I just got to Hampi village after a day out on the scooter, rode back along a little dirt road by an irrigation canal that winds its probably ancient way through palms and banana plantations which themselves are framed by the sandy yellow conical boulder covered hills on either side, which themselves are dotted with shrines and temples from another age another time and another mind. No wonder they decided to build the city here. It’s is remarkable now in ruins, it must have been unimaginably beautiful at its height.
I’d got up this morning, not quite sure what to do with myself. Pop into the Massive Virupaksha Temple right outside the front door, go see the village across the river or throw myself onto the rocks again like I had done yesterday. I also have to get around to booking a rail ticket to the next destination, but I’m in no hurry to move on from here. So no, I hired a scooter got a little map and headed off ‘somewhere.’ Yesterday I’d seen the general lay out from up on the top of Matanga hill or I’d thought I had.
I paid 150r for the scooter 150r for 2 litres of petrol, I was shown all I needed to know, brakes worked, front and back and even showed me where the indicators were which amused me. I had a feeling that if I even dared use them I would be a laughing stock when I got back. I have never once seen anybody indicate here, it’s what the horn is for isn’t it. Everywhere signs encourage you
I tried mine out as soon as I set off through the market, I was very deflated, it sounded like Donald Duck with sinus problems, not even a parp.
So there I was mercury, buzzing along at 30km an hour face like Steve Mcween in the great escape. The sun was coming up to strength, quack quack, as I whizzed pasted the first few ruins. I stopped a mile or two down the road and walked through a gap in the remarkable old city walls. Apparently the place had been virtually impregnable and you can see why. The stones look like they have been knitted together, a fluid line where the stone fitted together. Wonderfully done, the guys who cut those stones were artists. There seemed to be endless fields of flattened fallen ruins. But many beautiful temples still standing and in pretty good repair. Massive panels of elephants, horses, lions, warriors and of course all the Hindu gods, remarkably beautiful. If I went on to describe them all in detail I’m sure it would get a little tedious, but the fascinating thing is it all seem to be free standing, the rocks just fit together and I’m not sure how they were secured in their day, but all the pillars and there are thousands seem to be just stood flat on the rock with nothing to hold them in place. The was a few Europeans and the odd couple of Americans. Oh and a few bus loads of Indian kids who seemed to more interested in where I came from and what my name was than the rows of beautifully carved gods on display. I found out today from a water seller that apparently I’m a dead ringer for a Hindu film star, maybe that is the real reason why I’m getting so many looks. I could have a future here.
I drove on towards the old elephant stables. which have apparently been designated a world heritage site and with good reason, it was impressive with green lawns and tended flower beds also in the same compound was called the Lotus Mahal again a beautiful round pink structure with delicate arches shaped of course like a beautiful lotus. I had wondered whether I should have taken a guided tour today as I could have got a lot more detail, but I sensed a restlessness and fire within. I was stood imagining it when it was full of noisy living breathing painted bejeweled elephants, when I looked up to the hills and there maybe a mile or so away perched miraculously on top of a boulder was a shrine with four pillars and a domed roof, I scanned across to the right and there on another rock was a little square walled shrine. How utterly remarkable.
“I wonder” I thought.
So I sort of ducked off the path through the complex into an over grown orchard full of wonderful smelling trees, a dirt track led through the long dry yellowed grass up towards the hills. So I set of walking quite slowly
“I wonder, did I have enough time” and the sun was now blazing down.
“Should I?” I thought,
Surly I should stay down here amongst all this world heritage. But I came to connect with what ever forces or energies were out there or came to me or were within me, at least try and that looked like a good place to try. The meditations had been good I had been clearly been spoken too, and was starting to trust myself and trust what I got. I have always loved the wild or at least out of the way places it’s where I am always trying to get too. The quieter unbeaten path, perhaps that has been a major part of my character and so my life in its successes and it’s stunning failures. In retrospect it is what I have been hungry for, for years now. It honestly make me a better man.
I wondered whether I should include the next piece but thought well that is what I am doing here. So you’ll just have to take my word for it. Ok.
So I came to a fence at the far end of the orchard it wasn’t just a little fence it was a big deal barbed wire fence that somebody had gone to great time and effort to erect. I think so that people couldn’t wander into the Elephant Stable and Lotus Mahal as you have to pay 250rto go in there. But you see a fence has always seemed like an invitation to me. So I looked along its length it had hard core barbwire must have been 7 feet high. Higher than me anyway and this was crisscrossed with more barb wire. So I just climbed it and dropped down the other side. I felt like everybody would be telling me off, but there was nobody there and I honestly felt drawn to these two way out shrines. But before I got close there were great banks of smooth sided steep natural rock walls to climb. I started to get my engines running now. Once I was over them and onto a plateau, I took a breather and scanned the area which was littered with pillared shrines nestled into under and around the boulders. I wondered if in fact people had lived in them up in these hills. Everything was shimmering and yellow
Now when I say boulders I mean boulders the size of semi detached houses in England some honestly twice the size and more, and perched on the very very top like a magic trick was a balanced rounded boulder and about the size of a London bus with the shrine on top of that. It was a remarkably beautiful and inspiring sight.
