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Hampi – The Ancient City That Speaks – Part 2

 

The skeleton of the ancient city of Hampi expands over a vast area—as far as the eyes can see.

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Walking the passages cut through the dangerous crevices between huge boulders, we were now heading towards the banks of the Tungabhadra river.

Though October to March is considered the best time to visit Hampi, the winter sun of December continued to shine mercilessly on us.

The scorching heat and the dust make a nasty combination of sweat and dirt on your skin. However, if you are with friends, don’t worry, you all will appear equally tanned and covered with the red sand.

Keep your gear ready with these essentials—2 bottles of water per person, a cap/hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, good pair of shoes, some snacks.

We had rented cycles, from the locals—they had set up a small corner, renting two-wheeler on a small lease rate, for the whole day. The cycles did help us on the long stretches of roads linking different stone monuments. The cycles were hired at rupees 150 per person.

Cycling is the most favourable way to discover places in Hampi though you won’t be able to reach all places or trek up dragging a bicycle along with you. Walking on foot comes second, but could be tiring and time-consuming. You could even hire a bike or taxi otherwise. You would still have to walk or trek to see few places that are on the hilltop.

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Things changed quickly. It wasn’t a pleasant experience walking over a massive stretch of rock and carrying our cycles instead of riding them. We parked them in a corner with the hope that nobody would steal them and continued on foot from there.

The labyrinth through the gigantic boulders somehow opened into a stretch of a rock base that descended decently and not steeply into the river.

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Tungabhadra River, Hampi  Picture Credits: Akshayrajsinh Jadeja

Laying our feet in the refreshing and cool muddy water on the slippery and rocky banks of the river, I released a breath of relief. The calm ancient breeze that flowed closer to the water along its ragged banks welcomed me in its territorial land.

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Coracle ride along the banks to ferry you across the river

There was an upturned coracle (a huge circular boat, which has a framework of bamboo sticks, reeds, and plastic sheets)—waiting for its passengers to be ferried to the other side of the river.

The charges for the coracle ride was 500 Indian Rupees per person.

We rejuvenated ourselves with a hot cup of sugary tea in small tea-shop built under the shades of a huge tree.

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After regaining our strengths, we braved the sun to watch the ruins of Hampi, which is scattered over an enormous stretch of the land, belonging to the capital city of the Vijayanagar Empire.

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King’s Balance, source: wikimedia.org

We crossed the famous King’s Balance—of what remained only two gigantic 15-foot tall pillars. The balance was weighed with gold, silver, rubies and all precious things equal to the weight of the king who would sit on the other end of the balance. This was distributed among the priests and the people of the kingdom.

Vitthalla Temple

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One of the entrance gates at Vitthalla temple

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A closer look at the art

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Vitthalla Temple Compound

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Our next stop was the majestic compound of the Vitthalla temple that was surrounded by stone walls on the four sides. We covered a little over a kilometre on foot.

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Temples supported by stone pillars embellished with beautiful carvings. Below, these abandoned temples probably held sculpture of Gods and Goddesses which are nowhere to be seen now.

 

On our way, we saw lifeless ruins covered with dust and vegetation cropping from the unattended corners and gaps of the structures that seemed to be the places of worship in the ancient times.

When we reached the remains of the Vitthalla compound, the area was brimming with people while the architecture lulled us to the huge entrance gate.

We couldn’t take our eyes off the remarkable brick and stone work that offered a glimpse of the life of people who would have at one time lived peacefully under the roof of these ancient structures.

The Stone Chariot

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Vitthalla temple holds in its compound one the most iconic piece of Indian stone art—the Stone Chariot. It may look like a monolithic structure—cut out of a single piece of rock. However, Stone Chariot has been built using blocks of granite rock placed over one another with such dexterity and skill that the structure attracts attention in a single glance.

The Stone Chariot is an imitation of the Konark Sun Temple in Orissa that inspired Vijaynagar’s famous king Krishnadevaraya to build a similar structure in his own empire.

The 16th century stone architecture hosted Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu—but the sculpture is nowhere to be seen today. The chariot rests on a granite base, about 1 feet above the ground with life-size wheels and axle carved out of rock with perfection.

