HAMPI: Whimsical but REAL

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , , , ,

"If dreams were made out of stone, it would be Hampi"

To start with Hampi was never on the charts, this place cropped up a month before the ride, at 1 in the night with a usual meet with Parimal, Sanket and Prasad. Initially the ride was supposed to be Mumbai-Kolhapur via NH4 and circling back to Mumbai via Phonda, Dajipur and finally through NH17. No special reasons for this circular trip, except Vinod telling me that Phonda was one of the most thrilling and dangerous ghats to ride- lets give it a check I thought. This was supposed to be a solo ride, but then I couldn’t resist informing Prasad and Vinod for company. Vinod was unsure as usual, but Prasad was right up. Later I thought of pushing the point of return a bit further just for the fun of crossing state borders, so now the U-Turn was Belgaum. 29th April to 1st May were the decided dates, but the ride was decided to start on 28th night itself. With the 1st being a holiday I begged my boss for a day’s leave for the 30th for which he put across a world of enquiries, thankfully the leave was through. With closer approach of the dates, things started to go a bit out of way. Prasad was my only company and he had some personal reasons to push the lift-off on Sunday evening which chewed away almost 20 hours off the schedule. The ride was still on with some tweaks to the schedule. Unfortunately the slight apprehension I had in mind took form. Prasad finally backed out from the ride owing to office compulsions. As soon as this happened my mind started spinning like a altimeter of a crashing aircraft. Suddenly Hampi goes off track and a flock of places start circling around my head- Jaipur, Agra- amusingly I started thinking about places such as Munnar and Ooty with only 3 days in my kitty. After a few head spinning hours I finally managed to come to a stable stage, all owing to this website

Such beautiful were the pics that I gave up all ideas to visit any place other than Hampi.

With excitement bubbling within, the days left for the ride was a punishment with regular stares at the calendar. Eventually with just a day left for the venture, I pack up all the requirements on Friday itself. Had no plans to go home……. Step out of office and land at Hampi. Bike was in good riding condition as always with just a minor rear rim wobble, I never had the fortune of riding on perfect true rims anyways, bike jumps a bit on leaning but manageable. Engine oil was replaced some 1500 kms back hence gave up on that too.


Like the days, the hours in office were the longest of my life. The sun goes down and I start getting charged up- all the desktop clatter goes into the drawer- sandals too go into my bag and shoes come out. 4 bottles of a litre each full of Glucon-D for the next day’s heat. Good wishes from my colleagues and am out of office eager to bid good-bye to crowded Mumbai. Head towards Mahim to meet up with Sanket taking along his best wishes on the ride. Had to crawl through traffic despite being a weekend with the worse traffic jam still to come. Its already 9.30 at Chembur, and my head fuming within my helmet. Tried best to keep a relaxed state of mind for the long distance ahead. Didn’t want to land in a rut in an annoyed mood. Around 10 am on the open highway on Palm beach road with wannabe racers enticing for a sprint. “Maybe Some other time” I mutter to myself. A smooth ride takes me till Kalamboli before I come across a rider-pillion who pass on a big scare citing group attacks and loot instances in dark at Khandala Ghat on old Mumbai-Pune Road. In fact the pillion as a defensive measure was carrying chilli powder packets. They ask whether we could ride together till Pune to which I affirm. Had a frustrating time to keep up with their speed limits- riding between speeds of 50-60 and with the distance to cover ahead, irritation started to creep up, but then the fear of those instances was enough to push back the embarrassment. We reach Khopoli and these people plan to have dinner. Requesting them to get over fast I relish over a portion of mix-mewad ice-cream nearby and avoid dinner that would doze me off while riding. Through in quick time and ready to take on the apprehension these guys had put within me.

