Thursday, January 17, 2008
Travelling Back in Time
We arrived at Hampi in true royal style, our three-wheeled chariot (the comendable autorikshaw) jolted to a stop, knocking our already smarting heads, together for the nth time. As we painfully got off that shiny black auto, trying to soothe our many aches, the friendly driver bedazzled us with his brilliant, all-teeth-shining smile. Manju the man behind the ultimate machine that took us to every nook and hidden corner of the rustic, mysterious town of Hampi became our guide and trusted friend that moment on. 8kms from the city of Bellary, where the nearest railway station is situated, Hampi remains one of the most exotic tourist destinations in the country. From wild hippie parties across the Thungabadra River to scenic sunsets amidst ruins, Hampi invokes in you a sense of overwhelming ecstasy as well as peace and serenity. Away from the noise and chaos of city life, we loosened our collars, grabbed our cameras and set off on an adventure, back in time. Manju took us to all the famous structures including the temple with the stone chariot and musical pillars. We watched and listened in awe, the images and sounds of days gone by. He told us of musicians who made exquisite music solely with hollow stone pillars, each of which sounded a different note. The royal courtesans danced to this music, entertaining the king and his guests during the annual feast, when all the townsfolk would gather around the main temple. It is said that the music could be heard even from a kilometer away. We saw it all materialize before our eyes, they came alive! The dancers, the street vendors selling gold, diamonds and precious gems, the musicians of the pillars, we even thought we caught a glimpse of the king himself! Mystical shades of the setting sun, reflected in lazy waters of a mighty river, majestic structures of ruined palaces and temples of another time, tend to have an intoxicating effect on the mind. And thatâ™s perhaps the reason why we still believe, we relived 3 centuries in 3 days! Astounding architecture, the finesse of design, the accuracy of each structure, literally took our breath away. Built with no modern tools or scientific equipment, their flawless perfection baffled us then and still remains a mystery today. Everything, from bright sunflower fields to local home cooked meals at little shacks and colourful gypsies by the roadside to deserted ruins held us spellbound and told us a different tale. In silence we heard a story, of empires that rose and fell, of battles fought on this soil, of celebration and of joy. We soaked it all up as best as we could. From spiraling around in small wooden boats to trekking under a hot sun in the ruins, from sitting atop a hill, the moon smiling in our faces, to stealing a quick swim under the starsâ¦Hampi was a lifetime, we lived in a moment!