My writing seems to have become very verbose. I had originally planned a crisp blog in 5 paragraphs outlining my entire experience at Hampi and posting a few spectacular photographs. Instead I see my narrative of the Hampi tour sprawling all over my blog like a spider web (yes how can spiders not feature in my story- there is a cameo role- keep reading!) and hardly nothing of the pictures.
At this point I probably also have to give some background into the tour and the people who organised it. This is the ‘Many Worlds of Hampi‘ tour I went on.
You can find more about Arun Bhat and his photography here.
Tharangini’s photostream of birds on flickr can be found here.
And keep an eye on future tours organised by Darter here.
So we’re still on the first day slowly sauntering towards lunch time after the morning sessions on photography. Lunch was nice and wholesome. I particularly loved the rasam served by the hotel and stole as many as 5 fried pappads from the counter. The hoteliers became very savvy after this and stopped serving fried pappads post this first meal (though at that point of time I was yet to know of this sad fate and so remained content!).
It was decided that we would head out to Virupaksha temple at 3.30 in the afternoon after tea and then climb the hill adjoining the temple to catch the sunset. We headed towards Hampi (as the resort was slightly away from the town)- once again passing through the roads with the cattle and the chickens and their tranquil air. Virupaksha temple is the only surviving temple in the town of Hampi. What is fascinating is that it was also one of the oldest temples in the region. So the temple is frequented not just by the desperado tourists but also pilgrims from the town and beyond. Large sections of the entry tower and the inner courtyard and the pillared halls were added in the early sixteenth century by Krishnadeva Raya- one of the most recognisable names in India history. I was told stories of how the town had once been so rich that they sold precious stones by the kilos in the market place. hmm and I thought only my blog was about poetic exaggeration.
The three of us decided to spend about 45 minutes photographing the temple and the courtyards and the pond before heading to the hill for the sunset.
Having taken the morning’s lessons very seriously I tried applying every rule that I had learnt into composing the photographs thereby landing up in a very short time with the photographer’s equivalent of a writer’s block. I also had to steadily flee from groups of people who kept trying to talk to me in Kannada (something that I noticed- English didn’t always work- speak in Hindi and there was a good chance you would be understood but for best results stick to your group and communicate in Kannada). So it took me a while to relax and just take in the surroundings for what they were- ancient and fascinating!
It was also roughly at this point that the people started moving away and the monkeys started taking over. Always apprehensive of angering stray mammals (though I seem to have very badly angered a dog on TTK road, Chennai who tries to take a swipe at me whenever he can- I need to stop straying off topic!) I planted a respectful distance between me and the monkeys (especially as these monkeys were smart enough to know how to open the tap to have a drink of water, though not sensible enough to turn it off after) – though this meant less distance between me and the people. Oh well!
I soon rejoined the group and although we didn’t encounter the temple elephant we ran into a very noisy procession playing local band music up and down the temple street for no apparent reason. The temple elephant was also missing and we saw no reason to hand around any further as the sun was also sinking in the west. We weren’t obviously the only ones with the bright idea and soon we joined the throngs who were making their way up the hill to catch the sunset. And although one finds it easy to forgive monkeys who forget to turn off taps, one finds it hard to forgive homo sapiens who throw empty bottles of Aquafina down the hillside.
It is hard to miss the fact that the rocky hillside around Hampi is spectacularly strewn with mandapas and it is hard to imagine why the kingdom needed so many of these structures. Similarly the long colonnades of shops leading from every temple (whether precious jewels and stones were peddled at wholesale rates or not) nevertheless remind us that this was once a very prosperous city.
We spent the next half hour in tranquil watching the sun set in the west and then made our way slowly down the hill in the gradually growing darkness- only stopping to laugh at funny posters of overloaded autos (asking people not to overload autos) and drivers drinking at the wheels ( I refuse to explain that!) and one solitary flashing median light on the road back into town.
Back at the resort we spent a leisurely evening talking about the next day’s plans and dinner. Already I missed the fried pappads which had been replaced by the regular masala pappads but I believed that this was more a dinner thing. Back at my room I adoringly looked through my photos realising with slow alarm that most of the shots were practically useless. I still had two days to go though.
Last but not the least I noticed a big spider sitting on the air conditioning unit which considering the room was so spacious was about half a mile away from me. But I still couldn’t shrug off the thought that armies of spiders were waiting only for me to turn off the last light before invading the room. I was exhausted though and I had to be out of my room at 6 the next morning so finally fell asleep only waking up sometime in the middle of the night to find some insect crawling over me………….eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!
Thanks for hanging in there folks!