“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine”
Yes indeed, one of these days I need to start reading more pages of this book. Its almost about time that I start going international on my travel. Yes I have a bucket list and there are certainly some places that I’ve bookmarked already and need to plan my travel accordingly.
One of the things that I want to do in Lisbon is take a road trip! And what better way than get a cheap car hire than DealChecker… :)
I’ve probably written about three or four posts up until now on Hampi! A lot of these contain the historical relevance and the places that one can see and visit as travellers. A lot of times whenever I’ve been to Hampi, I’ve travelled alone and come back to write my experiences and my journey in the historical and archaeological realm of the empire. Some things that I always have cherished and realized about my relationship with this magnificent place was my Kannada roots and of course more recently my understanding of ancestral connections to this place through Late. Shri N.S Rajpurohit, my great grandfather who was part of excavations of the Talikota battlefield, the place where the Vijayanagara empire marked its death.
This time around, during Diwali, with a couple of old friends and a few new ones, we decided to set foot in the Vijayanagara Kingdom… It was quite a bunch of us friends. Some writers, thinkers, some travelers like me, some who were just like me fascinated with Hindu mythology and its symbolical association with historic cultures especially here. So this blog will be more about the journey and some photographs which embellished quite a memory on this entire trip, making it truly special for reminiscing old friendship while building new ones and some very special ones too.
Our first day began when we left Mumbai in a bus to Hospet. We had decided to stay at Hampi Gowri guest house this time around. This is across the Tungabhadra river on the Anjaneya mountain side. From the minute I had started speaking to Mr. Srinivas, my namesake, I had decided to go and stay there. The very helpful and polite manner that he spoke on the phone sounding very helpful and accomodating was something that made me pick this venue in not more than a few minutes of speaking with him. He also offered to pick us up from a destination enroute Hospet, which is towards his side of the town. When we reached there we mostly freshened up and took a walk to the Sanapur Lake, which was nearby and pretty much chilled out. waiting for the day to get over, finish our wonderful home cooked dinner made by Mr. Srinivas’s wife and crash…
Second day began when we set off in our mini van to take the tour of the city. It was very well spent with a guided tour, by me of course ;) visiting the ancient ruins of Hampi and the various places that we ended up taking great pictures and spending some good time talking about their historical and archaeological significance from the standpoint of ancient India. Our day mostly touring and grabbing a quick bite of Chitranna and some mirchi bhaji was very fruitful especially after witnessing the Stone Chariot, our last and the most infamous and quite enchanting monument in this UNESCO World Heritage site. After we returned, thanks to the wonderful arrangement of a camp fire and a barbequeue! A fitting day to a tiring and yet very fun day!
Third day was mostly chilled out. It began with a late rising in the morning and eating our breakfasts, finely cooked Idlis, very tasty and certainly ones that you could gulp down as many as you could and yet feel the craving for more. We had decided to relax a bit since the second day was quite tiring and hectic and probably start slowly to end the day by climbing the famous birthplace of Hanuman, the Anjaneya temple on top of the mountain. We started off by heading to boating point, to cross the river in the famous round small boat of sorts, the coracle or putti as it’s called in Kannada. This was something one of our friends, Rahul wanted to experience and I had to ensure it was done! And quite an experience it was, for me for the second time, but all the more fun especially with good friends around. We also recorded a video, which I’ll upload later! So after which, we visited the Virupaksha temple and returned to the other side to have our lunch and head towards the Laxmi temple and Anjaneya mountain. Climbing the mountain just about the time the sun was setting, was a great experience. Once out there, witnessing entire Hampi, filled with boulders and mountains as if God himself had thrown mountains from the skies was quite overwhelming. Sitting with close friends seeing the sun set, added a perspective to this. On our way back at the foothill of the mountains, we stopped by to drink some coconut water, which I’d say was one of the best out here in the entire trip. We also happened to meet some really down to earth, humble and truly loving family who ran that shop, Govindappa Cold drinks house. Govindappa, his wife and his daughter ran the place. They were very hospitable, friendly, in fact really good people who offered us some bananas also for free. They were decorating the place as the next day was Diwali and we helped them out in some ideas. They really enjoyed it and thanked us as well. It was quite fun hanging out there as it gave us another perspective of how life is. How people like them still exist and how life is more than the materialistic living that most of us pursue out in big cities like Mumbai… Such was the ending to our 3rd day at Hampi. Surreal but true.
