We swapped the busy streets of Pune for the windy ones of Hampi, a small temple town in the South West of India.
Arriving to Hampi is quite a trip. An overnight bus takes you across the hills to Hospet where you must then wait for a 1950’s metal frame of a bus to take you across to the little town itself. This bus ride was an adventure of its own. Think of our old Maltese busses, age the suspensions further and multiply the amount of potholes by 10. The charm was cramming about 70 odd people into the smallest of the bunch.
With temples scattered as far as the eye can see, Hampi was a trip back in time. A small village sets the scene with a river dividing the two parts. The temples are today surrounded by little houses to accommodate the tourists however a look to the right reminds the locals that they will soon be evicted a row of houses lay derelict.
The locals here want a sniff of your wallet however prices are very reasonable. Your basic room and en suite will go for £2 a night and for this you will even have some pets to keep. Our two wheeled stallion would flourish here in Hampi as seeing the temples is best done on motorbike.
The main reasons for this is that A) you will feel like an absolute super star as kids wave you by, and B) there are no driving laws in Hampi, or so I thought anyways.
Before embarking on our journey however were were lured into the largest pointy temple near our room. Its daunting present loomed large and we received the oddest welcome we could have asked for. A small Elephant greets its visitors, blessing you with a gesture as you enter. Well trained she will not do so if you refuse to pay and she does not hesitate to take the notes prepared in my hand. Dolled up with elaborate make up she stares at you through her long eyelashes. Th warmth of her trunk tickles the head as she blesses you and for a moment you do feel at peace.
Stumbling by here I soon realised the harshness of the situation. Our little host was chained in place and the deceptive facade soon wore off. She then points you to a direction were naughty monkeys surround you, eyeing your bags for anything sweet. An organised platoon communicated with one another and in a flash that tourists hat and banana were gone. These monkeys were playful, however the priests behind them were more serious as they bless you once more in exchange for money.
The first temple bothered me ad left me with a taste of injust so it was now time to hope on my motorcycle and ride to the distant horizon. We stopped off at many deserted temples and I have to say none of these beauties let us down.
The thing that did let us down however was our motorcycle as we ran it dry and had to push it all the way back to town.
After witnessing a stunning sunset over the hills and temples, the second day in Hampi was just as exciting as we boarded a boat (a rusted metal shell boasting an old loud outboard) across the river. This side of town was way more peaceful. Hippie huts lined the river bank offering the best in psychedelic music from the sixties. Each one boasted two views: one of the winding flowing river and the back view was of the enormous rice fields which begged to be gazed at. Lunch here was incredible as a lasse washed down the heat and cooled us down.
This town was stuck in time and each area was begging to be explored. With no fuel left in our tank we decided to set foot and walk on the never ending path to nowhere. The river guided us on our journey which had no destination until a little hillside bar opened its arms to greet us. The Mango Tree was amongst the most beautiful shacks I have ever eaten at due to its geographical location, clinging on the hillside overlooking the river. Rumour has it that it has since shut much to everyone’s disappointment but the mystery of the place lives on.
Hampi was a short but well lived experience. Many travellers chose to avoid this magical place as it is off the main routes but it is worth the distance travelled. Cheap, charming with plenty of cheer I still find myself day dreaming about those mystical temples and my lunch in the Mango Tree.
Our motorbike might have deserted us, and at this point it was also time to bid farewell to my travelling guru Sagar Dave who really showed me a great side of India early on. My next adventure was to go solo, the best way to travel, and head to the well reputed beaches of Goa to allow the Indian Ocean to soak away any worries I ever had…