Start of the ghats took my concentration to red alert levels. With wrists eager to take a quick twist and shoot off the place in case something happens, I start ascending with these people moving at crawling speeds. Praying within that nothing as such happens- neither with me nor with them. I gesture them to push a bit and we hurriedly come out of the steep S-climb near Shingroba temple. As mentioned that was the place where incidents happen with vehicles in the lowest gear are not fast enough to escape. We ride on and I could literally feel every aural object with desperation within to get a sight of the expressway. After a few anxious moments and going round on the last C-descend overlooking the glittering Khopoli village below, we finally make it. A deep breath of relief, so deep as if I was strangled and choked on the entire stretch. I keep up with them crossing Lonavla and suddenly they disappear. Slow down and even take a stop for them to catch up, but they are nowhere to be seen. We were through and it was no point worrying further. I gather speed and cruise control at 80 kph on NH4 towards my first pre-decided break at Satara.

Was a thrill passing through the Katraj tunnel with me being the only moving creature within and later Khambatki Ghats with lot of slow moving trucks for company.

Get Sanket’s message asking my whereabouts before stopping for some tea at Satara. Pleasure of night riding at its best- cruising along at 80-90 kph on good open straights for some time approaching Kolhapur and then suddenly sense something is wrong. Bike isn’t holding well and feels it wants to go ice-skating. Soon I realize wet roads, an aftermath of a passed shower. Needle down by 20 kph and I head further with extra caution. Sight of glazed shiny roads at a distance and a flurry of droplets attack my visor. My first rain ride of the year, that too in the month of April. I decided to take a break and luckily find a
small tea stall nearby.

The mewad ice-cream was completely absorbed and something badly needed to go in. With only egg-ies available, had no option (am a veggie) but to grab a packet of Parle-G which took 4 cups of tea to finish. Myself refreshed and with rains taking a break, I head out on the road again with excitement of crossing the state border some distance ahead. Sleep started getting into my eyes, though I was coping up well unfortunately I didn’t realize when I rolled into Karnataka. Crossed
Sankeshwar toll plaza and mistook it for the state border which it wasn’t. Was feeling some uneasiness in the right portion of my waist. The toll plaza felt a safer place to stop and enjoyed a few moments of relaxation laying flat on the tarmac by the roadside. Got up after a few minutes, flushed my eyes with water, on the bike and vroom towards Belgaum.

Keeping a steady speed as usual, the wide open straights was easy to roll without worry. The first curve after a long time approaching with a road sign of ghat ahead. To say the least I was excited after being bored somewhat of riding in a straight line. Anticipating some thrill ahead, I open up the throttle. An anti-climax awaits me, “where are the ghats?” I ask myself. Of course the curves were there, but what’s the thrill- the road was so wide that even a Jumbo Jet could land and just carry on with the speed easily through those wide twisties. One should be doing at least 150 kms/hr to sense initial goose bumps on those sections. Nevertheless the roads were worth appreciation and to be ridden over and over again. Now sleep started to get into my eyes and so was the struggle to keep them on the road. I could see light breaking out from the horizon hinting the end of a night’s ride. Those wide roads transformed back again into a two-laner. After a few minutes a sudden jerk, the indicator needle had landed Westside and my Pulsar asking for a refuel. Surprisingly all the bunks I came across were on the other side with the perpetual dividers restricting me from crossing over. After an odd 40 kms of riding I do come across a Reliance Bunk at Hukkeri near Belgaum. 500 rupees worth of food for my machine, meantime I get fresh and clean the visor.

Despite the wash up sleep wasn’t willing to leave my eyes- a mild struggle was on to keep them awake. A few moments later a mild scatter of light and exactly at that time I exit the last curve of that stretch. My eyes open up wide and I find a
straight stretch of road ahead, WOW!!! One of the most beautiful roads I ever came across and the light in perfect climax, starts to get brighter as if spot lights have been switched on and a black carpet with white stripes had been laid just for my arrival. What a treat to a start of a day. The sleep in my eyes disappear with the darkness and I felt like falling in love for the first time. Woooohoooo!!! Singing loudly, swinging my head, waving to the people passing by. Boy wasn’t I into overdrive……… an overdrive of joy and excitement.
Whatta life!!!


