Southern India pt. 2: The Ancient City of Hampi

Namaste everyone!

Sorry it’s been so long since my last update. I’ve been traveling around India and I am now on Spring Break! Rather than try and fit everything I’ve done into one post, I’ll separate them out a bit by location.

Our professor and several students with the giant statue of Ganesha

After our time in Mysore we traveled to the ancient city of Vijayanagara to finish up our art history class. This city had a number of impressive temples and royal structures which were very interesting. It was also very hot, and spending half the day wandering around in the sun made us all incredibly tired and a tiny bit irritable. Nonetheless, it was an interesting few days.

A group of monkeys hanging around the ruins. They continue to be our greatest enemy in India

Getting there proved to be the hardest part. We had originally planned to take a train from Mysore to Bangalore, then Bangalore to Hampi (also Vijayanagara or Hospet. This place had many names) but upon arrival in Bangalore our professor was confused and we waited for our train on the wrong platform. We missed our train and for a while we thought we’d have to try and force our way on a different train without having any tickets and we were all very tired and stressed. Luckily our trip leaders decided not to do this, and we spent the night in a hotel instead. The next day we hired a bus since the trains were all full, and it was one of the most frightening rides of my life. The bus driver wanted to make it to Hampi and back in one day, and he drove like a madman to do it. And it was a bit wild, even by Indian standards. Either way, we made it to our destination in one piece, so all is well.

The sacred Elephant of one of the temples. I gave him 10 Rupees and he blessed me by placing his trunk on my head. It was an enlightening experience.

Besides seeing all the cool ruins, our time in Hampi was pretty uneventful. Two pacrim alums came to visit us, and I discovered the hotel gift shop had nice jewelry. It was a fun few days, and we were thrilled to wrap up our art history class, which had previously been known as the class-that-never-ends.

One of the most famous monuments in India, the wheels of the chariot were once able to move, but time has left them immobile. We tried giving them a push, but to no luck.
An ancient ceremonial water tank. One of my favorite parts of the tour.

After our time in Hampi we went to Rato, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Sourthern India. I don’t have any pictures from this time, but it has been one of my favorite places of the year because it was quiet and relaxing. We lived in the monks’ dormitories and studied Buddhism, and our classes occasionally included lectures from significant Buddhist monks or lamas (Lama is the word for teacher, it is the same as guru). The monks were all very nice, and while I still am not enamored with the religion, I very much like the people who practice it. While at Rato I mostly worked on my thesis paper and took some time to relax, which was good because the next portion of our trip was crazy. But I’ll get to that in the next post.

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