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Old 8th July 2020, 01:55   #1
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Default Frozen in time: A drive to magical Hampi

Many apologies for a delayed post. This is a travelogue I had started writing almost a year back, but could never manage to complete and post it on the forum due to a tremendous workload. Today, I finally decided to finish it and share with the community. Hope you like it!

Everyday as I walk out the apartment gate, I can feel the curious eyes of the parked Nexon following me in anticipation of a long drive. And day after day since February 2019, I avoid its gaze and scamper out to the waiting Uber. As I set off for work, somewhere deep down, I long for an end to the workweek and imagine a pleasant drive somewhere far far away. Away from things digital, away from the unrelenting pace of this maximum city, from the excel sheets and presentations, from the maddening traffic, from the pursuit of the superficial. And then there is that occasional reminder from bae that we haven't been on a vacation since long.
By August 2019, it had been 6 months since our last long drive, when we had taken our brand new car on a 4-day trip to Goa. Understandably, all three of us were looking forward to another getaway. I always wanted to do a Konkan drive. However, as heavy rains had set in, I had to look for a drive away from the rains, somewhere east of the ghats. The only place that popped up in my head was Hampi. Even though I have stayed in Bangalore and Hyderabad over the last 5 years, that mandatory Hampi trip never happened. This looked like a good opportunity to tick that off. My wife and I applied for a 2-day leave for the end of August 2019, and booked a highly-rated but very affordable homestay on booking.com. I read up on the route details and the layout of the place. But there was bad news to come.
By the end of the 2nd week of August, news of flooding in Hampi was coming in, and our plans would have to be put on hold. On the 28th, I was not sure of the drive, as the monsoon would just not give in. I could not find recent updates on the situation in Hampi. On the 29th, I called up the homestay, who informed that the water had receded, but the hippie island was closed. That was okay for us, and we decided to go ahead. After a really tiring day, I slept off, unsure of when we would start the next morning. I wanted a good sleep before the drive.

Finally, we set off at 7:15 AM from Navi Mumbai, on an overcast Friday morning, with thunderstorm forecast. Not exactly my idea of a pleasant start. Sunny would have worked better, just saying. Traffic was light, and we touched the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway by 7:45. As the day brightened up, roads got better, and with great music on, the realization that we were finally on our way on that overdue vacation had just begun to sink in. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway tarmac looked inviting, with lush hills as the backdrop. My wife started taking snaps on her smartphone (I forgot my DSLR at home )

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We had a brief stop at the HP Petrol Pump on the expressway, to fill up the tank and have a quick bite. After a 30 min stop, we set off. Google Maps showed 13 hrs to Hampi. The car was steady as always. We crossed the ghats, and entered Pune by 11. It was drizzling till about 30 mins after Pune. The weather was cool but thankfully there was no more rain. The road was smooth and we covered good distances over the next 5-6 hours. After Belgaum, the road narrowed into a 2-lane one with no divider. I had to be careful for quite some time till we exited that stretch. On reaching Hubli, we may have missed a turn. We entered a small town in search of NH67 which we joined in about 15 minutes.
The NH looked wide, newly constructed and with very minimal traffic. I felt elated. It was 6 PM. However, over the next 15 minutes, I had to slow down 3-4 times as the highway was still incomplete in patches, and there were diversions every 2-3 kms. It was getting dark and there were no street lamps. It looked like a difficult journey ahead for the remaining 150 kms.
I drove carefully for the next 3 hours and finally made it to Hospet. The iron ore covered roads indicated lot of trucking activity and there was indeed some heavy traffic for a few kms. By 10 pm, we entered Hampi and followed the map to reach a small hamlet where we had booked a homestay. It was a quiet little place with a friendly family who welcomed us, fed us home cooked dinner. Looking forward to the next day, I checked upon my white beast and went to sleep.

The next morning, we woke up at 8, and heard birds chirping in the nearby trees. I went to the terrace and looked around. It was a welcome sight to see greenery, interspersed with barren rock all around as far as the eyes could see. No traffic noise. No polluted air. A light cool breeze. No rains thankfully. I had the flood situation at the back of my mind. But what a morning it turned out to be! Our hosts were really caring. The food was amazing! We set off after a filling home-cooked breakfast.

