In central Karnataka lies the village of Hampi. Here you find valleys rich in a dazzling array of brilliant colours. Huge boulders and hills of rock and sandstone dot the landscape and amidst it all are the scattered remains of a lost civilisation. Villagers make their home amongst the remnantsof the old bazaar, but monkeys and the occasional chilum smoking sadhu are the only inhabitants of the outlying ruins.
Hampi provides a constant assault on the senses. Women seem to glide effortlessly down he street in brilliantly coloured saris, carrying buckets and huge piles of firewood on their heads. The streets are lined with stands of powder dies, chilli red, saffron yellow and fluro orange. At the thali restaurants you are served curries to set your mouth on fire ~ even the tea is made with cardamon. The air is permeated with the pungent smell-of cow dung – it is watered down and thrown on the pavement to keep the chalk designs fresh and to keep the dust down.
Cows wander the streets, stealing fruit from the stands or lie sprawled across the middle of the road. They have no need to fear the traffic – to kill a sacred cow is almost as serious as killing a person. Dogs skulk around protecting their territory and spying out friendly foreigners in the restaurants. Everywhere cheeky monkeys play amongst the stucco ornaments of temples, pilfering food and chattering away in the trees. Continue reading “Hidden Hampi”