Don't worry, be Hampi
Quite a few years ago, in 1336 to be exact, some prince decided to make Hampi the mighty capital of Vijayanagar… great choice my friend. Hampi not only has spectacular landscape, in its own right a tourist attraction, it also boasts hundreds of temples built during its time as an important city. The landscape compares to nothing I’ve seen before, it has hints of the Todra Gorge in Morocco or the endless rock formations of the Cappadocia range in Turkey but it’s unique. If it wasn’t for the paddy fields strategically covering every inch of flat ground along with palm groves dotted everywhere, I would never have believed I was in India.
|One of the many Hindu legends describe a rock fight between gods as an explanation for the unique landscape, I’m sticking with that theory.|
|The view from Monkey Temple, a 500+ staircase to the top with excellent views.|
There are 2 sides to Hampi separated by a small river just wide enough to require a boat for the crossing (apparently there was a bridge that mysteriously collapsed, maybe once the boat operators stopped receiving their 10 rupee fee). One side, Hampi Bazaar, has the temples, and the other side, Viarupapur Gaddi, has the boulders for climbing and a more tranquil setting for guesthouses. One of the main reasons I came to Hampi initially was to try my hand at what is considered to be a world class bouldering site. All the gear can be rented: mat, shoes, chalk and guide book. With literally an endless supply of boulders having some idea of the grades is a necessity. I spent a few days waking up at 7 heading out with my mat and attempting some of the routes. I completed a few problems but my soft, computer engineer hands, were no match for the sharp granite boulders. After a few days I had to concede defeat and let my fingers grow back another layer of skin. Absolutely loved it though.
|The climbing was amazing but seriously tough.|
|Lots's of rocks and lot's of temples.|
|Cool guys chilling out.|
|A building in the Royal Enclosure. My favourite set of temples mainly because there was no-one there.|
|Stumbled across this amazing bath while aimlessly walking around.|
Alcohol is “illegal” in Hampi so instead of the constant cycle of getting pissed then nursing a hangover (a la Goa), travellers wake early to make the most of their alternative poison; bouldering, touring the temples, exploring the region by motorbike or just lazing in a hammock reading.
|My home for 10 nights. Bought a hammock for £2 and inherited a black dog.|
|The local lake which comes in handy to cool down from the intense heat.|
Every night droves of backpackers ascend to a plateau engulfed by boulders to celebrate another beautiful sunset. Instruments are hauled up and a large group would sit around chatting, listening to drums and appreciating how lucky we are. An added bonus is the ever multiplying number of India girls selling “hot ginger chai” for a mere 10 rupees, although being asked an average of 100 times can get annoying. I even met a minor British celebrity up there, in the form of an actor from the Shameless TV series.
|Sunset and a headless statue.|
|Chai girl dressed up for business.|
At night, due to the lack of alcohol, things were pretty quiet. Restaurants show recent and classic films until around 10pm at which time most people head back to their huts. Rinse and repeat. My time here was made even more enjoyable thanks to a selection of some pretty awesome people, in particular Vanessa, Sam, Adam, Greg and Tom. Cheers guys.
|The main street on the other side of Hampi.|
To summarise, the bouldering is hard but amazing. The temples are brilliant and it’s a perfect place to relax with a good backpacker feel. It was pretty hard to leave.