With all this amazing experience over a period of 3 days of staying in Hampi, gave us a lot of time as well. A lot of time to talk amongst each other and get to know each other more. A time to share stories of their own, anecdotes from their lives or the books that they read, was certainly an experience that we all enjoyed thoroughly. Some special moments, some fun, a lot of PJs being cracked, and some profound wisdom and knowledge shared amongst all of us friends. It was something that made the trip even more memorable. It gave us time to introspect on our own life and share some of those with each other to learn something remarkable about each other. Our final day was going to be the one where we explored some of the Anjaneya side of Hampi. We decided to rent mopeds, from Mr. Srinivas. They were reasonably priced as well! We set forth towards Anegundi, the old capital of Hampi. On our way back we stopped by at a place nearby the road. There were open fields staring across the horizon for acres and acres of land. Deepika my friend, had suggested that we go walk in the fields. Quite a good idea, I wondered to myself and decided to stop by. We asked a guy who was sitting near the field, he said it wasn’t his, but he told us to go ahead and take a look and that no one would mind. He had a smile on his face and was very happy that we wanted to explore these beautiful fields within his lands. And so we went, played around with the crops in the field, took some good DP worthy pics and went back on our bikes to go towards the other side of the river to explore the Monolithic bull area and probably do some last minute shopping. While the last minute shopping didn’t happen, we had quite a time in yeilding our mopeds on to a motorboat and taking it to and fro. But we managed to catch some really stumptous meal at Geeta River View…
With heavy hearts we bid goodbye to the Kingdom of Vijayanagara as the first day of Diwali came to an end with the brigh orange sun which we could see on our drive back to Hospet. It was an end to this trip, but a beginning of an alliance of a group that is going for some more travels of this sort and of course raring to come back to this beautiful ruins of Hampi…
Thanks to Mr. Srinivas for his hospitality and kindness. His wife for the awesome food, and to Harsha his son who served us and helped us out very diligently. I’d reccomend this place as a must stay and next time I’m down there, it’s going to be the place to stay :)
Contact details: www.hampigowri.com
Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:
Yes! Yes and Yes!
Before I begin the answer from a travel enthusiast perspective, just some insights to share about Asia and India in general, might give you some perspective pertaining to the question you have asked.
Travel Facts – Asia & India
Some interesting facts about the travel Industry in India & Asia in general.
Over the next few years, Asia — mostly China and India — and Latin America will drive world economic growth, contributing up to 75% of global GDP from 2010 to 2012.
The 2012 outlook for Asian outbound travel is positive. 6 to 8% increase in this year’s expected 14% growth.
In particular India appears to be set for strong growth with 43% planning more outbound travel next year. IPK’s travel confidence of India is at a high 113 points.
Incredible India – Travel Galore
I began exploring India truly about five years ago and I’d say despite traveling to a lot of parts, I hae hardly touched 1/4th of the country so far. An endeavor that makes me want to go on and on till I have set foot across each and every state at least. One of the reasons why I enjoy doing so is cause of it’s geographical and cultural diversity with of course significant historic and mythical relevance to various places. Adds to it’s mystery in its own way. To such an extent that every different place that you travel to within India is a completely different landscape and a cultural expose of sorts. There is a great sense of encompassing travel experience that yuo get when you explore various parts of India. From the beautiful mountains in the Himalayas to the amazing temples and the beaches down south. From the most diverse religious and cultural places across the four corners of the country to the much modern and very well built cities in various metropolis. From the multiple Indian languages spoken in different parts to the very familiar tour guides or audio guidebooks that you’ll get at various heritage sites to help understanding places in the country much better for yourself. India has it all. If you are the type who loves adventure and mountain climbing then you can explore various destinations across the Himalayas which span across the Indo-Nepal-Tibet and Pakistan border you’d love every bit of it. There are practically every kind of geographically diverse landscapes in Leh and Ladakh. If you are interested in culture and meeting new people of ethnic and traditional origin then a trip to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and some remote villages in Harayana, Punjab and some parts of South India would do the trick. Archaeology fans might really enjoy The Ruins of Hampi, various parts of Gujarat and some across India-Pakistan border where Indus valley civilization ruins exist and of course Madhya Pradesh for it’s beautiful terrain and charismatic caves depicting ancient lore of Kama Sutra and love in Khajurao. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore are the metropolis you might want to go to, best serve as connectivity to various different parts and mostly flights to any place in the world or other part of the country are available here. South India give s you a lot of insight on the Hindu cwith it’s various temples and also a great escapade towards nature in God’s own country Kerala will enchant you with it’s beauty. The North East has it’s own charm with various landscapic mountains, monasteries, Buddhist culture and an eye awakening spirituality towards nature and this planet. Then there are the beautiful islands of Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar which are a place in itself. Secluded from most parts of India they lie within the terrains of water a world within their own these places must not be missed. And last but not least, there’s no place like Goa! If you come to India, Goa is a must visit for….
