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The South Indian Ride – Part 3

From Chikmagalur, I wasn’t sure where to go to – Shivamogga or Hampi, when it comes to the next place to go. Considering that the western ghats are beautiful in Monsoon and there won’t be much to watch in the summer, I decided to go to Hampi, it’s always been on my list. And once you look upon the map, it feels like it’s not that far away.

And for a long time, I have heard about a city en route to Hampi – Davangree. The first time I ever heard about it was from Arun Basil Lal’s blog. Although I have heard from multiple sources that it’s a really clean city, the reality was quite different. There wasn’t a lot of accommodation option, and the one I chose was quite bad. Like, not that clean at all. And the streets were dirty as well. There is this smell that comes off every time a bus passes. Although, the only reason I stopped was for the famous Davangere Benne Dosa. I went to have it in the restaurant – Old Sagar Benne Dose suggested by Arun Basil Lal in the evening. But they were closed. I had to look for other food options. On my way back I saw this really cool park. So, I decided to stop there for a bit and I would rather spend some time outdoors than in my shabby room. After I parked my bike the first thing I noticed was that some elderly people just existed – simply sitting and doing nothing. I then knew the meaning of ‘Dolce Far Niente’. And I wanted to feel that. So I walked into that park… walked around, found a bench, and just sat there. I didn’t check the time or anything. I just observed things.. and existed, just like the elderly did. I felt at peace. Until the mosquitoes started biting me. And I had to call it quits. I somehow slept in the hotel room after a bit of work.

The famous Davangere Benne Dosa
Astrid at the Davangere Park

The next day, I woke up at 6, did the chores, and decided to head into the heart of Davangree once again to see if I can get the Dosa again. And I did! When I reached there at 8.15, I thought they were closed, the shutter was halfway down. Then I saw people inside. I parked the bike.. removed my gear… and went into the shop. Sat down there like others. It’s a small shop.. it can hardly occupy 15 people. And there I was waiting, just like the others in the almost filled shop, waiting for my turn. At 8.30 sharp, I saw the first dosa batter being put in the big grill, the shutter is opened by a waiter at the same time and a ton of people waiting outside. I ordered a benne dosa ( literally means butter dosa.) and plain dosa. They serve it with a kind of potato mush but taste a little different. Honestly, it’s the best dosa I have ever had in my life. If it wasn’t for this dosa, the entire city of Davangree would have been a bust.

Hampi – Vittala Temple

The next leg of the ride was straight to Hampi. Hampi needs no introduction. The temple ruins of Hampi – the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire are world-renowned and a UN World Heritage Site. The ride was 200kms through the heart of Karnataka. Most of it was terrific, except for the humps. It’s an ass killer. I finally reached Megha Resort in Anegundi where I will be staying for the next few days. The heat was picking up that day, I passed through the town of Hosapete and I felt like I was in an oven. By the time I reached there, I was trying as fast as I could to get out of my riding gear. I checked in, came back to the restaurant, and ate a burger & a really really cold beer. Sometimes, beer could be a lifesaver. Bye-bye dehydration.

The next day, I woke up early. At 6, and headed to the Vithala Temple. Built in the 15th century, the gateway gopura towers the sky as soon as you see it afar. You have to park your vehicle and walk almost a km to reach the site. On the sides is Pushkarani, a huge tank used to store water. There is an entrance fee to get into the temple, which is surrounded by very high stone walls, probably 2 meters thick made out of granite. As you enter you will find the famous Stone Chariot of Hampi. It’s extraordinary to see it stand the test of time. Almost every detail is still visible on the stone.

It is when this guide approaches me and a couple of other travelers. We ended up hiring him together. And that’s the story of how I met Joylon Antao & Akhil Coelho. Both are from Goa. Joylon has an amazing vlog about his travels. Coming back to the temple complex, at the center is the temple itself, and it’s surrounded by various halls & structures, most of which have famous musical pillars. The architecture of the temple is incredible. The bottom part of the temple of Hoysala Architecture, the middle is Dravidian, and the roof is, okay, hear this, Japanese. Yep. I looked up with disbelief only to be jaw dropped by the dragon-looking figures at the top of the pillars on which the granite roof rests. Another interesting thing is at the bottom, where different people came for trade with the great Vijayanagara empire. The most amazing fact is that you know exactly who is who! The Arabs, Chinese, Japanese, Mongols! Those tiny 10-inch-high men are perfectly represented, and you don’t need someone to tell you to recognize which part of the world they are from.

We explore the different small structures and came out of the temple complex and there are more ruins outside as well. We walked a lot and visited Sita Seragu – A small alcove where it is believed the Sugreeva from Ramayana lived. He used the cave to hide the jewels dropped by Sita when the demon king Ravana abducted her and took her to Lanka.

We walked back and waited around where Joylon & Akhil was staying until it was time for me to meet my sister, Nithya, who is studying at Koppal Medical College. So that’s how that day was done. Pretty nice, minus the heat.

Hampi – Virupaksha Temple, Royal Enclosure & Lotus Mahal.

The second day started much earlier. I head straight to the Sree Virupaksha Temple, in the heart of Hampi. It’s very similar to the Vittala Temple, with the surrounding wall, and similar structures. Although, a lot more monkeys. This temple does have a residing deity meaning people come here for worship. I lurked around a bit, looking at the beautiful carvings. Normally, I avoid taking pictures in a place of worship.

I came out and walked towards where I parked my bike, that’s when I noticed a lady selling Dosas. She prepared it from home, brought it in a huge Dabba, and sold it right in the street. I bought a couple of dosa and chutney. Breakfast done for 20 bucks. I rode my bike back to three places that are quite near each other. – Queen’s bath, Royal Enclosure, Lotus Mahal & Elephant Stables. Queen’s bath is exactly what it sounds like. It’s surrounded by many trees and it’s cooler in its shades. I eventually moved on to the Royal Enclosure. The place is just incredible. Royal Enclosure has intricate aqueducts everywhere, seems like people liked to take baths so much. There are many many ponds inside the enclosure. It also has the Mahanavami Dibba, a 3-tire platform standing 8 meters tall, the sides of it are full of carvings portraying aspects of life in the Vijayanagara capital. It was mainly used during the Navami celebrations. Being in the Royal Enclosure, you realize how much destruction has happened to the entire capital after the decline of the empire.

After the Enclosure was Lotus Mahal and the elephant stables. Lotus Mahal was basically a residence for the Royal family and the Elephant stable is a building with 11 stables for elephants each with a dome.

With all of these done, it was time to bid Hampi goodbye. I went back to the resort and spent the afternoon working and packing. I was to leave for Gokarna the next day early morning.

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