Hampi: Joshua Tree’s fraternal twin

Hampi India: what a freaking amazing place!  For those of you who haven’t heard me say this already, Hampi, India is like Joshua Tree, but take out the J trees and throw in some coconut palms, crazy monkeys, ancient temples, amazing food and wonderful people.  Oh, and I cannot forget the rice terraces; they are amazing too.  The rice terraces: something so simple to a local, but an amazing geometric masterpiece to me!  They are nestled in every flat area possible (not covered by roads or buildings… or temples) and they really add to the beauty of this ancient settlement.  The “orphans” and I (as I like to call my eclectic worldly crew) did a lot of cite seeing in Hampi by foot.  I think we probably walked about 8miles +/- in the few days we were there.


Seeing Hampi by foot is a great way to get around and allows one to really mingle with the locals.  As we walked along one of the country roads one day up to the lake, we were really able to get a sense of how the locals lived.  Small huts housed with whole families (mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, etc.).  But those were the lucky ones, many people in India aren’t that lucky and from the moment one arrives in India, the mass poverty is evident.  Anyways, as we walked long the road, we saw the many women tending to the rice in the fields, dressed in their beautiful colorful traditional Indian garments.  Also, there were many men and children (I would estimate as young as 5) working the fields as well, using picks to dig trenches and wooden plows attached to oxen.  It was like stepping back in time.  Also we would often get followed by children who would want us to take their pictures.  Many of them weren’t begging, they just wanted to see themselves in our digital cameras.  It was very apparent that technologies such as the digital cameras are not commonplace in such impoverished areas. 


Overall, the general feel of Hampi was positive and the people really were exceptionally kind.  While we were there, there was also a 12 day religious Hindu festival taking place.  Hindus from all over came to partake in the festivities.  From before the sun rose until 10pm every night, we could hear the sounds of the Babas chanting in Hindi over a loudspeaker for all in Hampi to hear.  Sometimes, I would also hear the deep hums of “om” as the Baba and all of the Hindus chanted this word in unison.  Hearing a whole city chanting “om” is quite amazing and really brings a sense of peace to the surroundings.  One afternoon during the festivities, we ventured into the heart of the city for some “people watching” and temple exploring.  In reality, I think we were the “people” being watched with all of the folks staring at us and smiling, asking to take pictures and asking “what your name”.  It was really fun and we sure stuck out like sore thumbs!


I’d have to say that my fondest memory of Hampi was the day we hiked to the monkey temple.  Pascal, a friend from France, was the only one of us who had visited Hampi before.  His excellent navigation skills and previous experience proved very beneficial while we were there.  Because Pascal knew a back way, we took a trail winding through the hills to the monkey temple instead of the road.  On the way back, as we were crossing in between a few rice terraces after sunset, I began to notice little florescent lights flickering on and off amongst the grass.  Fireflies!!! SOOOO cool!  So we made our way back home from the monkey temple, accompanied by the songs of frogs croaking and fireflies buzzing about.  It was one of those special memories I will always cherish. 🙂    



One Response to “Hampi: Joshua Tree’s fraternal twin”

  1. Melissa Smith Says:

    Chels wow what memories you have thus far. I have been captivated with your entries for the past hour and just realized it is probably already 2009 in your part of the world – so happy new year to you my friend! Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experiences (I almost feel like I am there with you!) I can’t wait to read more as you continue on your journey! Take care and we are all looking forward to your safe return!
    With love,

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