Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Here I am, with the first ever blog!! And with an account of my last trip, during the just gone weekend!! As been the case with me, there seemed no way for my trip to Hampi getting materialized. As you might be knowing, Hampi was the capital city of Vijaynagar Empire, and flourished during Krishna Dev Raya (associated with the legendary Tenali Ram). For more details, you may visit http://www.karnataka.com/tourism/hampi/www.karnataka.com/tourism/hampi/.
I was down and out with last minute backing out of my so called 'would be pillions' (one of the things I have to face while you are not there in Bangalore). So much so, that when I got a 'no' from the 'last man standing' in my office, I made up my mind that I would go on this 350+ kms trip all alone. Raghu (my mentor @hp) had put ehough onus on to me to visit Hampi, and especially Tungabahadra Dam. He is from Hospet, the nearby town and I could take his words for granted anyday! Coming back, I knew that a lone ride might turn out to be boring, but I had faith in my bike and my camera equipment to give me support and company... Friday 5:30pm, and in came Anil (one of my office colleagues) with a casual and pleasant 'haan, theek hai, chalte hain'!! So it was now to be decided whether we departed on the same night or try something new -- leave next day early morning at 4am. In the end, it was yet another piece of joy waiting for me as we took off at 11:45pm, exactly the same time that I and Mukesh had left for Jog and Honnemardu; incedently, this was again at moonlit night with stars shining bright and we were to go in the very same direction from Bangalore (till Tumkur). The only thing I was hoping not to be the same were those TWO+ HOURS OF RAIN that we had encountered during journey to Jog! And this time, recalling Hanuman Ji helped, as it stayed that way, moonlit with stars with clear skies thought the journey! Boy, how I love driving at night :)
The next part of the story is a bit twisted. Twisted in a sense that we got all our assumptions regarding our travel time wrong! It was planned (Have I ever PLANNED my trips ever???) that this journey of ~350kms would take about 8 to 9 hours, considering that we would be moving slow through the night. Once in Hospet (our base town for Hampi and TungaBhadra Dam(TBD)), we'll visit TBD first, and then visit this Daroji (um.. I think that was the name) Bear Sanctuary. This would have finished day 1 for us. Next day till 1pm we would go around Hampi and then leave for Bangalore after lunch. But it was the end of any of these plans once we reached Chitradurga (~211kms from Bangalore). The problem was very simple -- after crossing the Reliance Office in Peenya, Bangalore (22kms from home) at 12:40, we hoped to reach Chitradurga by 4:30 - 5am and consequently Hospet not before 9am. If you are guessing why our plans 'failed', then heres the little fact -- we had covered those 189kms to Chitradurga in exactly 2hrs 30 minutes. This also included 2 breaks, 1 for grabbing a cup of tea and the other for Masala Dosa! Yes, a hot and delicious masala dosa at 2 o'clock at night!! So effectively 189kms in about 2hrs and 10 minutes. The best thing was that we didn’t even take '1%' risk. The credit goes to the amazing NH-4 which apart from few places where its still 2 lanes, is 4 lane through out with some 6 lanes in village areas. It has been fenced on either side so that stray cattle stays away from road!! The other helping factor was of course the time.. it was night time with all the local 'uneducated' traffic off road. The actual traffic consisted of the hundreds of trucks with few busses, sumos and a single bike - my beloved Pulsar 150!! And this journey has put more ink on the stamp that I give to the truck drivers, taking an average, "they are the BEST BEHAVED people on highway, especially at night, moving in single lanes and aware of the fact that God has given them a thing known as DIPPER on their vehicle!!".
We were there in Chitradurga at least 1hr 30min ahead of schedule.. this meant that we were at Tungabhadra Dam by 7:30... and what a sight it was when we reached there... what lied beyond those 'not so hi' walls was a definition 'sagar' the dam is full with all its 33 gates open. A little 'gift' to the security guards ensured that we were able to take our bike on the Dam and then later to the Guest House atop a small hill overlooking the dam. And guess what, there was a Hanuman temple at a little distance from this guest house. After some huffing and puffing could take a Darshan and did a 'dandwat' :) It was time to thank him for his support for our trip...
Once out of the temple and through with a few photos, we went down to a small garden adjacent to the dam. After taking some well deserved rest, we set of for Hampi, with a break in Hospet for uneventful lunch.. Once in Hampi, we went around like crazy. 'Not a single stone was left unturned' :D This was the first time that I showed any interest in anything beyond 'water', esp. in architecture... Visiting the bear sanctuary was completely ruled out as the entry timing was 3pm to 6pm. As the sun went down and a full moon rose to glory, we came out from the TB river that caressed the city. After all, I wasn’t THAT far from water, was I!! Hampi at night was a different sight all together. Combined with the moon light, there were these arrays of sodium and mercury vapor lamps that lit the structures, esp. the Vitthala Temple!! Truly artistic!! Majestic!!
Yes, there was one thing utterly disappointing and ridiculous!! One is NOT ALLOWED TO USE A TRIPOD FOR CAMERA in Hampi, even though use of camera itself is allowed. You have to get a written permission from their office to use it. As we didn’t have that permit, all those night shots went to the dogs :(( as the saying goes, 'for your EYES only'... As we started back for Hospet, nothing else was left to been seen... after an uneventful night, we started back for Bangalore around 9am. For a change, we didn’t reach home before 7:15pm, thanks to our numerous stops on the way back. Sometimes to just gaze at the landscapes, sometimes to get into those Sun Flower fields and put the camera into use.
This was a 771kms round trip and one that would stay in mind for some time! Have the photos on the web at: