11/3 2020. I should have made it to Halebid yesterday, but I didn't. Besides from the strange name (in Danish; tail-bite), here is the Hoysaleswara Temple. I gamble with the route, and it sure pay off! The short one is 108 kilometres, and it is pretty!
It start in the forest right away, bye a one lane road. Pretty soon, I meet the mountains, and head upwards. It is through dense jungle, then some openings reveals some great views to the mountains.
The peaks stick out almost naked, and one is having a bad hair-day! Despite I don't have time for it, I have to stop time and time again. At least, it seems like I have the road to myself. It start around 500 metres, and here are no farming, nor any houses all the way up to almost 1000 metres.
Then the road reach the plateau, and here start to be small villages. The flat parts are farmed, but dormant now. When there start to be small hills, they are covered in forest with coffee bushes underneath. A large area have additional pepper growing on the tree stems.
I reach the little town Halebid and head straight for Hoysaleswara Temple. Here is a museum, but I see way enough statues in its garden. There are thousands, and they are fantastic detailed. Next to the area is a huge lake, but I turn my attention towards the temple itself.
It is astonishing. It is fare from tall, but the outline give it a almost endless wall, and it is so detailed decorated. I don't dear guessing on the numbers of elephants, horses, tigers, dragons, humans and other creatures that are carved into these walls. And numerous goods as well, with a detail degree, I haven't seen before.
I do a tour around, and then inside - and then one more tour around. Some chipmunks seems to live by the insects they can find on the walls, and some real noisy birds are breading within the temple. I can't imagine how many man-hours have gone into this building, nor why? But it is truly amassing, and I am so glad I did get around here.
I grab a cup of tea right next to the car, and watch a lot of sheep passing by, along with some small donkeys. There is a bit more than 300 kilometres to next sight, and I doubt the GPS is right about three hours! The first part is through endless coconut plantations in an else rather dry landscape. These are great roads, and I keep a good speed.
Then I meet a stretch with gravel, but maintain the speed. The farms in this area is different: Painted white with thick walls and minute windows, covered with red brick-roofs. Despite the area seem so dry, here are several large ponds. The fence-poles are 4", but made from granite. Finally, I reach a great road. Not pretty, but four lane and pretty much without traffic. Well, the bridges are still missing, but a gravel road leads around every time.
It is only half pass four when I reach Hampi. It is a real fertile valley, but it is the endless line of ruins it is famous for. Besides from the rich farmland, here are a lot of granite, and a lot of it have been cut into blocks, forming endless covered paths, temples, houses and alike. It start way out of town, and continues right through. It is pretty soon clear to me: I was right, when I wrote this would take days in my plans. Too bad I don't have it.
I park at the central parking, and walk through the ruin area to my hotel. It is full, but they can offer me a big house, one kilometre out of town. A footpath leads way out through a banana plantation, along the river. I am sold! Back along the river with its exposed boulders and old temples, and through town to the Virupaksha Temple, a working temple.
Well, it does feel a bit empty, but they have an elephant, which stands without being chained down. Guess it is satisfied with life. It get a shower every morning in the river and people feed it all day. The holy men are real eager to show me the most holy - and get a donation. I still don't like this commercializing of religion. It is fair enough to pay for the entrance and thereby the maintenance of the place.
I do a bigger loop in the central ruin area, and here are just temples and alike everywhere! And despite here are a few tourists, I see none at the ruins. They seems to stick along the restaurants and cafés. I find my way out in a area, almost without ruins. Here are some new Euphorbias, and some great granite boulders. I also find the remains of a real big millipede.
Then I start walking out towards the famous Vittala Temple at five. It is late, and I keep getting abstracted. Huge ancient constructions, the river, other ruins, oxen, and other plants. I end up on a narrow footpath, following the river. The two kilometre path is lined with ancient granite constructions.
I make it to Vittala Temple, and decide; I can see it from outside. I fail to see why it should be so much more impressive. I walk back to town, and reach it in the last sunlight. I make a loop around the living town, but it is all about tourism now. I get dinner - actually two main curses and a lassie, before I find my way home in the dark. I have 455 photos from the day, but are so ready to sleep at nine. Well, I finish a bit passed midnight, but only because I haven't internet. Great mountain drive, Hoysaleswara Temple, Hampi with temples.
12. Despite I am aware I have a long dive ahead of me, I can't just leave Hampi like that. I have to make another stroll around town, see a few more temples and the elephant have its morning bath. Well, at first, it is only humans, bathing in the river. I head through the village then. Everyone is complaining about the lack of guests, and I can't really comfort them. Thinking about it: When the Coronavirus hit India, 1-3.000.000 (or more) might actually die!
It seems like the cows think; Good trash is undervalued. They make a good living, sorting out the vegetarian content. And nicking what they can from the shops, that is. I use the symbolic internet at the restaurant, while sipping tea, then back to the river.
I am here right in time, just before the beast enters the water. It seems like it can't really be bother laying down, but at last, it does. It get a spray, then a soap wash. It sure look like it is enjoying it. I rush back to the car, and se the GPS for Badami town: 150 Km. I keep passing huge ruins, several kilometres out of town. This is one of the towns that requires several days to be fully explored - and worse it.