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Picture Credits: Akshayrajsinh Jadeja

Architectural structures have innumerable stories depicted on its walls—the chariot temple and other structures in the Vitthalla temple compound have scenes of war engraved on their walls.

The stone elephants sculptures in the front of the temple that seemed to be pulling the chariot were built to replace broken horse sculptures that stood there before—the remains of their rear including tails can still be seen.

There is a stone ladder in between them, which was used by the temple priests to reach the sanctum for offering prayers to the Garuda.

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The Stone Chariot

It is believed by the people of Hampi that if the chariot moves from its place the world will come to an end. We can just hope that the stone structure stands remains intact and static, as a remnant of the ancient Hampi.

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There are various stone structures around the chariot in the same compound of Vitthalla temple—it may take you around 2 hours to visit each of those in the periphery.

If you wish to know the stories associated with each of these structures and want to go into the depths of the time, you can easily hire guides to show you the place along—these are official tourist guides and have ample knowledge about the magnificent history of the place.

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We have reached the end of this ancient world, next to the Vitthalla temple compound

From here, you could either retreat or move ahead to the remains of the Queens’s Palace, where you could relax and enjoy the evening sun. Oh! and how could we miss mentioning about the Archaeology museum, the treasure house holds the collection of old photographs of Hampi and valuable remnants from the past.

Keep a separate day for the basement of the Queen’s Palace, Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stables including the museum.

Want to know where to begin when you reach Hampi? Here is your tour guide for the first day. 

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The Tragic Comedy In Bodhgaya, Bihar: Howrah Special

Bodhgaya, also known as Gaya holds at its heart a place of historical as well as religious importance. This small town in the state of Bihar beats with life like any other, but only time has known better of its past.

I got a chance to visit the land where the great Gautam Buddha received enlightenment—the light of wisdom and knowledge. Though I wasn’t expecting anything similar, I had my own share of experiences that enlightened me with wisdom in the most unexpected and ludicrous ways.

I won’t be called a good friend if I refrain from mentioning that I had the opportunity to witness a traditional Bihari wedding—my best friend was getting married after all.

Not only is it a personal anecdote, it is a story of adventure, experiences and a great amount of entertainment. Buckle up your seat belts friends—we are about to take off for this journey, which starts from the southern bustling city of Bangalore on a pleasant breezy day of July.

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We were flying from Bangalore to Kolkata. From Kolkata, we were to board a train to Gaya or Bodhgaya, Bihar.

5th July 2016; 4:10 PM – Bangalore To Kolkata

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Loaded with excitement and energy, we boarded our flight. Attending our best friend’s wedding was what we eagerly awaited. As the steel bird raced on the runway, we couldn’t help clutching our armrest and looking at each other—our expressions were somewhere between a full-stretched smile and a teeth-glaring soundless laugh. The excitement only surged with the gain in altitude.

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We jetted over the Bay of Bengal—one downward glance at the water body and thoughts of crashing into the sea initiated a series of events. I was playing my own death in my head.

Remembering what the flight attendant had told about safety instructions, I cheered up thinking if we really did fall in the sea below and survive, at least I would get to slide out from those air-filled slides into the saline waters.

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My mind was blurred by my imagination and so was my outside view by the clouds. We descended quickly and the touchdown felt like a milestone completed.

As we moved out of the airport, a gush of humidity welcomed us—Kolkata felt like that sweaty aunty who wants to hug little kids.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport To Howrah Railway Station

We collected our luggage and went out of the airport. A row of yellow ambassadors stretched along narrow footpaths inside the airport area.

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In Kolkata, be it at railway station or airport, one needs to book a prepaid taxi, which is mostly a fat yellow Ambassador car. The taxi charges between 100-150 Indian rupees for a 16 kilometers drive.

We didn’t know about it, but on asking few people for help, we were directed to the counter where we booked our taxi.

Warning: In between, we wandered off away from the airport thinking that we will get taxis at cheaper rates. However, roaming around anywhere in the world late in the night is not safe. We were suspicious about a man who seemed to follow us. We called our friends to ensure we were doing right by catching the yellow taxi outside the airport. Instead, we were told to quietly return back and book a taxi from there.

