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Hampi, Karnataka

INDIA | Saturday, 14 April 2012 | Views [344]

When I left the ashram I headed for Bangalore knowing that I could go anywhere from there.  I took a bus and arrived in Bangalore on a Sunday afternoon.   As I made my way from the bus terminal looking for a room, I was plagued by a persistent tout - I looked at the ratty room he had to offer and declined, carrying my heavy pack in what seemed like 100-degree weather.  Not finding anything in the immediate vicinity of the bus terminal, I caught an autorickshaw  to the YMCA guesthouse that was recommended in the Lonely Planet guidebook.  This turned out to be walking distance to the bus station, and was an incredibly good deal - a huge room with 3 ceiling fans, hot water, spotlessly clean, and very cheap.  I went looking for a place to eat but just about everything was shut up tight on Sunday.  I wandered around the quiet streets, checked out the Indian Coffee House and headed out (gratefully) the next day via bus to Hampi.

Hampi was intriguing from afar - described as a strange place of rock formations and ruins.  I had to see it.  And that is exactly what it is - interesting, and incredible; you can wander  through the ruins and rocks at your leisure, though it was quite hot at the end of March.  The locals live in some of the ancient buildings, and there are ruins in the river - everywhere you look, if you look closely, you'll find something quite old.  For instance, it was strange to look down and see that a long row of plates and bowls had been carved into the stone - it looks forgotten but will be there for as long as the rocks endure.  It's easy to imagine the story it contains.  I visited at the end of the season, so just about all the sites were deserted; I hired  an autorickshaw for the day and he took me all over, waiting as I explored - mostly completely alone among the ruins.   The desert-like atmosphere of the boulders blends with tropical banana plantations and green fields near the river.  The town very much caters to the backpacking crowd with stalls selling the usual fare of colorful clothing and cheap jewelry.   There are guesthouses everywhere, all in competition, so prices are low at the end of season (about $6 a night for a good private room).  It was hot, but not unbearable, though I left there craving the beach.  So when I saw all I cared to see, I caught a bus to Goa. 

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