One of my favourite places on my trip to India was Hampi. This village lies within the site of a city destroyed in the 16th century by an invading army. Temples and ruins are scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.
The area is also supposed to have been Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom of the Ramayana, where Lord Hanuman was recruited to help Ram (the Ramayana is brilliantly re-told in the free-to-view/download animation Sita Sings the Blues). Legend says that the rocks and boulders in the landscape were placed by the monkey warriors flinging them in tests of strength. Dad and I spent a few days in Hampi, but I could have happily spent a week there.
I went on one of the most amazing hikes of my life in this countryside, trying to reach a temple that is reputed to be Hanuman's birthplace. We had to cross the river twice – first with the standard 20 rupee ferry crossing near the ruins of the new bridge. The Lonely Planet states that the bridge "mysteriously collapsed, taking away with it all hopes of cycling across" Which I guess works out well for the ferrymen.
The second crossing was made on the way back, when we were a little lost. We found someone with a group of coracles, who took full advantage of the fact we were lost and tired when negotiating. The fact that the river was only about 50 feet wide made no difference. It's hard to negotiate when you're on the wrong side of a river.
The aim of our walk was the Hanuman temple at the top of Anjanadri Hill. Reached by a 570-step climb, this is reputed to be Hanuman's birthplace. The hike took us through beautiful countryside and while we were never truly lost, we always had that pleasant feeling of not being quite sure where we were.
Apparently, in the 90's Hampi only had four guesthouses, and hippies used to sleep in the caves. Now there are a lot of guesthouses and restaurants. One of these (whose menu announced 'Fell Like Home') had a number of dishes containing 'Huhn'. When I asked what this was, the waiter said "Chicken, but we don't have any." All meat is banned from Hampi for religious reasons, and I appeared to have found myself in a possible meateasy.my mailing list