The Lonely Planet's No 1 Spot in India - Dreamy, Dreamy Hampi
We'd heard great things about Hampi, and not just from the Lonely Planet. So fresh off a 13 hour sleeper train from Mysore (which was ace by the way), we rocked up to Rocky's guesthouse in the main bazaar area and got ourselves settled in. We were so tired, we didn't really notice how incredibly beautiful the place is, but we noticed it was special. The ruins are a Unesco world heritage site and the main Bazaar area (which is where most of the guesthouses are) is slap bang in the middle. Because of its sacred status, there is no meat or alcohol here....time to get healthy!
We bumped into Kelly and Tanveer (of backwater fame) and had lunch with them and their new friends Vincent and Lykke who made us jealous with chat about moped rides to nice swimming spots......now on our list. After a nap, we went out for some dinner and to explore a bit. There is stacks of guesthouses and restaurants, most of which offer a similar fare of 'mixed cuisine'...lots of Italian, including pizza which is music to my ears (after 6 weeks of rice and curry....I'm keen for a little break). We stumbled across a cute little place called Durga Huts (in the lonely planet) which had a blackboard outside saying Hunger Games: Catching Fire...sold! Luckily the pizza was yummy too. They even let us pick tomorrow nights film (we picked Darjeeling Limited, one of our faves and also very topical!). Great first night Hampi.
The next day we got up early to see Lakshmi, the temple elephant, having a bath and blessing (smooching) people. She's the most adorable elephant ever (and we've seen a lot) full of character, and even better, completely unchained. We chilled by the ghats and watched for a bit, till our bellies rumbled and hunger took over. We are definitely going back for a Lakshmi 'smooch' before we leave though........
The ruins are spread out across a kinda 10k loop, which you can walk, moped, cycle or tuk tuk. We chose to cycle, mostly because it's the cheapest option (50 rupees each for a whole day), but also because we were both keen to cycle at some point in the trip and Oli was getting itchy feet to get going. We set off at 8.30am and followed the signs.....pretty soon we were at some ruins, then some more and 10k later we were at the Vittala temple, the summit of them all.
To be honest, they were all incredible and like nothing we've ever seen before. Sort of like you've stumbled across Pompeii, or an Ancient Greek ruin or something. Eloquent, I know. You just have to see it for yourselves to be honest, and I really hope you do, as it's hands down one of my favourite places in the world. It's definitely not undiscovered (bus loads of backpackers turn up every other day), but it's quiet enough to feel like a real hidden gem. People here seem to stay for weeks and months.....we've already extended our trip from 3 days to 7. Mumbai can wait.
If you are still not convinced of Hampi's dreamy-ness, the fact that you could find this gem at the Hampi Roof Restaurant surely will......