We've spent several days in Hampi now, on the north side of the Tungabhadra River, in the "tourist village" Virupapur Gaddi that is ... Like Gokarna, the food is rather Westernized, but the atmosphere is very nice, despite the heat during the day. There are ruins everywhere, amidst endless hills of boulders piled up - a very alien landscape, almost as dry as a desert, with rocks, often gravity-defying, piled everywhere, even right next to our hotel room! We spent one full afternoon of site-seeing, riding a rickshaw around to take in all the same-ticket pay sites: the Vital Temple, the Elephant Stables, and the Lotus Mahal. The architecture here is mostly made out of stone, though the Lotus Mahal was a pink stucco-like material, combining Hindu and Islamic building styles. We rented a scooter for two days, traveling around on our side of the river, first going to a nearby lake for some swimming and relaxing, with our friends from Israel whom we met in Gokarna, before checking out the sunset from the Hanuman Temple. Hanuman is the Hindu monkey god, and appropriately enough, the elevated temple was full of monkeys, making for an amazing view of Hampi, on a natural tower of boulders with monkeys running about (and getting the noise on!) as the sun sets of endless amazing rock piles. Yesterday we went for a sunset ride as well, going over 40 km through the surrounding villages, where all the children yell "hello" and wave at you. We have met up with a couple from South Africa that we met in Athens, Greece, so we are hanging out with them right now, waiting for the chaos that is supposed to be the Holi Festival, supposedly the one day in India where the whole nation parties... or so we've heard, but we cannot get an accurate explanation from anyone, so we're not totally sure what is going to happen. We have, however, purchased some water pistols from a local boy (at a probably inflated price including delivery) to defend ourselves, since part of this festival is the spraying of colored dyes. We will probably be staying in Hampi until Monday, since our friend Moran's birthday is on Sunday, but after that we'll continue on our archaeological exploration of Karnataka.
Hampi is really quite amazing, the ruins combined with the peaceful landscape is just as nice as the beach we left, and we are staying amongst equally nice travelers, so things are going well, though our hotel has been causing us a minor headache by trying to blackmail us and Iain and Claire into exclusively eating at their attached restaurant or else we would have to leave, but after a few arguments/exchanges things have been hopefully sorted out, but the fact remains that when you stay at a hotel you are under no obligation to eat at the restaurant daily , especially not when you have already tried the food and it was none too good. This is India though, so the unexpected always happens, even when it is something as outlandish as this!
We have gotten some nice clothes custom-made for us, so we are going to pick those up here, Anderson has finally grown weary of having only one real pair of pants, and when a pair costs only 120 rupees, it is impossible to not get measured!
Hopefully we can upload photos soon, but internet has been too slow and expensive both in Gokarna and here in Hampi, so we'll do what we can when we can, how it always is in India!
For information on Hampi, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi
It really is an amazing place, full of natural wonder and awe-inspiring ruins...