Tuesday, 26 June 2018

HAMPI ! The heritage side ~


Hampi!


A sure shot place for all solo travelers or otherwise. A definite place to loosen yourself. 

Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Karnataka (India). 

AND I had been on a solo-trip to this beautiful place.



This place was once part of the huge Vijayanagara Empire. The ruins, temples and monuments are spread all over the region. One really needs time for this. I saw some of it, learned a bit of architecture, the history and fell in love with the river and stones. Wherever your eyes go, there are mountains and mountains of boulders, stalked neatly. And paddy fields. I met various people, made friends, tried some new cuisine, had some amazing musical evening and long chats with strangers under the full moon. Some carefree, soothing days. I had some of my life's most unforgettable moments.



Quite happy to dare to travel alone here. All it needed was little planning, some precautions and saved money. I love being in strange lands where no one knows me. No one judges me. I'm like any other person in the crowd. I decide where to go, what to do, what to eat. I set my budget. I set my rules. It's easy to meet random people and it's easy to make new friends.

Somewhere in Hampi ~


Early morning 6.30 am I take 'Amravati Express' train from Bhubaneswar to Hospet. That’s one train that will make me reach directly there. Weather in between was beautiful. Rains were add on. One troublesome thing was my phone wasn’t working well.

Day 1: I reached around 7.30am to Hospet and took an auto to Hampi. The route wasn’t great. But I was super excited to reach. I had a glimpse of villages and ruins. The boulders came to view. That’s what you get in Hampi in plenty. Boulders! I reach my guest house (Lakshmi Heritage Tourist Home), rested a bit and was out to explore the place. I had read a lot of blogs before coming here. I acted like a pro, went out, had my breakfast, rented a bicycle and bought a map. 

I had chosen monsoon to be here and I kept wondering if I would regret. I had my DSLR to worry for. Everything was quite nearby so I reach my first site. 



Here's my sweet black tea and banana pancake



Temple complex inside: This is the oldest (7th century) and most prominent structure you'll find in Hampi. You reach Hampi, you see this. You roam anywhere this will be your landmark. If you're lost, then just remember where this temple is and you'll find your way. You'll be somewhere far, across the river, over the mountain... you'll find this in your view. 

Virupaksha Temple entrance

The complex inside

Temples of the 'Hemakuta hills'

The area surrounding had various structures and they looked stunning in rains

An iconic Hanuman temple

A peak from the Queen's Bath ~
Once filled with fragrant flowers and perfumed water for the royals. Kind of Indo-Islamic architecture. Interesting !

My companion. That's my tripod hanging there :D 

Laskmi Narsimha temple ~
Quite an iconic monolithic structure (
carved out of one single stone) of Hampi.
Narsimha (half-man and half-lion) is on of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu and he's seen here sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake with it's head acting as a hood over him.
 

Badavilinga Temple ~
Again carved out of a single stone, this stands tall in a sanctum filled with water.

Ruins and Rains 

Peacocks  All you need to do is, look around when you hear their call.

Rose-ringed parakeets

The route to royal enclosure. It was a beautiful route mostly covered with coconut trees and paddy fields.
On the right is Sister stones; two big boulders leaning on each other.
There's some legend that these were two sisters who once made fun of the city & were cursed to be stones.

Comfy places and yum food


I cycled, paused at various places and did sightseeing. Loved reading all about the structure details and talking about the locals or guards regarding them. That's how I got to know about many interesting stories. I was cycling after a long time and it wasn’t coming easy to me. With all the enthusiasm and energy I continued, for I had to see places. Plenty of places. So many archaeological sites, temples, statues. I was tired like hell yet I had more things to see and check off from the map. Lots of places were secluded, but as there were security guards at most sites I was okay. I easily asked for directions and reached. Whenever I saw bunch of people, I would stay close to them or hear the guide if they hired one. 

Around 5 pm I started returning back and what rain! It showered like anything and I was drenched to bones. Somehow I got back, returned the cycle and went back to room to freshen up. DSLR was safe and put to recharge and my phone stopped working completely. I was somehow at peace. No phone calls. No selfie craze. All I did was called back home from telephone booth to tell them I’m safe. My clothes were drenched which I had to wear again. So after my dinner at ‘mango tree’ restaurant, I did some hippy clothes shopping :D The restaurant was cool, low sitting, cushioned and comfortable. The places had all these tiny shops and eateries etc. But the population around was low because of the off-season. It was all damp and muddy around. But it seemed quite safe and the loved the silence around. 



Day 2: Good morning from Hampi!



I still had trouble sleeping at strange places alone. Things you suffer in solo trip. How to stay alone, eat alone, roam alone. May be sometimes it takes time to be self. We forget being us.



I checked out from here and now the place to go was 'other side' of Hampi. I.e. village 'Anegundi', which you go by crossing the river 'Tungabhadra'. So this side you have all temples and heritage side with no alcohol and no non-vegetarian food rule and religious kind of area but on the other side is the hippy touristy land. A lot of people come and stay and enjoy that side only without even seeing this side. But watching these beautiful sites were important to me. So today I stay on that side, and come back here to see remaining places of the map. So I reached jetty where I take the boat to cross the river. I saw the beautiful giant temple elephant 'Laxmi' having a bath there. Although I prefer these beauties to be in the wild than being at a human habituated temple. I observed and went further to enquire about the boats. Coracles (the cute, round leaf boats) were 50 bucks and motor boat 10 bucks. I took Coracle for one has to experience that there. I had an amazing ride. I reached the other side and tour guides started attacking you with their services and offers. I don't mind that much though. I cross all and reach my staying place (Sunny Guest House) which was near to the jetty. 

