That’s exactly what Hampi is like, well…. except for the over-saturated hippie-ware that’s still on display throughout the bazaar (barely a dot in the sand compared to the extensive markets that sprawled across the area in times past).
What else could you possibly expect from the once thriving epicenter of the party scene for several dynasties (long since fallen). In many ways this place was completely utopian;
From what I’ve gathered it was almost a mini pseudo-state with most of the inhabitants being dancers, military and of course the royalty / nobles and their ‘help’.
It was like a mini SHOWSEC country or a GIANT festival with absolutely countless trader stalls (selling gems/stones/spices/fruit/whathaveyou). The military boasted of being almost a million men strong, while the actual population of Hampi in it’s prime (16th C) was around half a million!
Once on top of the viewing platform it was obviously a well organised festival ground, with wooden stages across the horizon (for the dancers) and underground tunnels for nobles to make private business negotiations away from prying eyes. (Because all trading was open…. except those conducted in a special guild tunnel.)
The party kept going, it would have been sustainable off donations (made for entrance to the festivities as well as temple entrance fees) hundreds of thousands of market stalls (famous for gems and spices) were also a very lucrative market when you own the local land and have access to a great Roman aqueduct. The temples and their statues were masterfully made by stone-carving pilgrims (obviously unpaid). All wooden structures were destroyed during the Kurdish invasion, leaving only the stone structures ie; temples, military structures, market stalls and royal buildings (baths and the sort) everything else was burned to the ground.
It went on for much longer then anyone would have guessed possible, with this society existing for over 3 dynasties.
This festival would have made Glastonbury look like a car-boot-sale.
The party was so damn that the bats are still having a dance-off!
I missed the prime of modern Hampi, as new legislation (in 2009) was passed stating a new minimum distance that every building must be from heritage sites. Most of Hampi was demolished and the town is now tiny. Although this would have been devastating for local businesses, it has also made it possible for Hampi to remain the cultural heritage site it deserves to be.
It was and is all beautiful, but very tourist friendly, i have finally learned how to beat Indians at their wifi-password game! (email for solution)
As you can clearly see from the images, lovely place rich history, but look at those boulders!
And so we bouldered to our hearts content !
Bouldering dominated our time at Hampi, such a great opportunity to climb outdoors with such variety of boulders available. It’s an absolute mecha for climbers apparently.
At downtime we started to wash our clothes in the river, single handily the most relaxing monotonous task.
Especially when Lakshmi shows up unexpectedly!
A sad side-note on Lakshmis name, she is named after a four handed goddess, whos four hands ‘represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life – dharma, kāma, artha, and moksha.
Unfortunately her duties prevent her from being able to tackle more than two (dharma and artha)making for a sad elephant. 😦 If your interested in what i mean simply read this wiki page as it tells of the elephant keeper positions duties and methods.
She lives in the main temple and blesses tourists and pilgrims for money. Spending most of her time chained to a post with only bath-time constituting any kind of me-time for her. So we did feel quite bad when she was upset about our proximity during her short time window to be herself.
Animal visitors have frequented us regularly, numerous little visitors found their way into our bathrooms (if only just) while in Hampis budget accommodation,some favourites include the regular reptile and awkward dog.
Recharged it was time to move on to Sri Lanka after a little over two weeks spent climbing, reading, resting and exploring a great little town! I’m going to avoid talking about the architecture…. so instead its;
Yet my favourite find in Hampi was this doorway, with the red moon and it’s rabbit inhabitant on it, with the serpents coming for it. We had a local guide doing a crash-course on Hampi…. it was the first time i had heard of Yutu (the rabbit on the moon) and a story so utterly bullshit that it required further reading. Rahu (the guy who stole the elixir of immortality, regularly depicted as a serpent) drank it before anything was done, but the alarm was raised and Shiva had arrived to decapitate Rahu before the elixir does its thing, but his head was now immortal and it floated around occasionally swallowing the sun or the moon (the explanation at the time of how eclipses work.
This ridiculous lie was supposed to be explanation for the mesmerising piece above a door designed for elephants. It seemed to me like the kind of story peasants are meant to believe. There’s no way royalty was to buy that crap, and why would they? The alternate story The Rabbits and the Elephants seemed to be the story that royalty would be reminded of regularly in hopes that it’s morals can help prolong Hampis success.
That story tells exactly of such a hard to swallow lie in the form of tactical lie by the king of rabbits that would help defend the frail and plentiful rabbits from the clumsy thrashing of the workers / elephants. It was great contrast, a pleasant note to finish on as it was time to go.
Time to experience coach class in India rail in an ill-prepared attempt to make it for our flight to Sri Lanka!
To be perfectly honest, except for the toilet, long trains in India on coach class are really nowhere near as bad as people claim. We ended up rocking our rollmatts and racking up some good sleeping on the second train! Just in time to
Back at Vashi (our little district in Mumbai, best location for the job with packaging shops, bike shop (a proper one) a tarpaulin specialist around the corner, to name a few) it was time to crack on again!
Everything turned out just great obviously, we managed to get to our boxes and fill them with bikes before, arriving in beautiful SRI LANKAAA!!!
Now for a bit of rest before we set off tomorrow!