Yes- there is a secret story about Hampi. Just like every other town has a secret story which you can uncover if you choose to dig deeper and as in this case – a very vivid imagination. But if you are thinking that all you have to do is sit back and read this blog to get to the bottom of the mystery that is Hampi then I’m very sorry to disappoint you. I’ve already planned on an entire alternate career as a tour guide in Hampi frazzling the tourists with the especially bored expression on their faces with these stories. So I’m not giving them out to you on a platter. I may feel kind and drop some hints though…
Now to get on with the events of the last day at Hampi…. (did I say someone saying phew?)
We needed a break to relax (and for me to pack) after the morning’s trek up Matanga Hill and back. There was a possibility that we may have been able to get special permissions to venture deeper into the Daroji bear sanctuary and get a better look at the bears and the other fauna. Unfortunately though this did not come through (maybe yelling at park officers across the valley is not such a good idea- refer to my earlier post about the birds). But Hampi still had a lot up its sleeve and we finally decided that we would leave slightly earlier in the afternoon, go around the ruins in the main town and then come back to the canal path for some last day birding.
Going out back in the early afternoon sun into Hampi was possibly not a great idea. Not just for the light for photography. It was only February but the land and the rocks and hills around Hampi radiate heat to make the entire town feel like an oven. I do not even want to contemplate what the place would be like in April or May. Armed with caps and shades we went doggedly around the ruins. First the Lotus Mahal where our team spent more time photographing birds- much to the amusement of the passers by,
the elephant stables,
then the ruins of the royal ceremonial platform,
the stepped pools, the queen’s bath.
It must have surely been the heat for by the time we were nearing the end we were laughing hysterically with our imagined stories (think slide pools and ancient baths). We even managed to fabricate a story about how Hampi got rich so quickly and also how in the end it became very poor with equal speed.
Before any of us were permanently damaged by the sun we managed to refresh ourselves with some tender coconut juice and head to the canal.
Hampi hardly disappoints and once again we had a great sighting of the Coucal- a mystery bird whose name I had been trying to find out for almost 5 or 6 years now.
We also had a standard diet of the red-wattled lapwings, the sand pipers, the sparrows and surprisingly the painted sand grouses.
Normally I dont believe the sand grouses are supposed to be spotted in such large numbers but on that particular Monday evening just as I was beginning to get a wee bit nervous about getting back to my room and then heading out once again for the railway station it seemed the entire painted sand grouse army had come out to bid me a fond adieu. Waah! We stopped until we could stop no more before heading back to the resort.
With the last rays of the sun, I bid a fond au revoir to Hampi.
Now if you finally are clapping with joy that my ridiculous narration of Hampi is complete, I would ask you to reserve the jubilation for atleast a day as I am not yet quite done with the city or with the journey.