Feb 24: On a bright and lazy Friday noon, I was thinking about how many places I’ve not been to in South India. I realized that the number was down to three and I had to choose between Rameshwaram, Hampi or Vishakhapatnam. Out of the three names, I’d chosen Hampi because the distance was short enough to travel by train and thought of giving my bike some rest so that it can be used for the long haul runs.
Called up a friend that evening and asked him to drop me off at the railway station by 10 P.M. Since I had not planned the trip in advance, I walk towards the ticket counter and pick an unreserved ticket for myself. Surprisingly, the train arrived on time and entire train was packed in no time. I wanted to experience travelling in the unreserved coaches for once and it was an average experience. I had to rough it out with the co-passengers as each of them were doing some weird stuff and one guy ended up removing his shoe and sleeping with his socks on. Another passenger tries to reserve the place he sat by using a handkerchief. I couldn’t sleep at all that night.
Feb 25: The train stops at Bellary for a loco change and starts moving at the onset of dawn. The views surrounding the track was deserted and creepy. Only iron ore factories were visible to the eye from the window. After an hour, the train slowly chugs into Hospet(closest rail-head to Hampi which is about 14km) and I have to get off here.
The moment I set foot outside the station, there was a bus to Hampi and boarded the bus immediately. Reached Hampi within half an hour and the Virupaksha temple was a stone’s throw from the bus stop. Freshened up and ate breakfast by 8 and started walking towards the temple.
The Virupaksha temple had a deity of Lord Shiva and there were separate halls inside the temple for the common people and the royal family. After offering prayers to the deity, I had walked towards the Tungabhadra river to take a dip. After a while I started exploring a few places such as the Hemkund Temples, Matunga hill which were accessible by foot only. Some of the monuments have a mixed archictecture design like the Elephant’s stable which was a combination of Vijaynagara, Mughal and Jain architecture. Each of the monuments had its own charm and a delight to see. A photographer’s delight especially. The only downside was the intense humid weather.
After seeing most of the places by noon, I had hired a bicycle to visit more places which were almost 3 miles. The places I went now were the Vijaya Vittala temple(the world famous stone chariot is in this temple), King’s balance, Lotus Mahal, Watch tower and Elephant’s stable. The heat would drain my energy out every half an hour and I would end up finishing up a bottle of water or a cold drink.
For Your Viewing Pleasure
My friends would be in contact with me for the entire trip and one of them told he’ll transfer cash into my account. One of the scariest things that can ever happen is when you almost get broke in an unknown place, especially after cycling 4 kms to the nearest town just for an ATM. Another bummer was the funds couldn’t be transferred to my account due to my bank’s server error. I was exactly in such a situation when the ATM refused to give a 500 rupee note and would give out only 2k notes.
Tip: While visiting the Lotus Mahal, Museum or Vittal Temple, only a single ticket would suffice for these places.
Earlier in the day, I had bought a map and started ticking the places I had visited. Whenever I used to take a break, I would be checking my progress. To my surprise, I had almost finished seeing all the places by evening. Still, a couple of hours left for my train back home, I headed towards the railway station by dusk.
Bought a return ticket back home after dinner and was waiting for the train. The train arrives at the platform by 9.30 P.M. and people are running helter-skelter in order to board in the right coach. I just board into a random coach and search for the TTE.
Usually, most of the times I’ve travelled, the TTE’s would accept our request to give one berth but this TTE just wouldn’t budge. He was trying to scam from me since I did not possess a reserved ticket. I showed him the actual ticket price and told him I would pay this much only and he walks away in disdain. At last I managed to get a berth and had a much deserved sleep after a hectic day.
What’s even worse was I forgot to carry my phone charger and had to use without a charger for almost 2 days. To my surprise, the phone’s batter was dead the moment I stepped inside my house after a gruelling trip. One thrilling experience I’ve ever had till date and would still wonder how I made it.