The rocks and boulders were chiseled. Memories of seven to eight years, recessed. The monkey’s mischief, quite. Vacation plans were made. Discarded. Remade. The long week-end was approaching. Wify dear was getting pained with my indecision. Dotty dear oblivious and play full. Phone rang and wify dear’s sister wanted to know our plans. She, her husband and their year and half old son were demanding action. Then the sculpted rocks, the forgotten magic and the monkey’s mischief made the forgotten memories surface. Hampi. I said, we will go to Hampi for the long week-end. Hampi ? Said all, the year and a half included. Dotty dear excluded. What and where is it? We were planning for Goa, Konark, a visit to the native and what not for the Dec. long week-end. Mine and the sister-in-law’s family. Nothing was working and the hotels were getting booked by individuals with more time and fast decisioning ability. So Ooty, Goa and other assorted “patel points” were getting crossed off the white board.
I remembered how a monkey stole my disposable camera in Hampi seven or eight year ago. That is not important. The monkey or the camera. What is important is that Hampi can leave one spell-bound for years if not an eternity. And it has not notched up points on any “patel’s” map. So getting a place there to rest and stay is easy. That made all arguments rest. Hampi, said all.
It is a good 6 hours drive from Bangalore ordinarily. However we are no ordinary bunch. We take nine hours. The breaks are long. And more significantly where-ever there is a fork in the road, much debate ensues. At one such junction I put my foot down after 5 minutes of going around in circles and took the wrong turn. I did not even recognize were going in circles. Once I did recognize, I did not acknowledge it. Wify dears piercing glances notwithstanding. Then a board or a gentle soul on the road pointed to the right direction. Wify dear says I told you so or as is these days says it with her eyes and body language. Damn Freud for that word.
So after nine hours we reach Hampi, check into the Vishnu guest house. This is not any GH. It is as basic as it gets, no amenities other than a bed and the bath. But clean. Once we settled in , like a typical tourist I ask the hosts what can we do today? They say just walk around. You have arrived too late. So we took a stroll on the Hampi Bazaar and at the end of the road go up to the fabulous mandap to watch the sun set. Orange, red, crimson, pink. As the sun went down west into the sculpted mountain, time was forgotten. There were mixed couples with all nationalities and generations watching the horizon along with a dozen or so monkeys of Indian nationality. Each lost in past memories and future thoughts. The rocks recording another day of history. The Dotty dear was of course more interested in the monkeys grooming themselves than the sun or the thought. Hope she remains like that into her teens and not want romantic sunsets ever. We got a guide next day and he took us all around. The Vitthala temple with its sun chariot and musical pillars, the Kings balance where the wealth weighing the king would be given off on his birthday to poor. The Lotus temple that was cooled by water. The queens bath that was like a spa. The Elephant’s stables. The grand pavilion, Krishnadevaraya’s burned down palace, Narsimha statue, Ganesha teample, old woman’s temple and many others. Each had a story and a tragedy. Grandeur that even today apparent. In that hot rocky region such talent to put life into the boulders ? And to think of it nine months in year sun is utterly merciless.(So please visit this place only in the winter months). That day we were tired to bones and impressed to the hilt. What is this place? Said wfiy. I told you so, I winked.
Next day we went for a bath the in Tungabhadra river and climbed the Matunga hill. Wowed at the view from the top and then climbed down. Dropped my slipper in a crevice on the way down and limped with one slipper-ed foot for the rest of the way. Dotty dear was happy to have climbed, seen and posed on the mountain. Why is it called the Matunga hill, Daddy ? She asked. This is where the Rishi Matunga lived, I said.
We were to leave the next day ,along with the “unpaired” slipper, those plans too were tossed. We wanted to stay more, two more days. Lunch the next day was at the Mango tree restaurant. It is a good place, read about it on the net. Went for a boat ride and to Tungabhadra dam and the gardens there in the evening.
The following day was for us to go on the other side of the river to visit temples. River, very grace full. Temples very old, very inspiring. Saw the thousand year old Vishnu temple, The place where the a seven great munis had their Samadhi and the birth place of Hanuman, Anjani parvath. Here I met a few sadhus on the move. Talked to them about their life and ours. Had tea with then, Lunch in the temple and climbed down. Relaxed on the banks of the river. Still there remained tons of things to do. To make a fast time rented cycles and went around slowly, lazily.
This was the fourth and last day, offices schools and the domestic grind was to start from tomorrow. Time to say goodbye. We had one more dip in the river, thanked the host in the GH and left for home. Promising another visit to take in more of the spell. The place silently and strongly leaves a lasting impression. Peoples’ warmth forces you to spend more time with them. The palaces, pagodas, temples, and statues talk about the people four hundred years back. There is collection of World’s greatest poems on a CD. In that there is one poem about a sculpture. Poet talks about it, the contours on the face and the beauty it captures. He ends saying, in that Sculpture a thousand years rolled into yesterday. If you want to see thousand such statues go to Hampi.