This side was beautiful with fresh green paddy fields and shops and shacks around. I come back again, cross river in motor boat this time, hire cycle again and start my archaeology tour. I had to finish the remaining sites as per the map. I still hadn't seen the main 'Vitthala' temple, that is famous in Hampi. Like the signature of it. 

I couldn't find the way actually. I enquired a bit and finally found the route. One had to walk till Vithalla. So I kept my cycle near one police station, which was near only and walked besides river side to reach there. It was a 2 km walk. I met another solo girl traveler. How cool is that! We walked together and explored the place. We hired a guide and amazing tour it had been. All these ancient stories and facts, interest me a lot. Then we moved on and went ahead to explore more places. Some were pretty far. Cycling killed me. I saw some amazing beauties such as lotus mahal, elephant stables, watch towers and then went to see this pushkarnini (Water reservoirs built as part of the Indian temple complexes).

Warning: Lot of pictures! Enjoy :)


The coracle! Can easily hold up to 6-8 people. Do not miss these!

My ride

Pushkarini ~
I found this fascinating. Just look at the steps! 


The "Stone Chariot" (inside the Vitthala temple complex) 

It's actually a shrine of Garuda - lord of Eagles (mount of Lord Vishnu), which is made to look like a stone chariot. The chariot was inspired from Konark Sun Temple (Odisha). The two stone elephants are placed as a replacement for original horse status which seemed to be pulling the chariot. It has carvings of mythical battles scenes and was once painted with herbal colors. You can still see mild green and orange colors on many of the temples here.






The river route to Vitthala temple 

This 15th century structure was just Magnificent! The tree is as old as time.

One of the most interesting and surprising thing about Vittala temple's are the musical pillars. These supporting pillars, when struck creates music in various notes. The guide played and I heard that too, Each pillar truly created different music. They all look same from the outside and it's hollow inside, yet there is some science behind how they were made. People of those times were really some fantastic architects and designers.

Elephant stables of the royals

Watch Towers

Tungabhadra river view

Lotus Mahal  This was some beauty!


This is Lakshmi: the elephant of Virupaksha Temple
A lot of tourists come over to see her, watch her take her daily bath and take blessings.



I reached back to the river by 4 as the boat services would close by evening and then you are struck this side. I reached on the other side and a guy came and said hello!



He was Gali and he owned a music store and played various instruments himself. I visited his beautiful small place full of amazing instruments. He played one instrument for me and I think that was very nice of him. I promised to be back. I was tired and after dinner in the shack there, I called home and soon dozed off..

For any further details, e-mail me at: tanuja.1986@gmail.com


See you in the next post ~


Monday, 22 January 2018

A 1st time trekker's learning:


As a 1st time YHAI trekker, I went through a lot of suggestions and blogs but the best experience has been in real. I went to Sandakphu summer trek (read experience here) in 2016 and sharing some of my lessons besides the basic guidelines ~



1. Even if you think your bag is light, make it more lighter.
2. Don't take too big bags, they add weight on your shoulders.
3. Walk in your own pace. Befriend the guide at your end. They are great teachers.
4. Take hot water for drinking at higher base camps, they are safer.
5. Keep your feet clean. Take wet tissues and medicated powder.
6. If you're a bird watcher or look out for species, pause in your trek and then watch.
7. Build your stamina before trekking, it helps the most and increases your immunity.
8. Don't ignore your illness, talk to your guides, it might be high altitude sickness. In case you're a women in your periods share it with your guide or camp leaders or Doctors there if available. It's nothing to be ashamed off.
9. Take jackets with hood that are water resistant. Woolen sweaters add weight and when wet, don't dry. Add poncho raincoat to your list too if your regions have chances of rain/snow. Invest in quick dry and light clothing. When you need warmth, simply layer. Add thermals. No body cares what you are wearing there. 2-3 tees and pants max are sufficient. Trust me!
10. I took my DSLR and when the battery wasn't in use, I kept it in my inner jacket pocket. It went a long way.
11. Waterproof and high ankle shoes with good grip are good investment.
12. Have some lone time but also have chit-chat with your team mates, it reduces your walking stress.
13. You can keep a knee cap with you. When we came steep downhill, a lot of them got problem in their right knees, including mine. Thankfully I could borrow a knee cap from a team mate.
14. Keep your ID cards safe. They are to be stamped at every base camp.
15. Take an extra bag to keep your extra stuff like your travel wear at base camp, in case YHA bags are not provided like in Darjeeling.
16. Simply take a thin hand-towel and basic things like vaseline jelly (multi-purpose), sunscreen, little pack of facewash etc.
17. I found my fellow mates carrying novels and other fancy toiletry stuffs...Avoid-avoid-avoid.
18. Add goggles and sun caps to your lists besides woolen caps, gloves etc.
19. Do not forget toilet paper. Many places have shortage of water.
20. You can take a flat kinda plastic tiffin box, instead of plates. Take tumbler/ torch/ chappals/ pain balms and other basic things from the YHAI list.
21. Keep cash out in your pockets for need.
22. Take some chocolates and candies, You can add glucose to your water. Sip water at regular intervals.
23. Don't take long breaks in between trekking. Take little breaks and start walking. Do stretches.
24. Abide by the rules. When the guide says: No alcohol. It means NO.
25. When the guide says you are unwell and you need to go to low altitude for your safely reasons, listen to him.
26. The 1st trek challenges you mentally, be sound and be positive that you can do it. Enjoy the unexpected too! 
27. You might face loss of appetite around trek time, still eat. Drink all the liquids they give like tea and soups. It helps you to stay hydrated. Do not skip meals plus food at YHAI is superb as per me.
28. Carry a light weight slipper. I think it's a good idea to reach your base camp and give some air and relaxation to feet. 
29. Take your own things, depending every time to share things might trouble others.
30. Go open minded to make friends. Help others! The best part of YHAI treks!









Love
Tanuja :)