I was asked my willingness to go on a trip to Hampi from our biking group. Even though I was reluctant at first, being extremely worried about taking loo breaks, then finding coffee shops on way… I’m only glad I said yes.  Our little one was super excited and started packing a week prior.  I have tried to keep my writing very simple and lucid with not much in-depth details on the monuments or any other part of the trip. Still, I suggest you to fasten your seat belts and read on…

The D-day arrived and the entire group met up at the starting point. It was biting cold but it was shred off with the warm greetings, hugs. Bisi-Bisi chai and biscuits greeted us. It was amazing to see the kids bond and start playing, while the city slept. We had few initial glitches; bikes breakdown, oil leakage etc. but nothing could break the enthusiasm to kick-start the trip. We had some bad-ass women riding some mean machines all the way to Hampi approx. 350 kms one wayJ. This is what makes this biking group stand out head held high from all other biking groups. Women and kids are their utmost priority in all their rides.

Journey began with our FSMC family of about 80 people inclusive of kids. We had our first pit stop at Kamath Upachar at Ananthpur. We were all charged up even more with some yummy breakfast and amazing coffee. I made some amazing friends from the group during the breakfast.  There was this young kid all about 13 years may be – Varshini, who had made some mind-blowing macaroons for the group. She apparently has her own YouTube channel for her bakingJ.  How I love parents who encourage their kids to pursue their passion.  There was one more breakdown of a bullet and while the men tried to fix it, we women caught up topics everything under the sun and the kids got some time to play in the small playground adjacent to the hotel. We then started off again leaving the bullet behind in the hotel. The owner of the bullet a young lad of about 68 years only chose to be a pillion rider. You know, there is nothing that can put down the spirits of this group while they’re on a ride. I will keep a very small account of the pit stops to ensure you guys don’t doze off while you read this.

While my buddy Abu zoomed past every vehicle his new car, I was very enthusiastic to pop my head out from the sun-roof in his car and clicking away photos to glory!  How I love these vast stretches of what I call the unbinding universe – the hills, mountains and the farmlands morphed into amazing landscapes. Tranquillity of the Mother Nature at its best and my mood changed instantly. I donned the hat of my poetic mind. As we drove the last stretch near JSW steel plants, my mind raced back to the thoughts of my most loved football team Bengaluru FC who the JSW group owns. At the same time, I love the kids inside our car trying to bond, share and care. The childhood and its innocence, the best state to be in. My body was falling short of my elixir and we had to take a small pit stop again. I ran out of the car to the store near-by asked for some hot milk and poured in some coffee decoction I had carried all the way from home.

I was feeling a little blue when we arrived at our destination hotel Clark’s Inn. I’m not used to so much long distance road travelling. But arriving at the hotel spiced up my mood again. The welcome drink and some amazing lunch did the magic. While the mods told us of the agenda for the second half of the day, most of the kids jumped into the wonderful swimming pool in the hotel while some rested in their allotted cosy suites and rooms.  We all met at the dining hall later in the evening. A lot of knowing each other, bonding happened too. We had some giveaway memoirs sponsored by Ravi a proud man at the borders. What more could one ask for, for a perfect evening – lovely music, delicious dinner, not to forget the potion too. While we dined that night, I planned to take a brisk walk/run around our hotel the next morning as I was told the sunrise is such a marvellous thing to watch out for in Hampi. We danced till our feet dropped and then called it off a day.

So the next morning I set out for my lonely barefoot run at 6 and it was mind-blowing experience. I realised Hampi is home to worldly landscapes. It gave me a feeling of experiencing a lovely morning in a village,  children playing in and around some rubbles,  and some in some colourful houses, some brushing their teeth using neem sticks, while some were probably sipping on their first coffee or chai, some ladies were doing laundry…  the cows, dogs and goats outnumbered the human beings. While I jogged past the rows of bright green palm trees swaying in the early morning wind and vast stretches of red rock boulders, it was amazing. I could feel my inner self so content and happy. I could manage only a 8.2kms jog. I explored a small cave which had 2 different monoliths of Lord Ganesh and Hanuman carved.  I walked a little further to see the sun playing hide and seek in between the mountains. I was extremely delighted and had this adrenaline rush in me to continue further only to be called on my phone to be back as our little one was reluctant to wake up that morning and also our group plan to explore the most awaited temple exploration visits and other places too.

So, after the breakfast we were all set to explore the historical monuments.  Centuries that looked down upon us, a royal welcome – the talarighatta gate at the temple entrance.  I fell in love with the place instantly. It was quite a walk to be done to the main temple and most talked about stone chariot, taking into account the party previous night and my early morning jog.  However, for those who could not walk under the scorching heat of the sun, there was this cosmopolitan service of ferrying the visitors to the main temple.

