Monday, December 29, 2014

Hampi: Further Afield (aka photo dump)

The rest of our time in Hampi was spent wandering amongst the temples and ruins that are everywhere you look.

We enjoyed the Krishna temple, because the school groups hadn't made it that far yet.

Outside the major temples, are the bazaars, where you can just imagine the hustle and bustle of pilgrims and traders.  There are several bazaars in Hampi that sold everything from spices and jewels to silk and horses.

Also outside the temple complexes are the tanks, where pilgrims would wash before entering the temples.

This the the statue of Lakshmi Narasimha.  Narasimha is the lion-headed incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and apparently, his consort, Lakshmi used to sit on his knee.  Poor Lakshmi has long since disappeared, but Narasimha still ogles where she used to sit.  Our kids began to understand the many incarnations of Vishnu, when they put it in terms of Doctor Who.  We can't decide which Doctor this guy is.

Checking out the lion-headed god.

And here we have Hampi's largest Shiva Linga.  We have to photograph them for Uncle Ian.

The Lotus Mahal.


H. will climb anything we let him.  Luckily, in India, no one is around to stop you.

Monkeying around with Hanuman.

In front of the Elephant Stables.

Local board games.

Colors for the devotees.

Talarigattu Gate

Wedding photos.

The Vittala temple.

The famous Stone Chariot of Hampi.

 The musical pillars of the Vittala Temple.  Musicians used to tap these pillars with sandalwood mallets.  Each pillar created its own note, and royalty would dance to the music the temple provided.

Overall, Hampi was an extraordinary place.  Everywhere you turn there are temples and sculptures, in various states of ruin.  They are hiding in overgrown vegetation, clinging to rocky outcroppings, or peeking above the tops of banana tree groves.  As a weekend trip with kids, there was plenty to see, and the main sites were managable.  However, you can imagine renting a couple of bicycles and spending a week pedaling down unmarked paths and discovering treasures that have been untouched for centuries.  We hardly scratched the surface.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hampi from Hemakuta Hill

In the early morning hours (ok, let's be honest it was 9:30, but anything before 11:00 is early in India) we started our day by scrambling over Hemakuta Hill.  The hill is strewn with boulders,

 and dotted with temples.

Although not the highest hill in Hampi, it offers some pretty spectacular views of the temple complexes, the palm forests and the rock formations.

In the misty morning, the kids ran and climbed.

We also did quite a bit of monkey watching.

As we made our way down the other side of the hill we found the Sasivekalu Ganesha.  He is a handsome fellow, with his many arms, rotund belly and cobra belt.  It's hard not to love Ganesh.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

On the road to Hampi

We started our Christmas holiday off with a quick trip to Hampi.  Despite 2 long days in the car, unpleasant Indian toilet experiences, and a little bit of vomit, we had a great adventure.

Hampi is one of the places that we've been wanting to see, ever since we came to India.  Unfortunately, it's not the easiest place to get to.  There isn't an airport close by, so the traveler is left with three options to get to Hampi; bus, train or automobile.  With three kids, we weren't about to pile into a bus, and we aren't quite brave enough for an overnight train, so we packed up the car for an 8 hour drive.

We left Hyderabad with the sunrise and headed south.

There is always a lot to see on the roads in India.  And lots to slow you down.

From ox carts...

to mining trucks...

to Communist rallys.

We pushed on until we finally made it to Hampi, and the Virupaksha Temple.

We did a quick poke around the village, had some dinner and went back to the hotel early to get ready for a full day of exploring the next morning.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

H. took the ice bucket challenge today.  While we generally work really hard to not waste water here in Hyderabad, he was really excited about participating in the challenge and raising money and awareness for ALS.  Go learn more about the challenge here. 

As you can see, we are home from our summer holidays.  We'll get back to our (not so regular) posts soon.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ellora Caves

We've finally made it to a CAVE post.  The first set of caves we visited were the Ellora caves.  Consisting of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain sites, these cave temples are between 1,000 and 1,500 years old.  The drive to the Ellora Caves is an easy 45 minutes from Aurangabad.  After a small climb into the nearby hills, you arrive at the site, where monkeys groom, hawkers are eager to sell you all sorts of "treasures" and guides are ready to attach themselves to you.

We managed to make our way through the initial crowds, and turn right, down the path towards the Buddhist caves.  Here, the crowds disappeared and caves were cool and quiet. 

 These caves make you feel seriously ZEN. 

Lighting was tricky in the caves and flash photography is not allowed.  We did our best with our little point & click camera, but our skills are sadly lacking. 

 The Hindu temples were a stark contrast from the Buddhist caves.  Active worshipers crowded the areas, which were much more ornately carved but also more damaged. 
I think I should send this picture into BYU.

Elephants guarding the temple.

N. found a dancing monkey carved into the floor

With the elephant parade.

Unfortunately, the Jain caves were inaccessible when we were visiting.  Run-off from the hills had washed out the path leading to them.  We were a little disappointed.