Indian Adventure part 2 Hyderabad, Hampi and Bangalore
After a good night’s sleep our train arrived at Hyderabad at 9am the next day. We tried to find a taxi straight away and ended up in a dispute with the rickshaw drivers who were all trying to rip us off. Ash, calm as always found a policeman who was stood nearby and asked him if there were any rules with regards to taxis. The policemen informed us that in each area there are set tariffs, really drivers should put their meters on, but most of them refuse to do this for westerners and charge a higher rate. To combat this drivers are given a tariff sheet which indicates the highest amount they can charge. Even with the policeman there asking them to pay the agreed rate loads of them said no and drove off. After a while he managed to get one who was willing to do it. I don’t mind paying set prices or meters but being ripped off when on a strict budget is frustrating.
We got dropped at a hotel we’d read good reviews for. It was nice and clean, reasonably priced and had a balcony but I cant remember its name! There was a really old guy working there who was responsible for room service who was a right character. We felt like chilling and watching Indian TV for a few hours,so ordered lunch and a lassi in the hotel. I don’t know what he’d thought we’d said but what he gave us definitely wasn’t a lassi haha it was some kind of icecream dessert. We obviously didn’t mind as he was a lovely guy and was really trying to please us.
We spent two days in Hyderabad. On the day we arrived we just walked around the area and went to see a Buddha which was in the middle of a lake nearby. It was very pretty and I got so distracted by it when walking that I completely stacked it and had a nasty fall, cutting my knee and hurting my back, which halted our walking plans that day. We went back to the hotel and ate at a delicious restaurant nearby called Kamat Andhra Meals, where I had my first experience of eating food off a plantain leaf. Whenever our plates were empty a waiter came rushing over to give us more scrumptious food, it was great!
The next day we wanted to see as much as possible so set out early, caught a bus and then walked to Hyderabad bazaar, a bustling and noisy area of the city.From there we could see a really impressive looking mosque so decided to take a look. We entered, paid and had a quick look around the courtyard as we weren’t actually allowed inside.
After a while some of the other visitors noticed us and I was set upon by more families wanting their picture taken with me. They also thrust their child on to me for a photo. Ash managed to catch the moment, and my disgruntled expression on camera!
The staff at the mosque were not happy about this and told us to leave! This was after we paid to enter and it wasn’t our fault! We continued walking through different districts for what felt like ages until at about 4pm we arrived at Zoo Park. I don’t know what we expected, but yeah it was just a zoo park and I don’t really like zoos as I always feel sorry for the animals. We saw a leopard in quite a small cage and also saw a white tiger. Some parts of the park, like the deer enclosure, were really big and it was nice to walk around those areas. Because we’d arrived late we didn’t get to see everything before the park closed and we had to leave. Tired out after lots of walking, we caught a rickshaw to go for dinner at a swish restaurant in the exclusive part of Hyderabad. Surprisingly there was a McDonalds in that area and it had been marketed as an upmarket restaurant! The posh dinner was to be honest just ok, we’d had much nicer and cheaper food the night before. On the way to get a rickshaw back Ash made friends with a traffic policeman who wanted a picture with him. He was really friendly but looked like he couldn’t hurt a fly if he tried!
Next day we went for another stroll before heading back to the train station to catch our next train to Hospet. This was another disjointed sleeper train experience where we had to get off at 3am and wait until 4am at a random station for the connection. When we were on the second train we realised that we had no bed, so huddled together right next to the open train door and tried unsuccessfully to snooze for the remaining two hours of the journey. As anyone who knows me will verify, I am not a morning person. I’m especially not a morning person when I’ve had a night of interrupted sleep, so poor Ash was in for a treat of a morning in my company – NOT. We got off the train at Hospet with me in a tired grump, quickly grabbed some food and got in to a rickshaw. Hospet is just a gateway town so we weren’t staying. We were actually going to Hampi.
