In February 2009 I was happy to escape the European winter for a trip to a country that is so much unlike anything else I have seen before - India!
Slow traveling with a couple of friends, from Kerala via Karnataka towards Goa. Traveling India is something you'd either love or hate, according to an old travelers saying. For me, it was like flowing in the middle of the river of live, even though I wasn't sure I would enjoy traveling in company rather than traveling on my own beforehand. On the trip, everything developed pretty much automatically in the best possible way - an experience that I haven't had that much before and which still keeps me going the right way if I focus on happiness rather than on worries. We met the right people at the right time in the right places, even though (or especially because) we did not even try to plan to much before. Let's just say, it has changed my life in a nice and chanti way. As for some of the less known places we've visited, I hope they can keep their original and friendly spirit and abstain from building up ugly hotels for mass tourism.
Om nama shiva ya :-)
- Category: India 2009
After about one week on the beach it's time to leave our paradise. Hampi, the capital of an ancient Indian kingdom is our next destination. We leave the beach by boat towards Gokarna. Two dolphins swim beside us. Bye bye Paradise. The next part of the trip is by train. The 3rd class wagon we hop in is dark from dust and totally crowded. The roof of the wagon is dotted with big ventilators. Some of the kids start crying. A red faced elderly American or English guy starts playing guitar and chants Hare Krishna songs, and some of the backpackers join him singing. The kids stop to cry and for some reason we all get a seat, even though it's four of us sitting on the wooden seats. The hours pass by the window like the Indian landscape with its savannes, rivers and small villages. Hare Krishna, hare rambo... From the train station, our bus to Hampi leaves late at night. We spend the time in between on a nearby holiday resort beach which feels quiet different to what we just left in the morning.
After a long and hard night on the bus we reach Hampi in the early morning. The bus stops just beside the ancient temple. Except for this huge building, there are only small houses and hovels made from wood and metal. A few tourist nappers stroll around, and a few shops would serve food, chai and clothes. Its hard to imagine what this place must have been like in ancient times.
We're just early enough to reach our little backpacker resort on the opposite side of the river before the day's heat sets in. Beside the river, the flora is vivid and green. Rice paddies and fruit plantations. Yet just a few hundred meters away the land is dry, almost like a dessert with few trees here and there and dotted with huge boulders. And that's the reason, why my lads wanted to go to Hampi - climbing the rocks. The resort is just a few hundred meters away from a rocky hill, from where we have a splendid view of the sunset. In the kind resort we're dwelling, the net surprise is waiting for us - some of the lads from the last beach arrive there as well. The owner is happy about the arrival of the musicians and prepares his camp fire for the night. It is Shiva days, he says. After an hour of playing the drums and didgeredos, a crowd of about 50 people from the neighboring resorts has gathered, and some of the guest brought their own instruments with them, guitars, drums and so on. An Israelite couple would play and sing Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah". Touching evening.
I spend my days cycling to the nearby Hindu temples or ruins in the early morning hours, breathing the Indian spirit. At noon, temperature would be too hot for big activities, and so I'd usually hang around in the resort with my friends, playing Tai Chi with them and learning to play the djembee that I just bought in the village. A German couple is in the resort too. They were traveling hundreds of kilometers in India since more than a month already, he on his bicycle and the lady on a rented scooter. We talk a lot about cycling trips they did all over the world, and I get really curious about doing extended cycling holidays on my own.