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Old 9th November 2022, 13:17   #1
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Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Joys of Solo Drive



I love traveling with my family and my friends (and we do plenty of such drives together, some of which are already documented on this forum). However, I love solo drives too. Solo drives offer the most intense driving experience, when the driver and the car are alone on the road, tackling whatever good or bad conditions they face, taking real-time decisions on the go, as they feel right. There are no additional constraints and there are no additional pressures. Just pure driving joy.

Not just while driving, but even while exploring places on foot, solo travels allow one to let their imagination drive the plan, and visit locations they fancy, at their own pace, and explore the world as they like it. It is a totally different thrill that I love to experience every once in a while.

Therefore, when recently my wife was away on a business trip and I was alone, the only plan I had in my mind was to do a quick solo drive somewhere. There was no second thought, and no plan B.


Why Hampi, Again?



This was not my first trip to Hampi. On the contrary, this was my sixth trip to Hampi in last six years. That place is just magical and it lures me every now and then, in different seasons and in different conditions. It was not just the famous ruins and the monuments that were the attraction (which I have anyways visited multiple times in the past). But beyond these sites, just the general landscapes of Hampi are a lot more charming for me. I love the vast open lands, filled with boulders and rocks and trees and green fields, and those landscapes entice me more than anything else there.

But beyond all, mother nature has bestowed Hampi with some magical sunsets and sunrises, and those landscapes of Hampi offer some of the most beautiful views of the sun during these times. I was precisely after this single goal this time - to view the magic of sunrises and sunsets in Hampi, and if possible, try to capture them in my camera. This was indeed a single point agenda I had in this drive.

The winter months are the best months of the year to see these sunsets and sunrises in their full glory. Even the temperatures in Hampi (which can soar to unbearable levels in summers), are relatively pleasant this time of the year, and the clear skies offer some great views of the sun. November is one of the best months to visit Hampi, and this was also a critical factor in me deciding on Hampi as the destination for this November drive.

As it turned out, I was indeed lucky with my timing, and I got to see some of the most memorable sunrise and sunset views. I loved every moment of being there and chasing the sun and walking around on the hills searching for the best views.

The sunset I saw in Hampi:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_44372.jpg


My inanimate (but not soulless, for sure) partner in this solo drive was my beloved Red BMW 320d. She is not only my driving partner, but when required, she doubles as a subject for me to practice my car photography hobby. What more can I ask for?

My beloved driving machine, posing for me in Hampi:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_43452-2.jpg


This drive gave me plenty of opportunities to practice my hobby of photography as well. I spent a good amount of time behind my camera, trying to capture the vivid scenes of the magical land of Hampi. Since photography was a major part of this drive (at least in my mind), I decided to keep a separate post just to share a few photos.

Therefore, this travelogue is divided into two sections below:
  1. The post below will describe some of the travel details, a few car photos, and some information about the locations I visited. Please feel free to skip this if you are not interested in some of these mundane details.
  2. Then the post after that is dedicated only to show some of the photographs that I would like to share. Please feel free to jump to this section if you would just like to see just the photographs without the other details.

Last edited by Dr.AD : 9th November 2022 at 21:29.
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Old 9th November 2022, 15:31   #2
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

The Drive and the Locations



Bangalore to Hampi is a short and fast drive. Well developed, almost state-of-the-art highways (six-lane till Chitradurga and four-lane from Chitradurga to Hospet) with some smooth tarmac makes for a breezy drive. I reached Hampi in no time, well before I actually intended to reach.

Since there was still plenty of time left in the day, and sunset looked like a distant thing yet (it was barely 10am when I reached Hampi), I decided to explore the underrated attraction in Hampi, the lovely rural roads. The roads going around from Hampi towards Sanapur Lake are really nice rural and rustic roads with great scenery all around. These roads offer smooth tarmac, fantastic views of the boulders and green paddy fields all around, and even offer some corners to enjoy a low-slung sedan. Perfect for my kind of aimless driving around.

