An early start
to be off for our Big Trip to Hampi. Two
taxis arrived at 6am and we piled in: Bob and I, Stuart and Fi, Joseph and
Janet and Paul and Jane. It took about
50 minutes to get to Margao railway station which was as busy as usual. We found seats in the buffet and purchased
bags of the freshly made vegetable samosas and bottles of water. You could get cups of chai and coffee but
chai is hugely milky and sweet and it is impossible at the station or on the
train to get coffee that has not already been milked and sweetened. So water it has to be. The samosas were fantastic though. I had two.
The train was on time at 0750 and we found
seats in 2nd Class A/C which was the best standard of accommodation
on this train. It’s a very long train
that travels from Vasco da Gama (port of Goa) all the way across India to
Calcutta, taking about 40 hours. Our
trip was much shorter, about 6.5 hours.
Your ticket entitles you to a berth which is a full length seat but some
of the seats are “upper” ie top bunk. I
managed to get a great lower berth for about half the journey and had a nice
nap! Then, the actual ticket holder
arrived and I had to move to another, but I still had a full berth. An Indian rail trip is a great way to meet
people. Bob, Paul and I were in a
compartment with a most interesting elderly Indian man. He was 85 and had served in the Indian army
all his life till retirement, through partition and Independence. Very highly educated, his wife is a Professor
of English and he gave us a running commentary on the history of modern India
and his life in the army. Absolutely
The scenery was quite various. At first as you pass through Goa, it is very
green and tropical. Mango and pineapple
plantations. Some rice. Then the train starts to rise up through
forests, quite dense, with the odd house dotted about. We came out at one point on top of the ridge
overlooking Dhunsagar Falls and went over the viaduct there. A spectacular view down the falls to the pool
at the bottom. About half way through
the trip you leave Goa behind and enter Karnataka and then the scenery changes
to a huge agricultural plain. Looking
very dry at the moment after grain harvest and waiting for the May monsoon. Finally as you approach Hospet (train stop
for Hampi), you start to see the rivers and huge boulders left by ancient river
and water action. Think Fred Flintstone’s Bedrock.
We arrived in Hospet at about 250 and the hotel sent a minibus to pick us up. Nice
bus. Another 40 minutes to our hotel,Hampi’s Boulders. I have stayed here
twice before, once with Lucy in 2012 and once with Bob in 2013. It’s a bit like an African safari camp set in India. Again loads of strange rocks and rock formations and the rooms are all rock houses and cottages. I love it.
The manager is the same chap and he remembered me from last time which
was nice. The only bad news is that they
have had no rain in the last 2 years and the river is at an all time low. This will affect the wildlife we will be able
to see. Certainly our cottage, Otter
Cottage, has always been about 20 yards from the river bank and today I cannot
see any water from the porch.
There is a lot else to amuse us.
Bob and I had a bit of a siesta.
My cold is a lot better but still there.
Everyone else went on a guided walk around the resort. We sat out on our verandah and listened to the
birdsong and watched the setting sun changing the colours of the rocks and
boulders. The scenery is just fantastic
here. Some chipmunks were running around
the rocks and seem to be nesting in our thatched roof.
About 7pm we walked over to the three
Crocodile rooms which form a long one storey building with a terrace
overlooking the river and a massive roof terrace above. Had g&ts and watched the sun totally set
behind us. Then walked up to the open
dining room for dinner. A buffet of
different curries with rice, breads, salad, fresh fruit and a custard pudding. We were all absolutely sinking with tiredness
by then so everyone slunk off to bed at about 830. I know Bob and I were definitely asleep by