Saturday, January 19, 2013

a little haven in Hampi

The enigma surrounding Hampi is enticing enough by itself, but given that Amanda and Ben were there, and given that I had just survived 8 hours on the Hell Train, it was all the more extraordinary to be there! Crossed by wooden boat over to Hampi Island, tramped through the rice paddies in the rain with all my stuff towards the guesthouse Goan Corner, and soon enough saw some other Westerners, some cows and a few goats headed my way. And then there they were in the flesh, The Tulin's! SO happy to see some smiley faces from home, it made all the wretchedness of the day of travel just disappear. 

Hampi is the home of the former Jijayanagara Empire, a super power in south India from 1336 - 1646, and now the home of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first settlement there dates to about the time of Christ, and when you survey the landscape it certainly feels like you are in another world in another time. There are millions of granite boulder dotting the terrain, leaving you to wonder how in the world they got like that in the first place?! The answer is part mystery and part combination of fault lines, cracks, and wind over millions of years. Throw in lush rice paddy fields, temples and ruins, coconut and mango trees, cows and monkeys, rivers and reservoirs, rock climbers and motor bikes - the result is one seriously special place in the middle of southern India! 

The weather is a bit hazy at this time of year...

Manda and Ben had already been in Hampi a week and I have a feeling they would have stayed there for the rest of their lives if they could have (don't blame them!) since they are passionate rock climbers. They had picked a very groovy little place to stay called Goan Corner, right smack in the middle of the rice paddies and very near good climbing. The rooms are about 300 rupees ($6), the staff is incredible (they all know your name from the second you walk in the door and keep a tab for you for food), the vibe is irie, the common area incredibly mellow and great for gathering, the setting wholly harmonious.

Goan Corner

My crib

Another dynamite thing about Goan Corner, if I haven't already convinced you to stay there, is the other people calling it "home" as well. Rock climbers from around the world, staying anywhere from a week to the full 6 months of their visa practically, the community is tight knit and whether you're a rock climbing enthusiast or a noob or anywhere in between, you're sure to feel welcomed among the supportive group of people that rock climb around the globe! 



Andy from Australia

Viri from Argentina

Agnus from Texas/England

Cody from Canada

Shreyas from Bangalore

I gave it a go

Lots of beautiful sunsets on the rocks!

There are other things to do in Hampi besides rock climb..... like climb the 570 stairs to the Hanuman Temple (believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman, a Hindu deity, ape like, central character in the Ramayana). 

Love how they asked to take the photo and then none of them are even looking or smiling except Manda.

"Just one snap"

Amazing 360 views from the top!

A little chai after everything you do makes life sweeter! Literally, you might have diabetes if you stay here too long. Worth it ;)

My love for this girl knows no bounds.... seriously one of the most beautiful people inside and out I've ever had the pleasure of calling my friend!

Head to the Baba Cafe for some unusual conversation (among many other things!) with the toothless, toupeed Baba. Warning: meals take 2 hours. 

The Virupaksha Temple

Cows and dogs inside the temple

The monkeys actually tried to fight the cow for a second... only in India.

The beautiful temples and ruins of magical Hampi

Some sites around town

Motor biking around Hampi is the way to go - there's hardly any traffic, there's gorgeous scenery all around, and the bikes are 100 rupees ($2) per day.

Beautiful swim in a beautiful reservoir

Horsin' around Goan Corner with everyone's favorite little resident globe trotter, Tiger from Barcelona

Few more rock climbing pics, cause these guys are all so goooood!

This is what they were attempting to climb... I can't even fathom how...

Hampi was an immense experience, one I'm so glad I got to share with good friends and new friends alike! Unfortunately, there are iron-ore mines in the area, and a recent demand boom in the international market for iron-ore has put Hampi under threat. Let's hope progression can hold off long enough to keep this place inspiring generations to come.  

"Travel is more than seeing the sites; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." - Miriam Beard

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