready to hit the road. Got everything loaded up in the car, and fired up the engine. A small prayer for the road, and off we were on our first leg of the trip. Pune, Maharashtra to Hampi Karnataka. We had three choices,

1. Drive via Pune – Solapur – Bijapur using NH 13 [ a total of 541 km]
2. Use AH 47 / NH 4 via state highway 30 [ a total of 582 k.m.]
3. Use AH47/NH4 [ a total of 597 k.m.] .
As my map would show later, we did not plan and do this right. Proper planning would have saved us a good 150-200 km to say the least. Nevertheless we enjoyed the trip.

We preferred the third option AH47/NH4 a total of 507 k.m. for our first leg of the trip. Leaving Pune that early in the morning was the best option as we reached Kolhapur around 8:30 a.m. with hardly any traffic at a steady speed of around 120 k.m. per hour. We stopped at 2 places to get breakfast but the sleepy towns on the way had no breakfast ready. We decided to detour into Kolhapur city and stopped at Hotel Raysons Regency. This hotel was a place I had stayed at a few times before and I was sure that the breakfast would be good. I was not wrong. After a few dosas, idlis and toast, we were off again on the road to Hampi. Bypassing Belgaum we reached Hubli around noon. We went though the town and found a place to have lunch. On a scale of 1-5 [5 being the best] we would rate this restaurant as a 2. Hubli has no dearth of its share of Kamaths etc, which we found out later. I was also aksed if we were there to shoot a movie. Well atleast for a few minutes we both felt like movie stars!!

The drive is extremely scenic all the way and the roads need a special mention. The NHAI [National highway Authority of India] has done a fantastic job of keeping the tarmac perfect and never was there a time when we felt that the roads were bad leave alone finding pot holes on these roads. Do keep your camera handy for the occasional scenery and also for what the road has to offer. No road trip is complete without taking pictures of the various signs behind trucks and buses and of over crowded auto-rickshaws.

The drive from Hubli to Hampi is quite an experience especially due to the scenery. There is a small stretch of road around Gadag in Karnataka which is really bad and this stretch is about 4-5 km long. Other than that the drive to Hampi is absolutely interesting.

We reached Hampi around 3:30 p.m. and checked into Padma Guest House. This place came highly recommended on Tripadvisor.

Friends please do remember that Hampi is a designated UNESCO world heritage site. This was where the famous Vijayanagara empire came into existence.

Hampi and surroundings:

1. Padma Guest House: This place is a two storied house with the host family living downstairs and about 2 rooms on the ground floor and 7 on the first floor with a roof top that’s accessible. They do serve food, but the food is not the greatest, but good enough to satiate your hunger. The rooms are not 4 star or even 5 star, they are basic with AC, bed, and a clean bathroom. You do get hot water on tap, but not in the shower. Yes they do have power backup and a wireless connection that works during day time, but in the evenings when all the guests are back it does get very slow. Padma guest house is located right in the city and almost all the sites are within walking distance. If you ever decide to stay here while in Hampi, then ensure you book the deluxe room upstairs with a view of the Virupaksha Temple. This is beautiful.
2. Virupaksha Temple: It is literally a stone throw away from the guest house. This temple apparently dates back to the 7th century and is probably the oldest monument since it existed even before the Vijayanagara empire was built. The temple Gopuram [monumental tower] is beautiful and has carvings and idols on it, and it is reminiscent to any other South Indian temple. The temple has a lot of monkeys and Lemurs too and they can become aggressive if the situation arises Lakshmi the 25 year old temple elephant is beautiful and for a mere Rupee you can get blessed by her. The temple is right off the banks of the Tungabhadra river and also has its own tank.
3. Lakshmi Narasimha Temple [ Also called Ugra Narasimha temple] : This is about 1 km away from Virupaksha temple and has the biggest idol in Hampi.
4. Other sites around Virupaksha temple. There is a hill right next to the temple and it has some old structures dating back to the 15th century. A good place to see sunrise.
5. The Tungabhadra river is also very close to the Virupaksha tempe and can be reached by walk [10 mins approximately] They have coracle rides here be ready to bargain aggressively. A ride that actually costs about Rs. 50-Rs. 100 is sold anywhere between Rs. 500 – Rs. 2000 depending on how you look, your skin color and your nationality.
6. The Vitthala temple complex: This was built in the 15th century too. This can be accessed in two ways, walk from Virupaksha temple [this is a hike and should take about 30-45 minutes and yes you have to climb steps] or via rickshaw/ mopeds or cycle. Since we were short on time, we took the rickshaw. The temple complex is spread over a few acres and has a formidable looking stone chariot and the complex itself has some magnificent pillars and structures carved out of sand stone.
7. There are also a few other sites to visit like the underground Shiva temple, the Royal elephant stables to name a few.