Our biking group chose to walk and we hired a guide to walk was through the history of the place. I listened to his stories with only half an ear, for my attention was captured by this marvellous piece of history. My mind was lingering with my childhood thoughts. Bringing back the melancholies of life, how we used to frequent our visits to such historic places with our parents and how my dad used to take turns to have us seated on his shoulder. It meant the world to us. So I instantly asked my 5 year old if she wanted the best ride – and she instantly hopped on to my shoulder. Everything we saw was spectacular, the art and architecture. I so loved this long corridor of unadorned pillars, giving it an impression that it could have been a marketplace in those days. All those pillars were interlocked and I was wonder-stuck at how our ancestors had great architects’ way centuries back.

The blazing sun was at times covered by the dark clouds and it was such a sight. I was amazed by nature and her ways of treating the human eyes and mind with such pastoral landscapes. Lucky to have captured few of those moments. The stone chariot, such an incredible one, elephant tables and the underground Shiva temple. I must admit, it is stunning sculptures everywhere. This only meant to me that the kings who ruled here were great patrons of art and religion. Though, it was destroyed by an alliance of other kings from Nothern part of our country back then. Post the attacks the city never recovered. Lot of work is being done now to revive its form but I guess it would take longer time to recover to the closest form of how it was.

I stood, transfixed, at the centre of the temple. My poetic mind didn’t let me walk further and I found a perfect spot to and pen down my thoughts.  Anup, my husband sensed my complete immersion in the stone images and the looking up at vast velvety sky, for he abandoned me and moved on. I found solace just under an interlocked small stone structure, which was the perfect spot to sit and meditate. The sunlight fell beautifully on the sandstone, lighting it up perfectly for photography. An interesting fact is that most of the temples are made facing eastwards. I later got to know that the stone, my back was facing was that of lord hanuman.  Moving on, to the south of Hampi lays its royal ruins, the palaces and the quarters where the kings and their men stayed. I had no eyes for the beauty around me, for the sleeping kid occupied my attention. I sat bang in between the wonderful monument and the gardens. Again, I chose to click away some photos of the clouds and sun playing hide and seek. A few of us then decided to move on to a hotel some 25kms away and it was the closest. I was totally famished by now. I hopped onto another buddy’s car. Ananth drove us to the hotel. Hut like place with wonderful seating arrangements on the floor. It was more of an open air hall with beds on floor on either side. Oh boy, did it feel good to lie down and stretch my legs! The first thing I ordered was of course food for the kids and then coffee for me!  Everyone had their fill and while some chose to go back to Clark’s inn, some chose to do some wild explorations. Anup joined the tribe too, to explore more of Hampi and mainly the Tungabhadra river banks.

Back at the hotel, our nest for the Hampi trip I realised I had forgotten to collect the keys of our room from my husband. I somehow managed to enter the room using the master key the Hotel Management had. But, the glitch was I could not use the fan, the lights or anything as the specific room key had to be put in for its access. It was lovely to have a shower in the dark, my mind brightened and filled with thoughts. Somehow managed the next 4 hours fanning the sleeping kid with the food brochure the room had.  I thanked my stars for the kid didn’t wake up in between till the man arrived. He had a sorry face but what mattered to me then was having my evening coffee even though it was dinner time.  Again, the entire group ganged up at the banquet hall for dinner. What amazed me was the enthusiasm of the group. Even after a long day under the scorching heat of the sun, none of them seemed to be tired.  Nobody retired for the day until the entire group danced and dined. Isn’t it such an amazing thing to be a part of such group, it’s like a huge family who eat, drink and dance together and I believe such families stay together forever.  We drew a close to Day 2 of our trip post discussing the agenda for the next day. I had a good night’s sleep.

As the sun rose in the morning, I freshened up and then packed our bags. Again, the entire group arrived at the breakfast hall and almost had a sumptuous meal.  Post breakfast, we all met at the banquet hall and thanked the Clark’s Inn management team and the ground team for their amazing hospitality. We were then swarmed by some media folks who wanted to capture our bike ride experience. We all smiled and posed for the cameras. The lady riders got some special attention by the media folks and it made me beam with pride to see women follow their passion and the group supporting them with open arms.  We then discussed the route, pit stops and other plans and then started our ride back to Bangalore. My heart said, Hey Hampi I’m definitely going to come back on my next solo trip to get more of you!!!

While on way back we were again greeted by the farms, red boulders and barren lands. A long journey awaited back home but filled with memories and love.

About the Author

Sharmista ShankaraNarayana