(Notice the bed cover, a purchase from Goa that we happily use as our personal bed sheet. In general, it's a good idea to travel around with some clean sheets.)
(The street we are staying on is in the heart of Hampi Bazaar, something like the "historical center" of town. In fact, the only center of town. The village life is one of the most pleasant aspects of staying here. There are tons of little - naked - children running around, as well as people going on about their business. But the town is generally very quiet. It's very special to wake up to the sounds and rhythms of the town.)
(Hot chillies drying in the sun on one of the small streets in the Bazaar.)
Now, you can look up all the various information on Hampi on the wikipedia link, but here are a couple of points that are interesting. Between the 14th and 16th century, the area all around Hampi was known as Vijayanagara, "the City of Victory", capital of the omonimous Vijayanagara Empire. (David and I have inevitably fallen into the trap of calling it Vagina-gara, but are working on getting out of that habit...) During its peak, the V-Empire was one of the most powerful in India, alone in its ability to resist the invasions of the Delhi based Moughals. Hampi is sorrounded by the ruins of this once rich and powerful city, whose strength relied on a large military and excellent relations with different religious institutions. One of our neighbors here in Hampi has compared it to Rome, arguing that it would take 3 months to see the whole complex of ruins. I am not sure the two cities can actually be compared in magnitude, but because Hampi locals live in and on part of the ruins, sometimes it does feel a little bit like being in Rome... a little bit...
(The main street of Hampi, leading to the still active Virupaksha Temple. The road functioned, and still does, as a bazaar. People live and work on the main street.)
In addition to its historical importance, Hampi is remarkable for its landscape. It's surrounded by INCREDIBLE boulders of red/ochra/grey granite. They are precariously placed on top of each other, like the LEGO kit of some giant creature. Surprisingly, we just learned that geologically the area around Hampi is one of the most stable imaginable (i.e. no earthquakes.) The boulders' shapes and precarious positions are merely the result of enviornmental forces such as water and wind, and the natural erosion caused by time. So although it looks totally brittle, it speaks of thousands of years of stability!
Mythologically, the area around Hampi is considered to be the Land of the Monkeys, more specifically the home of Hanuman. In the Ramayana, in his quest to save Sita (his wife), Rama comes to this land and encounters Hanuman, the loyal monkey-servant of a powerful king. It is here that Hanuman, after receiving Rama's help, promises to assist him in retreiving Sita (he does so, naturally, with the help of his monkey army.) Depictions of Hanuman are present all over the ruins and temples around Hampi. Here is a sweet image among many:
Interestingly, Hampi is also prime BANANA Land, yet another connection to the universe of monkeys...? There are so many banana plantations all around us, and the bananas are delicious! (I only got to taste them today for the first time, after a general stomach-soothing fast that has lasted 3 days where my diet consisted of curt (yoghurt) and plain rice with a little bit of salt- a really delicious meal, even though it got a bit repetitive.)
(Banana truck headed to Hospet, the closest city to Hampi.)
(The wheels on this chariot used to be able to turn. The chariot stands in the center of the courtyard, facing the main temple.)
The columns of the temples are particularly beautiful:
In order to give you a better sense of the intention of the artist, David has agreed to emphasize the message of one of the columns:
The details on the colums are great too:
(Hanuman, or one of his monkey soldiers.)
(This sensual lady hanging onto a tree appears over and over in the temples...)
(This is one of the best ones! Click on it to look at the details: in it Krishna has climbed on top of a tree with the clothes of the Gopis who were bathin in the river. The naked women are very expressive in their pleas to get their clothes back!)