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Kolkata – The First Impression

After getting into the taxi, we eased ourselves and let the slideshow of the city pass before us. We didn’t remember when the wide clean roads of the airport transformed into congested lanes that took us through a number of red lights. 

On either side of two-lane roads, a row of apartments stood shabbily. Clothes hung on the grilled and brightly-painted windows of old buildings, big banners displayed photographs of local artists, a few buses carried people the through traffic. Our pretty yellow ambassador honked through narrow roads, making space for herself amid the hustle bustle.

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Replica of London’s Big Ben originally known as Kolkata Times Zone, Lake Town-VIP Road area. Picture Credit: Shalvi Singh

The archaic structures of the city—towers, buildings, houses, and shops took us back in another era. We were time-traveling, following lane after lane and moving deeper into the city—passing through narrow streets lit by the tall pillars adorned with sodium lamps. 

Few houses had walls with naked bricks peeking from the dull chipping paint, a climber was growing in between the cracks on a building, petite men pulled rickshaws, carrying people with the sole strength of their arms, small shops were cropped up in the tiniest of possible places in the streets. 

Howrah Railway Station

All I can describe after reaching Howrah is a large number of people—being everywhere, going everywhere.

Hand-pulled rickshaws were coming to a halt at the entrance, wiping the trickle of sweat and waiting for the customers to unload. People of all kinds rushed with their luggage towards the main building of the station, dragging their trolley bags through puddles of water. Vendors shouted out to people, selling food items and tit-bits on the footpath. A few beggars waited desperately sitting on the sidewalks, some approaching the striding travelers.

A stench of urine, a stink of drain water and a whiff of fried food had concentrated the humid air—it was difficult distinguishing between the smells.

We entered the platform and saw a train slowing down at the station—the mob that got down the train seemed to put a cluster of ants around a sugar cube to shame. There were so many people around us, moving here and there that we thought we might get drifted away and separated, so we both stayed close.

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Platform No. 9/9 C

The platform number left us perplexed more like Harry Potter in The Sorcerer’s Stone, where the protagonist, Harry was supposed to reach platform number 9.3/4. Ours was platform number 9/9 C. With the visible clarity, I assumed we weren’t supposed to run through any brick wall to reach our express train on the other side. But, we were surely going to a magical place for muggles.

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Picture Credit: Shalvi Singh

We reached our platform and waited for our train to get shunted onto the main line. Trains chugged in and out of the station, carrying people and goods. We sat there halted yet again in time, waiting and looking at the people, arrive and leave.

Bodhgaya was calling and we were only desperate to leave Kolkata.

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Hampi – The Ancient City That Speaks

Day 1

The burning morning sun and the dust agitated by the passing vehicles made me think if I should have listened to my roommate.

“There is nothing in Hampi. What will you do there?”, She had said.

The First Impression

 

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Virupaksha Temple in the far left corner

 

The only bus stand in Hampi seemed like a parking place for private cars. Rows of temporary shops awaited for their customers desperately. Auto-drivers and locals selling small items came like a swarm of bees towards the honey combs except that we weren’t honey combs — we were tourists—new to the place and almost completely lost at where to begin.

How I Reached Hampi From Bangalore

I booked a bus from Yatra.com, but I suggest you book a bus from KSRTC Official website  There may be a price difference of 200-300, but the service is comparatively better and the buses are always on time.

After a 7-hour journey from Bangalore in the rickety sleeper claiming to be a multi-axle, the bus dropped us at Hospete. I quarrelled with the driver as I had booked the bus till Hampi, and he claimed that the private buses weren’t allowed in there. Only when he assured me that he will provide an auto service at his own cost did I retreat.

No Private buses are allowed in Hampi. You either take a share auto or a local bus from Hospete Bus Stand to Hampi.

Always book a multi-axle bus for a comfortable journey, else you will feel each bump on the road reverberate through your body. 

Luckily, I met my friends at the major bus depot at Hospete. From there, we took a local bus to Hampi, which took us another 30 minutes.

