Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hampi is Filled With Monkeys

At some point last week I was sitting in the back of a tuk-tuk and it occured to me that I nneeded to "get back to nature." I often need to get myself somewhere in the middle of nothing but trees and mountains, where I can no longer hear the highway or any road. I knew what I needed, but I am in the middle of India, so I just didn't know how to get it. Thankfully, I got it.
This past weekend eleven freinds and I went to Hampi. Most everyone has scheduled their classes so they don't have any on Friday, so we left Thursday night on an overnight bus. We planned to leave Tagore at 7:30, so I called a cab for us at 7 asking them to arrive around 7:30. 7:30 came and went but there was no cab. Around 8 a cab showed up, but it was only one with room for 8, not 12. So the first 8 went with instructions to stand in front of the bus if it tried to leave while the last four of us waited for another cab. It came fairly quickly and we were at the "station" in good time. The "station" was actually just a travel agency near a bus stop. We had to catch a small bus that would take us to a bus station where we would catch our overnight bus. No bus came. Ever. Thankfully the travel agency guys were on the situation, so we were told "it's coming, 10 more minutes" every 30min or so.
After waiting for nearly three hours in the rain the right bus came. It was lovely. I took myself to the back where I could get two seats to myself so I could curl up by myself. I had nearly drifted off to sleep when the bus stopped. I heard people getting up, but I didn't think anything of it. Then I heard one of the guys in our group mention something about "getting off," and not sexually. Apparently this bus was just taking us to a place where our real bus was going to pick us up. The bus was literally pulling away when I jumped off, my shoes in my hand. We had been dropped at this abandoned train station in the middle of bum-fuck Hyderabad. There was no sign of life anywhere, other than the wandering homeless Indians and dogs. We were just 12 Westerners (aka 11 White People and Terrence) alone and cold and hungry. And I had to pee. We waited for around 20min, although looking back I'm not sure why we waited that long? I guess safety is in numbers. But finally a bus came, and it was the right bus! We piled on and got on our way.
Archana GuestHouse
We got to Hampi around 8am the next morning and found a good-priced Guest House quite quickly. We grabbed breakfast and began to explore. I'm not sure of the exact story, but the majority of Hampi is currently being torn down. A few people we asked said that it had to do with some government ordinance that didn't want businesses so close to the ancient temples. Whatever the reason, a lot of people are losing their homes and businesses because of it.
We went to the nearest temple and walked through, and right as we got in we saw the temple elephant named Lakshmi (who is the Hindu goddess of luck and prosperity). If you gave her some rupees she'd take it from you then bless your head for good luck. It was a lot of fun and I must say that I think she leads a good life. She gets bathed in the river every day and has constant access to food and water and is generally loved by all.
She was looking at me and I couldn't look away
After the temple our group split up and I went to go climb on some big rocks/boulders. The landscape looks like a giant was trying to move some mountains, but kept dropping his armful along the way. There was an old temple/hut on the top of a really big pile that I decided was my goal, but to no one's surprise the monkeys foiled my plans. Unfortunately there were lots of Monkeys in Hampi. However, I feel pretty confident in saying that if it hadn't been for the horde of potentially angry monkeys I could've reached my goal.
After all this it was only about 3, so we went to a restaurnt called Mango Tree that is reccomended by Lonley Planet and popular with the white folks. The food was very good and not too pricey, but the view is obviously why people go. The seating is terraced on the side of a hill overlooking the river where cows and goats and stuff wander around. Its truely beautiful and it was great to just chill and rest there.
Mango Tree view
I was very tired and my stomache had kind of been hurting all day, so we had an early dinner and then I went off to bed. Unfortunaely I got sick early Saturday morning and had to stay in bed all day. I did make it out for lunch, but I went right back to sleep afterwards. As much as I wouldv'e loved to tour the city with everyone else, Hampi wasn't a bad place to be sick. It was very quiet, compared to Hyderabad, and just had a very relaxing ebb and flow. Everyone came back to the GuestHouse before dinner and my friend Diana gave me a magic pill (Cipro) and I was feeling much better by the time they got back.
Although I wasn't 100%, Sunday was much better. I walked around town and did some shopping. Me and a few others went back to Mango Tree and just sat and read for a while with drinks and tea. Most everyone else joined us for a late lunch before we had to get back on the bus.
Although we didn't have a problem finding the right bus, the ride back was really unpleasant. It was extremely bumpy and the driver just kept yelling the whole time. Once we got to Hyderabad, around 6am, he dropped us off on the complete opposite side of town. After another 30-45min tuk-tuk ride we finally got back to Tagore.
Even though it would've been great to have not been sick, I still had a nice time. It was great to be able to just get out of the city for a few days! And I'm sure I'll go back so I can see the temples and defeat the monkeys.
I've been working on a different post for nearly a week now, so hopefully I'll have that up soon.
View from GuestHouse roof
Lakshmi blessing me
Main temple
It took me forever to identify him, but he's a South Indian Rock Agama in mating colors!

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