We presume Hampi is a Hindu word meaning hella hot with hundreds of temples and ruins. Actually, it’s a word in the local language Kannada and neither of us can remember what it means. What in the 16th century was a vast and glorious spread of lavish temples, markets, and gardens was all but detroyed by invaders and then buried by nature. It wasn’t until 1985 that archaeologists uncovered many of the hidden gems. Today it a few dusty roads with guest houses, restaurants, and tourist vendors set beside magnificent temples and surrounded by splendid views.
The incredible detail in the temples was incredible. Intricate carvings of gods and stories from the Ramayana (stories I was told as a child and which I remember reading in comic book format). While some of the temples are well preserved, it’s a shame to see how many are left crumbling. It was interesting to walk through and wonder what it would have been like in its prime – the atmosphere, the goings on, and just the sheer multitude of people who walked the same area so many hundreds of years ago.
There are many shrines built for Hanuman, the monkey god, so it should be no surprise that monkeys are everywhere. We spotted one race up to a women who was so startled she threw the only thing in her hand at it…her purse. The monkey swiftly grabbed the purse and leaped up the temple walls, out of reach. The expression cheeky monkey may have originated in this area.
A first for us was the idea of being a “celebrity” because of our complexions. People stared, smiled, wanted us to hold their babies, shake hands, and pose for pictures. I’m not sure quite how to describe this odd experience (especially because I was fighting a cold and felt far from star material). However, after graciously accommodating every request, I think both Matt and I can sympathize with those who say being papparazzied is exhausting.
We stayed at a little family run spot called Rocky’s Guest House. The proprietor was incredibly kind and generous (when I came down with a cold and fever he checked in on me and brought me a steaming pot with ointment to aide me). While we would recommend it if you’re looking for an in and out just the temples versus the vibe, it was on our last day that we ventured across the river and discovered a whole other side of Hampi…one that had we known of would have definitely detoured to. A hippie haven with hammocks, bedouin style open air lounging cafes, jam sessions, yoga, massage, etc. Should we ever venture back this way, that is where we’ll stay and where we’d direct others towards. It seemed a little more calm and laid back. Though no regrets. Even as I write this back on the more frenzied side of the ferry ride, I am glad we made this trip (even though it took a 10 hour bus trip to get here and I’m psyching myself up to hop on a 12 hour one). Beaches of Gokarna, here we come!