Of course there are pitfalls when it comes to hygiene, beggars, lots of crowd, the problem of communication at times in certain parts. The potential risk of being duped by locals or overpriced at various destinations are certainly there… But if you are aware and well educated about your destination with some planning and research, yo can get along well with any of those situations. Plus that in itself is an experience for you so to speak. Overall, India tourism is trying to create infrastructure and overall awareness for its tourists and travelers. You’ll find a lot of information on this website and also if you carry the India Travel Guide book, which most tourists and travelers from the world carry with themselves you should be good to go. In most places local authorities, police are quite helpful, sometimes you may have issues with the bureaucratic ways of the cops and local authorities, but if all your paper work is good then mostly there are no worries.
So overall I’d say, India is certainly a good travel destination. One thing I’d recommend to watch before you start your journey to India is an interesting six part documentary series by BBC and Micheal Wood called ‘The Story of India.’
Lastly here are some of the places that I’ve visited and shortlisting them for you to show you what I really mean when I wrote this answer. For the detailed answer refer to this: What are the must-see travel destinations in India? (qr.ae) Would give you quite an answer to your question and my explanation to why India is a good travel destination :)
P.S If nothing else, there’s the Taj Mahal to come to India for! ;)
What are the Places to travel to?
Trek towards Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Saheb (Glacier may not be always there…)
Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand HImalayas
Paragliding in the Solang Valley
Spiritual Quest at the Dalai Lama Temple in Dharamsala/McLeodganj
Shey Palace in Ladakh
Shanti Stupa in Ladakh
Leh Palace in Leh, Ladakh
Nubra Valley in Ladakh
Disket Temple in Nubra Valley in Ladakh
Ride a Bullet to Khardung La in Ladakh *Highest Motorable road 18380 ft
Alchi Gompa – Oldest Monastery in Leh, Ladakh
Indus River Valley in Ladakh
Pangong Tso Lake across Ladakh and China Border
The serene Om beach in Gokarna
Rameshwaram Temple and it’s 1000 Pillars
Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort. Kochi
Boat to Allepy from Kottayam in Kerala
Buland Darwaaza of Fatehpur Sikri
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
Jain temples of Jaisalmer
The Vintage car museum in Udaipur
Matri Mandir in Auroville
Pondicherry & Auoroville Beach
The Garden City – Bangalore
Visit the Ruins of Hampi – A must visit if you are a fan of archaeology and historic ancient culture.
Stone Chariot in the Vittala Temple
Hazara Rama Temple – Carvings from 10th-13th century of Rama
Lakshmi Narsimha statue
Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure… Ancient air conditioned palace
Monolithic Bull, carved out of one Stone
Mythical Lions called Yalli inside Krishna Temple
View the Marina Beach Sunrise in Chennai
Conquer the Mahuli fort during rains in Maharashtra – The Sahayadaris
Charminar in Hyderabad
The Buddha Statue in Lumbini Park in Hyderabad on the Husain Sagar lake
Be part of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai
Lenayadri Hills in Maharashtra – One of the Ashtavinayaka Temples
Ajanta Ellora Caves in Aurangabad
Badrinath Temple in Uttarakhand
Mana Village and Vasudhara Waterfalls – The last indian Village on Indo Tibet Border
Haridwar for it’s cultural and spiritual expose.
Lakshman Jhoola and the Parmarth Temple in Rishikesh
This was from my revisit to the beautiful place, my birthplace Bijapur. As a kid I remember going there a lot of times during my vacations and staying From vacations to some functions most of the times there was always someone or the other who was new to the place and that is when we used to always take tours to the city and it was always fun to go to the same places again and again for they were so wonderful! I was particularly fond of the Gol Gumbaz. Recently I got the opportunity to go to the place that I was born in and that’s when I took a tour again… Some pictures from that trip.
