Royal Enclosure, Hampi

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Hampi, India

Hampi, India

We woke up about 7 and went up for
breakfast at 8. Janet, Joseph, Jane and
Paul were already there having made an early climb to the Temple of Hanuman
(Monkey Temple). They had conquered 576
steps up and same back to see the dawn break up there. Brave souls.

After breakfast we had a bit of a maths
exercise in calculating and splitting our bills. This is the third stay for us at Boulders and
we would never stay anywhere else but they are totally hopeless when it comes
to paying them. Just awful. So after we’d worked it all out we had to go
to their office in Hampi to pay by credit card as they cannot do it at the
hotel itself. By the time we got all
that done it was about 930.

Stuart, FI, Bob and I got the ferry across
the river to Hampi proper and our tuk chap was waiting for us plus our guide from yesterday. We only wanted a short trip today of a couple
of hours. Today we concentrated on the
Royal Enclosure area rather than temples.
We started at the Queen’s Bath where we had lunch yesterday. An amazingly beautiful pool room that had a
sandalwood roof which is no longer there.
The pool is very deep and was fed by aquaduct and also had a drain. It was not used by the local queens (they had
their own tat the Lotus Mahal) but was used when visiting queens came to
Hampi. The level of luxury was
extreme. Not only the fresh water pool,
but massage tables, breeze fed hair dryers at differing heights, and rosewater
jets over the pool for hair washing. The
decorations were also very beautiful.

From there we travelled to the main Royal
Enclosure, a huge area enclosed by high walls.
Inside these walls were around 15 sandalwood pavilions on stone bases; a
large parade ground; a pyramid viewing platform with seven levels of carving;
the King’s swimming pool (at least Olympic sized); a stepped well for religious
cleansing; viaducts and drains; a hall of justice; execution area for
beheading; death by elephant (pulling apart or stamping) and a private temple
with so many carvings of mythology and life in Hampi. Extraordinary carvings on the stone. Rather like some of the temples in Luxor,
Egypt. These kings were definitely multi
cultural and the international trade is documented as far afield as China,
Europe and the Middle East.

Our final stop was an Underground temple to
Shiva, also set in lovely gardens.
Normally this temple would have water running through it and would be
very like the Roman Cistern in Istanbul, with many pillars set into the water
and reflected in it. There was not much
water there today.

After our tour we had lunch at the Mango
Tree restaurant, a Hampi favourite. It
has been set on the river for a lot of years with terraces leading down to the
water edge. However, the archaeological
authorities have been clearing the historic area of businesses for a few years
now and the Mango Tree has been moved to a location in the village. Not as nice a location, although the food is
still good. We hoped to get wifi but
although it was available it was so slow as to be moribund, so proper wifi will
have to wait till we get back to Goa tomorrow.

After lunch we ferried back across the
river and the hotel picked us up and brought us back. We were boiling so an afternoon around the
pool was in order. After a couple of dips,
I fell asleep on the lounger. We got
dressed for 530 as they were taking us to a bird viewing place. I have been there twice before and it has
been utterly magical. You walk through
rice fields, hopping along the little banks that contain the fields and their
watery crop, till you get to the river edge.
Then, at dusk, literally tens of thousands of birds come home to roost
from the fields, flying in formation down the river. The problem is that with the river being
dried up just about, these birds are not here. So, this time, while we had a magical sit by
the river, we did not see a lot of birds.
We saw some: peacocks, cormorants, white egrets; brown storks. But not in great numbers at all. In fact this time the monkeys were the most
numerous. There were loads of monkeys,
big and small.

We bought some of the local rice to bring
back. A nice souvenir.

So a last dinner at Boulders. Very delicious and good company and
conversation. Turned in earlyish again
as we have a 4am alarm call in the morning for our train back to Goa. What a wonderful stay it has been. I always wonder if I’ll come here again, but
I really hope I do. It is a very special
place.

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