Written 22nd January (Baba Cafe, Hampi, India) and 27th January (Kandy View, Kandy, Sri Lanka)
So a few of the Goa gang we met, Poonam and myself just got here after a 10 hour bus journey from Goa, my first time on a sleeper bus where the bus is full of bunk beds rather than seats. (Quick side note, this cost 750 rupees each, that’s £7.50)
Having been dropped off at 6am in Hampi outside the most stunning temple, we slowly wandered through the dark to a large river, where we waited an hour and a half for the boats to start taking people to the other side of the river. During which time, we met a dog family, had some chai, and watched as a large group of school children head down to the river to wash.
After the river crossing, we walked for half an hour or so over a rocky/boulder hill and through more rocks, rice fields and crossing a small stream (all with our backpacks on still) to arrive at the modest Baba Cafe, a tiny guesthouse with only 4 rooms, where the 7 of us agreed to take one room to put everyone’s stuff in and for 3 people to sleep in, whilst the other 4 people were to sleep under the stars outside on mattresses by the tables in the eating area. (We paid £2.20 each per night as we divided the costs equally)
The first day was spent relaxing in the morning, having a nap and some food to recover from the little sleep and travelling we had been doing, and then we spent the afternoon reading and relaxing on the large rocks on the other side of the lake/pool from the cafe.
A short swim in the water and a wander around, and we were ready to head back to the cafe, have more sleep and food, and then head to bed (not before I nipped into town on a motorbike with a small group who were also staying at the cafe – I needed to sort out getting to the airport for the next part of our journey, and with no wifi and little power, Baba Cafe was not the place to research and book these things!)
After a much needed early night and large breakfast, we ventured out to my second Monkey Temple of this trip, Hampi’s Hanuman Temple situated on top of Anjaneya Hill (believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman – the Hindu monkey god), where we climbed the 572 steps, passing many locals coming down from the temple, singing and praying still (climbing these steps, for them, is a sort of pilgrimage) to the top to see the astounding views of Hampi and the Karnataka countryside, along with looking around this modest temple itself.
Atop the hill you can wander around the temple and climb the rocks, which is exactly what we did, avoiding the monkeys as they came near, hoping to steal some food from us, or possibly grab our belongings (one did actually grab my bag and get his hand in, until I threw a banana in the opposite direction for him!) to sit and check out the view. The only shame, for me, was that we had visited this temple at midday, and so missed seeing the stunning views either at sunrise or sunset, but still the views of the river, boulder hills, rice fields and palm trees was still stunning, and with there being a cool breeze so high up, we stayed for a long time, just taking it all in and chatting to other travellers.
We then went inside the temple itself, and compared to others I’d seen, this was an incredibly modest affair, all whitewashed inside and out, and with shrines dotted around the small building. My friend Khushral stopped to pray at a shrine to one of the gods, and it was at this point, that a boy inside the temple, placed red ash (kumkuma) on my forehead in a vertical line with his thumb.
We left the temple after a couple of hours (with Khushral and Christian remaining as they had been invited for lunch in the temple by the boys there) to head back to Baba Cafe. On returning I headed over to the other side of the lake to sit on the rocks and read, do some washing in the stream, and swim in the lake again. Just before sunset a few of us had arranged to do some yoga with the Baba from the cafe. To learn more about Asia’s holy men (Sadhus) – give this wikipedia article a read.
He taught us the Surya Namaskara, the 12 Sun Salutations, which I found interesting, and for the next hour as the sun set we practiced these steps on the large rock next to a hill and the lake amongst the stunning Karnakata scenery. A better place to do yoga fir the first time I cannot image, and being taught by an Indian Baba, a better teacher I cannot imagine.
Another calm evening followed and early to bed.
This was the last day in Hampi for me and Poonam, as our bus was booked to take us to to the airport, so the morning included a stroll over the hill and through the boulders to get to the village near Hampi, where we had a leisurely breakfast and wifi catch up. After this me and Poonam decided to wander across the river to Hampi itself and check out the markets there, where she bought a couple of items and we chatted a little to the locals, including getting our photos taken with 2 decorated Babas (100 rupees for each baba from each of us as his ‘gift’ for letting us take a photo with them)
By the afternoon we headed back to Baba cafe to pack up our stuff and start what would be the worst travelling day of my life (me with a horrendous stomach and nausea) starting with grabbing a 1 hour rickshaw to the bus station for our 8 hour bus to Bangalore, followed by another 1 hour bus to the airport, for our 90 minute flight to Kochi for our next 90 minute flight to Columbo in Sri Lanka, for our 2 buses (6 hours in total) to arrive in Kandy at about 1am, followed by 2 hours of faffing about with walking and tuk tuks, but more on that in the next blog post…