The sun out from the horizon, still hiding behind the clouds was starting its journey for the day and was my companion on the ride. With the scene of the roads traveling into eternity, I decide to pinch my machine. Down one gear and with a merciless twist of the accelerator, revving the tacho to the orbit. A short burst of high-speed cruising takes me to the diversion towards Hubli.

Direction confusions were cleared with some helping from the locals. Sparing one stop for smsing Sanket, Parimal, Prasad and Vinod about me having reached Hubli, a non-stop ride lands me at Gadag. With arrangements done at Girish’s (Parimal’s friend) place at Hospet, I call him up to confirm the exact location. Soon I start getting taste of the temperatures, wanted to get back on the bike as soon as I could- at least I could feel the wind blow across. From Gadag towards Hospet I felt I was riding through some desert, with hardly any trees to take a shady shelter. Big shrubs on the either side of the road with
cracked open soil- awaiting taste of the sweet rains.

Was touched by the way people lived in that region. The sun beating down with all its might and the place seemed almost dead area in terms of commercial employment, people had to travel to places to work, some on foot, bicycles and some aboard the roofless trailer wagons attached to tractors, call it
public transport for them- despite the hardships smile still stood on their faces. Heat was building up with passing of every minute- it was just around 9 a.m. but felt as if it was noon. My body was compelling me to get rid of the jacket. Preferred to sweat, rather than bleed in case something goes wrong- so held on. Almost kissed mother earth once with the rear tyre skidding over iron ore dust, a mini-tank slapping experience before managing to get back to a proper balance. Riding some distance, I luckily manage to sight a line of trees. Take a refreshing break gulping down half a bottle of already warmed up Glucon-D. Remembered Parimal and started wondering how he managed to stay in Hospet for almost a year, when within a few hours you start getting the pinch of the temperatures.

Reached Hospet and started making calls to Girish. Unfortunately wasn’t able to reach him on the phone. Patience runs out after half an hour of continuous trying his cell. I confirmed with local people about accommodation availability at Hampi. With positive replies, am off towards the concluding part of my ride. 20 minutes of riding and I come across a wide pillar entrance. Couldn’t read a single character of what was written on it. An almost-about-to-fall signboard and a local confirmed that I was at the right place. The site was 4 kms away and though excited I gave myself a much needed back/butt break. A casual stroll around and after a click of the entrance, I proceed towards the end of the journey. Click pics along the way of some mind-blowing and huge rocky structures. Finally…….

Travel mission was accomplished, the next to find a roof over my head to safeguard my luggage and spend a night over. Found an extremely cheap offer at Rs.200/- for the night’s stay. Nice big room, big windows, big bed, big fan, big cooler, big bathroom and a big scary sketch of a dog hanging on the wall. Almost into comma smelling the stinky smell coming from my own body- I crash straight into the bathroom for a shower. Well its Hampi, the only cool thing you can expect in summer apart from the wonderful architecture are beverages in the refrigerator. So then I was surely not enjoying a hot shower with the geyser not to be seen anywhere. Covered myself into a more lighter and cooler attire now- shorts and a tee. Being very well aware of how wide and extensively scattered Hampi was, I gave up the idea of site seeing on foot and took the bike along. Left the helmet in the room (a big mistake), stuffed a bottle of water in the side pocket and rode out.

What better than to start the site-see with blessings from Lord Ganesha. Luckily being the closest structure near my stopover, I drop in at the Shree Sasive Kalu Ganesh Temple offering my prayers and thanks for making my trip to Hampi a safe one. Next was the Shree Krishna temple outside which I found a nice and shady privileged parking space for my bike.

Continuing on my trip, I make rounds of the
Shree Narsimha statue, Shiva-linga, Queen’s bath and other structures unfortunately lying in ruins. Realised the mistake of not taking a helmet along, face was being barbequed by the hot breeze. Continuously sipping on water, following the road I come to an end on the banks of the almost dried-up Tungabhadra river.

