The train arrives at Hospet, the nearest train station and big brother town to Hampi. Our spirits sink. After the train journey We are wanting a drink, a shower, ac and a bed. We walk out of the station and see a pig and 4 piglets, a herd of cows, a pack of dogs, run down shops and dwellings and tumbleweed. The drive through the town reached new highs with our driver going along the pavement to get around a traffic jam – three roads and there was a jam! Something to do with a festival.
Anyway, 15kms later and cresting the top of a hill we see Hampi – WOW! Hampi is amazing. The terrain consists of valleys and hills all covered in huge granite stones and slabs. Some are mounds or hills and are hundreds of feet high others just hillocks. The rocks have vegetation growing between them and are set in lush paddy fields and palm groves. The rocks themselves are smooth, often with what looks like a high ore content. Many look like they have just been scattered by a giant hand and look incongruous in the landscape. We later here of how these were spewed from volcanos many millennia ago. To get to our resort, well collection of huts, a reception and restaurant. We have to cross a river on a little ferry. Indian style this usually carries 20 people where 10 would be considered full elsewhere. Our hut overlooks the river and is small, dingy, no aircon and pretty basic, But that’s what Hampi is about. So you either get with it or leave. We take a shower eat some food and fall asleep.
Morning comes and the full beauty of our view is revealed. This place is like paradise. Our plan is to chill out, stroll along the river and drink in the scenery and do the massive site of all the temples tomorrow. However we overhear that there is a festival in the town so jump into a tuk tuk and arrive as it has just started. The pictures cannot truly convey the vibrancy of the colours and the sense of the occaision. The village near the Durga temple is not large and neither is the procession – An adorned elephant, 15 religious characters, 20 drummers, a yogi and attendees, a troupe of 30 dancing girls and a procession of 50 identically dressed women and various attendees such as crowd control, water carriers and telephone wire lifters (necessary unless you wish to electrocute your elephant).
The drums beat strong rhythms interposed with alternative beats. The drummers are vigorous and jump around wildly, The elephant stops occasionally and hangs a lei around a devotees neck and lays its trunk on them in blessing. The crowd move along and in and around the procession mingling their vibrant coloured clothing with those in the procession. The actors representing various deities perform small shows as they go which include mock battles, abductions, courtships and hunting. The costumes are colourful and professionally made. As the processions continues the excitement grows and the narrow streets fill with tributary smaller processions of floats that join the main throng. Fire crackers are thrown and petals are strew, incense is burning, small offerings are set alight and the smells only help to create an even more mystical feel. Our heads are giddy and we are constantly assailed by groups of children saying hello and wanting us to take their pictures. After 90 minutes we return to the start point in the town and leave the procession to wind its way up to the Durga Temple whilst we head back for lunch followed by a stroll along the banks of the river, clambering on these huge boulders and drinking in the majesty of the valley.