25th September 2014 – Hampi, India
The roads were narrow, and tested my fledgling riding skills, Throwing at me cows, potholes, traffic, and aided by the hot sun. But at the end of it all, I saw a surreal rainbow amidst the rocks. Gravity is a figment of your imagination. The rocks have none.
I have been searching for relatives ever since I came to Hampi. The huge rocks reminded me of Petra in Jordan. And the ruined temples reminded me of Bagan in Myanmar. And the difficulty to get here, reminded me of Sagada in the Philippines.
First, about the ride. Hampi has been a deceptively difficult place for me to get to. When I left Bangalore, the distance on google maps showed 341 KM. And I breezed through 200 of that, until a place called Chitradurga. There was an 4-lane national highway until here, and I must have done the 200 KM in just under 3 hours.
Then, my torture began. The road from Chitradurga to Hospet, where Hampi is located, is one of the worst that you can imagine riding a bike on. There were potholes the size of me, all over the road, and I kept falling into them with amazing naivety and ease. At one point, my backpack flew from my bike and landed some 10 feet away on the road. And at another point, hard-breaking on the gravel caused me to skid a little bit. This is a prominent manufacturing and mining route, so the trucks don’t make it easy for you either. At one point, I even felt like mine was the ONLY non-heavy duty vehicle on this road!
But all that disappointment faded as soon as I wearily entered the town of Hampi, late in the day at 5 PM. Located 12 KMs from hospet, Hampi is a unesco world heritage site, and with good reason. Located amid millions of gravity-defying boulders, this little temple town is so surreal that I have an eye on the boulders at all times. Most of them are perched so dangerously, that it is amazing to consider this area has rarely had major rockfalls.
And in the middle of all these rocks, are the scattered ruins of a temple city so vast and formerly-rich, that there is a street which was once selling diamonds.
Well, the rocks that are left now are huge enough for me to consider buying. So, I simply clicked around.