Thus, to kill time as well as to enjoy my kind of aimless driving, I spent some time just driving up and down on those roads and clicking a couple of pictures in the process.

Somewhere along those rural roads:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4288.jpg



Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4294.jpg


Such green paddy fields surrounded by those rocks and boulders is a characteristic theme to the landscape in this area:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4301.jpg


When in Hampi, pose next to the Boulders:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4313.jpg


After driving around for a bit, and after realizing that it was way too hot by now for me to even step outside the car, I checked into my hotel. The hotel I had booked was the usual "Royal Orchid Central" in Hospet. Not that it is a great place by any means, but it does offer good, clean and comfortable rooms, and very importantly, spacious and secure parking. I like this hotel more for its location. To drive to the sunset and sunrise points, this hotel is relatively better located than some of the other choices (such as the Hyatt Place Hampi, which is a nice hotel for sure, but more than 30km away from the points of interest).

I booked what was called "Executive Suite", because on MakeMyTrip it was priced at just a very nominal amount more than the regular "Deluxe Rooms". This Executive Suite was quite nice. 825 sq.ft. of suite with a separate sitting area, a TV area, and a bedroom, and two bathrooms. This felt like a luxury for a solo traveler, and I did enjoy whatever little time I spent in the room (mostly in the afternoon when it was too hot outside).

Nice room, with a separate sitting area like this:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_131256.jpg


TV area:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_131404.jpg


Spacious bedroom with the views of the green fields:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_131442.jpg


And a spacious and clean, well-appointed bathroom (this was one of the two bathrooms in this Suite):
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_131608.jpg

After resting for a bit in my hotel room in the afternoon, I went out in the evening to enjoy the sunset at Hemakuta Hill, and then the next morning, very early morning, I set out to explore the sunrise views from the highest point in Hampi, the Matanga Hill (which requires some serious climbing).


Hemakuta Hill for Sunset



This is one of the most popular sunset points in Hampi, and I spent a good couple of hours walking around this hill and enjoying sunset views from multiple angles (see a couple of pictures in the next post).

One development I noticed since my last visit here (which was just last year, in August 2021), was that now they have put nice benches at the ideal spot for people to sit there and enjoy the sunset views:

The best spot in Hampi to see the sunset, now with such benches to sit on:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_165506.jpg

After spending a couple of hours in that area, I drove back to my hotel.

Even the drive after sunset was nice, with such colorful skies:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_181546.jpg


Sunrise at Matanga Hill



Matanga hill is the highest point in Hampi, and offers the most breathtaking sunrise views. Actually it offers great 360 degree views of the entire Hampi area from the top, and thus, offers both sunrise and sunset views.

The only catch is that it is not an easily accessible place. Reaching on top of Matanga Hills requires climbing more than 500 steps! And these are not simple, easy steps. These are steps built in the rocks, and sometimes the steps are really large. Sometimes, a step is just a big huge rock and one has to hold the rocks and push themselves up, just to climb one step. And sometimes, there are no steps at all and one just has to walk on slippery rocks. Overall not an easy climb for someone like me, who has an average level of fitness and no great experience or skill in climbing. Of course, if you are an experienced climber, then this may be easy for you. But not for someone like me who is usually happy being in the driver seat of the car rather than climbing rocks in the dark in the early morning hours.

What makes this Matanga hill sunrise experience even more special (and a bit adventurous) is that one has to climb this hill, through these 500 plus rocky steps, in dark, about 30 minutes before the sunrise! Climbing this hill in broad daylight is not that difficult, but climbing this in the dark is certainly a challenge. Further, even finding the right path in the dark is not easy. There are no signs (except for at a couple of places), and at a few places, the climb path has bifurcations and one can easily get lost.