City That Once Flourished

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Hampi—an ancient city in ruins—stood before us, silently shouting of its glorious past. People still live there but not as they used to in the 15th and 16th century or even before. There are monumental structures that stand tall and sturdy through the weathering of time, though nobody stays in them. Hampi was one of the richest cities, and a center of trade of horses, gems and arts and culture. If you ever heard of Tenali Raman, and the court of Krishnadevaraya, it was this place where the intelligent Brahmin impressed the king with his witty answers. Under the rein of the generous king, the Hampi, the then city of Vijayanagar under the majestic empire of the same name rose to the zenith.

Hampi is situated in a semi-arid area of northern Karnataka. All you can see in your vicinity are stretches of huge chunks of rocks. Little vegetation has turned the air dusty, and the sunlight scorches mercilessly through the already dwindling shade. The only relief to the eyes is the water of Tungabhadra River that traces a snake-like path between lower rocky terrains. On either side of the river, the intricately cut out rocks have astoundingly taken the forms of temples, gateways, deities, animals, and other innumerable structures. These designs and carvings emanate and highlight the cultures and traditions that would have otherwise been buried with time.

After walking for a while, the sun felt warmer and took a toll on our imagination, wavering it to the wildest corners. We guessed that Hampi got its name from its range of hills that looked like the hump of a camel. Hampi was originally called as Pampi, which was the old name of Tungabhadra River.

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Centuries ago this place would have been pleasant—fed by the swollen river, surrounded by lush with the days much cooler and the sun not so harsh on the people who belonged here. Children would have played amid the rows of tall stone pillars, engraved with pictorial descriptions of wars, horses, courtesans and deities. Women clad in sarees, would visit Virupaksha temple for early morning prayers, with a plate full hibiscus, banana and coconut to be offered to Lord Shiva. Horsemen would stand patiently for the traders, watching sturdy bunch of horses to be bought and sold.

Virupaksha Temple

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We started with one of the giant structures visible around. The Virupaksha temple—which was a prominent landmark in Pampi back in the 15th-16th century—has two huge courtyards with a giant gateway connecting them. This nine-storey entrance gate of the temple was a master stonework of constituting of sculptures at every level. Few of these  figures that stood high displayed eroticism similar to the monuments of Khujrao in Madhya Pradesh. It could have offend any person with staunch believes and an orthodox approach. From a second perspective and the claims of the history and the culture of the place, fertility was considered auspicious and not derogatory .

The Mortals

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One must walk barefoot inside the temple and pay at the ticket counter near the entrance if they intend to take photographs. The open temple courtyard has pillars on the both sides of the walkway. On the left, they had kept an elephant to amuse visitors. She was trained to collect money from them and pat their heads with her trunk, as a form of blessing. I lost the count of people who took selfies with the elephant, who was mindlessly munching on the eatables they provided to her. I stood there for long and waited for the people to disperse. I stared at the she-elephant and conveyed to her, how sorry I felt for her, to be away from home, here, surrounded by some silly people, asking for her blessings after enslaving her. I thought she might feel grateful that she is not their God—’They’ would have faced torments if ‘They’ lived among us. It was as if she understood me and brought her head closer towards me. I gave the 34-year-old a gentle pat of assurance and wished her a good life ahead.

The Gods

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The temple hall had stone-carved lions on the outer side of its pillars. One could look up to find the ceilings display rows of beautiful murals—it reminded me of the typical South-Asian gods and goddesses with slender eyes and sensual gestures.
The Shiv-Ling, confined to a small space inside the main enclosure, was barely visible. The walking area around the temple had its roof covered with rock slabs, which blocked the sunlight. It was quite dark and cold inside. While circumventing the temple, when we switched on our cell phone flashlights, we noticed hundreds of tiny bats hanging quietly on the ceiling of the walkway without our knowledge. In fret, we quickly circled the temple in the dim light coming from the cracks between the rocks slabs above us and hurriedly came out from the other end.