Hampi to Badami

The distance from Hampi to Badami is about 150 k.m. and you travel on the Solapur Mangalore highway No. 13. Even though the GPS says the travel time is 2:30 hrs. It took us a little over 4 hours to reach there. We had to slow down occasionally for Goat and sheep crossings and sometimes just to admire the beauty of the land. The local crop is millet and they place the millets on the road and expect the vehicles to drive over them, easy way to extract the millet from the pod. You will see farmers frantically waving to you to drive fast over their crops.

We reached Badami at about noon. We had booked a cottage for us @ The Heritage resort. The manager and caretaker Mr. Narayan [ Tel: 09986279725] was extremely helpul and very co-operative. The rooms were beautifully done and very clean and they offered amazing service. Mr. Narayan guided us on how to reach Badami caves which is approximately 3 km from the resort and also arranged for a rickshaw. For about Rs. 300 we were taken to visit the areas around Badami, Badami caves and also the Agasthya Lake.

Badami Caves: They are quite interesting and have been built during the Chalukya period. The Hindus, Jains and the Buddhists have influenced the caves. Every cave has it’s own architecture and is a standing ovation to the heritage of our country. The entire visit to the caves can last for 2 hours or 2 days depending on what your plan to do. We were done in about 2 hours. Be ready to climb!!

Agasthya Lake: Situated at the foothills of Badami Caves this lake is interestingly surrounded by a lot of temples and interesting a mosque too. The mosque depicts the advent of the Muslim rule in this part of the country.

Badami Fort: This is located exactly opposite to Badami caves on the other side of Agasthya Lake. The fort itself has a few structures left the rest is all in ruins. The fort gives a great view of the city and the surrounding area .

There are a lot of signs asking tourists to be aware of monkeys. We encountered a few of our primate friends there and they were just friendly. If you want to beware then beware of the two legged variety we call humans..

We were able to complete our Badami sight seeing in 1 day

Next day we left Badami and headed towards Aihole. We decided not to drive this stretch and rented a car. The drive is about 1.5 hours even though Google maps and GPS claims it to be about 45 minutes, the drive is very scenic and passes through some small villages.

Aihole: Pronounced “Ayyiole” I am unsure of how it became “AIHOLE”. Mythologically this is where Lord Parashurama washed his axe after killing the Kshatriyas. Aihole is famous for its temple complex which houses a whole bunch of temples with different styling on the same grounds.

One of the famous temples is the Durga Temple in this complex. The ground has replicas of different important temples all over India.

Pattadkal: From Aihole it is about 30 minutes. It is locally known as Pattadakallu.
This place is very similar to Aihole as far as the monuments go, the only thing here is that pretty much every important Hindu and Jain temples have been constructed here and are on display.

What is interesting is there does not seem to be any worship happening in these temples. We met a local family and were told by them that these grounds were used as an architectural college and people were trained here in various forms of architecture. This could be true, though I have not authenticated the facts.

A special mention has to be made about this little shack / restaurant opposite the ground, which is run by two women, mother-in-law / daughter-in-law. They serve some real simple food. We had Bajra Roti, some black eyed peas curry and some garlic and red chilli chutney. Post lunch Megan decided to pack ½ a kilo for herself.

We returned to our resort in Badami. What a great 4 days we had visiting some wonderful places, historic and mythological.

We stayed in Badami overnight and embarked on our road trip towards Chennai. Next stop was going to be Bangalore for a layover and then to Chennai.

We had to travel some extra distance before we were back on the highway again. We stopped at Dharwad and purchased sweets at Mishra Pedha. Also stopped at Kamats for a quick meal. We were on our way again. The drive is really nice all the way to Bangalore and one cannot miss the windmill farms as you approach Chitrdurga.

We did not enter Bangalore city and bypassed it using the NICE road, which dropped us off near Electronics city. We stayed at Sai Vishram Hotel in electronics city. This hotel is 100% vegetarian and does not even sell alcohol for that matter even soda. The food is quite good and we were impressed by the cleanliness and the service. We used the SPA at this hotel and we both got a much needed head massage. Next day post breakfast we were on the road again, but stopped in Hosur to pick up some fire works, it was the first day of Diwali.

We reached Chennai around 1:30 p.m. and had already invited friends over for dinner. After hanging a few lanterns around the house and decorating the place we were ready to share our first road trip experience together with our friends.

Now I know I can drive in India. I have already shortlisted a few places I want to drive to.
1. Pune-Leh-Ladakh.
2. Pune- Kanyakumari
3. Pune-Rann of Kutch
4. Pune to Hyderabad, coming up the weekend of Diwali. will post my report with pictures and this time I promise I will mention every detail.

This list will become exhaustive. As I write this I have done the Pune Chennai road trip twice, once in the Outlander and the next one in my Corolla!!
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Old 12th October 2014, 12:55   #2
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Default re: Pune to Hampi-Badami-Pattadakal-Bangalore-Chennai

If you need luxury around Hampi, then you should stay in Hospet. You have Royal Orchid and a couple of others.

Hampi and Badami are amazing places to visit and they need to be seen in leisure and not like a touch a go tourist spots. You also get cycles to rent in Hampi and in winter its quite a fun to roam around.
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