I still drive through lush farmland, thanks to the huge dam and the lake it holds. Else, it would be a semi-desert. India can thank the dam-builders for its richness. The ancient Maharajas fully understood this. The dammed lakes are not only pretty to watch, they prevent flooding and create artificial watering. The contrast between the brown natural areas, and the lush green farmed fields are immense.
The road leads right through several small towns, none seems to be worse stopping in. They are fairly new, and rather un-inspiriting. I see several religious processions these days, and it seems like the tractors have taken over the role of the elephants. Even those doing field-work are decorated, and they are washed in the river as well.
After a stretch with semi-desert, I reach another watered area. Here are real red soil and vine. The road turns into red sand, and that does slow me down a bit. The villages are real poor and humble, but the fields look rich. Then the red cliffs start, and I reach Badami.
It is a big town, but only a smaller part seems interesting. Besides from the ruins and caves, the old town is something else. It reminds me so much of Mykonos, with the rounded, white painted houses, build in a maze. I buy the ticket, but get sucked into the old town. It have not been spoiled by tourism - yet.
I find several old temples and the huge gath which look like a crater lake now. Not many are bathing in it now, but several women are doing their laundry on the steps. In the far end of town, a museum is found, but I fail to talk me into that. I rather see some more of the old town.
are a lot of pigs, roaming around, indicating Christians, but also
and of cause Hindi temples. I guess when the base is a
religion with numerous gods, it is more easy to accept new ones.
This is yet another town that could have entertained me for days, but I only had one hour - and used two. Next stop is at the coast, at a perfect beach. It turns out to be yet another long drive, over 300 Km, through Hubballi, but not Mundgod. The first half is through rich farm land, where the corn is being harvested and processed. Other crops are sorted by wind on the road, or processed by the passing cars. I stop a single time, at a bakery. Just as the school kids arrivals, and that causes some alterations.
Halfway, the road descents to a low plain, then the forest takes over on the slope. Just as I thought I got out on a good road, I meet some sort of festival. And in India, the numbers of anticipates are huge! It seems like the main attraction is a dip in the muddy river?
Goa region, and the coast at Palolem at six, but I miss
the sunset, as the hotel insist on doing the paperwork right away,
not in five minutes. I walk down the beach anyway, and
is a perfect beach. Back to find some dinner, and then try to
connect to the world. But despite they promised it, it is not
working. I start the usual work at nine; way too late!
13. While I wait for the internet cafe to open, I do another tour on the Palolem beach, and the souvenir shops. It seems like most owners come from Kashmir. Two glasses of tea later, the internet shop finally opens - and they don't have internet either. The little tourist village is slowly waking up, the iceman delivers big blocks, and the souvenirs are dusted off.
I set the GPS for Chandor village, which leads me inland once again. It is through a forest that is dormant in some places, lush in others. I pass several rivers, looking more like billabongs by now. The building stile changes, and it actually do look Portuguese inspired.
I reach Chandor and do find the "2 Portuguese grand houses", that lured me here. But they are covered in trees. The church, on the other hand is a huge white typical European thing. I do a short stroll, but fail to find anything interesting - including tea.
I had my doubts about reaching my next sight, but I give it a try. It is further inland, and the road is way better, than I had expected. It is probably caused by the mine and its numerous trucks. Again, I crosses rivers, one have a huge ship. Then I reach a little tourist-town, and the end of the line for my car. I have to pay for parking, rent a seat in a Jeep, rent a life jacket and pay a fee for the national park.
At least, the young girls selling the tickets, are fast to get me seated in a Jeep, and then we head out in the Bhagwan Mahaveer National Park. The rough trail crosses the river several times, and the surounding nature look great. We are dropped off at a little trail, and told to be back in an hour and a half.
I take it slowly, and see the sides of the trail as well. It follow the river in some part, and that do offer some great views. Then I hear a train whistle, and figure there might be a motive in that. And here is: The mine train passes right in front of the Dudhsagar Falls, cascading 603 meters down the mountain side.
The water is crystal clear - and cold, but there are some huge tadpoles, almost thumb-sized, along with some small fish. As I have no intention on swimming - and did get away with leaving the life-jacket in the car, I have plenty of time in the area, which is empty, except around and in the pool.
I dip my toes in the river, while I try to plan the coming days. Then I head back the road, and enters the wild, time and time again. I fail to find much interesting, but it is a nice area in general. I make a lot of photos, all looking alike. The lianas are huge here, and spans many trees.
The family I'm sharing the Jeep with, is an hour delayed, but they don't mind. I do, as that was the time I had to explore Old Goa. On the way back, we see two groups of Gaurs, but we don't stop. One is close to the car, but I only get a photo of a iPhone and a hand. We make a long selfie stop at the river - looking like any other river.
We are back at four, after four and a half hour, and I skip Old Goa for today. I head back to the coast and Panaji. I can't find the guests entrance to the Marriott, but the YMCA have a dorm bed for a tenth of the price. But no internet. I had expected the area to be rather rural like the former, but it is fare from. Here are floating casinos and alike.
I see the sunset on the beach, and find the
nearest restaurant. Thai/Chinese, but fried rice is fried rice. They
should get a code for their Wi-Fi later. Back to work till then. But
the internet still don't work. Well, early to bed...
Palolem Beach, Bhagwan Mahaveer National
Park with Dudhsagar Falls.