Exploring ancient ruins – Hampi
Hampi is actually a village located within the ancient ruins of Vijavanagara, the ancient capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in the region of Karnataka. There are still many ruins standing in this sacred area as well as a functioning temple. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
As the rickshaw sped through the countryside I couldn’t believe how much the scenery had changed! The scenery around Ellora had been hills and fields but here was much more barren and there were ginormous hills made completely of giant boulders. It looked like they’d been dropped from the sky in to neat little piles. Again I was gobsmacked at how beautiful it was and forgot about my tiredness. After half an hour or so we arrived at Hampi Bazaar, which was filled with tourist cafes and small hostels. As soon as we got out of the rickshaw, a guy approached us with a cheap hotel deal. Totally shattered again, we accepted the offer and followed him. The room was very small and basic with a tiny dark bathroom full of spiders but it would do us. We slept for a few hours under the big mosquito net, showered and headed out in the afternoon for lunch and to explore. The people living there quite obviously depend on Hampi as a tourist destination for their livelihoods and we saw many more westerners here as it’s a really popular site. It was cool though, nice little shops dotted around and relaxing restaurants. We had lunch (western style and more expensive than we’d been used to) and then wandered over to the closest area of ruins. The stones scorched our feet as we had to take our shoes off before entering because the first place we visited was the temple. There was also an elephant there that gave blessings (put its trunk on your head) for a small fee. This was only a small area and at that time of day was full of tourists, so we left and found the river. We sat for a while taking in the gorgeous view, women washing clothes in the water and cows munching on giant leaves, all in front of a dramatic landscape. After a while we went for dinner at The Mango Tree, a really nice outdoor restaurant on the edge of the village close to the river. The food was cheap and tasty and the atmosphere was lovely.
On our second day we wanted to see the main ruins and go for a walk. We were up quite early and followed the path out of the village to the first set of ruins. They were really intricate and because it was early it was nice and quiet as we walked around. We sat by an old pool, dipped our feet and watched what we thought were terrapins swimming around. Then we followed the undulating landscape and Ash took pictures of goats, lizards, butterflies and a random dude who wanted his photo taken, it was lovely. In the afternoon we came to a rushing river next to a temple. A few people were sat around dipping their feet so we did the same. I saw a sign that said the river was crocodile infested and the next thing I knew Ash was lying down in the water! We could see round straw rafts in the distance which were rented to people to cross the river, but we didn’t have time. We headed back to Hampi and I had a pair of Indian trousers made whilst we went back to The Mango Tree for dinner. Then we hailed a rickshaw back to Hospet so we could catch our overnight train to Bangalore.
Click on the below gallery to see more Hampi pictures.
We thought we had plenty of time to get to the train station, until we saw a huge traffic jam on the road back in to Hospet. If we missed our train we would be stuck because we’d booked it months in advance! It wouldn’t be a simple task to get another ticket at such a small train station. The driver sensed that we were panicking and gave us an option – go off road. We agreed and the next 10 minutes were absolutely crazy, with only the headlights guiding us, the rickshaw bounced across the rocky countryside. Ash was in stitches at my panic stricken face, which lightened my mood a bit until at one point the rickshaw nearly toppled over! Then we saw three men stood on the edge of a quarry which was weird in the darkness. True to his word though, the driver got us back out on the road ahead of the traffic jam. We arrived at the train station with plenty of time to spare and he got a nice tip for a job well done.
We caught the train to Bangalore, but from there we hadn’t booked any more trains. We needed to get another sleeper train to our next destination in Kanyakumari at the very bottom of the country. Booking bunks on a sleeper train can be hard and we’d booked our previous trains two months in advance. We arrived at Bangalore train station the next morning, had breakfast and spent a couple of hours working out how to book the ticket. We found out that as a foreigner we could go to a specific window in the station and book the train, Ash queued up, witnessed two old guys fighting and finally managed to get our tickets. We hurried to find a hotel as we’d made some specific plans that day to visit a whisky distillery (Ash the whisky man’s idea!) and a driver was coming to collect us. The driver picked us up with our guide Vikas who was a senior employee and took us to the distillery. Not much to write about the distillery as I hate whisky but Ash was in his element. As the tour came to an end I started to feel a bit queasy. We sat and had tea and biscuits with the distillery owners and I felt more and more sick so discreetly went to the toilet. Thankfully it was time to leave, but the drive back to the hotel was going to take at least an hour! I was feeling worse by the minute so whispered my situation to Ash and just hoped for the best. After fifteen minutes in the car I felt terrible and that I was going to be sick at any moment. I tapped Ash and signalled that we urgently needed to stop. We stopped just in time for me to fling open the door and projectile vomit in to the street and up the side of the card door before whimpering “I’m sorry Vikas”. What makes it worse is that on the way to the distillery Vikas had asked if we’d been ill in India yet and confidently I said no. How embarrassing. Needless to say I did have a bad dose of Delhi belly so had to spend the next two days puking up and being waited on by Ash. I managed to get out on the last day but hardly saw any of Bangalore!
We’d reserved a train so on the third day we left Bangalore to go to our next destination, Kanyakumari.