To those of you who woke up thinking it was only a nightmare, I’ve got bad news. It wasn’t a nightmare and yes I’m still writing about Hampi. I would suggest that you close your eyes and go back to sleep. Unless you really enjoy reading this in which case I can only say that I do not understand you at all.
Its always nice to have a Sunday when you don’t have to constantly think about the Monday that is just lurking around the corner- the Monday when you have to be back at your work desk that is. Mondays when you are asked to get ready and be out of your rooms at 5.30 in the morning so as to be able to catch the sunrise from a hill are just divine- if you don’t have to get to work after that is.
Without having to face any hitches or bad effects of toilet karma, I was right and ready on time at 5.30 to set off for our trek up the Matanga hill. There was a slight delay is setting out but nevertheless we were on the road and before too long we stopped at the exact spot where we started our previous day. Only this time it was completely dark and we were going in the other direction. We had to pull out our lightsabers (ok! ok! LED torches) and start our slow climb towards the top. I must say it was just exhilarating to be walking in the wild in complete darkness. The initial part of the climb was gentle with stairs that were not too steep. But any climb takes its toll and I was soon breathing so loudly that the Lorien elves could have shot me with their arrows in the dark. I was in the dark and in the jungle- I guess only the elves were missing! (ok if you had no clue what that was about- you need to read Tolkien and then watch the movies).
To my relief the path soon levelled out and we were walking on flat ground. This then led to a bit where the path started sloping downwards. It felt good for a few seconds but then a nasty suspicion soon started taking hold of my thought process. If this path is sloping downwards and we have to get to the top of the hill which is all the way up there- HOW MUCH FARTHER DO I HAVE TO CLIMB UPHILL??? Trust me! If you thought cycling three times a week and swimming over the weekends kept you in shape for early morning treks up hills- they don’t! Early morning treks up hills keep you in shape for early morning trek up hills if that makes sense to you.
The inevitable climb started once again- the only relief that we could now put away our LED torches as it was slowly becoming light around us. Which was great! Except that it meant that we probably had to make it a wee bit faster up the hill if we didn’t want to miss the sunrise. The people who constructed the path uphill didn’t want to make it too easy for the tourists- so the rocks on the stairs were often placed at odd angles and at varying distances from one another so that you had no chance of falling asleep awake when climbing the rocks.
Matanga hill is thankfully not very high and so inevitably after a lot of huffing and puffing we made it to the top- only to be deprived of the satisfaction of having anything special as we sighted at least 20 tourists who were already perched on top of the platform on top of the temple at the peak waiting to view the sunrise. And where the tourists are the chai stalls are not far behind and we were heartened to find a chai wallah preparing hot masala chai for all of those wretched souls who forsake a comfortable bed at unearthly hours in the morning to witness ephemeral beauty. Of course the determined group that we three were, we promptly proceeded to make sure that we wouldn’t miss the now almost nearly risen sun and ignored the tea.
A sunrise can never be overrated. If not anything else, I learnt at least that one lesson on this trip. You never see the sun coming up directly- its always the clouds that dance and change a myriad colours before you see a glimmer of the disc- a thin strip, a wedge, a hazy sphere and within minutes a bright orange glowing ball of fire too bright to stare at. And within these few minutes all the light around you changes until the bright daylight envelops you. My photos are definitely not the best but I hope they go at least a small way in reflecting the beauty that we experienced that morning.
Even if not for anything else, my entire trip to Hampi would have been great with just this one experience.
Soon the sun was up (for Phoebus knows no Monday or Weekend!) and finally we made our way to the chai stall where even I (who normally hates ginger in my tea) decided to reward myself with a steaming hot cup of masala chai!