Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The loudamericans plus two( Grandpa Jeremiah and Grandma Kay) headed off to the town of Hampi. Hampi is a religious town in the deserted area of Vijayanagar, of which Hampi is the capital. It is India’s most evocative ruin. It lies about 5 hours north of Bangalore and you can not bring your American Express, Visa, or any other card, Hampi excepts rupees, cash.

The way to Hampi is quite an interesting view into India. Many villages, no electricity and Government ration water supplies keep the people and tourists survival instinct alive!

Hampi itself was destroyed in 1565 after the battle of Talikota, in which the Vijayanagar army was defeated by the Bijapur confederacy. There are many temples and ruins highlighted by the World Heritage site. The backbone of trade came from the wealth of spices and cotton trade, and at one time the population was 500,000.

Among it’s many sites, the Vittala Temples remarkable. The sculptural detail is awesome. The Royal enclosures house the remains of the Lotus Mahal and the domed chambers of the Elephant Stables.
Enough history.

We set out full of adventure and the van full of gas. We arrived to find a somewhat Bohemic group of people and the area was borderline a state fair gone bad, that however did not deter us. We found our hotel only after our driver Saravanna forced our way into the gated city where no cars were allowed.

The rooms were 500 rupees per night; around $10.00 and that did not stop us either. Although it should have warned up.

There is a picturesque view of the river Tungabadhra where many of the locals do laundry and bathe.

We were in need of lunch and some cold water, alcohol here is forbidden. Surprisingly the menu had a great deal to offer, Chinese, Mexican and Western along with the usual array of Indian food. We consulted with the waiter/owner only to find there was only veg items, no meat in the religious city.

Noodles for everyone seemed the hunger cry. We actually had some additional Indian items that were bland and really disappointing. We toured the city walked to several great ruins and through a real Indian village, which was both beautiful and impoverish.

Dinner was much the same as lunch and then off to our rooms for what became a hot and restless affair. The Millers whom also traveled with us had no air conditioning and no lights. What can one hope for at $10 a night?

We had negotiated with a local guide for a tour via rickshaws son after breakfast off we went. We toured the Lotus Mahal, the underground Virupaksha Temple, and the Queens Bath. They used to keep crocodiles in the moat around the queen's bath to keep people from disturbing the ladies while they swam....

The tour was awesome and definitely worth taking.

We headed back to Bangalore with a stop in Hospet for a quick lunch. One and a half hours later we finally got our “to go” lunch and were on the way. We used the last of our rupees for lunch but figured we would not need any more being we were going home, wrong.

One hour out of Hospet is the beginning of nowhere and it does not end until you reach the outer limits of Bangalore. This was the spot Saravanna informed us that we needed gas. !7 gas stations later, none taking credit cars, we ran out of gas. On the highway, in the middle of nowhere, with a temp of about 95 and 8 people in a 6 passanger car. Why didnt we stop for cash, you ask? It was a public holiday and all ATM's were closed. We had three American dollars and several frayed wits!

Luckily for us the Millers were ahead of us and we were able to call them and they brought us three water bottles full of gas. That only took an hour and a half; they were a ways in front of us. The next stop a gas station, which of course did not take a card. We then ran out of gas again. The Millers returned with more gas and more importantly rupees. We made it the gas station and finally back to Bangalore. The original 5-hour journey became nine.

A final note:
Dangers& Annoyances: quoted from the lonely planet India book page 841:
Hampi is a safe place, generally free of any aggression. That said, don’t wander around the ruins at sunrise or sunset, particularly on the climb up Mantaga Hill and don’t wander alone, as muggings and violence have been on the rise in recent years. Foreigners should register at the police station inside the Virupaksha Temple upon arrival. This is a simple process involving logging your details in a book –it’s routine as a hotel check-in. The station, which is just inside the temple entrance on the right, has a photo gallery of crooks.

For another view of Hampi visit www. WACMiller.blogspot.com