|An 8 hour train trip took us inland to Hampi, a world heritage site famous for ruins dating from the 15-16th centuries and set among towering boulders.
Hampi's ruins are scattered alongside the river. The landscape is incredible with huge boulders, scenic rice fields and crumbling ruins everywhere.
One day we rented bikes and rode to the nearby Anegundi ruins, which is an active village with ruins strewn around. While not well-preserved, it was interesting to see that many buildings and temples are still being used today. We also made a climb up many steep steps to the Hanuman temple. Fantastic views were our reward, though monkeys did rule here and we had to pay someone to watch our shoes so the cheeky critters didn't steal them.
Another day we hired a rickshaw to take us to many of the ruins, including the Vittala temple (16th century) and Royal centre (home of the Lotus Mahal, elephant stables and Queen's bath). These were some of the best ruins we've seen anywhere. Incredible carving, beautiful setting and not overly crowded...except with masses of school kids.
Because we had a 3am to train to catch, we stayed in the town of Hospet where the train station was located. The morning of our train, we walked fifteen minutes to the station from our nearby hotel in the dark. It was very eerie to hear and pass packs of barking dogs and to see just how many people live and sleep in the streets. Makeshift tents and beds lined the sidewalks near shops along the road, across from well-fenced, high-end apartment complexes. The terrible poverty in India is all he more disturbing because of the sharp contrast of incredible wealth that is often more visible because of the suffering in its' shadows.