Travelling in India is definitely difficult!  After finding out that we couldn’t make the 224 mile journey to Hampi by train due to them all apparently being booked up, we persuaded a friend of our tuk-tuk driver (see previous post), to drive us and a young Finnish couple we met at Yoga in his taxi for a reasonable-ish price.  You may think that a journey of just over 200 miles by car is no big deal, but it took us 10 hours to reach our destination so the taxi was averaging around 20 miles per hour.  Firstly we travelled on single track roads through rural villages, sometimes held up by herds of goats, cows, bullocks and eventually horses as well.  Then we had to cross the mountains by steep, winding roads that the last monsoon had partially washed away in places.  We wound up and up until we were above cloud level and finally passed from the state of Goa into Karnataka.  We heaved a sigh of relief when we came down to level ground and onto the state highway.  Unfortunately then every few miles the highway tended to disintegrate into a muddy, bumpy, pot-holey track and our speed slowed to near walking pace.  Honestly, we are not exaggerating about how dire the roads were.  Anyway at the end of this week we have to do it all again, but next time on the sleeper bus, so something to look forward to!

After half an hour exploring Hampi, we concluded the journey had been worthwhile.  We got up early on the first day and walked out from our homestay in the cool morning to the “Royal Enclosure” part of the site.  The scale, workmanship and antiquity of the buildings and ruins was amazing, and even better, we had the whole vast area to ourselves apart from a number of large herds of goats and their herders.  Even later on during the days we have been exploring, there have only been a few tourists who have bothered to make the long journey to see this beautiful and awesome place.
How can you do justice to amazing sights through simple descriptions?  We’ve picked the best of our many photographs and hope they hint at the scale and grandeur of the place.  We feel so lucky and privileged to have come.

Beautiful cloistered corridor – one of the palaces
Foundations of the Royal Palace
Main Hindu temple in Hampi village, built 14th century, still in regular use.
Paul in quiet contemplation – ancient mosque at Hampi
How about this for bendy and booby?
Taking a break in the shade of a deserted temple

At first glance Hampi village looks like a stage set for Lara Croft or Indiana Jones and it’s hard to believe it’s real, but in fact the tumbledown ancient temples, avenues of stone pillars and ruined bazaars are all part of the residents’ everyday lives.  The central Hindu temple which dates from the 14th century is still in use, stalls are set up along the ancient bazaar, families live between the monuments and cattle and dogs wander in and out.  The ancient and present day Hampis are blended, and indistinguishable from one another in a way we have never seen before until now.  The other animals much in evidence are big troops of monkeys that scamper and leap everywhere.  They live closely alongside the people and we occasionally found their chattering and baring of sharp canines quite intimidating – they’re so much cleverer and more knowing than the dogs and are on the lookout to grab anything edible! 
After a couple of days we really started to love the laid back, slightly hippy-ish vibe of the place.  Hardly anyone sits in a bar or restaurant as their floor spaces are covered in comfortable mattresses, allowing you to lounge through endless delicious snacks. thalis, fresh juices and chai or herbal teas.  You can also get a hookah or beer, but we learned alcohol is not supposed to be served as after a few sips pf our first cold beer, the waiter literally whisked it back out of our hands and disappeared it.  Two local police officers had decided to visit the restaurant for lunch.  We only got our beers back after they had left, but at least the staff had kept them in the fridge for us!

Thalis and watermelon juice – no beer officer!

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