There was no way I could have done this treacherous climb in the dark, alone. And more importantly, I did not even know where to park my car there in those dark early morning hours of the winter. Therefore, I called my trusted guide in Hampi, one Mr. Hanuman, who is a great guide. I hired his services for showing me the proper parking place, showing me the path and taking me up the Matanga hill in that dark early morning winter hour. And it turned out to be a great experience. Mr. Hanuman is a great guide and he not only showed me the right path, but throughout the hike kept on telling me interesting stories and information about the area, the spiritual and mythological importance of that hill, and also showed me some good photography spots. And after our sunrise expedition on the hill, also took me down a trail from the top of the hill all the way down to Tungabhadra river.

The climb was difficult and also a bit scary at a couple of locations, where there were slippery rocks and sharp cliffs on the side. However, in the end, after climbing those 500 plus rocks, getting fully exhausted on the way, and somehow making it to the top, the views from the top are so good that all the pains are forgotten in a moment. This is one of the most amazing experiences in Hampi.

Started driving at 5AM towards Matanga Hill, when it was still dark:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221106_052635.jpg


I do not have photos to show how the steps felt in the dark, but believe me, it was quite an experience. However, by no means I was alone. Turned out that the place was quite crowded, and even the climb up was crowded. In fact, there were many people trying to climb at the same time, and that made it a bit difficult.

Just to give you an idea of the crowd, here is a picture of the crowd gathered at that early morning hour, at the highest point in Hampi, having done that treacherous climb in the dark, to see the sunrise:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_48832.jpg

Although I could not take pictures of the steps in the dark, here are some photos that I clicked on my down after the sunrise, just to give you an idea about the steps.

These are some of the steps, with just large rocks to climb at places (and imagine climbing more than 500 of these steps, that too in the dark):
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221106_072718.jpg


Another picture of the steps and the views down:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221106_072732.jpg

At some places, there were no steps at all. Instead, one had to walk around a slippery rock, with sharp cliffs on one side.

Path over the rocks (some people had removed their shoes here because they felt it was easier to walk barefoot on the slippery rock). Walking through this in the dark was a bit scary for sure:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221106_073445.jpg


The "guard points" (as mentioned by my guide) on the climbing path to the hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221106_073525.jpg

Once on top of the hill, one can easily spend hours enjoying the view. I think I spent almost 2 hours on the top, enjoying the amazing 360 degree views and the cool, crisp morning air. Being there at that pleasant morning hour felt heavenly.

View of the "Achyutaraya Temple" from Matanga Hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4827.jpg


Panoramic view of the temple and the river, and of course, the boulders, from top:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_49243.jpg



Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_49212.jpg


Views of the famous monuments of Hampi, from top of the hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4948.jpg


And finally, view of the famous "Virupaksha Temple" from top of the hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_48892.jpg

Through these wandering on Hemakuta Hill the previous evening, and Matanga Hill in the early morning, I got plenty of opportunities to practice my photography hobby. I think I got a few decent shots. Please allow me to share those shots in the next post, and then wrap up this travelogue.

Last edited by Dr.AD : 9th November 2022 at 21:08.
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Old 9th November 2022, 17:58   #3
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

A Few Photographs



As I mentioned, one of my interests in this drive was photographing the beauty of the magical sunsets and sunrises in Hampi. And therefore, I would like to share some of those photos here in the final post.

Sunset Views from Hemakuta Hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_44693.jpg


Monkeys enjoying sunset too:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4420.jpg


A telephoto shot of the sunset:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_45654.jpg


A parting shot of the sunset from Hemakuta Hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4575.jpg


One of the most photographed spots in Hampi, a temple on Hemakuta Hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_165013.jpg



Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_171801.jpg


Another ancient temple at the sunset hour:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4598.jpg


Silhouette of the "Saasivekaalu Ganesha" Temple:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4613.jpg


Sunrise views over the hills of Hampi, as seen from top of Matanga Hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4724.jpg


Another shot of the sunrise:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4685.jpg


View of the sun from the steps to Matanga Hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4920.jpg


Panoramic views of the boulders and Tungabhadra river, from top of Matanga Hill:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_49002.jpg


Quintessential Hampi View. Boulders and Tungabhadra River:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_49232.jpg


From the top of Matanga Hill, I hiked down to the river, and shot this close up of Tungabhadra river:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_49593.jpg


An attempt at abstract photography:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-dsc_4978.jpg


And finally, a photo of my car posing "On the Rocks" in Hampi:
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-20221105_122417.jpg

Well, that is all folks! Thank you very much for reading!