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The bright sunlight welcomed us again. There were people and monkeys everywhere. The former offered prayers to the deities at the functional temple whereas the latter got all the blessings in the form of food. We walked further to reach an open space and found a few rock statues silently basking in the sun. There was also to an algae-struck pond, probably a reservoir but, thankfully, it was devoid of any human waste. The rear exit of the temple courtyard opened to a mini market along the Tunghabadhra River. A few people—mostly men—went down the step-way to take a dip in the shallow and rocky waters. Not so far from the river stood few changing rooms for the ease of the visitors though the men didn’t seem to make use of them.

Slightly tired, we sat there under the shade and waited for the time to pass and the sun to relax. Fruits were readily available along with things like jewellery and decorative items —it was sold by the locals along the roadside. I went past them like a raven attracted to their glitter. But, then, I wanted to meet the elephant again and traced my own steps back.

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Om sans Shanti: Gokarna-> This Way

The famous Om beach in Gokarna is a stretch of coastline that is separated from Kudle beach by a rocky terrain. Somewhere, a trail without a noticeable direction or sign board leads to Om beach. Every time we asked for directions from someone, they pointed everywhere except the sea. There was a ferry to take us there, but we decided to trek and get lost.

We chose a path and started trekking over the hills, to the other side of which lay the Om beach. It is called so because the beach line traces a shape strikingly similar to Om — the spiritual sign in the Hindu religion. After climbing a set of stairs that were in no-so-good condition, we found ourselves in wilderness amid tall trees and dangerous slopes. The sea was always in view—we were walking around a hill to reach the other side.

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The beach was spell-bounding! It was more crowded than Kudle, though not too much. No lazing here—people buzzed around—in restaurants, shops, in waters, and on the beach. Many localities were selling hand-crafted jewellery, fruits, and coconut water. Few tourists basked in sun, some in lungis, others in bikinis—the former ogling at the latter. The scene wasn’t a comfortable one I would say—a few people blinded by their surged testosterones, passed lewd comments at the foreigners— they didn’t give a damn, probably because they didn’t understand the language. But, I found it embarrassing and disgraceful to belong to the same place as those pervert men.

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It was quite sunny on that part of the land or maybe we felt it that way. I laid a piece of cloth over the hot sand and took out an Umbrella (thank God I carried one) to sit under it. It was awkward but the shade felt good. I dared not think of entering the water, containing wild animals, in their excited states.

A drunkard came quite close to a lady who was basking in the sun nearby. She was reading a book and in between braving the waters to get some cool. We thought of warning her, about the not-so-safe zone she was in, as the drunk man was muttering something, which even we couldn’t understand. Few other men came to pacify him and engrossed him in a conversation, as we patiently watched what’s going to happen next. She didn’t even budge—the lady continued her routine and after she was content, got up to walk away. All this while, we were preparing ourselves to jump in, if the things went wrong. But, as soon as the woman walked away, we too calmed our nerves and moved to a safer zone to rest. It was sad to witness such a drama.

We found a much descent place to rest, after which I gathered some courage to get into the now ‘safe waters’.

The shore at Om beach steeply slants into the sea. Believe me when I say that ‘the waves took me in’. It was scary! My heartbeat surged as I felt the land beneath my feet incline towards the sea. I am a bad swimmer. Yes, I swim, but only in shallow waters—as much as my height, which is a little above 5 feet, and with no waves in it. As the waves pulled back, I struggled to fixate my feet over the ground. I breathed heavily with every wave. I tried to laugh it out, but my lungs shuddered with the water going wavy above my neck and sometimes inside my mouth and nose. My fear of water came haunting back. The waves were strong and pushed me in the direction of some rocks nearby. The moment I thought I will lose it, I hurriedly flapped my way back to the safety of the shore and breathed air.

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It was so warm in the afternoon that I used my towel and my much-loved Umbrella to hide from the sun. Some foreigners who were basking and happily getting tanned in the bright sun, gave us surprised looks.

I wanted to go home to the Kudle beach, after a rough day— The Om sans Shanti (Peace). So, we trekked back but through a different route this time, which was out of the trail.

