A half hour local bus ride this morning got me, Jen and Mika (Americans who joined in Mumbai) to Hampi for sightseeing.
We are staying in Hospet, a grubby little town where the bus station smells like the open sewer that surrounds it. But our hotel is an air conditioned enclave of tourists midst the chaos with restaurants, Wi-Fi and beer – no doubt why they chose it.
Hampi is the huge draw in this area. It’s an enormous archeological site that includes dozens of ruins and many kilometers. In the 14th century it was the home of over 500,000 people. The architecture is considered some of the best Hindu art that exists. It’s in a landscape of hills topped by boulders and looks surreal.
We had no prayer of seeing the entire site in a day, so opted to see two of the larger temples instead. One was active with locals coming for blessings and to pray. The other required a walk in the hot sun of several kilometers (it was several K after we walked right by it at any rate and had to backtrack.) The temples are ornate and covered in carvings. Huge and intricate gopurams (those tall pointy towers) and sub buildings with decorated columns and paintings.
Hampi is also interesting because many of the ruins have been co-opted as housing and there is active village in the middle of the site. Often they just wall off the bottom floor of an old building and live there and move in or set up shop. Banana trees and sugarcane are planted between ruins and ancient walls. Women do laundry in front of an ancient building. There is an effort to relocate the village met by resistance of the villagers, many who are making their living selling drinks and food and postcards to tourists.
I resorted to pulling out my scarf and hiding from the sun under it most of the day. I’ve finally figured out that you stay cooler with a layer protecting you from the strong sun than you do with skin exposed. I even have been biking with a long sleeve shirt since I started. While bored pedaling a long stretch on a hot plateau I experimented rolling up one sleeve and leaving the other down. Sure enough, the one with the sleeve down was cooler. Double checked to be sure. Who knew?
|Jen gets a blessing from the temple elephant|