Dedicating the whole weekend to washing clothes and watching television just felt wrong this time. I wanted to travel. After a lot of googling about, I came up with a unique location. Yogesh and Kedar were busy, and couldn’t have come along. That didn’t stop me. I was on my way to Hampi, Karnataka.
Traveling from Pune, one has to go to Hampi via Hospet. After the night travel, I reached Hospet early in the morning. I was immediately crowded out by rickshaw drivers asking if I wanted to go to Hampi. I was very excited to have reached there. The rickshaw walas’ attention made me feel like a celebrity. All this was so overwhelming that it didn’t leave any room for my hungry stomach.
Finally, after picking the rickshaw wala who was most conversant with English, I left for Hampi, which is 13 kms away. The commute was a particularly enlightening one, as rickshaw walas are the cheapest guides. He gave me all the information about lodging, eating, sight seeing, and also offered to be my personal guide at ‘just’ Rs. 1000. I took Lonely Planet’s advice and declined.
The first thing I saw after getting down from the rickshaw was the first thing I saw when I Googled Hampi – The Virupaksha Temple. I decided to pay it a visit after having bathed, and thus began my search for a lodge.
Hampi does not have lodging and boarding hotels like one might expect. There are decent rooms provided by the local residents as ‘guest houses’. I stayed in Ganesh Guest House, where the owner welcomed me with a smile, like it was painted on his face.
“Aadhi potoba, mag vithoba” is a saying in Marathi which means that one thinks about worshiping their own stomach (a.k.a. eating) before worshiping God. I remembered that I had decided to visit the Virupaksha Temple after having bathed. But I found myself in the restaurant ordering Aloo Parantha as I thought of the temple. Oops.
Hampi is a small village in the northern part of Karnataka. It’s staple food is essentially rice and rassam. The local people urge you not to have it in condescension, saying you can’t digest it. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the place is full of foreigners. So, the food here comes from across the globe. I had delicious pastas, noodles, paranthas and omlettes during my two day stay there.
I had a particularly interesting chat with a coconut selling lady there. She was a bit fat, fairly tall, dark old lady draped in a saree. Her sincere smile was beautiful despite her darkened teeth. She didn’t understand anything but Kannada. I could speak nothing of Kannada.
Me: Aap itne dhoop me har roz naariyal bechte ho?
She: *gestures me to sit in her humble shed*
Me: Hindi aati hai aapko?
She: Hindi Illa. Something kannada.
Me: Mai Pune se aaya hu. Akela ghum raha hu. Subah se sab se jyada baat aap se kiya. Acha laga.
She: *smiles and pats my back*
And then I took a selfie with her, which she loved. She gave me a bottle of water for free and said something in Kannada with a smiling face, tilted head and a hand on the chest. I didn’t have to know Kannada to understand that. Details about Day 2 coming up soon.