It is true that in Hampi you can see more boulders and sculptures than you can see stars in the sky. And the locals will casually announce with a satisfactory smirk that it takes nothing less than one year to explore Hampi in its entirety. If you do not have one year to explore Hampi, fret not. There is more to Hampi than just epic monuments surrounded by gullible tourist from across the globe. Hampi’s soul really lies in the little village sitting comfortably amidst the mammoth boulders, coconut and banana plantation.
The mesmerizing drive through Tumkur, Chitradurga, Hospet with pit stops for Thatte idlis, coconut water warms you up for Hampi. Caves, corn plantation, paddy fields, windmills, and dwarf agamas keep you company through the journey.
The Hampi village is within the radius of 15km from the world heritage site. It looks like a dolled up bride with grazing sheep, goats and cows adorning the green pastures making it doubly photogenic. River Tungabadra passing through the town, splitting into several little jingling streams in all directions adds a lovely character to the town.
I always stayed at a forest guesthouse far from touristy hullabaloo. My to-do list included bears, birds, photography, monuments and a lot of delicious north Karnataka food for this trip.
Around the guesthouse, in the wee hours, shy hares and silhouettes of dazzling horses greeted me always. And the sight lifted even the most sluggish mood instantly.
Shepherd’s secret to a happy life
Bird watching sessions in the barren lands and scrub jungles scouting for painted sand grouse and crested larks brought me close to a nomadic shepherd family. What better way to explore and understand a place than through the inspiring locals? The family gave away the secret to a happy life while I sipped on a delicious tumbler of tea made of herbs, jaggery and sheep milk, enjoying the view of a herd of sheep taking a siesta.
Out of the four children from the shepherd family, only two attended school. The other two children carried out the family occupation of shepherding and provided for the school going children. Thus, they maintained a balance between age-old tradition and kept up with the modern world demands.
“The joy of watching a lambkin uniting with the mother (kept apart while the herd grazed) is the best feeling one can experience”, narrated one of the family members. I wondered, how many city dwellers would connect to such simple pleasures of life on a daily basis. Electricity, pollution, not having a bigger home or faster-moving vehicle seemed least of their worries. They were content with tarpaulins and cloth tents for shelter, horse-ridden carts for vehicles and they made the most of the Sun and the Moonlight. A simple life is a key to happiness was the takeaway from our rendezvous.
Here’s one of the providers
After spending the best part of the day exploring the village and the monuments under the blistering sun, I walked around the guesthouse. Under the star decked sky, breathing crisp air I reflected on what the nomads taught me; “most problems of life could be easily solved if we chased happiness instead of money”.
Also read the other side of the Ooty here.
Biting off more than can chew – at Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Hampi
Hampi caters to everybody’s interest
Photographer’s dreamland and a trekker’s delight, and foodies won’t be disappointed either, Hampi caters to everybody’s interest. If you are looking for hippy joints and interesting travellers to hang out with, your search ends here. Interested in archaeology? You can get lost in the caves and monuments for months, wondering how long, how many people and how much wealth it must have taken to etch every little detail on the colossal boulders. For wildlife enthusiasts, the town brims with butterflies, birds, interesting looking geckos, and monitor lizards to name a few.
A hat or an umbrella and sunscreen are a must while exploring Hampi.
Comfortable shoes and lightweight sweat absorbing clothing would be ideal.
People can hire bicycles to tour the town.
Tripods are not allowed inside some monuments.
Plenty of good and inexpensive restaurants and guesthouses are available, however, most guesthouses require advance booking.
Almost everyone speaks English. This is especially true with street vendors.