Don't worry, Be "Hampi": Riding along with our Heritage (Pune > Badami > Hampi > Gokarna >Goa )

Tripoto
12th Dec 2017
Photo of Don't worry, Be "Hampi": Riding along with our Heritage (Pune > Badami > Hampi > Gokarna >Goa ) by Suraj Bajaj
Day 1

"Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me. As is ever so on the road"

A road trip is indeed the true way to satiate your wandering soul. The journey itself is an enriching experience and the destination, well it's an icing on the cake.

It was early December when three of us started early morning from Pune, the Queen of Deccan and followed the path traced out in the uploaded map for 5 days. After a brief halt for lunch at our friend's home in Satara, we hit NH48 on a very hot afternoon. This national highway is one of the longest in the country traversing through multiple states. The road stretch from Satara to Kolhapur is a driver's paradise with scarce congestion accompanied by scenic landscapes on both the sides. We were running behind our schedule to visit Gokak falls on the way to Badami thanks to the poor road conditions after leaving the highway. Incidentally we witnessed a beautiful sunset on the Hidkal dam which is also an important archaeological site in the Belgaum district. It went past midnight to reach Badami and we resorted to call it a night at a modest lodge in the main market.

Photo of Pune, Maharashtra, India by Suraj Bajaj

Sunset at Hidkal dam on the way to Gokak falls

Photo of Pune, Maharashtra, India by Suraj Bajaj
Day 2

This was going to be a long day as we planned to cover a significant distance along with visiting multiple sites. We checked out early morning and after a scrumptious south Indian breakfast went straight to the Badami cave complex. This complex dates back to the 6th century comprising of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples. The Karnataka government has done a fabulous job of maintaining this systemically important heritage site. The rock cut cave temples here take you back in time when art and religion used to go hand in hand. Inscriptions on the walls establishes the site to be the oldest cave temples of India. There are numerous adjoining temples ( Bhootnath Temple being the prominent one) scattered all around the main complex situated on a man made Agasthya lake. There are also a couple of forts adjecent to the lake which gives a birds eye view of the entire Badami city. Believe me, the view is unparalleled which imparts the feeling of being in an ancient world setting.

Ideally one should alot an entire day for sightseeing here but due to limited time we continued to our next destination, Pattadakal. It was already half past 3 when we reached pattadakal on a very hot and humid afternoon. We could see the temple complex far from a distance as we were approaching the entrance, such was it's humongous setting. The complex is yet another protected historic site depicting the remaims of the culture rich Chalukya dynasty. The complex comprises of hundred of shrines illustrating eclectic art in its most prominent form. The sophisticated artwork on the walls coupled with the intricate handmade designs would make you go all praises for the ancient sculpture provess that India used to posses.

After a hurried lunch we were back on the road towards our last destination of the day, Hampi. Again an entire day can be invested to explore pattadakal and Aihole together but we gave it a miss to march towards the city of Ruins. There was a lot of ground to cover plus the need to strike atleast one place from our Hampi itinerary on the remaining part of the day. We pushed on the throttle without any slacks and luckily the roads were gracious enough to let us reach our destination just before the Sunset. We decided to witness the Sundown from the highest point in the city, Anjaneya hill (also the birth place of lord Hanuman). The walk up the hill is a straight climb of 575 steps and as much as we knew its was going to be a test of our endurance after a long tiring day, we needed to reach the top in the next 20 mins to witness the sunset which sounded like the last nail in the coffin.

Yet somehow drenched in our sweat, shaking,  breathing heavily, we reached just before the evening aarti and a couple of minutes to the sundown. The view from the top was an instant relief to our aching back and legs. We laid back on the boulders at the top witnessing one of the most beautiful sunsets of our lives without any shred of worries dettached from the idiosyncrasies of the mortal world.

The ride down was a quick one as the temperature tonned down a bit with the wind carrying a soothing chill along with it.  We planned to stay in the main Hampi market due its proximity to the various monuments we needed to cover the next morning. If one has an extra day, try staying across the river in the camps to enjoy the true hippi culture that Hampi imbibes.

Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Badami, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Day 3

Hampi, situated on the banks of tungabhadra river was the capital of Vijayanagar empire in 14th century. The culture here is inspired by the chronicles of the Persian and European travellers visiting this once prosperous and wealthy empire only to be later destroyed by the muslim sultanates and leave it in the present state of ruins. Every monument here has a tale of its own and carries a whip of one of the richest dynasties to ever rule the Indian subcontinent.

We started with the active worshiping Virupaksha temple which is a structural marvel on its own. The inner sanctum is inorganically lit with hundreds of diyas illuminating the intricately carved stone walls. The entire premise is a closed enclosure just like the famous Meenakshi temple of Madurai. P. S. Don't forget to take the blessings from Elephant Laxmi in the temple premises, she is really adorable.

