Hampi part 3, caves and musical stones

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Coming down from the temple, I found a small archway cut into the stone, and exploring further, there was a path, sometimes hidden behind a rock which I followed. Bats were startled, flying overhead with their "sonar" squeaking at a high pitch which was more felt than heard. Remembering scare stories as a kid of bats getting caught in a person's hair and biting them, I tied my red bandanna over my hair in a "do-rag" style, and pulled out my mini-maglight with which to navigate the narrow passages of the cave.
The cave went deep into the mountain, sometimes I had to squeeze through narrow spaces barely big enough for a 6 foot westerner, no matter how thin I may have become, and also sometimes I had to duck low for the ever-present bats, flying inches above my head, ready to give me a rabid bite.

At length the cave opened out into a small room containing an altar for pooja, presumably for the destroyer god Shiva, and also sanskrit writing. Perhaps some kind of ancient graffitti "rajneesh was here, year 1356," or maybe "watch out for the bats."
The way the sun shone through the gaps in the rock was sometimes eerie, sometimes beautiful. Exiting that cave, I proceeded up and then down the secret staircase to find another post-and lintel shrine overlooking Hampi, and in full view of the Hanuman temple, some 2 kilometers distant. Quite a view.
At some places I looked for more entrances, once coming upon a sort of crevasse so deep that the feeble light from my tiny torch could not penetrate the gloom. I decided to push on and find an entrance to this one, which came another couple of hundred meters away, a statue of gonesh carved into the bare rock face guarding the entrance.
This was a bigger cave, full of twists and turns, the shells of giant millipedes everywhere, and sadly, also there was much trash at the opening. As I went deeper, however, the trash dissapated, perhaps the litterbugs had been punished by Shiva, Gonesh, or a hungry leopard, which, I found out later are known to live in these caves.

On I went, finding yet more of the ancient writings, probably reading, "go away white man," or "here there by Tygers." Fortunately I did not come across any human bones or skulls, but one's mind tends to think about such things when running wild as you trudge through the dark.
One must eat this fear, however, if one is to see what others do not. Coming upon a huge deep hole in the trail that I could not cross, I looked down to see a large print, a little like a dog print, only larger. Next to it was a pottery shard, which I looked at and left there. A leopard print, old, but nonetheless. So my decision was made not to go down there in the dark, running into Shiva would be bad enough, but an angry leopard might have a little more immmediate consequences than a karmic punishment from an irate hindu demigod.

Explored a few more avenues, finding stairs and paths in unlikely places, and one could certainly spend a whole day or more just in that one mountain of caves. Of course I would not recommend this for those that cannot find their car in a parking lot, or have to ask directions every block, because the way out and in is not clear-cut, and one must remember very well which way they have come, or they may never be seen again, their mummified corpse pointing the way like something from "journey to the center of the earth. . ."

Down back toward the village, I stepped on a rock to a strange hollow sound. "wait a minute," I thought, and turned around and tapped on the refrigerator-sized piece of granite. Ting, ting. . This was one of the musical rocks, the most famous being the pillars in the Varkala temple, though they discourage people from "playing" the pillars to preclude wear on the ancient monument.
On a side note, I viewed Varkala from the outside, and then from above, the cost being 200 rupees, which I thought better put into Rocinante's tank than spent looking at things of which I had seen many. . It would have been worth it, but as I am looking at a somewhat limited budget, I took a miss on that one. Oh, and incidentally they make no secret about "Indian price" and "western price." The indians pay 20 rupees to see varkala, while the westerners pay ten times that. I guess I need to really work on that tan and my scanty Hindi to get the discount. .

I rested by Nandi on the way down, and then played guitar at the Gopi, and after another beautiful sunset I turned in.
Tomorrow I was going to try to cross the river in one of the strange "coracle" boats they make from bamboo and old tarpaulins. . .
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