Being a history fanatic, with a belief that travel is the requisite to quench my desire to explore and learn the unknown; Hampi had to be stripped off of my bucket list. My major motivations were: the architectural marvels of the Vijayanagara kingdom that left the European and Persian wanderers stupefied, the way the empire attracted international trade and commerce, the enormous wealth and the bountiful merchandise (like diamonds, rubies, pearls, horses, etc.) the empire possessed, the geographical realm of the surrounding area, the glory and fame this majestic kingdom entailed, and last but not the least, the Bahamani Sultan had to literally conspire to knock down the empire’s military defense and eventually the whole kingdom altogether; making it the last non-Islamic dynasty to have ever ruled the Deccan.
From the past couple of years, I had been looking for opportunities to visit Hampi but was held up by an umpteen number of things, but, nevertheless, it seemed like I just couldn’t make up time and this trip wasn’t happening.
The idea for this road trip got implanted in my mind during the interlude I got from work when I had made a company switch. I did not want to fritter away this golden period of recess from work into doing nothing, hence, decided to do something exciting, something I had never done before, something that had been alluring me from quite some time, something that had always been enigmatic to me, the list of “somethings” would go on and on; probably all I needed was a change in my routine and busy lifestyle most of which was work engulfed; this is what I believe had propelled me to impel on a solitary journey of ruin hopping through the magnificent ruins of the erstwhile kingdom of Vijayanagara and the weird, randomly balanced stone boulders surrounding the area.
I wanted to experience all these things extensively and in real which would take me back to the aureate and gleaming times of the glorious Vijayanagara kingdom. I personally being involved in creative fields like art and photography, was even more excited to understand how the kingdom patronized art and craft with a great deal of emphasis given to culture and heritage. The Vijayanagara kingdom was famed for its affinity towards the aforementioned aspects.
For me travelling has always been not just about places but also meeting people. There are no places without people; it’s the people who bring life to places, making them what they are; instead of mere empty spaces. More to that, I always prefer travelling solo to places and keep meeting divergent sets of people en route, making connects and engaging with them about various things and topics as different people would notice different aspects, thereby, understanding their perspectives. Along with all these, I am an avid photographer. I wanted to capture anything and everything on the way to Hampi. As a basic attribute prevalent in me, I am constantly in awe of the things around me and the nature surrounding them. This helps me strengthen my memories about places by getting immersed deeply into the surroundings and think peacefully; in turn gain deep insights about it. I strongly believe that photography and travelling go hand-in-hand; it’s all about exploration and discovery. Hence, to experience all these on my own terms, at my own pace, I had decided to commute by a bike. Since, I didn’t own one, after reading many travelogues and asking around in various groups and friends, I decided to rent out a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350cc.
Once I procured the bike, I was determined to set out alone. Thus, I finally packed my bags and set course towards Hampi, marking my first major solo journey.
So, who doesn’t enjoy a ride on a bike, whether a short one or a long one for that matter; the essence is to ride and experience. For this, I decided to start my commute early in the morning. I had planned to start from my place by 04:00 A.M in the morning as Hampi was about 400 km from Hyderabad and hence, wanted to get there before it got sunny. I had finished all my packing and other preparations like fuel, tyre pressure, route map, etc., just the night before my travel date due to which I ended up sleeping late. I made sure I put at least a couple of alarms for the fear of missing out on waking up on time. I woke up at 3 A.M and got ready. I left my place at 04:00 A.M sharp as per my plan. I had made a rough plan of the route, actually the main cities/towns on the way and stuck that on the engine tank for easy access. The route I had followed was Gachibowli - Jadcherla - Mahboobnagar - Gadwal - Raichur - Sindhanur - Gangavati - Hampi.
After continuously riding for about 3 hours, I stopped for breakfast break at Gadwal town, and after a break of about 45 minutes, I restarted my journey. On the way, I was astonished by the beauty of the nature and the way it was acting as an eye candy, forced me to take a couple of stops, major ones being a bridge while going to Raichur from Gadwal over the River Krishna which was at its full level, I believe and another at the sunflower farms which were found on the sides of the highway for quite a stretch. It gave me a sense of liberation like never before, it was something like I was all by myself on this amazing stretch exploring the landscape and the world around me. It was great feeling initially riding in the dark (early morning), good cold weather as it was the rainy season; was lucky that it didn’t rain that day; and smooth highway roads with not much traffic or any other road blocks to interrupt until we crossed Raichur, to enter into the Sindhanur stretch from where the road started to become a bit unpleasant make the ride a tad bit time consuming and this continued this Gangavati. From here, the highway had started again and the roads eventually got quite good.
Finally after about a half an hour of commute, I see a sign board with Hampi written on it and I was just 10km away from the destination. Hampi could be reached through two routes; one from the Hospet end, it being the nearest town to Hampi, about 12km or the Kamalapura route which is on the other side of the river Tungabhadra, about 5km from Hampi. I chose the Kamalapura route. From Kamalapura village, I had to traverse through an amazing but a weird road as the approach to Hampi was a minor hill terrain road section, with hills made up of randomly placed boulders; they were as if placed one on top of the other like a heap and greenery on both the sides. I stopped at multiple places taking photographs and enjoying the scenery, finally reached Hampi.
When one reaches Hampi the Tungabhadra valley unravels to the world; with this the human interaction with the nature unfolds at Hampi. I could see a fine blend of human and natural physical landscape going hand in hand at Hampi. I, then felt and understood, it is this visual expression that attracts people from far flung places. This region speaks of volumes of history of the past.
I reached the main market type of area in Hampi, which is kind of the area which had guest houses and restaurants, shops, etc. It is on the banks of the river Tungabhadra. This area is generally known as the Hampi Bazaar. The temple in the midst of the main area is the Virupaksha Temple which is not exactly a ruin but still frequented by the local populace for worship. Here, I checked in to a guest house, Vicky’s guest house. The accommodation was surprisingly pretty cheap. I was charged Rs. 400 per night for a double – bed room. The terrace of the guest house offered a good view of the nearest ruins atop rocky hillocks. In fact the whole area is full of large rocks and more rocks. There are an umpteen other options as well, no personal preference though, but my experience at the guest house was pretty good.