The Virupaksha temple compound was about 2 kms from our stay. We drove there while avoiding a couple of really persistent guides. They were charging upwards of 1500 for a basic tour of some monuments. But we wanted to explore on our own and did not want company. We parked near the temple compound behind the bus and auto stand started our tour from the Hemakuta hill complex. I will let the photographs do the talking for some time. All the sites are within short driving distances from each other. In fact we saw tourists on bicycles too. Kindly excuse the picture quality and the lack of wide angle shots. I rued not taking the DSLR to this gem of a place.

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Yours truly trying to be cool
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As we walked amongst these silent monuments, it felt like we had travelled back in time. I could at least imagine how stunning this place would have looked in the age of the Vijaynagara empire.

Elephant Stables
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Mahanavami Dibba
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We were stunned at the grandeur. The weather was nice. Tourists were a few in number. Hence, we did not have to rush. We soaked in these remnants of time. We were in awe.

We reached the Vithala complex entry point at 2pm, booked two seats on the electric buggy and jumped on the last seat facing backwards. The buggy set off on the dirt road. And like an IMAX camera pulling out of a scene, exposing a progressively wider shot, I began to see the wide road emerge into my field of vision under the clear blue sky, bounded by the raised market pavillion on both sides. It was almost a 3-4 min and a kilometre long shot. The sight of the grand arena knocked my socks off. You got to see it to believe it. In hindsight, the rear facing seat provided the dramatic experience that I may not have felt if facing forward. I do not know if I have been able to word my experience out well. You must take the rear facing seat on the buggy when you visit this place. I felt like Christopher Nolan behind an IMAX camera and wished I could capture that shot. Here are some pictures of the complex. I was so stunned that I forgot to take any photographs

This complex houses the famous chariot. No, I am not going to mention the currency note. No I will not.

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We spent almost an hour here. The artistry is stunning. This was the most crowded of all places in Hampi. Yet, it's worth it. Thankfully, the weather couldn't have been better - cloud cover with a cool breeze.

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Once we had soaked in enough of history, we headed back to the Virupaksha temple compound and had lunch at a small shack just opposite the bus stand. Nice food accompanied by Bob Marley songs.

At about 5 pm, we started our climb to the top of Matanga Hill to see the sunset. It was a short but somewhat difficult climb. On top it was windy, cool and peaceful. From the top, I could see a huge temple complex on the East side down below. It looked majestic. I would go back to the hotel and look it up. I had to go there. How could I have missed it! Anyways, here are some shots from the top.

My chariot among the ruins
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The hidden temple complex as seen from the top. Isn't it inviting?
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Virupaksha temple complex from Matanga Hill
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We came down by 7 PM, and went in to one of the restaurants to relax for the rest of the evening with some good food. By about 11, we went back to our homestay and tucked in for the night. I was all the while trying to figure out what is the temple complex I could see from the top. Next morning, I woke up early and googled up the sightseeing list at Hampi. At the end of one, I found the mention of a huge complex called the Achutaraya Temple. But the map did not show any way to drive down there. I had to find a way!

We set off at 7AM towards the base of the Matanga Hill and found a sign saying "Achutaraya Temple" through a flight of steps beside the hill. There we also found the Monolithic Bull. However, after going up the stairs, it seemed like a never ending walk upwards. It tired us out. We aborted and came back. We planned to make an attempt again in the afternoon. We had breakfast at a shack by the river and went to visit the Virupaksha temple.

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Virupaksha Temple
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At about 3PM, after lunch, we decided to go around the hillock near the Monolithic bull to the river. And lo and behold, found another signage marking the way to "Achutarya Temple". This had to be the easier way to the treasure! I was excited. Bae also shared my excitement and eagerly followed me as I darted towards the treasure. After 5 mins, we reached the entrance to the grand marketplace leading to the temple. It looked like Sanjay Leela Bhansali had left his set back after shooting one of his epics!
But, wait. Whaaaaat!
Is that the Parthenon?? Yeah it is the Parthenon from Greece! Ain't it? Here, take a look and tell me if it isn't

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After having basked in the golden light of the afternoon sun and admiring the beauty of the structure for 30 minutes, we started off to the massive open area to the right and approached the Achutaraya temple.

