We did a motorcycle trip to Hampi-Badami from 25th May 2015 to 1st June 2015.
Day 1: Pune-Belgaum
Day 2: Belagum-Badami
Day 3: Badami-Mahakoot-Pattadakal-Aihole-Hampi
Day 4: Hampi
Day 5: Hampi
Day 6: Hampi
Day 7: Hampi-Belgaum
Day 8: Belagum-Pune
Here’s the detailed route on the map:
In all it was 1342.5 kilometres in 8 days.
I drove all the way.
Here are some experiences from the trip.
We were walking about, taking photographs in the Pattadakal complex, marvelling at the amazing architecture and carvings, when, suddenly, one local girl, about ten or eleven years old, came running to me and said to me in Kannada “Wondoo photo ?” (“One photograph ?”) I smiled and gestured her to take a pose. So she stood in front of me and gave a bright smile and I clicked her photograph. No sooner was I done than I saw three other kids – two boys aged about seven or eight and one girl aged twelve or thirteen come running towards me and requested for a photograph. Again I smiled, nodded and gestured. I assumed they would stand together. But, since the first one got a solo picture, each one of them wanted solo pictures. So I took three more photographs wondering if suddenly some more kids would materialize. I asked them their names and told them mine. Then they wanted to see the photographs I’d taken. Satisfied that I’d done a decent job of it, they smiled at me, said something in Kannada and started running off. I called out and, in gestures, asked them how I could give them these photographs. The eldest girl just pointed to the camera and gestured that I could keep them. Thank you Nethra, Yanku, Adeesh, Abhinayaa 🙂
Everywhere we went, we were a topic of curiosity and discussion. I got stared at. A lot. A LOT. A woman driving a motorcycle isn’t a common sight in the interiors. Many saw me and then hurriedly pointed me out to their companions. Everybody did it – staring and pointing – kids, men, women…everybody. Unabashedly. All those with whom we interacted – hotel and restaurant staff, policemen – initiated conversations and wanted to know all about our journey from Pune to their town on our 18-year old 110 CC motorcycle. The unasked (so, naturally, unanswered) question was how come the woman was driving and not the man.
We were at the Badami caves. One girl walked up to me and asked me, “Yavuru ?” I replied, “No Kannada. English ? Hindi ?” She repeated her question but saw me shrugging and laughingly walked to her family to whom she said something in Kannada and they all laughed. A bit later one guy came up to me and asked, “Which country ?” I was a little surprised. Did he think I was a foreigner ? I don’t look like one. So, in a tone that displayed some surprise I said, “India !” He then asked, “State ?” I said, “Maharashtra”. He just gave a me long hard look and walked away. This happened a few more times during the trip. After a while I just found it funny. The funniest point came when we walked to the ticket booth outside Lotus Mahal in Hampi. There was a middle-aged lady selling the tickets. P offered Rs. 20 and pointed to both of us while saying “Two tickets”. The lady took the money, then stopped in her tracks and took another look at me and spoke to me in Hindi, “Kahan ?” (Where ?) I thought she’s trying to make small talk. So smilingly I replied, “Maharashtra, Pune…near Bombay”. She didn’t smile back and asked, “Hindi bolti ?” (Do you speak Hindi ?) P realized why she was questioning me. He interrupted to answer, “Haan, thoda Kannada bhi bolti hai yeh.” (Yes, she also speaks a little Kannada) I added, “Haan, main Hindi bol sakti hoon. Nanage Kannada swalpa swalpa baruttade” (Yes, I can speak Hindi. I know very little Kannada). Suddenly the woman burst out laughing and said, “Mujhe foreigner lagi. Main 250 ka ticket deti !” Now it was our turn to burst out laughing ! Despite so many instances of people mistaking me for a foreigner, one of which happened right near my home in Pune a few years ago, I still don’t agree with anybody who thinks I look like a foreigner. Admittedly I am fair and when I wear a scarf I might look like a Parsi at the most…but a foreigner ? Nah !
Everybody we met on the road, absolutely everybody, no exceptions, was nice to us, including the people in the hotels we stayed at. Twice on the way to Hampi and once on the way to Belgaum, we had to take a halt due to rains. On the way to Belgaum, we took a halt in a semi-open bus stop. Some other people took shelter there too, along with us. There was one bench where some were sitting and all others including us were standing. There was a big haversack on P’s back. I was holding two helmets. P kept the haversack on the ground. But eventually there was water on the ground in the bus-stop. So P picked up the haversack and stood clutching it in front of him and leaning on a pole. Somebody tapped him on the shoulder from behind. He turned to find an old lady pointing to the seat she was sitting on a minute ago. P smiled and politely declined, but she pointed again and he had to sit down. The other incident of kindness, and adventure and perhaps providence, in a halt due to rains merits an independent vignette. Once we stopped in Hospet to ask directions to the highway to a tempo driver. He not only explained how to get to the highway but also asked us where we were headed. Then he proceeded to give us directions right up to Gadag. He also warned us of wrong exits and turns we might take and end up going to Bangalore 🙂
Most petrol pumps that I saw in Karanataka, except the one at Belgaum, were manned by boys no more than twenty years of age. In Hospet, in fact, the two boys were not over fifteen.
