Hampi (Day 1)

Most people take the overnight train to Hampi. Get on the train at 10:45pm, sleep and arrive in Hampi in the early morning. Simple. I don’t know anyone who has driven. For some reason, regrettably, we chose to drive.

We left our house at 3:00pm and planned to be in Hampi six hours later at 9:00pm.
It took two hours just to get out of Bangalore. Highway construction. Traffic jam.
Picture a one way road with stone meridians on either side. Huge trucks and buses like these ones were all around us:

Traffic just stopped all of a sudden. No where to go.
What are they thinking – trucks try to turn around – they maneuver back and forth, inch by inch and everyone moves out of their way. They actually succeed and then proceed to try to drive head on against the traffic up the one way street. Chaos.

Finally a break in the meridian and we were on our way. Once we got past the construction the #4 Hwy was good. We seemed to be making up time and thought we would still get to Hampi by ten.

Then we turned onto Hwy #13 – a narrow two lane road full of potholes, with tons of oncoming traffic, buses and trucks. Where were they all coming from? Where were they all going?

We made it to a large round-about, just outside of Hampi at 10:30pm and phoned the hotel for directions. Off we went, taking the first exit. We came onto a small, but very long bridge, and stopped in our tracks again. Right behind a huge truck with non stop oncoming traffic. This truck looked like it was just parked there – no lights, no movement and we couldn’t see around it.

Finally a break in the oncoming traffic and cars and auto rickshaws darted into the other lane to pass. I shouted, “follow them, go quick.” And we did. But then we saw what was in front of the truck – more trucks and buses lined up for miles. We were shocked at them all but we were passing them, we were moving!

It was short-lived of course when the cars and rickshaws ahead of us stopped head on against a bus with a line up behind it. We all pulled over and opposite traffic could move, but we were stuck again.

This continued for some time. At 12:00am we made it off the bridge but still jammed in. We couldn’t figure out what was going on. Our driver pulled over and asked directions again. He gets back in and says, “We have been misguided – we must go back to the roundabout and take another exit.”

“We are not going back,”  I said.
Michael looked at the GPS on his phone and said, “No, there is a road ahead that we can take. Keep going.”

To make a long story short…we came upon a policeman who was telling everyone to turn around and go back. No explanation and we never found out why. So now everyone is making u-turns on this narrow road and going back – more chaos. We got back to the roundabout at 1:00am and made it to the hotel at 1:30am.

The guy at the front desk of the KSTDC Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari was a gem. No emotion, no facial expression. He had no idea who we were even though we had prepaid. There was no reservation book.

Finally got the rooms sorted out but had to go back and ask the guy for towels, soap and toilet paper. It was sad and to quote Lonely Planet’s description of the hotel “soulless.”

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