Hampi – the ancient monkey kingdom.

Our detour to Hampi proved to be worth the while. The imposing ruins of a lost kingdom had us captivated from that we got off the bus until we left for Gokarna a week or so later. The detour should only have been a couple of days or so to check out the place but we just didn’t seem to be able to leave. In fact we extended our stay at Manju’s place several times, and I’m not sure but it might have been the banana pancakes.

We’d met a bunch of people on the overnight bus from Goa to Hampi. A cocktail of nationalities and personalities boosting our Hampi family. Of course it was Sada and myself and then there were an Israeli, a German and a Spanish guy and a Turkish girl. Another German girl arrived a day later who was a friend of the German guy and that’s how the magnificent seven was formed.

We rented motorbikes to explore the area. The bizarre landscape featuring boulders sprawling mile after mile was most unique for this region and a dream for the fanatic boulder rock climber. I caught myself whistling a happy tune mesmerized by the heaps of boulders, abandoned temples, the monkeys, the snake charmers, the rivers, the elephants, and the legends of the place and I remember thinking that the world was my oyster. We headed out of town and tried out a road that was a ridge of packed soil between two rice fields. The width of the road was no more than two foot tops and that was in its widest places. The rice fields were soaked and with this year’s crop reaching for the sun and rising an inch or so above the water with the far perimeter of the field lined with palm trees was something quite extraordinary to see. The Israeli guy obviously too caught up taking in every detail of the magical scenery managed to tilt his bike a little too far and ended up in the rice field. In the process he also got his ankle burnt quite severely on the exhaust pipe. After some time and organised team effort we managed to fish both him and the motorbike out of the field. He appreciated the effort but was not a very happy man after the incident and understandably so as it must have hurt a lot.

The Anjanadri hill was spectacular. There were something like 570 steps to get to the top and the famous temple and birthplace of Hanuman the monkey deity. There must have been hundreds of monkeys around all playing with each other or trying to steal things off the visiting tourists such as Mirinda bottles or cameras or candy or whatever they could get hold of really. They were fairly small and the fur had a light brown colour that faded over the stomach into an off white, they were such cutie pies. The view of Hampi from the top was just stunning. The flat landscape below with boulders spreading out in heaps across the land mile after mile was somewhat unearthly. The legend had it that two monkey brothers had been at war over the throne of the kingdom and that the boulders were what they’d used to throw at each other during the battles hence the boulders were strewn all over Hampi. It was true that legends had the effect of making a place more vivid and to be fair the only reasonable explanation for this geological mystery.

We had the most beautiful and dreamy moment watching the sunset over the ruins and lost kingdom of Vijayanagara.

E.J.J

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