On Sunday morning after a run and a breakfast of pancakes it was back to hotel to finish packing and settle the bill, then it was a short Tuk Tuk ride to the train station arriving an hour early.
It’s always interesting to sit and watch the activity of people going about their business and coming and going of the trains, I love having the time to just sit and watch the world go by.
The 11.30 Tippu Express from Mysore to Bangalore was an hour early so I didn’t realise it was my train sitting there until it got to about 11.15 and asked one of the staff on the platform.
It didn’t look like much of an express as it sat there and as I boarded I realised I was now batting 0 for getting my allocated seat on any booked Indian transport so far but still got a window seat so that was ok.
The trip from Mysore was less than 3 hours and the train departed and arrived on time. It was reasonably comfortable and the scenery was interesting mostly green and the first real crops I’ve seen, mostly corn and banana trees. As we got closer to Bangalore you could see it was getting busier and the traffic was building up. The guy sitting next to me introduced himself and asked where I was from and what job I did ( the usual stuff ) and offered me some biscuits and then said goodbye when the train pulled into the station.
On arrival I could see it was a few miles to the hotel and after a bit of a white knuckle ride though Bangalore’s traffic arrived safely and checked in, I was impressed with the hotel as it was an improvement over the one in Mysore and after unpacking decided to go for a walk to get my bearings.
Cubbon Park was a couple of miles away so I decided to walk over there, on the way 2 Tuk Tuk drivers tried to divert me to the market or a tour of Bangalore, one saying the park was shut to 17.30 and the other saying I wouldn’t be allowed in as there was a political rally going on, nether proved to be true and the park was full of thousands of people and is even large enough to have a 5 k run marked out, I did get a fresh mango juice from one of the many stalls.
My initial impression of Bangalore is it is what I expected Mysore to be more like and feels like a major built up city. It is known as India’s Silicon Valley and a major IT hub so attracts a young educated workforce and offers them good job prospects and attractive lifestyle.
In the evening I went out in search of a decent restaurant and eventually found the one I was looking for in a hotel, it was a bit up market from the ones I’d been used to and the waiter insisted on serving the food from the dishes instead of me doing it. It was a nice change though and the food was excellent and also in a busy area of the city with lots of other restaurants I can try out.
Walking around in the evening Bangalore certainly felt like a busy city with sirens going and ambulances trying to make their way through the traffic. It felt quite lively for a Sunday evening .
In the morning I was up early for a run over to Cubbon Park which was busy with runners, walkers and people doing fitness classes, running in the park was great with flat road surfaces and no traffic but along the pavement getting there it was very uneven with lots of potential for accidents, then it was back to the hotel for breakfast which was on a rooftop garden and with a breeze blowing it felt quite cold.
I then started walking to the railway station as I needed to sort out my ticket to travel to Hampi, I had decided to go on the overnight train on the Tuesday night as it would give me more time there than if I got a bus on the Wednesday, part way there I decided to get a Tuk Tuk as it was about 4 miles to the station, the Tuk Tuk driver offered to wait while I got my ticket and then drop me at Bangalore Palace, unfortunately that ended up being via 3 shops on the way to the Palace as I believe the drivers get something in return for taking customers to them in this case I think it was fuel coupons.
They are pretty persistent in the shops and use the line you’re the ” first customer of the day” a lot. I do try telling them I’m not here for shopping and have been trying to get rid of stuff for the last 5 years and don’t want to be collecting more. Eventually I got away without buying anything but I am fascinated by the quality of the carpets but have to tell them I currently have nowhere to put one as I’m just traveling around but they don’t seem to get the concept of someone not having a base.
I eventually got to Bangalore Palace and enjoyed walking around, it was far less busy than Mysore with no pressure to keep moving along once inside.
Bangalore Palace is fairly recent only being built in 1887 and is said to be based on Windsor Palace because of King Chamaraja Wodayer’s fascination with it. It was built on a wooden structure and looks quite impressive from outside. It has become more of a museum inside now with lots of artwork and photographs on display and oddly enough furniture made from elephants such as elephants feet made into stools and an elephants trunk made into a high stand/ table, it seemed very out of place in today’s world but I suppose in the 18th century when some of the hunting photos were taken they thought very differently.
It was quite a walk from the Palace back to the hotel and I had to turn away a lot Tuk Tuk drivers, but the route I followed took me through parts of Bangalore I probably wouldn’t of seen otherwise and a large and very busy market.