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On the way, we saw a few hidden restaurants, where two men, who just didn’t seem they were in present, rested in their arm chairs and lazily looked out at the sea. In between some throat-clenching climb caught hold of us. From a high altitude, we could watch the sea almost 40 feet below us, hitting huge rocks with fierce aggression. It turned out to be a tough climb that could send us straight down if a rock wasn’t up there to prevent us from a fall or slip. With our hearts in our mouth, we braved through it but never looked down!

We got a signboard warning us to beware of robbers. It was relieving because that meant we were back on the trail! After a physical and mental adventure, tanned and tired, we reached home—we reached back to Kudle beach. If you want to know more my experience at Kudle beach, here it is.

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Kudle Ahoy! : Gokarna -> This Way

The sand started seeping in between the spaces of my feet and my footwear. It was coarse yet comforting; We had reached the sea.

Kudle Beach

There lay a vast stretch of pale yellow sand, protected under the cover of hills on one side and pampered by the sea on the other. A line of shacks calmly waited across the beach for their customers. The saline waters washed the sands gently, making sounds that gave the longing pleasure to my ears. The sun was mild, the sky was clear, the air was heavy but windy. All of it brought a streak of excitement. I took off my shoes and absorbed my vicinity as much as I could. The rushing water against my ankles and the drifting sand beneath my feet made me chuckle as I lost my balance.

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Kudle – clean and calm

A warm sunny day, awaited us, as we lazily walked passed the waves, rushing in to gently kiss the land. We had booked a shack in advance at Ummamaheshwari cottage and walked over to the place, across the sand lands. They had concrete room with basic facilities–bed with mosquito nets, cupboard with hangers, attached bathroom with shower. They even had a balcony with reclining chairs. Wifi service, as they claim to provide doesn’t work.

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PC: makemytrip.com

The room was pretty clean until we entered in after coming from beach. The sands followed our bare feet everywhere, just everywhere! Find out more reviews here.

The Salty Waters

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When the waves call you to jump in!

I changed to my beach wear and ran out to plunge into the sea. Amidst all the excitement, the saline waters entered my nostrils and came out though my mouth! My eyes burned with excess salts of the sea but it didn’t stop there. The waves knocked us out, tossed us left and right, against our wishes, toppled us over and we went happily smashing ourselves against the waters. For once, we accepted the Mother Nature and embraced it with all the happiness in our heart. We floated and swam, we played dead on the surface, sometimes facing up, and other time fearfully facing down. We gave up ourselves and became a part of the nature. We became those over-advanced species of time, who finally came back home, to their roots, after following on a long tired trail of evolution.

Some guys in our vicinity carried themselves semi-nude and played around in water, throwing each other against the waves. Some pretended to be new born dolphins, while others clung their girlfriends tightly, fearing they would swim off or drown away.

Nevertheless, the day was one of those, straight out of heaven!

Lunch kept us waiting, while hunger bothered us quite a lot. We noticed that our shack’s restaurant kept us waiting for long. The staff at  Ummamaheshwari cottage continued serving the foreigners first, though we had ordered our food before them. Racist, our own country people I tell you…: P We complained and expressed the same to them, shortly after which our lunch arrived but for the first and last time in that shack restaurant.

Don’t eat at Ummamaheshwari cottage, they will keep the local customers waiting and serve the foreigners on preference.

When we played with Sandy!

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The night came upon us like a guardian angel, bringing us rest, peace and contentment. We didn’t let it go so easily though, and made our own peculiar sand castles and devil faces, the beach playing our backyard. The same burning sand during daytime, turned cool and soft by night. We dug our feet below our sand dunes and sat there, waiting for the time to simply pass by.

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Dreamy restaurants, Awesome food!

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Another dreamy view of the restaurant

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Rowdy Me

*Magic of the Sea Shore*

The night sky displayed wonders with blankets of thousands of twinkling stars. All the shy brilliance that usually hid behind the curtains of urban dust, showed itself like a magical event that had always been waiting to happen. I felt as if I was doped by the elements of nature. The sound of crashing waves, the starry sky and the cool whiffs of air made me enter into a world away from the world. I felt high without getting intoxicated! Thereafter, the sleep came like a fairy carrying star-dust, and we finally made peace with our dream worlds by being in one ourselves.