Last edited by Dr.AD : 9th November 2022 at 21:19.
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Old 9th November 2022, 22:02   #4
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th November 2022, 22:39   #5
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Beautiful travelogue as always! I love how you take your 3 Series absolutely everywhere. If I ever need places to visit in south India, your travelogues are the best for options.

I'm loving the photography, it's genuinely top class. Coincidentally, we also stayed at the same hotel when we visited in May.

Couldn't resist sharing these pictures on the lovely rural roads mentioned.
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-img_20220602_174157.jpg
Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-img_20220602_173647.jpg

It makes me happy to see that you're thoroughly enjoying your 3 Series. It brightens up every picture it's in with its beauty. Brilliant travelogue!

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Old 10th November 2022, 08:36   #6
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Lovely lucid travelogue and some great photos AD. Seems like the drive and the climb up the hill was worth it. Love your passion and limitless energy.
Cheers!
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Old 10th November 2022, 09:09   #7
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Thank you very much for sharing the blog and for those wonderful photos.

Malyavanta Hill is another excellent location to watch sunset. It is less popular, hence less crowded.

Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!-p1030427.jpg
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Old 10th November 2022, 09:18   #8
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Beautiful photo travelogue of Hampi. Getting a post card perfect sunset shot at Hemkuta hills is a treat. I did my second trip of Hampi for this.
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Old 10th November 2022, 10:29   #9
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Nice photography! What's the condition of the road to Hampi? Bangalore to Bellary wouldn't be much of a problem on either routes(Anantpur/Tumkur) but beyond that is something I don't know. Would it be a problem for low slung sedans plying on that route? Curious.
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Old 10th November 2022, 11:41   #10
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GForceEnjoyer View Post
Beautiful travelogue as always! I love how you take your 3 Series absolutely everywhere. If I ever need places to visit in south India, your travelogues are the best for options.

It makes me happy to see that you're thoroughly enjoying your 3 Series. It brightens up every picture it's in with its beauty. Brilliant travelogue!
Thank you very much for your kind words. The 3 series actually encourages me to drive more and keep driving. It is really addictive to keep driving that car. So the 3 series is very much a part of the motivation for these drives.

Quote:
I'm loving the photography, it's genuinely top class. Coincidentally, we also stayed at the same hotel when we visited in May.
Thanks again. We also stayed at the same hotel when we visited Hampi last year. As I said, it is not a great hotel, but the location is quite good for visiting the key places.

Quote:
Couldn't resist sharing these pictures on the lovely rural roads mentioned.
Great! Yes those roads are nice. In fact, those roads are even better in the monsoon months. If you happen to be in Hampi say in August, then these roads offer fantastic views and weather.


Quote:
Originally Posted by robimahanta View Post
Lovely lucid travelogue and some great photos AD. Seems like the drive and the climb up the hill was worth it. Love your passion and limitless energy.
Cheers!
Thank you very much Robi for your kind words. And thanks for all your tips and guidance on photography. I have learned a lot about photography from my discussions with you, and I look forward to learning more from our future photography trips together. Thanks again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by thirugata View Post
Thank you very much for sharing the blog and for those wonderful photos.
Thank you!

Quote:
Malyavanta Hill is another excellent location to watch sunset. It is less popular, hence less crowded.
True. That is a relatively more easily accessible location. But Matanga hill is an extraordinary experience for sure, and I had missed that in all of my previous trips. Therefore, this time I was keen on climbing Matanga hill at sunrise, and I am glad I did that because it was indeed a great experience. But yes, Malayavanta hill offers great views too at a relatively much easier to reach location.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RunGaDa View Post
Beautiful photo travelogue of Hampi. Getting a post card perfect sunset shot at Hemkuta hills is a treat. I did my second trip of Hampi for this.
Thank you very much. I agree with you. The sunset views from there are wroth going back multiple times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead_Pedal View Post
Nice photography! What's the condition of the road to Hampi? Bangalore to Bellary wouldn't be much of a problem on either routes(Anantpur/Tumkur) but beyond that is something I don't know.
Thanks. You do not need to go to Bellary at all, nor do you have to take the Anantpur option any more.