One of the most amazing trips to self discovery are the trips that you take without any rhyme or reason and just keep wandering and walking across the horizon! But once every while comes a trip that you have to take… The aboriginal walk if I may say so… Such trips have a way of shaping themselves within their journeys and make for one of the most enchanting experiences of your life. Some spiritually enlightning, some full of incidents that open your mind to new dimensions and some full of introspective self provocating thoughts that keep you wondering, how far you’ve traveled on this road, a journey that you began years ago and where you are right now.
One such trip I took about six months ago. It was when I decided to celebrate the death anniversary and perform rites of my departed father along the banks of River Ganga in the most revered destinations across the country. The holy land of ganges! While I did that I also had some time to follow my passion for travel and come back with stories of the land of enchanted. My trip started off with Banaras and my first ritual was at Kashi, then at Gaya and finally at Prayaag.
The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. (Varanasicity.com)
Ganges is said to have its origins in the tresses of Lord Shiva and in Varanasi, it expands to the mighty river that we know of. The city is a center of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. With Sarnath, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after enlightenment, just 10 km away, Varanasi has been a symbol of Hindu renaissance. Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, Indian arts and crafts have all flourished here for centuries. Also a pilgrimage place for Jains, Varanasi is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar.
Some pictures from my journey in Kashi/Banaras:
Next up was the second ritual at Gaya. Gaya is 100 kilometers south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. Situated on the banks of the Phalgu (or Niranjana, as mentioned in Ramayana), it is a place sanctified by the Hindu, the Buddhist and the Jain religions. It is surrounded by small rocky hills (Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila and Brahmayoni) by three sides and the river flowing on the fourth (eastern) side. The city has a mix of natural surroundings, age old buildings and narrow bylanes. Since I was there only for a day or two, we couldn’t explore a lot of it, but we made it a point that Bodh Gaya was visited.
Some pictures from Gaya:
The final stop on this journey was Allahabad, yes the most famous of all! Prayaag and Triveni sangam was the place where we did the final rituals. As enchanting as it may look, it has great facets of its old Hindu and Indian culture that still is integral part of Prayaag. The city’s original name—Prayaga, or “place of sacrifice”—comes from its position at the sacred union of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. It is the second-oldest city in India and plays a central role in the Hindu scriptures. The city contains many temples and palaces. Allahabad is located on in the southern part of Uttar Pradesh. It is bounded by Pratapgarh in the north, Bhadohi in the east, Rewa in the south and Kaushambi in the west.
Some pictures from Allahabad/Prayaag:
This trip was certainly quite memorable because of the root cause but also overall the journey to the three spiritual destinations across North India was something that gave it a deft touch a touch of a journey unknown and yet beautifully spiralled into something more meaningful.
Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:
Before I answer this question, one movie, a travel documentary that I’d reccommend everyone to watch is A Map for Saturday! Will be one of the best movies you’d have watched if the travel bug has bitten you.
Also I recommend Riding Solo To the Top of the World by Gaurav Jani & Dirt Track Productions. These two movies will put things into perspective :)
Now here’s my answer:
“To traverse beyond the limitations of my mind, I travel to look upon the journey within myself.”
This is one of the reasons I travel! Rather one major reason why I started travelling. Most of the times I travel alone. I’ve been an avid traveler for a while now and a majority of times I take off on an impromptu and on the spur of the moment trips going off wandering into the wilderness all alone. One of the reasons why I chose to travel alone a lot of times is that you get a lot of time to introspect. Introspect about many things in life. A lot of times you feel that you have within yourself a great amount of potential at a lot of things that you can achieve be it in professional or personal life. But a clutter of mindful journey that you take day in and day out with the people that you are around kind of restricts you sometimes in your way of thinking. A lot of times Traveling solo is more about the journey being experienced from a perspective of a focus that you won’t get otherwise.
Many times people say that traveling solo helps you discover yourself much better than when you would travel with your partner, friends or family or with a group of new people whom you have just met. While that gives a lot of opportunity to ensure that trip doesn’t become mundane or boring as you have company, it also pulls you down on your own journey. Depending on what all of you prefer or what certain peoples capacities are it may become difficult for the traveler who wants to explore certain things otherwise.
More often than none these are the benefits and this how I feel while I travel solo.
