This was my favourite day of the trip. My digestive troubles were gone and we’d seen about half of the main places to see in Hampi so we could take it easy (the travel guides tell you that you need a week to see Hampi but I’m not sure how because even if you go to see the temples across the river we would have managed it in 3-4 days. And I’d suspect your average tourist would get a lot more bored of yet more temples than we did.) We hired another taxi driver for the day and this one only spoke some basic Hindi and even less English.

He took us first to the first of two Ganesha images in the area. It was surrounded by huge boulder so I left R. and her leg to rest and hiked over to see them and take silly pics. After that, he took us to a nearby temple which I think was the Sri Krishna temple. It was uncrowded for a bit until a massive group of school children arrived. Around the corner we walked down a pleasant path beside a stream to see the Ugra Narasimha image which was awesome and impressively intact for something carved in 1528 and left out in the elements. Right next door to it was Hampi’s 3m tall Shivalinga, surrounded by water because everyone needs to see a massive penis and vagina at least once in their life. We took a break then to have some fresh coconut juice (which I don’t like but R. enjoyed it) and get some freshly pressed sugar cane juice. When I was a kid, I once helped harvest sugar cane and make sourgum molasses so I must have tried the cane juice then, but I sure don’t remember it tasting so amazing. Might be the different type of cane too.

From there, he took us to the Hazara Rama temple which was on the other side of the King’s Palace complex. It had some decent sculptures including some black pillars inside, and the Ramayana was depicted along the exterior inner walls, though they were weirdly built over in places. From there, we asked him to take us to the Underground Shiva temple so called because it pretty much sits below ground level at this point. It was still a bit flooded from the monsoon which made it cool to explore, but didn’t have any of the beautiful carvings that the other temples boast.

After that, we asked the taxi driver for the third time to take us to Achuta Raya/Tirvengalanatha temple which was prominently listed on our brochure but seemed to puzzle our driver so he kept taking us to all the other places on our list. With the help of a rickshaw driver and phoning a friend he eventually figured out where it was (I’m assuming locals know it by a different name). And since tourists rarely ever go there, he decided to take us himself so we parked at the Virupaaksha temple and walked to the opposite end from the temple, past lots of lounging cows, and past a massive stone cow anointed in flowers, oil and dye. Even better, when I told him we didn’t take photos with Indian men he kept them away from us for the rest of the day. (He got an even bigger tip than the first taxi driver). We climbed up ancient stone steps, past a famous hill which people climbed for pilgrimage reasons and he pointed out a far away hill which was Hanuman’s (ie the monkey god) birthplace. We crested the hill and the site of the temple ruins spread below us was just amazing. We hiked down and around, visited a local shrine, then found our way into the temple complex. There was a guard there and a woman making baskets and that was pretty much it. It was so nice to be away from the crowd. We had fun exploring since the images in this temple were quite different in places to the other ones. Some were overtly sexual with women squatting and exposing their crotches, and we found a pleasant looking threesome, but what amused and puzzled us the most out of the sexual images was the man getting buggered by a horse. I really am quite curious how that ended up on a pillar in a Hindu temple, though it was admittedly in an area for foreigners, as shown by the mermen and other foreign gods we found in an area off the main gateway.

We went back the long way around down the massive paved area which was in front of all the major temples. It was lined with columned and stone covered awnings and was where the marketplaces supposedly were. To one side was always a water tank, and this one was pretty overgrown. The taxi driver showed us how to tap the pillars to make them sing as I mentioned earlier, and we headed down to the temples which ran along the river. In fact, this was the end of the path we’d seen the start of the day before at the Vithala Temple. R. took a break with the taxi driver while I climbed up a massive granite slope to visit another temple whose name I have since forgotten but it was cute and had a squat stepped stupa. I went to climb up it but the stairs were in a disrepair and something was moving in the grass in between them so I decided to head back down. The view of the river from there really was amazing.

We headed back, got a little lost but our taxi driver found us in time and took us past another active temple, down along a stone causeway near the beach where people were husking coconuts, through a stone path we would never have found ourselves which wound between monkey covered boulders. We turned another corner and found ourselves back at the far end of the Hampi marketplace. R. was tired out but our driver insisted we go see the final Ganesha image. I ran out to see it, but it was kinda creepy and you had to take your shoes off to see this really dark figure. And then I was mobbed by little children who wanted me to take their picture. Some of them have never had their picture taken before this far from Delhi so they would just have me take their picture, examine it in the digital display then wander off and/or follow me. Smiling isn’t the custom so I have a few photos of stern faced Indian kids which I have no idea what to do with *L*

I headed back to the car and we headed back to the hotel. Once again we couldn’t be bothered to dress for dinner so we got more pasta, more cauliflower Manchurian with naan, mojitos and apple pie. (As you may have noticed at this point, we both followed a strictly vegetarian diet when uncertain of the source of our food which didn’t save us completely but I suspect saved us from the worst).
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