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Gokarna ->This way (Ab Bus!)

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I boarded the bus

Sitting gladly on my single sleeper, in my presumed personal compartment, I felt the world was mine behind the curtains. That was until, one of the passengers, passed by and pulled the curtain with him, mistakenly. It was a feeling of sudden exposure that made me sit up and draw the curtains again, not knowing that I would have to do that throughout the entire night. So next time,

please don’t choose Seabird Tourists, the buses are BAD!

The world was different outside the window and kept changing faces. While I was among my deepest thoughts, the landscape outside changed to wider views, with silhouettes of trees, passing swiftly in the dark; We were on the highway. Sleep came in installments and interested me with some peace of mind until the curtains shifted again.

Bangalore To Gokarna - 485 kilometers

Bangalore To Gokarna – 8 hours, 485 kilometers

The bus stopped in between adhering to the law of giving in to the nature calls, in the interest of passengers. The dark marooned place had no clue of washrooms, until I found some people moving out of another bus, parked adjacent to us, towards two small concrete blocks. Filth and stench haunted the toilets like ghosts. No door handles! We asked our fellow females to hold the door for us and they obliged. The counter gender took to bushes instead; no wonder there was too much greenery around.

When I woke up next, it was morning but something was strange. We were crossing lush green hills, through snake roads, but hey! Wasn’t I heading to a beach?!

The Western Ghats tricked me out of sleep.

 

Gokarna Within

A village welcomed me in broad daylight, along with a group of auto-walas, eager to take an outsider for a costly ride. Kudle beach was a kilometer or two away. I was supposed to meet my friend. As soon as we met we instinctively decided to walk all the way to the beach.

Here are some tips before you trip to Kudle

The small town of Gokarna, is strangely a town of contrasts. It is a temple town as well as a peaceful holiday destination. It gave me vivid thoughts when I searched on the internet and found that Gokarna means “Cow’s Ear” and Lord Shiva is said to have emerged from the ear of a cow. The famous ‘Om Beach’ in Gokarna, gives adds a mystic touch to the place.  Find some more about Gokarna Here..

The Chariot Temple

Through the narrow streets and bazaars, that was set up with small shops selling items right from bangles to bandannas, the place was trying hard to attract the firangis that came from all over the world to experience India. Some eyes were stuck at the ethnic wear while others checked out the pure leather bags that stood out well but pitifully as their smell caught my nostrils. Here is the guide to good and cheap shopping when you are in Gokarna.

We took a turn from one lane leading to another and found a huge chariot, standing tall ahead of us. It was adorned with flags of red yellow and white colors, bright marigold flowers, the auspicious banana leaves and carried images of Gods and Goddesses on its sides. Though the chariot stood still, it seemed its big round wooden wheels had traveled quite a bit through the crowded streets and was now resting and overlooking the place.

Patli gali se khisak lo.. :P

Patli gali se khisak lo.. 😛

Moving forward, we had to pass via a tiny passage to reach the beach. Some auto-walas braved through the narrow way, by just fitting between the two walls on either side. Once we had to stick ourselves so close to the walls, thinking that the auto might crush us. The walls though gave us a tough time, had so much to speak of. That was because in that small village, within that narrow lane, on those cracked and chipped walls, we found some cute graffiti probably by a person who had had a blissful experience at the place.

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Some Cool Graffiti You May Get To See At Gokarna!

We are almost there, that’s what we thought, while climbing up a hilly road and then another and another. It was tiring, but we never gave up our hopes to the passing autowalas. Oh Yeah! Though in between I wished I was a backpack so that somebody would carry me.

Gokarna bus stand to Kudle beach is a 20-minute auto-ride (they will charge between 100-120) and a 40 minute walk. Go for the walk if it’s not sunny.

Tears trickled down my forehead, while walking on the road to Kudle?! Guys if you get a little trek freak in Gokarna, opting for walk to Kudle beach, is one among few ways to get the feel of it, but only in early morning or times nearing sunset.

