To my dearest friends, family and fellow culture cravers,
I have had a fabulous first week of travelling solo (not to say I’m not missing my travel buddy though!). After surviving my first sleeper bus, I spent the end of last week in the enchanting city of Hampi with a couple of girls I met at my previous stop, Palolem. A UNESCO World Heritage site in the state of Karnataka (around a nine-hour bus journey from South Goa), Hampi is a calm city with some of the most unusual and outstanding scenery I have ever seen.
Encompassed by piles of huge granite boulders, a trickling lake, luscious green palm trees and paddy fields and thousands of ancient temples, it is hard to put into words how beautiful this place is.
Once my new pals arrived (they travelled up the day after me), we spent our first morning chilling out in one of Hampi’s many rooftop restaurants sipping on fresh lemon, ginger and honey tea before exploring the two largest temples in Hampi – Virupaksha and Vittala.
Coincidentally coinciding with Sankranti Festival, the Virupaksha temple was heaving with locals worshipping and offering blessings to the temple whilst the bazaars’ floors were decorated in vibrant, floral patterns created by using coloured powder and glitter.
On route to Vittala temple, we wandered past locals cooling off and picnicking beside the water in celebration of the holidays. We walked for ages admiring the scenery whilst sipping on fresh coconuts.
We spent the morning of our second day on a bicycle tour exploring another part of the city. Cycling through lush scenery and admiring many a temple, it was a great way to see Hampi from another perspective and having the guide meant we knew exactly what we were looking at.
We ended the insightful morning with a scrummy thali served up in the old ‘Queen’s Baths’ garden.
On our final day we headed over to Hampi Island (an area on the other side of the river). However, on our way to the boat dock we were distracted.
There, lying aimlessly in the water, was Lakshmi the temple elephant being washed, scrubbed and pampered. We stood in awe as she swished her trunk in and out of the water and waved her ears in the air in satisfaction.
After tearing ourselves away from the elephant, we hopped on the boat and headed to Hanuman temple (aka the Monkey temple) – a temple situated at the top of a challenging 570 steps.
A megaphone blaring ceremonial chanting kept us motivated and with very sweaty upper lips, we made it to the top. Despite the temple not being breathtaking, the devotees singing, swaying and playing instruments inside the temple reminded me how much I’d missed this religious energy of India in Goa. We celebrated my revelation and the incredible view with a photoshoot…
I have spent the past couple of days exploring Bangalore with a friend I met in Goa who studies in the city. I have been given the local tour of this bustling city and have experienced the best of its food, gardens and temples.
This morning I arrived in Munnar – a breathtaking hill station in the state of Kerala. So far, I have only seen the scenery from a bus window but what I saw was jaw-droppingly green and beautiful.
Until next week…