Winter in Hampi: 36c, blue skies and sunshine and more sunscreen than you’ve ever seen in your life.
We pre-arranged a touring day with Raj from a local tour company, and met up with him shortly after watching the morning elephant washing ritual on the banks of Tungabhadra River. Raj had organised wheels for us (3 motorcycles and a tuk-tuk) to move about between monuments and we managed to cover quite a bit of the Vijayanagaran empire area.
The Hampi shrines and memorials contained in the UNESCO world heritage site are a sub group of the broader Vijayanagara ruins. Most of these were built between 1336 and 1570. The notable exception is the Virupaksha Temple which is a 7th century Hindu temple. The area contains various examples of civil, military and religious architecture and includes the Sacred Centre, the Royal Citadel, Hemakuta Hill Temple Complex and Zenana Enclosure.
We kicked off at Sasivekalu Ganesha monument - an open pavilion with a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha carved from a single rock, before heading to the Vitthala Temple complex further east and near the river. The temple is thought to have been constructed around 1422-26 and probably remained in use until the Vijananagaran empire fell in 1565.
We took a coracle (leaf boat) out on the Tungabhadra to get to some out of the way temples but the water current was against us for part of the way. To reduce the strain on the heart of the poor soul who had the misfortune to ferry us about, most of us alighted the waterlogged craft and went cross-country for a bit.
Except Flashie, who stayed put and gave a cheeky royal wave on her way by. As Flashie is wont to do.
We returned to Vitthala to collect our wheels and headed god only knows where for some lunch which consisted of great food, and some strange drink that looked like 700 Aspros dissolved in water and didn't taste much better.