The approach to the Achutaraya temple
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I was in a dream! Two beautiful structures right in front of me. And no tourists to spoil my moment with history. It was the perfect backdrop for some photographs. We spent the next two hours just wandering in these picture perfect remains of a lost world. We saw only 2 people there. I wonder why it is not popular. Well, let it be hidden only for the curious to find. It was the most beautiful two hours, experiencing the splendour of the Viajaynagara empire. It was the perfect end to a wonderful trip.

The next morning, we started on our drive back home. We set off early, at 5:30 AM, planning to make it home by 8 PM. This time, we planned to take the route via Vijaypura in order to avoid the incomplete NH 67. The road was beautiful. Traffic was light eary in the morning. It was a confortable drive. On the way, we spotted huge windfarms and sunflower fields. This trip continued to surprise us. We stopped many times to enjoy the landscape.

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We made a 1-hour stop at Vijaynagara to see the Gol Gumbaz. I never believed that whispers could be audible from across a huge hall. I thought it was exaggerated. But, boy was I wrong! My wife and I had the funniest of conversations, in whispers, sitting about 35m apart!

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We set off on the final leg towards home at 12pm. We followed Google maps and took one of the state highways. It was empty but had to drive slowly till we joined the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway before Pune. In the next 2 hours, we reached Panvel. It started raining heavily. Traffic was moving slowly, and it took 1 hour to reach Vashi. We finally made it home by 9:30 PM. The rains had washed off the dirt and grime on the car and it looked bright and shiny again. A lot of effort saved after a long drive! It was indeed a wonderful trip.

There, I did it
My first travelogue for the community. I missed narrating my 2015 solo ride from Bengaluru to Asansol. I had to share the Hampi trip no matter what.
Thank you for reading!
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Old 8th July 2020, 03:35   #2
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Default Re: Frozen in time: A drive to magical Hampi

Note from Support: Thanks for sharing. Please check out the Assembly Line section next time, where you can edit your Travelogue at convenience.
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Old 9th July 2020, 09:44   #3
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Default Re: Frozen in time: A drive to magical Hampi

I have always wanted to visit Hampi. In fact, 2 years back, I had planned the first long drive in my then new car (Tiago), which sadly had to be cancelled due to work commitments and the lack of sufficient time.

Also, I felt that a one night stay at Hampi would be too tiring for my parents as you have to walk quite a bit to view all the sights.

Hopefully, I can think of driving down after the Covid-19 pandemic dies off.

Thank you for sharing the travelogue Anirban001.
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Old 9th July 2020, 10:48   #4
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Default Re: Frozen in time: A drive to magical Hampi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anirban001 View Post
I can feel the curious eyes of the parked Nexon following me in anticipation of a long drive.

Thanks a lot Anirban for your wonderful travelogue. Brought back my own fond memories of our trip from Bangalore to Hampi a few years back. Looking at your pics made me a bit jealous, as when we visited the places, it was swarming with tourists and could not take one good pic without people for these monuments. I will surely plan again once things are better.

This one line above defines a true roadie. Other people will think we are crazy but that look is something only we will know

Last edited by swarnava.ch : 9th July 2020 at 10:49. Reason: Spelling correction
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Old 9th July 2020, 11:14   #5
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Default Re: Frozen in time: A drive to magical Hampi

Thanks for the nice travelogue about Hampi in your Nexon. You must be lucky to have visited the remnants of Vijayanagar Empire on a cloudy day with fewer visitors. Every time I visit Hampi, the heat was unbearable and the crowd was unmanageable. But I missed the GolGumbaz , Bijapur. The world's largest medieval cannon Mallik-E-Maidan and the whispering galleries of GolGumbaz, I thought couldn't be covered in one day along with Hampi.
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Old 9th July 2020, 13:49   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TusharK View Post

Also, I felt that a one night stay at Hampi would be too tiring for my parents as you have to walk quite a bit to view all the sights.

We stayed 3 nights actually, including the night we reached Hampi. Sorry if it was not clear in my writeup. You will need 2 full days to comfortably visit all places.
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Old 9th July 2020, 13:56   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swarnava.ch View Post
Looking at your pics made me a bit jealous, as when we visited the places, it was swarming with tourists and could not take one good pic without people for these monuments.
We were just plain lucky! We took a risk going there just after the floods. I guess people were wary of the situation, and hence did not turn up that weekend.
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Old 9th July 2020, 14:44   #8
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Hampi is a gorgeous place to visit. Within hampi, instead of the car, you could have opted for the rented cycles! Tiring, but an amazing way to explore hampi at your own sweet pace.
Lovely travelogue. Would have loved to see the pictures of the nexon more too.
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Old 9th July 2020, 16:34   #9
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Beautifully written with such lovely pictures. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Wish you had put in a few more thousand words equivalent of pics. Reading your story makes me itch to leave everything aside and hit the road.

Thank you for the treat and wish you many more such drool-worthy trips. Wish you all the best.
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Old 9th July 2020, 16:42   #10
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Really nice and crisp travelogue! Bought back really fond memories.
We had been there 3-4 years back and it was an impromptu decision as our Spiti plan got cancelled due to problems at Panchkula and we were dying to go on a road trip.

I know that pictures don't do justice to this place. The whole vibe of Hampi is something that can only be experienced. We stayed for 2 nights and enjoyed both the hippie side and the ruins side.

Did you visit the underground Shiva temple ruin, which houses bats now?
And the Hanuman temple, which requires you to climb some 450 stairs?

We drove to Hampi from Mumbai and used the local guide for 1 day when we visited the ruins. He had his own rickshaw.

Sharing some pictures from our trip.
Frozen in time: A drive to magical Hampi-hampi1.jpg

Frozen in time: A drive to magical Hampi-hampi2.jpg

View from the Hanuman temple I mentioned.
Frozen in time: A drive to magical Hampi-hampi3.jpg
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Old 10th July 2020, 09:29   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anirban001 View Post
Everyday as I walk out the apartment gate, I can feel the curious eyes of the parked Nexon following me in anticipation of a long drive.
I have a Nexon that looks like yours. And I have been longing for a getaway too. I had planned a Hampi drive this year. That it won't happen is a mathematical certainty thanks to the pandemic. I'm so glad you did your trip last year. We could get to read about the experience & view the pictures (Yes I tend to forget my SLR on key outings too!) thanks to you. At least we visited Hampi in 2020 virtually thanks to you. Stay safe!
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Old 10th July 2020, 10:39   #12
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Lovely write up and pictures. It reminded me of my own trip to Hampi in December from Bbay / Pune. I instead rode to Bbay the day before and left for Hampi from Pune as early as 4.45 am or so. Lovely roads and yes - some pretty bad roads as well unfortunately.

Please do share the details of your homestay as well for future travelers. Its hard to find nice places in Hampi and I am sure it will be of use to potential travelers.

PS: Coincidentally, the friend I rode with has just booked himself an EV Nexon.

Last edited by Axe77 : 10th July 2020 at 10:40.
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Old 11th July 2020, 21:13   #13
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Thanks for the travelogue!
Its been exactly one year that I visited Hampi, your post brought back those memories!
Its a archeological wonder indeed. A little imagination further, one can feel the Royal days of the place. Sad that we had to call them 'ruins'.

Loved your description of the market place on the battery caddy! It sure is a new perspective!

Great catch of the Achutaraya temple! The two images (view of the temple from the top of the Matanga hill :: the view of hill from the temple!) complement each other very well!

In our trip, we hiked down from the Matanga hill towards Achutaraya temple and walked to the Vittala temple. Ditto like you, the whole 30mins route was devoid of any humans! (We even found a small clue of a bear's presence on the way!).

I sure am waiting for a second visit!
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