The best and the fastest route to Hampi is now the (relatively) new "Hampi Expressway" (NH50), which is Chitradurga-Hospet road. That is a four-lane highway that is in excellent condition. Thus, Bangalore-Chitradurga-Hampi is all excellent six-lane and four-lane route, with state-of-the-art highways throughout. This is the road I have been taking in my past 3 visits to Hampi/Hospet, and each time it was a joy. It is a fast drive.

Quote:
Would it be a problem for low slung sedans plying on that route? Curious.
Absolutely no problem for any low slung sedan in the above route I mentioned.
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Old 10th November 2022, 17:47   #11
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Thanks for showing a different Hampi from hill top with beautiful photos of sunrise and sunset. Any safety precautions whilst climbing in poor light ? Boulder strewn country side in south, has its own charm.
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Old 10th November 2022, 18:37   #12
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sukhbirST View Post
Thanks for showing a different Hampi from hill top with beautiful photos of sunrise and sunset. Any safety precautions whilst climbing in poor light ? Boulder strewn country side in south, has its own charm.
Thank you! No, there were no safety precautions as such other than being careful and wearing proper shoes with a good grip. It is not that dangerous. It is just like any other moderate hill climb and requires similar fitness and basic carefulness.

Regarding the poor light, many people used their mobile phone torches to see the path. Maybe it would be a good idea to carry a headlamp (I did not). Also, it was dark only in the first half of the climb. By the time we reached the top half, there was twilight and I could see the rocks/steps without the torch.
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Old 10th November 2022, 18:56   #13
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Few snap from Anjanaadri hill would have rounded off the sunrise-sunset series I guess.

I have been to Hampi 7-8 times - have never got tired. The last visit was in Sep this year after a gap of 8+ years.

Hampi has changed a lot in those years but it was like bumping into your first love.

Heart flutters, u enjoy the moments in the company and return to the grind of corp life with fond memories thinking about next time.

A snap from the trip.
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Old 10th November 2022, 19:30   #14
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.AD View Post
Thank you! No, there were no safety precautions as such other than being careful and wearing proper shoes with a good grip. It is not that dangerous. It is just like any other moderate hill climb and requires similar fitness and basic carefulness.

Regarding the poor light, many people used their mobile phone torches to see the path. Maybe it would be a good idea to carry a headlamp (I did not). Also, it was dark only in the first half of the climb. By the time we reached the top half, there was twilight and I could see the rocks/steps without the torch.
We climbed in the evening for sunset - there are a few stretches that are tricky and you need to be careful. The last stretch to the top is better done barefoot.

Virupaksha temple, river, and boulders along with the setting sun create the magic that's best viewed as the camera can do only so much justice.
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Old 10th November 2022, 21:00   #15
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Re: Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!

Damn, I must say I am genuinely amazed by the level of candid shots you have taken, followed by the hotel suite you got at the place .

Yes, petrolheads like us don't mind paying an extra k or 2 for a safe, standard, and huge parking space

I was planning to go on a solo trip this Jan or so, and to be frank, Hampi was out of the cards. Your travelogue has made me put it on my top 3 XD.
Would also consider staying at the same place you did but not sure, my pockets can take a cut for it with the pocket money I have accumulated

I was actually clouded if I should ask you this on a public forum or not, but as Naval said, "If you don't ask, the answer is always no". I have developed a keen interest in photography over the past couple of years and would love to get some tips/resources to learn your kinda photography or resources that you learned photography from. I don't have a DSLR but own a Realme XT (64 MP + 16 MP Primary Camera). I am not sure if its too much to ask, if you too think the same, pardon my curiosity please
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