My Hampi trip is the most frequently narrated trip. It was a rhapsody of adventure, seclusion, excitement, threat and danger.
Let me introduce you to my favorite travel partner in milky way galaxy, Namrata. Her hobbies include jumping off rocks, swimming in the ocean (at midnight), biking, driving, mothering four dogs and doing life spontaneously. My last trip with her was a trek to dudhsagar water fall (A perfect getaway, just in case you’d like to read).
One day she pinged me saying let’s go to Hampi. I said okay, let’s go. We packed our bags, booked our train tickets and fled by midnight. We boarded the train, settled into the empty space and drifted into thoughts of another perfect getaway.
All was well until the TC arrived. When he arrived I proudly pulled out my phone showing him our booking confirmation. He looked at me carefully and said,“this ticket is invalid get off at the next station”. We probed further showing evident concern. But why? But how? The train had moved far away trailing the outskirts, there was no way we would get off at some isolated railway station. That TC wasn’t one bit concerned, he spoke again ‘Waiting list tickets are invalid don’t you know that’? And then he added, “you are in the wrong boogey btw, this one goes to Goa. Get off at the next station”. We later understood that train would separate at one junction, one half of the boogies went to goa and the other half to Hampi. We laughed first and then acted worried. Namrata’s happily stated, Goa’s not too bad what do you say? I answered, let’s hope they allow us stay on the train first. We walked up and down every boogie looking for more TCs, we assumed there could be some kinder TC in some corner.
Luckily we met another TC and expressed our worry, but that man shrieked, oh.. oh... ‘This ticket is worthless then, I'll have to fine you'll for travelling without ticket’. In fact, he was writing us a fine and then he was going to kick us out, Namrata and me stared blankly at each other. She suddenly whispered to me, we know this man. Do you remember him? I’m said 'no, don't joke at this moment Nam'. She assured me, we knew him. She said, I’ll call his daughter's name if he looks I’ll know it's him. I nodded what’s there to lose now? The next minute she started talking. 'Uncle. I’m am so and so’s daughter are you so and so’s father? He looked at her carefully and said yes. Oh, how is your mom and then the conversation flowed on lightly. He rang a friend and asked him to pick up new tickets and meet us at the next station. We got to stay on the train and experience Hampi thanks to TC uncle.
Moral of the story: make more friends, keep old friends.. You never know when someone could be of help.
Lesson learned: If you have to travel with a waiting list ticket travel with a tangible one. Get a copy from the railway station and never use your phone or email copy.
We got down at hospet and greeted Tiger, an awesome auto driver who spoke with an American accent. We reach Hampi and stay at White Elephant resort. It was okayish but we still decided we’ll stay because the host was awesome.
We looked for isolated areas to swim because it felt like this place belonged to us. It was green, pure, fresh scent of nature, bloated clouds, magnificent rock structures and just us - two wild women exploring quietly. Namrata is an ace swimmer and whenever I looked at her swim I wanted to cry. I wanted to swim too or at least float. This trip urged me to learn to swim, thankfully I swim now.
We hired a bike and scootered around happily. We enjoying the dam, the heavenly cut roads and the serene views. Saturday was a fruitful day, we played in the river, rode around, ate amazing food and met a good man Moses.
Saturday night we saw a glimpse of the bears at the travel agent’s office, they had pictures hung all around with tales narrating bear attacks. Why would someone do that? I thought bears are cute fluffy greyish fur balls but Indian bears are scary, black, angry, monster looking balls of terror.
We planned to meet Moses at 6am and go trek but because we didn’t wake up on time he couldn't join us. He guided us on how to go about with our trek and resumed his work (coracle rides) and we were ecstatic to lead our own way.
Who went trekking in slippers? Crazy women like us. We got to the trekking point, it had directions in white paint, and all we had to do was follow. All through I worried about being bitten by a snake, I was relieved when we reached the top. (It's a common sight to find cobras in and around that area) The view was breathtaking but the wind wasn’t human friendly. If we stood on the rock without any support we could easily be blown away, that’s how breezy it was. I sat down to meditate while Namrata shouted into the valley, clicked pictures and began climbing the rock.
I was still terrified, it’s just the two of us all alone on an isolated mountain top without my pepper spray. I looked around breathing in deeply and thinking of happier thoughts while a fresh heap of animal shit grabbed my attention. I examined the shit (hahahaha) and it seemed so fresh like some animal just pooped. I called Namrata asking her to get down and examine it. She investigated it too and concluded it was crazy, the next thing she said was, 'get on the rock'. All through the trip she yelled only one dialog. 'Get on the rock. The highest rock is the safest'. I told her, bears can climb, right? She said, how sure are you it's bear shit? I took out my phone and wanted to search for bear shit on google but there were no signals, absolutely no signals.
She didn’t seem to worry while I was over the top terrified, I didn’t want to die in Hampi and that too by a bear, no way. I kept nagging her to get off the rock, I even threatened to leave alone. She finally agreed and told me 'I’m never going to travel with you'. LOL. I literally sprinted down the uneven rocks and landed safely. We rushed to Moses and he said they were mountain buffaloes. (even that's dangerous wild mountain buffaloes). I still have my doubts though.
After the trek, we went back to our isolated swimming spot laughing crazily about the incident. Namrata swam like a pro while I did kids stuff, I played with sand and pebbles, rested at the edge of the water and sang songs. Suddenly out of nowhere seven boys arrive on three bikes at our cosy secluded woman spot, they spoke in the local language. Namrata yelled yet again 'get on the rock, get on the rock but this time I actually did'. We sat on the rock while those guys sat opposite us taking our pictures and laughing. Terrified, we tried to call someone but there was no signal. We came up with a backup plan, we picked up rocks and pledged. If anyone came any close we would attack them.
The place was so isolated that even if we yelled no one could hear. This went on for over thirty mins boys laughed, joked and videoed us. Namrata suddenly decided we would run. She uttered quietly, 'these people are harmless, if they wanted to do something they would have already, let’s run out super-fast and get out'. We thought about it for a few more mins and ran fastest ever. We reached the bike and tried to start it, it didn't start immediately. (movie like scene, now I know real life instances influence movies) She had to try a couple more times and then it started, those shameless guys still followed us. We zoomed out like we were gearing up for a race beating them fair square. We ran to Moses yet again, he told us not to worry because Sunday’s have local crowd and the locals do not understand the difference between Indians and foreigners, for them every non-local is an outsider. It was terrifying.
It was one crazy trip, we met many people from Andhra who settled there, had amazing food, made a few local friends and found many reasons to return. And to add to it, we were the only sober women, all the tourists mostly Indian (yes mostly Indians) were intoxicated. In fact tourists from India smoked up openly everywhere, we were even approached by people selling drugs.
It is a beautiful getaway, lots of greenery, tall stoney mountains, sparkling waters and amazing people. It's almost 400 kms from Hyderabad, a weekend is sufficient to explore this small cosy place, just ensure you are on the other side of Hampi. The fun side.
Many people might think we invited trouble or we just got lucky but the truth is when someone believes they are a miracle magnet nothing ill fated can befall them. This trip taught me to trust in the divine blindly, thanks to Namrata and her unquestionable faith in believing everything will turn out in our favour. I have witnessed things changing from worst to better in split seconds just with the thought of knowing someone in the skies has us covered, I see past my fears now and everytime I doubt the magic of miracles I recollect our days in Hampi.
I don't like revisiting the same place but Hampi is an exception. I'll see you soon.