In the afternoon I had a walk over to Ulsoor Lake which isn’t too far from the hotel. It’s fairly large, about 124 acres in size and has a good path system that although doesn’t go right round the lake is fairly long. It was quite busy with walkers, and a few runners when I was there.
In the evening I went out in search of a biryani restaurant and found it not to far away, I think I was a bit of a novelty there as it didn’t look like somewhere tourists went and was a bit off the beaten track but the food was good and a lot of it. I was again surprised at the volume of traffic, even the scooters and motorcycles were using the pavement to avoid the gridlock and the noise from the horns was horrendous.
On the Tuesday morning after breakfast at the hotel I went for a walk around some of Bangalore that I hadn’t seen before in search of a decent coffee as I hadn’t had one since arriving here as Chai seems to be king in most places, I found a Starbucks off of Bridge road and decided to treat myself to a flat white and a blueberry muffin, I expected it to be busy like most Starbucks are but there were only 4 business men holding a meeting and 1 woman working furiously on her laptop, it was probably empty because of the price being expensive for India but not compared to what we pay in the UK or Canada.
After the coffee I continued to explore some more and bumped into the same Tuk Tuk driver that had taken me around Bangalore yesterday ( not sure if he’s following me) who tried to convince me to visit another carpet shop as he would get 2 free litres of fuel, we had a short conversation but I wasn’t going to get dragged around anymore shops today and found myself at Cubbon Park and decided to follow the 5k loop most of the way round then headed back to the hotel via a Reebok shop I had seen on the way out.
I finished my packing back at the hotel and at 1900 and set off for the train station to catch the Hampi express which left from Bangalore at 22.00. I didn’t have to walk to far before I found a Tuk Tuk to get me to the station and luckily the traffic didn’t seem as bad as the previous evening and it only took about 45 minutes to get there.
The Bangalore train station is a major one and was pretty busy when I arrived, I made my way over to platform 8 and tried to work out where my carriage would be stopping, I eventually found somewhere to sit as other trains left and my train my only slightly late arriving from Mysore upon boarding I was pleased to find my allocated bunk empty this time. I had booked a 1st class sleeper this time and was sharing a 4 berth cabin with an Indian gentleman of similar age.
We made up our bunks (clean sheets, a blanket and pillow are provided) and the trip to Hospet was pretty good and I even managed to get some sleep although someone did come in and ask if I had any UK coins as he collected them ( which I didn’t) . We lost a couple of hours on the way but it didn’t really matter as it made it closer to my check in time at the homestay.
The Tuk Tuk drivers at Hospet are on the ball though as one appeared behind me as I was waiting to get off the train ( he must of got on while the train was still moving and come along the carriage ) I told him that I needed to sort out my onward journey to Chenni before leaving Hospet and he showed me the ticket office, but as it was very busy suggested booking from a travel agent in Hampi which I agreed to. We stopped at the travel agent first and found the A/C sections of the train fully booked so ended up booking a sleeper coach which takes the same time as the train to get to Chenni ( about 11 hours ).
Arriving at the homestay I was greeted by a nice family that ran it and shown my room which was basic after the previous hotel but had everything I needed for a few days in Hampi.
I filled in the required paperwork over a late breakfast and the son of the woman who owns the homestay give me some useful information about Hampi.
My first impressions of Hampi were it was a great place and it felt good to be out of the busy city after Bangalore and back into rural India.
After breakfast I went off to explore Hampi and started off with the main Temple ( Pampa Virupaksha Temple )which is quite close to where I was staying. I think I got lucky as there was a Hindu wedding ceremony going on in the Temple and it was fantastic and so colourful to watch and they didn’t seem to mind a few tourists taking pictures of their big day.
There was also an elephant that would take 10 rupees off you with his trunk and then ” Bless you ” by touching you on the head with his trunk. I then walked around some of the other sites including a giant 7 meter Ganesha and a smaller one also numerous smaller Temples and and ancient Bazzar which must of been impressive when it was in use.
Most of Hampi’s sites date back to the early 15th century and are sacred Hindu temples and monuments, but a lot of the Temples have been damaged in wars so can no longer be used to worship in.
In the late afternoon I had a walk up to a small Temple on “Mantanga” hill nearby that is popular for watching the sunset. It was quite a trek up and very rocky but worth the effort for the views of Hampi as the Sunset, there were probably a dozen or so of us that had made the trip to the top, we just had to make sure we got back down before it got too dark as it would be pretty dangerous otherwise.
In the evening during dinner I was told about some elephants that went down to the river between 8.30 and 9.30 in the morning so that sounded like a good plan for tomorrow.
