I’ve never cared much for museums. I try to enjoy looking at all of the interesting items in glass cases, and while I do manage to find many of them to be quite beautiful and sometimes even fascinating, they don’t captivate me. What I really, really like is walking around in the actual places where people have lived life. I like to see the remains of the places where they have lived and worked, shopped and worshiped, danced and sang. I like to be able to see and touch and stumble upon what must have been the every day life of some other person in some other time. The stone remains that were scattered around Hampi, crumbled or fully standing, sparked my imagination in just these ways. They allowed me to feel some small kinship to people and experiences that have come and gone.
We managed to find our way to Hampi during the off-season, so it often felt like we had the place to ourselves. Many foreigners don’t take the time to go off the beaten track to visit Hampi, and Indian tourists don’t see this as the most ideal time to travel around, largely concerned about it being the rainy season. We were delighted with the weather, however, experiencing only two brief rain showers and mostly sun with the usual humidity. We managed three “half-days” of touring around, usually making it back to our hotel around 3pm for lots of reading, relaxing, and cricket on TV (much to JP’s joy, the Asia Cup is taking place now!!).
The sights were incredible. Everywhere there were the typical Karnataka hills, comprised of multi-sized and shaped boulders, looking as though they could topple at any moment. The skies were deep blue, and the land was filled with sugar cane, banana plantations, coconut groves, and rice paddies. At every turn there seemed to be more cattle, and more goats. We drove through numerous villages seemingly untouched by the waves of technology that beat on the larger cities. Life seemed simple, but we knew it must be hard.
The temples were built from stone- often granite, and generally sported all sorts of intricate carvings and curiosities, including a stone chariot whose wheels were actually able to turn at one time! Some buildings showed signs of the various conquests and invasions that had taken place, visible in the different kinds of architecture that showed up in one building. We enjoyed poking around and studying each new site, and we felt like we could take our time.
Perhaps these pictures will begin to demonstrate the beauty of Hampi as well as the mystery of life gone by that lingers all around it. As always, there is much more that could be shared about our travels, but for me, this was the beginning point and overarching theme during our days away.