Good vibes and big rocks
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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A day train east out of Goa brought us into the neighboring state of Karnataka to visit the town of Hampi. From the 1300's to the mid 1500's this place was the capital of the Vijayanagar (pronounced "Vee-Jay-Ah-Nah-Gar") Empire that dominated southern India and was one of the largest Hindu empires in history. They built considerable wealth by controlling the regional spice trade and cotton farming and built a fortified capital city, with bustling bazaars and marketplaces and over 500,000 inhabitants. Now the town is much more laid back and has a population of only a thousand or so people who run the guesthouses, souvenir shops and restaurants catering to the tourists who come to see the ruins as well as the steady flow of pilgrims who worship at the ancient (but still active) Hindu temples.
In much of India, walking anywhere can be a major hassle
We spent much of our time here wandering and biking through the scattered ruins. The place is spread out enough so you seldom encounter other tourists and often can rove through huge temple complexes without encountering much more than an occasional shepherd grazing their goats, cows, or water buffalo. All the sights and atmosphere combined with wonderful restaurants and friendly locals make this a place where I could easily spend a week. We are both sorry to be leaving tonight.
Hampi is a traveler's oasis and is a "must see" for anyone spending a few weeks traveling around India. The scenery is spectacular, with giant granite boulders everywhere, a peaceful river running through rice paddies, and magnificent stone temples spread out over a 5-mile area. We stayed in a really cute guesthouse (for $9 a night), and spent our afternoons lounging and reading at a great little restaurant overlooking banana trees, the river, and water buffaloes. I finally broke down and had some clothes made in Hampi... it was just too cheap to pass up. At $7 for 2 shirts and a pair of pants custom made in less than 24 hours, it is hard to beat!