<<  Hampi, 22-Jan-2015  >>

Hampi wonderland

Boulders and ancient Vijayanagar capital - one of India's 'must-sees' that I haven't seen until now. And bit of bitching about Indian bus transport

Finally, our first proper rip-off in India:
We got a sleeper bus ticket from Gokarna to Hampi, some 8 our journey. As always done in India, we got a ticket from one of hundreds of random ticketing agents in towns, who is not really related to the travel agency, he just sells the tickets for commission. As it turned out, the bus did not leave from Gokarna but from a town 1 hour away by public bus, at 23:00. All well so far, we took a public bus and got to a non-sense pit stop place somewhere at junction of main roads where the bus was supposed to pick us up. The tickets were pretty expensive by Indian standards, 15 EUR each, but we wanted to travel during night to minimize day-time travel time, and public transport seemed to be complicated and requiring couple of transfers. At around 00:30, that is 1,5 hour late a bus finally arrives. Too bad it’s not our bus but some other agency’s bus. And then a guy from the restaurant/hotel (the only thing that actually was there, at this weird “pit stop”) calls me and tells me that there is no our bus today. WHAT? What do you mean no bus? “Accident, accident! No bus today, no bus”. Then he handed me a phone and the guy on the other side tells me (he told a lot of things, but this was the only thing I understood), that indeed there was an accident and there is no bus running today, that we can take the bus tomorrow.
Yeah, right! Fucking stuck at some idiotic pit stop with one filthy hotel, 1 hour away from Gokarna at 00:30 at night. And then we can go back to Gokarna to get our money back, waste the whole day for 30 EUR and then try again. Fuck it all. Luckily there were 2 empty sleeper seats in the other bus that arrived, so we just paid another 2 expensive tickets and knowing we will never see our money back we left to Hampi. Sure, 30 EUR is not something that’s gonna ruin us, but it still pisses a lot, when the most expensive ticket that we got in India (we could travel all the way to Kashmir by public train for the same amount) got just flushed down. 30 EUR in India is like 100 EUR in Europe and would it not piss you off to pay 100 EUR for a bus that never arrived?

It used to the capital of an ancient mighty Hindu empire Vijayanagar, reaching its peak some time in 14th century, when a competing Muslem empire finally defeated it and crushed it to ground, killing everyone around. So all that remains are some pretty imposing ruins of ancient empire – temples, shrines, elephant stables, royal baths, … - in the middle of overwhelmingly beautiful semi-desert landscape of giant red-pinkish boulders, contrasting violently with impossibly green banana plantations. According to Lonely Planet this is the #1 sight in India, so it’s gotta be good :-)
There’s not too much to say, we roamed around for one and half day and then we left on a night train (no way we would take a private night bus again) from a nearby town Hospet to Mysore.
In Hampi and Hospet we tried to get our money back for that non-existing bus, but of course se failed and writing more about this experience would be just too traumatic for me so I’m gonna spare you :-)

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak