Hampi and Badami

A final blog post from India. A few weeks ago we took another cycling trip up to the regions of Hampi and Badami. It's about a 6-7 hour drive northwest of Bangalore:

This area is part of an ancient set of empires that ruled in India during the 6th-7th centuries, and there are lots of ruins to see, which we did by bicycle. Hampi is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We arrived early in the morning, and started out with a short ride to get a sense of the landscape and, ostensibly, to see some old rock formations.

But, as always, we got distracted by baby goats. The people tending them invited us into the field to hold the young ones. Sam's hand got nibbled.

The next morning we made a very early start to watch the sunrise at the top of a hill (575 steps at 430 am is no way to start a day), where there is a temple devoted to what is considered to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Hanuman, who is half-human, half-monkey (mostly human body, monkey face), and all business. We see lots of young men with Hanuman stickers on their cars in Bangalore. In any case, it was a beautiful sunrise, and, as you might expect, there were also some monkeys around. Some Russian travellers had the bright idea to bring some bananas, and much hilarity ensued, but not so much for one particular guy.

Then we rode to Hampi, and spend the day looking at what was left of this ruined empire.

Of course, there is presently still lots of farming in this area. So many onions and chiles!

And yes, more baby animals...

We ended our tour in Badami, a small town that is famous for a gorgeous series of temples carved into the surrounding sandstone hills. 

While in Badami, we met the Indian rock climbing champion who encouraged us to give his local hills a try. The climb was exhilarating but not a little scary near the top (at least for me). 

When we rose early the next morning, we heard music coming from somewhere nearby in the village. The band was still playing when we returned after a long day of riding. It turns out that the musicians had been hired to go door-to-door through the entire village to invite all of the residents to an upcoming wedding. Who needs fancy stationary?! This is much more fun!

We also went to visit an old textile shop and were able to spend a little time watching an incredibly skilled man working an old loom (I later looked this up and it is a Jacquard loom).

Alissa got a few pics:

I was able to grab a couple of short videos so you can see it in action. It is an impressive piece of machinery.

We finished up eating in the kitchen with the owners of a restaurant in town, which sounds kind of fancy, except we sat on the floor and ate with our hands (when in Rome...). But it was fun to watch these women making rotis (basically, Indian tortillas).

The past five months here have been enriching and challenging in equal measure. We've learned how to make a mean cup of South Indian filter coffee, jostled our way through crowds, added hot chilies to all kinds of food, lost and gained front teeth. We're so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity to adventure together. Even so, we're both excited to get our hands on a good burger, breathe some fresh air, and relax over the holidays with some of our dearest friends and family. Next stop: Los Angeles! We'll keep you posted.