Thursday, October 13, 2016

Travel: Get a dose of culture and adventure on a weekend getaway to Hampi

At first sight, Hampi almost appears like an alien land. Boulders and abandoned ruins dot the landscape, and the monotony of its rust-hued surface is only broken by splashes of emerald fields and palm groves.

If you’ve always wanted to visit this tiny jewel in the heart of Karnataka, there’s no better time than now. Moonstone Hammock, a city-based travel company, is organising its first outstation trip to Hampi next weekend, and you can be a part of it.

“We wanted to take people to an unconventional place; not the usual Kerala or Rishikesh. While some don’t think of Hampi at all, there are others who may have heard of it but don’t know how to get there because it’s off the beaten path,” says Abhishek Dabholkar, co-founder of Moonstone Hammock.

Two months ago, the founders themselves headed there on a recce. After a lot of interaction with helpful locals, and a bit of fine-tuning, the final itinerary was locked — a fine mix of history, culture and adventure. Here’s how you can make the best of Hampi on this trip.

On: October 20 to 23
Cost: 9,490 (includes food, accommodation and transport from Hubli to Hampi and back, and within Hampi)
Call: 9769724340
Email: (for full details of itinerary)

For history and culture

>> Explore the old ruins and temples that make Hampi a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the magnificent Virupaksha Temple (above), a working temple that is among the area’s oldest structures, and wander through the Royal Enclosure and other ruins dating back to the glorious age of the Vijayanagara Empire.

>> The Vittala Temple (bellow), with its iconic stone chariot, is the highlight of the Hampi ruins. Construction of the 16th-century temple was never completed, but, nevertheless, its architecture is a stunning representation of Vijayanagara art. There are only two other such stone chariots to be found in India.

>> Visit the Kishkinda area and the Monkey Temple. According to legend, Kishkinda is the monkey kingdom that finds mention in the Hindu epic Ramayana, and Anjaneya Hill, across the River Tungabhadra, is believed to be the birthplace of the monkey god Hanuman.

>> Many quirky cafes line the streets of Hampi. Here, you will not only get a taste of authentic and delicious local cuisine, but you will also get a glimpse into the town’s vibrant culture.

>> On the last evening, you will be treated to some live djembe music performed by a local band, marking a melodious end to your trip.

For adventure

>> Who said you have to walk around to discover Hampi’s beautiful treasures? Get on a bicycle (above) and start pedalling. The guided tour will take you through the Virupaksha Temple, the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire and the Royal Enclosure.

>> Hampi is truly a bouldering paradise (below). Whether you’re an amateur or a veteran, Hampi throws up plenty of challenges. If you’re going on your own, avoid the monsoon or peak summer; winter is the best time to try bouldering in Hampi.

>> When you’re on the “hippie” side of Hampi, in the village of Virupapura Gadde, make like a backpacker and zoom around on a moped.

>> A sunset trek around the tranquil river is a yet another great way to acquaint yourself with the place.

>> You have the option to go on a fun (and a tad scary) coracle ride (below). These are round, flat boats (that look more like baskets) used to ferry people across the river. You can catch a coracle at the ghat adjacent to the Virupaksha Temple.

What to pack
>> Carry comfortable cotton clothes, and nothing too fancy.
>> Carry a pair of sports or hiking shoes, as well as comfortable footwear for regular use.
>> Carry toiletries and prescription medication.
>> Pack in a flashlight with extra batteries.

How to reach
>> The organisers offer a pick-up from Hubli. There are several overnight buses from Mumbai, which take 10 hours to get there

from travel

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