The next morning I was up early for a run but didn’t have to worry about traffic so was able to go at around 7 instead of the usual 6 and had a nice quiet traffic free run for a change.
After breakfast I wandered down to the river in search of elephants and thought I was out of luck at first but then spotted one heading down to the river as I was going back, it put on a bit of a show for spectators that had gathered by showering a guy in the river before crossing the river and disappearing.
On the way back to meet the Tuk Tuk driver ” Ravi” that had bought me from Hospet, he was coming the other way and so began a long hot day visiting the 30 or so sites around the south side of Hampi and involved a lot of walking but I wouldn’t of been able to see it all without the use of the Tuk Tuk.
I also arranged for Ravi to pick me up at 9 the next day to take me around the sites on the north side of Hampi ( across the river ) the next day then drop me in Hospet to catch the bus for Chenni, but he turned up at the homestay around 5.30 to say he needed to go to hospital and Sammy would pick me up the next morning.
During the night and early morning I was keeping an eye on the election results in the UK and was very surprised at the exit poll that gave the Conservatives quite a large majority.
I had been very disappointed in the state of parliament in the last two years and couldn’t see why the parties couldn’t come together and do what’s best for the sake of the country instead of bickering and stopping each other getting anything done ( and seemly enjoying it ) because of the lack of a clear majority and even voting against their own parties wishes.
In the end I wasn’t to bothered who got in but didn’t want to see a hung parliament with more of the same of what we had just been though.
I can’t believe the Labour Party couldn’t see how unpopular their leadership was leading up to the election. It should of been a good opportunity for them, (It wasn’t as if the Conservatives had a shining star leading them). I think the result also shows the majority aren’t afraid of coming out of the EU without a deal but hope the EU now relies that it will happen hopefully with a deal that suits us both.
That’s enough politics for now but I’m fortunate enough to have two countries that I consider home and I think both their governments can do so much better.
On the Friday morning I was up early to go back up to the top of Mantanga hill to catch the sunrise, I went up with the guy from the homestay part way by mobile torch light, we got up there pretty quickly and had good views of the last full moon the year on one side and the sunrise on the other, on the way down he showed me a less used but slightly longer route.
After breakfast I had arranged to meet Sammy to go over to the North side of Hampi. Sammy turned up at 8.50 and we went to visit the remaining Hampi sites on the other side of the river.
It was a bit of a drive round to the bridge and I’d been told the previous evening that it would of been better to get a boat across and then a scooter or bike to visit the sites but I’d already arranged the Tuk Tuk.
The first two Temples involved a lot of climbing and after the hill this morning think I’ll of done more vertical feet by the end of the day than horizontal.
At the first Temple I thought I’d done something wrong as an older man started shouting and clapping his hands whilst seemingly looking at me, but it was aimed at a monkey behind me that was stealing the coconut that had been left as an offering.
The second Temple on Anjanadri hill is believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Hanuman ( the Monkey God ) and is over 600 steps barefoot which I’m still not used to yet, at the top there were great views over Hampi and a lot of black faced monkeys.
We then visited a nearby lake and a couple more small Temples on that side before heading back towards Hampi and stopping for lunch then back to the homestay and arranging to meet at 16.30 to go to Hospet for the bus to Chenni.
I got to the point where the bus was picking up after a bit of a search and a few more travelers turned up shortly afterwards also going to Chenni. The bus was a large Volvo and kitted out with 30 berths in total with doubles on one side and singles on the the other, their was a German guy opposite me in a double which I thought he must of paid extra for but as it turned out he had two others sharing with him during the trip so I was pleased I had a single.
We arrived to a wet and somewhat flooded Chenni on the Saturday morning at about 8.30 a bit behind schedule. The trip here was quite bumpy for most of the way because of speed bumps and bad roads and when the roads did improve the driver put his foot down and the bus swayed around a lot. I definitely preferred the train to travel around India.
When we got to our drop point off the Tuk Tuks were waiting of course and as it was about 4 miles to the hotel and raining there wasn’t much option. As some of the roads were closed I ended up being dropped of at the wrong hotel but eventually found my my to the right one which is ok but not brilliant but I’ve only booked it for 3 nights so it should be alright.
I’m winging a bit from here now and not sure where I’m heading next or where I’ll spend Christmas yet but don’t think I’ll be in Chenni longer than 3 days as my first impressions aren’t great, it’s difficult to walk around as your pretty much forced to walk on the road and there is rubbish everywhere although there’s not as much traffic as Bangalore.
So I’m going to say goodbye for now and publish this as well as a few photos from the week.
Take care everyone
Speak to you soon