One day while returning to the hotel after visiting the Virupaksha temple, we saw this temple where we saw statues of two European frock-wearing ladies alongside ladies dressed in traditional dance attire. Here’s the photograph.
On the same route we saw this relatively modern Murugan temple with such beautifully crafted statues that we had to stop and take pictures.
On the third morning we left Badami for Hampi. We stopped to see the ancient temples at Mahakoot, Pattadakal and finally Aihole along the way. So we left Aihole at about 3:30 p.m. We had been in the sun all day and were sweaty. We thought we would be in Hampi by 6:30 p.m. and were looking forward to a nice bath. The road wasn’t very good till we reached National Highway 50. Then it was fabulous. A while later we saw the sky was very dark to our left. We were on the margins of a humongous black cloud. So we decided to speed up and escape getting caught in the rains, if at all they began. Thankfully the road was clear. We covered a good distance despite the increasingly strong winds. We thought we were going to be free. Just then a little ahead, when were 2 kilometres before Kushtagi, we saw the beginnings of a teeny tiny mini tornado. Luckily there was an exit from the highway close by. So we took it and stopped in front of a small tea-stall that had tin walls and a tin roof. We were just discussing if we should proceed or not when the wind became very strong and it stated drizzling. I was inclined to continue while P was in two minds. Suddenly the tea-stall owner came forward and started rushing us. P simply started walking behind him. I was slightly annoyed and asked why he was rushing us inside but nobody answered me. I had no choice but to lokk the motorcycle and follow P. The tea-stall owner practically forced us to come inside his tea-stall quickly…and with good reason too…the moment we stepped inside a violent storm began…lightning, thunder, a strong gale and heavy rains ! The tea-stall owner, his mother and brother and a couple of other people were already huddled there. They gave us chairs to sit on. The tea-stall owner explained that if the tin walls or roof flew off and we were standing on the road, nobody could predict what kind of mishaps might occur ! That is why he forced us. They had already switched off the electric current and they asked us to switch off our mobile phones too. Then all of us watched the storm…the tin roof and tin walls of the tea-stall were shaking…the gale was so strong that for a brief while I really believed that they would soon fly off. A bit later we started chatting. We discovered that some of their relatives stay in Pune. They asked us about our trip…especially the part about driving the bike and the route. When we said we planned to return via a particular route, the tea-stall owner’s mother said that it was a longer route and told us a shorter one and insisted we take that route. We drank tea with them and waited for the storm to subside. About 40 minutes later the whole drama stopped. Then we thanked those guys and resumed the journey. The weather was now magnificent and we were enjoying the ride when once again it started drizzling. Though, thankfully, this time it was just rain and mild winds. We didn’t stop. We just continued as fast as we could. We saw the most amazing lightning show I’ve ever seen. It was marvelous ! What fantastic evening !
In the Virupaksha temple at Hampi, we again encountered a bunch of kids who wanted to be photographed. The only difference was that these kids wanted to be photographed with us. A sweet little girl called Shivleela approached me and asked for a photo. When I said yes, all her brothers and sisters, or cousins perhaps, came running and when I started taking a photograph, she pointed to P. They wanted a photo with him…Then one with me…And then one with both of us. Each time she made sure she stood next to me. I put my arm around her shoulders very lightly but she pulled me closer. We didn’t know each other’s language but somehow we communicated where we were from, our names, the name of her school and the class she studies in. Such interactions always intrigue me. I shall remember them whenever I think about this vacation and I can look at the photographs too. But what are they taking away from it ? They don’t even have the photograph as a memoir of a fun thing they did while on vacation.
Twice in Hampi we were flagged down by policemen. Now, to me, policemen flagging you down is not a welcome event even if all your papers are in order. You have no idea what they will come up with to extract ‘a pound of flesh’. But with a very cool demeanour and a wary, and weary, feeling in mind, I stopped the motorcycle and we went to them. They wanted to see my driving licence and the vehicle papers. After I showed the papers to them, which were perfectly in order by the way, I waited for them to make their demand. To my immense surprise, and relief, they waved and asked me to leave. In fact, the second time, one of them came to the motorcycle and asked us about the trip, praised the ‘very old but very sturdy’ bike I was driving and wished us luck before seeing us off !
The experience to beat all experiences is when I was driving on the magnificent tree lined roads of Karnataka with nobody in sight ahead or behind and only the sound of the wind in my ears. P.U.R.E. B.L.I.S.S. !