Author Archives: Sumedha Joshi

Photo Essay : Hampi though my camera

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I knew I was in the right place, the moment my bus halted in the middle of no-where with sun rising through the huge boulders surrounding the open land. Hampi as a place needs to be felt to see its charm. This stunning UNESCO site is adorned with mighty boulders, lush green landscapes, a splendid river, magnificent ruins of ancient history and stories of the rich heritage of the 14th century. It truly is a paradise for photographers and history enthusiasts.

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1. Locals take bath and get ready for the day’s chores, by the banks of the Tungabhadra River, as a daily ritual in the morning bliss of this spectacular place.

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2. The locals earn their livelihood through the Coracle boats by transporting people across the river throughout the day. The ride in these sturdy boats is enjoyable. The boats are also used for fishing.

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3. There is cultivation and greenery even on the land of boulders. The soil is rich to cultivate rice, coconut and banana.

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4. Numerous cuisines are available in the laid back cafes throughout Hampi. But experiencing an authentic north Karnataka meal was delightful.

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5. Hampi is full of boulders of different size and shapes. And walking or riding through these boulder hills is a mesmerizing experience.

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6. The remains of temples and palaces transport you to a different era and tell you sagas of the Vijaynagara Empire.

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7. Hampi has remains of many marvelous temples which were broken by the invaders.

Ugra Narasimha is the biggest idol in Hampi with a height of 22 ft.

Ugra Narasimha is the biggest idol in Hampi with a height of 22 ft.

Badaviling Temple is a 3 mts. high shiva linga, a monolith structure (Carved out of one rock).

Badaviling Temple is a 3 mts. high shiva linga, a monolith structure (Carved out of one rock).

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8. The charm of the old palaces can still be felt. The King of Vijayanagara ‘Krishnadevaraya’ would rest in the cool shadows of this Lotus Mahal!

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9. The architectural brilliance of Hampi will astound you every time.  Stepped Tank is a beautiful ornate tank with 5 tiers each comprising few steps which are symmetrically laid and bearing the mason mark for the ornamental members, indicating their exact location.

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10. Sitting by the Tungabhadra River, on looking the golden sunset on the land of golden history is the finest way to enjoy the evenings.

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How was your experience exploring Hampi? What captured your heart the most?

I had my fears until I went solo.

Goa… Solo! The thought of it made my friends wonder if I am fine. Who goes to a party place alone, was the only response I got. And I had my doubts too.  I even almost invited a friend to join me. But my heart shouted out and said “It’s time to try solo”.

Solo traveling to me means letting oneself fly freely. Losing all inhibitions, opening your heart and mind to new people, cultures and experiences. It’s about losing oneself in the beauty of the world around us. It’s about letting your heart chose the direction of your journey. It’s about loving oneself truly. Letting ones fears take a back seat. That’s what my first solo trip taught me.

The stairway to peaceful backwaters

Choosing the monsoon clad Goa with the lush green splendor all around was the best decision. I had been to Goa before, seen the gorgeous beaches of south Goa with my family and roamed around on bikes with a bunch of friends in north Goa experiencing the popular parties. But never had I known that Goa can have a different face to it apart from the beaches and the parties.

This time I chose the peaceful laidback village of Goa named Aldona. It adorned the serene backwaters, rustic houses and the soothing greenery all around.  The fresh soiled air of monsoon was a pleasure to breathe through. I chose to stay with a lovely Goan family of Amaral’s in their beautiful ancestral 500-year-old Goan-Portuguese home ‘Cancio’s house’. They warmly welcomed me into their beautiful world like I was a member of the family. They have marvelously restored and maintained every part of their ancestral house.  The spectacular front garden with a hammock in-between the trees, the lovely open air courtyard to enjoy the rains, the old fresh water well used for drinking water and the antique furniture – everything sang the stories of the generations lived there.

Kayaking through the backwater creek amongst the mangroves

Kayaking through the backwater creek amongst the mangroves

The Amaral’s showed me the true essence of Goa. From visiting a 50 years old bakery which smelled of freshly baked bread from the earthen oven, to kayaking in the tranquil backwater creek amongst the mangroves and flying peacocks, to jumping in a fresh water irrigation well in the middle of a farm with rain pouring on me, to spotting a crocodile while enjoying a motor boat ride through the backwaters of Aldona every experience was mesmerizing. The sumptuous authentic Goan cuisine and delicious homemade wine with gossips around the table with the Amaral’s would make the meals a delight.

My ride

My ride

Being solo let me be my true self. I rode my bike along the backwaters, let the photographer in me capture every moment, sat by the backwaters for hours, enjoyed drenching in the rain, explored the old fort with not a single soul in sight and made friends along the way. I followed my heart, not the GPS.

My new realization: To live a place, live like a local.