January 28th, 2014
The incredible city of Hampi is a sprawling site of ruins and structures that made up the elaborate Telugu empire existing over 600 years ago. Quoting the history from the Lonely Planet:
“By the 16th century, the greater metropolitan region of Vijayanagar, surrounded by seven lines of fortification, covered 650 sq km and had a population of about 500, 000. Vijayanagar’s busy bazaars were centres of international commerce, brimming with precious stones and merchants from faraway lands. This all came to a sudden end in 1565 when the city was ransacked by a confederacy of Deccan sultanates; it subsequently went into terminal decline.”
With flat rice paddies uniformly sprouting green grasses from the rice grains under the mud juxtaposed on puzzling boulder formations towering above, Hampi is surely one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The main travellers’ strip of Hampi Bazaar has changed tremendously since my last visit in 2011. As Hampi is aiming to gain World Heritage status, the government has ousted many of the shops and businesses that once lined the main pathway to the Virupaxshi temple. Piles of rubble now replace restaurants and shops however a small shopping and living district still exists closer to the river. This time, we (5 of us Canadians and 4 of the German volunteers) chose to stay across the river in a much more relaxed area called Virapapur Gaddi. Goan Corner Guesthouse really was in its own corner: we had to walk through a rice paddy to reach our multi-hut guesthouse (complete with a minihorse-sized canine) with a beautiful backdrop of popular bouldering sites.
Friday evening was spent relaxing and having a few casual beers, followed by an easygoing morning swinging on the hammocks outside our rooms and deciding how to spend our day. We ended up congregating on Rishimuk Plateau, a collection of 27 crags on freestanding boulders. Kailen and Marcia took the lead as the experienced climbers and everyone had a great time trying different problems and conquering each crux!
Maegan and I explored a bit on our own and did some bouldering too:
Buuuuuttttt what goes down must come up (?) and unfortunately we all ended up getting some form of food poisoning, ranging from immediate violent gastrointestinal distress in the wee hours of the morning with intense malaise and limited will to live (yikes Marcia and Ben!), to moderate lingering nausea, loss of appetite, and hot flashes over 36 hours later. For the better of two days most of us were out of commission: Sunday was the peak for several crew members – the then-healthy ones (only to fall ill a day later!) were able to do the beautiful walk along the river to the Vittala Temple containing the stone chariot.
We just made it to another site before its closing time and saw the Lotus Mahal and the former Elephant Stables – two beautiful works of architecture. We’ve wrapped up another Tuesday here at Samuha and are back in business. After taking a vacation from our vacation, most of us feel 90% healthy and we were all able to spend another day working with families. Only 1.5 weeks left!