So how to get up it as it was also ringed with thorns and scrub, I made various climbs into the interior of the pile,as they had seemingly fallen together it left great spaces, tunnels and caves inside. There was not another foot print to be seen. It was exhilarating. So I crawled and pushed, jumped across ravines and sheer drops ran up almost vertical rock faces and then leapt across them keeping my momentum going.
I was loving being so physical really enjoying my strength, my balance and my eye to foot coordination. I jumped into bushes, crawled and hung by my finger tips then over and down into the depths of the interior again, squeezing along passages in the dirt and sand on my belly. Quite a few times I had to climb back out of a dead end and then climb around and try again. I was deeply at peace and very much in the moment. Then I’d nearly made it, I’d dragged myself over the top of a massive boulder looked over the other side and saw that underneath it were toe holds carved in the rock. I knew there would have been a route up there but it was just finding it. So elated as the ascent was marked and I knew there would be a clear way out. It felt like a pilgrimage stepping into the ancient toe holds.
“Thank you thank you” I said
“Thank you” I heard back . I took it for granted. I had made an effort to visit this place and I knew the spirits who were there could feel the respect in my strong beating heart. At times I genuinely see myself surrounded by light, it is in actual fact how it is. So I saw myself as an approaching light as I climbed the last few feet and came out at the foot of the boulder where the shrine had been placed. There was no way to it without ladders or rope but it was good enough to be up here. I asked my Dad if he could see this, he was probably the only person I know who would have kept on with me. He was loving it.
“Bloody great Micky boy”
I talked with Phil too,
“Tell you what Phil, before you started smoking you’d have loved this wouldn’t you”
“Yeah, too right Mick”
So I wandered around the top took some spectacular photos which wasn’t really hard. Where the river ran like a sliky green sari laid across the golden landscape temple complexes below stretching off into the haze of the afternoon and on every hill top a shrine.
I was going to sit there for a while but he motors were still running so I decided to go down and have a go at the other rocks with the stone walled shrine about half a mile away. I leapt and hurled and crawled till I was at the foot again then went straight across. Now for anybody whose ever climbed, you’ll know you can look at a route from a way off and then when you get close up its impregnable. This one looked easier but proved to be very tough. It was also full of clinging nasty thorn bushes that continuously tore at my skin and my clothes . At one point I actually threw myself down into the top of a huge bush as the way was blocked and the way back was a sheer drop, I grabbed a branch and just lowered myself down Laughing, but just so you know I wasn’t mental. There were places that would have claimed me one slip and I’d have been lost not to be found. I was pretty sure nobody had been nor were coming here for a very long time. I didn’t take silly chances I just kept the momentum and was able to run up places almost by sheer will. Though I cut bruised and grazed myself I loved it. Then I hauled myself through a narrow funnel and came out onto this remarkable rock ledge. There are moments when sheer beauty or sheer squalor stop you in your tracks. The unexpected when the mind expands momentarily. This was beauty on display.
“Oh yeah this is the place” I said so I decided to sit here and meditate facing the Kodandarma Temple and the Sule bazaar a mile or two away towards the lush banks of the river .
I sat and stated my meditation which today simply to say ‘thank you’. I closed my eyes and began the slow breathing. It took a little while to settle myself down. But slowly I began to feel the energy coming in and my hands begin to buzz and the ringing pitch go up in frequency in my head. I was trying hard to see and was getting a series of flickering images but couldn’t catch them. Then I felt, and understood.
“You are trying to hard let go and enjoy where you are”
At that I felt myself go very still, I could feel the cool wind blowing across my skin, the birds singing, the leaves rustling , I ‘felt’ the peace of the place. Then I heard
“You can do this.”
I’m not sure how long I’d been sat but I realized I was watching a strange looking man dressed in red coming towards me dancing a strange dance as if he was peering underneath something to get a look at me, moving from side to side. He was holding what appeared to be a large urn and was patting the open end with the palm of his hand playing a rhythm that I couldn’t hear, I was just aware that he was moving to the rhythm he was patting. He was wearing a bright red robe of silk or some light material. I recalled seeing something a few days ago in a meditation; I’d thought it was a woman at the time and had looked up when ever I’d noticed a woman in a red sari, I’d wondered what it was supposed to mean. He was obviously aware of my thoughts as he laughed and said
“No, it wasn’t a woman, it was me. I’ve come to you to have some fun with you”
“Really” I said “Anything I want, do you mean women?”
As I suppose the energy I was feeling felt vital and sexual a definite rise within me, though wasn’t focused on it. I think I told him I was waiting.
He laughed again and said mischievously “You can use it for what ever you want”
Then he did the strange dance again “I’ve been sent to have some fun with you.”