Mini-Trek to Kudle Beach

Mini-Trek to Kudle Beach – 20 minute auto ride or 40 milute walk

There was a ‘sigh-t’ of relief when we saw, what you can see in the below picture and were left wondering! There was no way we could tell were the sky ended and the sea began. The Arabian Sea settled majestically under the vast blue sky.

where the sea meets the sky

    where the sea meets the sky

 

There is no picture more beautiful than what is being captured by our own eyes.

I treated my vision with the view and walked ahead, with vigor to meet the sea.

In case you want to know how my journey began Find the surprising details of the Night of my travel here

 

 

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Gokarna ->This way

Never Sit in the Backseat

It was supposed to be a solo trip. Few days before leaving, I felt like an overheated CPU, in dire need of cooling. Summer had just taken over Bengaluru and instead I was experiencing heating issues, mentally and emotionally. A beach was the necessity! A trip to Goa had already been a successful undertaking before, so the next never-visited destination that flashed in my mind was Gokarna.

All excuses and no company, hence ho! Girl on solo trip! Though I must admit I was much apprehensive about it. The new destination, the search for peace but then Indian men have always been surprising women. So I got a company of a good friend. Bus tickets were booked and one good evening I excitedly boarded the pick-up bus to Seabird Tourists . My excitement turned to embarrassment when a newly wedded couple got hold of the last seat, at the far end of the window, opposite to where I sat. Not long after the pick-up bus began moving that the kissi-pissi started and all sorts of nasty sounds made it really the most uncomfortable 45 minutes for me, until the main bus stand. Oh God, Their co-passengers are going to have a tough time, I thought.

The main bus stand was lined up with crowded Travel Agencies, that had set up their small offices in the most cramped and spooky places, so much so that all the Goras (foreign travelers) waiting for their buses, thought and discussed repeatedly among themselves, whether to go in, at that time of night, for an enquiry or not.

I was there for an hour and a half, sitting in a cramped path; waiting for my bus, while the other passengers walked passed me, often brushing themselves against moss-filled, chipping-walls to the enquiry office. I strangely felt good to be among strangers, who, as if encapsulated in a time along with me, were waiting for their vehicles to take them ahead. There was an aura of impatience but a hint of eagerness for the coming time, in that WAIT.

The Places that should be left Undiscovered

By this time, two girls came to sit beside me on either side, waiting for their bus, trapped in the wait-time capsule, like me. Something triggered a conversation and they asked me where I was travelling to. While we were getting acquainted, I felt a sudden urge to go to the toilet. I asked the people there for directions and they directed me to the most filthy travel agency toilets. Just when I was about to enter, a MAN came out, of a Ladies’ Toilet?! When few people told me go further in and that there was a ladies toilet inside, I was left wondering with a blank mind and a question mark on my face. With my nostrils all shut to the pungent smell, I made a face of sheer disgust and entered.

The door to the ladies washroom was inside the men’s loo! WTF!

With no other way out, I relieved myself and just as I was about to open the door, guess what? I heard the presence of a man, outside, through means that you might have probably guessed by now. The most disgusting feeling that crept inside me, told me to get the hell out of there!

In the most gentle and polite tone out of my heightened endurance, I spoke to ‘the Man’ through the door, ‘Bhaiya, aap bahar jaa sakte hai (Brother, can you go out?)’

Though I didn’t get a reply, I heard the other door open and shut. I slowly opened the door and thankfully there was nobody standing and peeing just outside the women’s toilet.

I rushed out, and went straight to my new acquaintances, to tell them what just happened. My conscience was pacified with wide-eyed responses and curses to the travel agencies. To be careful next time, Don’t opt for Seabird Tourists, the reasons I will share later.

Happy Journey!

Post that, we chatted for a couple of more minutes and it was great to know their purpose of travel, out of all excuses, was to escape from life. We discussed our lives and it felt great to know those two complete strangers for that brief period. When the Wait was over and their buses arrived, I bade them goodbye and merrily wished them a happy journey. Though we discussed so much about our daily life in such short span, that bounty of time was refreshing and welcoming.

For the next half hour, before my bus arrived, I sat there, alone but not lonely because my mind was already buzzing with the coming of an excitement that had already started.

gokarna

A Vast, Wide Escape

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