Loved the sight of people traveling in
coracles which till date I had only seen in pictures. Was a relatively cooler place with trees in the surrounding, I relax for some moments. Headed back towards the structures, and came across the best part of the trip- the Shree Vitthala Temple.

Eyes were not at willing to take a blink, simply wanted to collect each and every object of the place in one single glimpse. Touching the
carved structures I could feel the sense of satisfaction in my heart. The structure was worthy enough of traveling down from any corner of the world for a visual. Rolling my hands over the magnificent and exquisitely carved monuments, I thanked god for being lucky enough to visit such floridly ornamented structures. Earlier in the year, during my ride to Ajanta and Ellora caves I was convinced there couldn’t be any better place, but I was proved wrong. If Ajanta/Ellora were like a rare pearl in the ocean depth, this one was an anomalous diamond.

I spend the maximum time making sure I don’t miss even a corner unexplored.
The pillars, the royal chariot, the inscriptions- I was not myself, I was lost….. completely lost. With time running out and sun inching closer to the horizon I try to see whatever I could on the way. Coming out of the place the original myself got back in and stomach started crying out for food.

After the best experiences a few moments earlier, I come to the worst. The restaurants in the market area looked like scrap merchant outlets. Totally forgot about Mango Tree Parimal had suggested. One restaurant signboard read “Recommended in Lonely Planet”. The restaurant sure looked LONELY on the PLANET, with the lady standing at the entrance as if she was awaiting customers since ages- no way I could go there. Eyes fell on one where I found people eating, I decided to go in. Was surprised to find stuff on the menu card which I never even found in Mumbai restaurants. Ordered one steamed rice, dal fry and cashew masala. After a tiresome waiting of my hungry eyes and stomach the food arrived. Dal fry didn’t looked like one, but tasty. Cashew masala was quite well made. In such a horrible state of hunger, it didn’t take much time to completely wipe the stuff off the plate. Went around shopping for some mementos to take along. Back into my room and lay flat on the bed for sometime before heading for a shower. Damn the water is still warm!

With heavy sleepy eyes and planning to leave early next morning I pack up everything. The climate was still hot and I was sweating. The fan and the cooler were of no use, just blowing hot air. I set the alarm for 04.30 a.m., in a few minutes am disconnected from this world. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……. Suddenly a jerk wakes me up- its already late I say to myself. I look at my watch and…… its 12.30 in the night! Well I was dreaming that I was late next morning :P Lay back again and my eyes fall on that horrible dog sketch. Even in the dark it was very clearly visible- staring like a werewolf and ready to pounce anytime on me. Initially it was quite disturbing but later my sleep got the better of me. I bid good-night to that horrible thing too. No more getting up, a smooth sleepy cruise through the night.


The alarm wakes me up on time and I quickly get through with a bath. As earlier, the water is still warm :( Its 05:15 and am all-ready and loaded to head back. Disturbing the sleep of the house-owner, I hand over the keys. With a heavy heart, I bid adieu to the wonderful place. Refuel on the way passing by the sad sight of the dam on the dried up Tungabhadra river.

Next destination was Rajapur in Ratnagiri still an odd 400 kms away. I ride at my own pace. Take a breakfast halt at Hubli-
Jai Mata Bhavan… awesssssssome Udipi breakfast!! In no time, am back on the golden quadrilateral. Cruising like a free bird, stopping occasionally for snaps, into Maharashtra again. A left diversion from Kolhapur takes me to the twisty-a-plenty Ambe ghats into Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary.

The huge boards of wild animals makes me go slight apprehensive. Another signboard comes up saying
“ANIMALS CROSSING, DRIVE SLOW”. Excited with thoughts of spotting a Bison, I ride very slowly. Trotting along at walking speeds for quite some time, and suddenly an ST bus swishes past. Boy, I was so irritated. “Hell with animals- nothing’s coming”, I gather speed and roll on.