Other must places to visit are the ancient Hampi market, the elephant stable, the Queen's palace, Ganesha temple and Vittala temple. You can find a monument worth capturing at every twist and turn in this culture rich city where you can't help but wonder what would it be like to witness this place in its full color and might. A better and early preservation of the various sites here should have helped in maintaining the deteriorating state of this beautiful and historically significant place.

One should ideally devote a couple of days to embrace and embibe the unique vibe that this majestic city has to offer. The aesthetics and delicate features the place carries is a treat to your modern monotonous sight. The place is real thing of beauty even after falling prey to the human greed, generation after generation across the test of time and history.

After bidding adieu to Hampi and promising to someday exclusively visit it back, we set out after a soothing evening tea towards Gokarna, a place of solace in our itinerary.  It was more than 7 hrs of tiring ride to reach belekan village at midnight ( As suggested by our acquaintance for the morning coastal trek). We stayed at a modest cottage near the beach itself owning to the limited options in sight. One should try reaching early in the day for better and comfortable options.

Nevertheless the night was set in a perfect context as we sat under the stars, besides an old banyan tree decorated with pretty twinkling lights. We kept embracing the moonlight reflecting from the waters of the endless ocean in front of us with cups of fuming hot coffee in our numb hands. Nothing can invigorate a tired mind better than a cup a coffee ready for those endless discussions about love, life and world at large. Moments like this helps you to stop for a while and gather your thoughts about what is gone and what lies ahead of you. We rested upon the carpet of sand which kept getting cooler and our eyes which kept getting heavier with each passing moment. The night was in its full might as we made terms with the sleep gods for a good night's rest.

Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Day 4

The early morning sunshine greeted us to a new day. The coastal trek trail was moderately laid out with the necessity to enquire about the directions with the locals ( which was also rare) in few instances. The trail was a combination of uphill and downhill stretches as we moved parallel to the Arabian ocean. There are numerous untouched and pristine beaches on the entire trail (Om, Paradise, Half moon to name a few)
which are hardly marked by any human settlements. The trail ends at Kudle beach, one of the commercialized beaches in this stretch. The sunrays are harsh in this part of the country and the air is humid enough to drain you out even though the trek is easy to moderate. All the beaches are characterized by large number of foreign nationals who generally ditch the likes of Goa for a peaceful hideout.

Gokarna would be an ideal place for someone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of Goa but still want to enjoy crystal clear waters and serene beaches. It was already late afternoon by the time we enjoyed some quality time on Kudle beach followed by lunch to take an auto back to Belekan where our ride was parked. We didn't have much of a time in our kitty to explore the adjoining areas which should have been the case as there is a lot more to the place than only beaches. We set out before the sundown towards Goa, our last destination of this short trip. It is crime to skip Goa when you can visit it on a road trip however short the duration is.

The place always has so much more to offer as per individual choices. The care free attitude, the everlasting youth vibes and offcourse the best part, Cheap booze. We stayed nearPalolem in southern part of Goa which is the less crowded zone too. An evening dazzled with lights and trippy music after a long day was a perfect kind of closure we could have asked for.

Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Suraj Bajaj
Day 5

After a delicious English breakfast at an adjoining shack we were on our way to explore old Goa. After visit to a couple of churches, lannded on to the Baker's street. Tried our hands on variety of confectionery till every corner of our appetite was fulfilled. On thevway, We had an unplanned pit stop in kolhapur to catchup with some old buddies which took up some time (More than some actually).  Hence, we only managed to reach satara by midnight to halt for the night there only to leave early morning to our final destination,Pune.

Total Trip cost (Pune -Pune)
30k ( approx 7.5 k when divided among 4 ppl and self owned car)

Food for thought:

1) Add 1 extra day for each of the places mentioned, if you thoroughly want to explore Badami,  Hampi and Gokarna. ( 8 days minimum)

2) Get a stay across the river in Hampi instead in the main market

3) limited options in Belekan to stay. Stay at Kudle and do the coastal trek the other way round

4) Prefer taking your own vehicle if you want to cover all the places. Individually, spots can be covered by public transport.

5) Hire a guide in Hampi, it helps in understanding the significance of the places and also helps you visualize the tales and stories behind the monuments.

6) Try French breakfast on Kudle beach,  its rare ( In India) and delicious.

7) Finally, please vouch to protect our heritage in whatever way possible as they are essential to understand our lineage and also to carry forward that legacy in the future for generations to come.

Thanks. Please inbox for any additional detail needed.

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