1. Feel liberated in terms of freedom, freedom from a lot of aspects of life that we go through when we live a mundane 9-5 kind of life.
2. Feel happy to have the flexibility to generally interact, talk meet and learn from various travelers on the road.
3. Since I get a lot of time to basically be on my own, it gives me a lot of time to catch up on my reading, watching movies on my phone, sometimes to write as well.
4. A lot of times it is good to travel alone as I don’t have to worry about managing things for others and if need be just hitchhike whenever needed. Stay at cheap places, even sleep in waiting rooms on railway benches, underneath the stars on the beach. Lots of flexibility that ways.
5. It gives me great opportunity to vary my schedule if need be. Altering schedules can be painfully tricky if there is a fixed plan to travel then things become more convenient.
But most of all traveling solo has taught me to overcome a lot of fears in life, metaphorically as well as practically. If you don’t know a direction in life, and you are one of em solo travelers you’ll always find your way… That’s my belief. Eventually enriching the way I live my life and of course grow as I broaden my horizon in life…
One of the most enchanting destinations for me was always Egypt. I’ve always been fascinated with History and archaeology in general. But one of the most amazing things and striking about Egypt is it’s beautiful rustic and yet very enchanting ancient culture and heritage was always inspiring to me. Besides the historic significance and it’s age old mystical nature that one sees in movies and read in books, there is always a fascinating awe to the place especially when it comes to the way people lived back in the olden times. And that is something I always found fascinating. A lot of times I randomly search for places and try to find offers to various destinations in case any plans of travel happen sometime soon. That’s when I stumbled upon Holiday Hypermarket while looking for Holidays in Egypt
And as aptly mentioned on the site, “A holiday in Egypt simply can’t be beaten, with its world-class diving, an incredible history and golden beaches. Whether you’re walking down the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, cruising down the Nile, diving in the Red Sea or lazing on the beach, Egypt promises an amazing holiday.”
Having that in mind I’ve decided to make a bucket list for myself for the places I should visit in Egypt whenever I do go ahead and decide to take that trip. :) Here’s what I came up with after a little bit of research and this should be quite a trip whenever I do decided to go there.
1. Cairo: The capital of Egypt and the largest city in the entire Arab world, offers way too many things to present in a nutshell. This city is not just a concentration of people; with its old town showcasing what is left of the cities that were previous capitals, and The Egyptian Museum having an endless stock of the country’s antiquities, Cairo is a concentration of culture. Not to mention, its proximity to the pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza.
2. Mastaba of Seshemnufer 4 - The Pyramids of Egypt are famous all across the world but The Pyramid of Seshemnufer IV still lies as an offbeat among it. Lying on the way from the main office to Khufu’s pyramid, this particular pyramid consists of several rooms, a pleasant sanctuary and an underground burial chamber. There’s no long waiting period as most tourists don’t take the time to explore these ancient chambers.
3. Pyramids of Giza: The Great Pyramid of Giza is oldest and the largest of the three pyramids. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World. This pyramid was built for Pharaoh Khufu. This pyramid was the tallest man made structure for over 3,800 years, at 146.5 metres. It is the only pyramid which has ascending and descending passages.
4. Khan El-Khalili Market - This market was built in 1382 by the Emir Djaharks el-Khalili. This largest market is situated in one corner of the triangle of markets. Prices are lower in area north of al-Badistan and to the west. One will find here great deals on Gold, silver, brass and copper. Besides shopping, this market is also famous for its historic cafes.
5. The Hanging Church: (Located in Shar’a Mari Girgis) is one of the oldest Coptic Churches in Egypt. and still in use. This ancient church is adorned with beautiful wooden ceiling, marble columns and ebony as well as ivory screens. While you are here make sure to look down through the plastic viewing ports which gives one the feeling of being suspended in air!
5. Luxor: One of the most popular Egyptian destinations among international tourists is Luxor, because it features the ancient city of Thebes. The area is widely known as the world’s largest open air museum because of the incredible concentration of massive monuments, temples, and tombs. The great Nile flows through, separating the modern city of Luxor (East Bank) from the ancient Thebes (West Bank). The Tomb of Pabasa belongs to the 26th dynasty priest, with beautiful views of agriculture and self-indulging activities such as hunting and fishing. Entry Tickets are available at the ticket office of the Deir al-Bahri Temple. Here’s a link for more information
These are some of the items on my immediate checklist… If there are some better, let me know which ones?