Completing the bumpy
Phonda descend, I stop over at the Dajipur Bison Sanctuary office and enquire expectations of seeing a bison. Am told that bike wont be allowed there and I will have to walk 20 kms till the lake and I will sight a few only if the animals come to drink water, or else chances are bleak. I find it foolish to proceed with anything in that regard, I’ll rather make up seeing these animals on Discovery/NGC :’( On the bike again and move towards Nandgaon exit to NH17. Reach Rajapur and after a lot of difficulty and getting lost I finally find my friend Pradeep’s village. The 7 kms distance that he told me turned out to be 40+.

Konkan is truly beautiful. Scorching summer doesn’t deter its greenery- always cool and refreshing. I weave through the fields plucking off anything that could be eaten. Staring greedily at alphonsos hanging off at head height, held back my temptation- forget plucking I didn’t even touch them.

By the time we head back, dinner is ready. Bhaakris and spicy brinjal garnished with cashews all over. Swallowed as much as I could. End of the day, time for disconnection again. Earlier night with the painting disturbing me, this time it was a small bat. I almost ran out hearing Pradeep say that the upper floor is an enclave for a flock of bats. Since no one stays in that
house and the upper floor window always open, bats have made it their habitat, but they generally don’t come down. With his assurance and a bit of fear within, I go to sleep.


The return day breaks out, am ready with everything, eager to head back home. Ride out to nearby villages helping Pradeep distribute invitations of his brothers wedding. Through with the distribution process and am back again on NH17. One of the best roads to ride and with bends at almost every 50-100 metres- its prayers answered. I decide to peek-a-boo at Ratnagiri fort and Ganpatipule beach.

Though the fort wasn’t much exciting to see, the view of the
Arabian Sea from up there was absolutely beautiful. Down below a paved concrete structure ventured into the sea. I remembered, once Kapil wished to get the bikes right till the end of the stretch. I got my bike down there, failed to proceed further. The rocks in the way were too huge to ride over.

I took leave of the fort passing through the smelly stretch with piles of fish laid on both sides of the road to dry. On the highway again with
beautiful roads leading to Ganpatipule.

I thought very high about the beach, in no time I realized the opposite. People had made it worse than beaches in Mumbai.
Littered with plastic bags, coconut shells, pet bottles- we don’t learn, do we? Was a waste of time waiting there. Even the queue leading to the temple was visible as long as I could see, hence gave up on that too. That was the end of all sight seeing activity. Now the only thing I could think was

Continued the usual enjoying mode cruising along with regular butt-breaks. Funny incidents of a smoky M80 towing a worse than junk scooter bought occasional grins to my face.

as always was a thrilling and hair-raising experience. That was the last attraction of the trip. A few hours later I’m back into the usual head-spinning Mumbai traffic grind. Back home, unload all the boriya-bistara, freshen up. Home-made food after long. Mom is shocked to know I went all alone, I never conveyed to her that Prasad dropped out. Glance at the trip-meter, 1960 kms…hmmmm quite an enjoyable distance.

One of the most memorable or I should say the most memorable trip of my life. I lived like a nomad in those two days, or rather a gypsy king. I did all that I felt like doing- it was all my territory…. … a world of my very own. Though by no means was this ride any kind of feat, but lot of people had put apprehensions in mind before starting out. I feel good that I did it and I did learn a few things along. I came back as a slightly changed rider. I started thinking about people who limit their riding experiences to the initial 0-60 kph dash or a 400 metre drag. Riding fun and thrill doesn’t necessarily need to be fast paced, its much beyond that. However in the end to each his own :)

A very special thanks to Parimal whose sms before the start of the trip was of great help. It served as a guide and helped me ride safe throughout. And thanks to all others for their good wishes that made this ride a wonderful experience.

The experience in pictures HERE


  1. salil says:

    hey deepak it was really amazing ride, felt like i was riding with the words, when i saw huge number of lines i said na......... as i don't like to read but as i started i went on & on....... it was really amazing i would like to visit Shree Vitthala Temple.

  1. Pulsurge says:

    Thanks for the appreciation.

  1. Ankit says:

    nice man am amazed whew.....!!!!! wow am waiting for such a fun man am feeling jealous [:D]