Then he began to fade. I sat there a little longer as I was still in the meditation, when I felt my base chakra move, the base chakra is the colour red, is sexuality and life force. I felt it grow and open outwards it was really pleasant. I relaxed myself to it consciously then drew it up into myself or in fact let it move upwards. I’m not sure how long it lasted but I recall relaxing myself inside. It seemed like a gentle beginning. A switch being switched on, a tester.
When I came out I was very peaceful and refreshed I sat and just looked out onto the valley for a while then began the rest of the climb. But almost on the very top I came to thick thorn bushes, I could have jumped the rock but if I got snagged I would have certainly fallen. So I turned back and was happy with how far I’d made. As I climbed and leapt my way down the strange man came to mind again, red, life force, having fun. I realized he’d been with me all day and genuinely I/we were having a ball, I got it. How wonderful. I knew I wouldn’t fall. I was feeling very strong and very fit and getting stronger. I cringed at my question about did he mean with women, but I wasn’t used to that feeling used in this way, this is what he’d meant, it was the life force channeled. I understood.
Once at the bottom I scouted around the base of the rocks just on the off chance there would be an easier climb and then to my great surprise was a square stone doorway that led into the rocks and of course once inside a path that led upwards. I was laughing at myself, always the hard climb always the difficult road, but then it was great to have stone steps leading right up to the shrines on the top. I looked over the edge of where I the thorns were, I had been inches away of making it. I thought I heard Phil say
“You’re a funny boy Mick”
“Yeah but I keep you on your toes eh Phil”
It was of course spectacular there were 3 shrines up there in all. One of them had a beautiful carved panel inside of the God Kolur (or could be Veera bhadra) who was dotted with red and white spots of paint.He had 4 arms, top right had an arrow lower right had a sword, top left had bow and lower left hand rested on a panel. He looked magnificent and so to show him respect I tidied up the alter cleared the dead leaves and rubbish arranged the dried yellow flowers and joss sticks around an up turned a coconut shell to resemble a lingam. It looked nice when I’d done, I stepped back and bowed out and said
“And thank you” I heard
I thought it best now to climb down and make my way back. It was a breeze and I virtually jumped over the fence. Then past the Elephant house but just as I was about to head back to the bike, the most beautiful little bird flew right past me and stopped me in my tracks. It had a golden head, beautiful deep green wings a lighter green underbelly a little black band like a mask across its eyes and underneath the a band sky blue chin, long tail feathers with two thin extra long ones and a long thing curved black beak. It was precious and beautiful.
I stood perfectly still, quietened my breathing and looked at first sideways on. It then leapt of the fence and flew to the right side of me. I didn’t breathe. It seemed to be genuinely observing me. I moved microscopically slowly towards it. It allowed me to, then it leapt off to the left of me again. So I began talking to it. Telling it how beautiful it was. It turned to look at me, and then flew right at my feet and up onto the wire on the right again. I was saying
“Hello beautiful don’t be afraid I just wanted to look at you”
Then again low right across my feet to the left. This went on for a few minutes backwards and forwards until I had edged myself almost within touching distance. I took it as a blessing. It was such a joy to see and interact with. These are the things that are precious to me. I wondered about it later, it had made me feel lucky and loved.
I got some water from a stall before I took off as I was by now almost staggering and dehydrated, Ice cold water, just the job. Then off to the temples but before I did I had checked the little map I had bought it was, just about understandable if you needed bearing. I decided to go and have a look at the old bridge the middle of which had fallen into the river and thought it would be a great chance to get a long shot of the River Thungabadra from above it, just as I got there a little boy down below drove a herd of cattle into the river I stood and watched them drop in one by one and begin swimming across. It seemed an Israeli couple had had the same idea as me and arrived at the same time. I heard the guy say can you believe the timing. He was right. It again to my eyes was such a treat, the river view from up there was perfect, when they’d crossed I made quick steps too the temple which was of course just amazing too, I could sense the power in that place but I didn’t really have enough time to let it sink in as I had to have the bike back by 6pm and it was 5.20 now but I was happy to have just been there at all.
So as I said a wonderful dreamy ride through the plantations and hills back to Hampi village, sights I have never seen before. I have been sat in a roof top restaurant which is really more like a cafe in the shadow of the massive Virupaksha Temple. The air is warm below where I’m sat big white horned cows walk slowly by along the narrow stone alley to and from the river, some been shooed away from gardens by the women. A monkey tried its luck in the hostel court yard and there is the little flute sellers playing magical little blasts of their flutes, at one point for maybe an hour or so there was the most beautiful singing coming from somewhere inside the temple. Everyone has gone to bed now and the dogs have begun their nightly howling and wailing it’s a remarkable sound to me I noticed it last night, everything is musical here even the dogs. I think I’m staying another 2 maybe 3 nights and so down the steps along the alley way pat a few sleepy cows on the way and reluctantly to bed.