Monday, December 19, 2005

On The Rocks

The ruins at Hampi are all that remain of Vijayanagara, the capital city of the empire of the same name which, at one point (14th to 16th centuries), controlled the entire southern half of India. Few of the buildings have survived as more than bare skeletons, but the beauty of the place resides in the setting. The 40-odd square km of remains lie within a series of small valleys that are covered in granite boulders of all shapes and sizes, singly or forming large hills, giving the place an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere. Many of the old temple ruins are also built directly on top of these rocks with no foundations at all, sometimes perched precariously on boulders only tens of metres across. It's such an enchantingly beautiful place, like nowhere else on earth, that I spent one whole day ignoring the ruins and just clambering around the boulders, getting lost, backtracking and getting covered in scratches. I felt like I was 8 years old again. Ah, what fun. The only dampener was the fact that Hampi, very naturally, is a big hit with the tourists. This means it is very difficult to go anywhere without having a horde of little brats following you around shouting helloschoolpen! when they should, instead, actually be in school. Hmm, I feel a touch of the old cynicism might be showing there.

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