Going for a long ride in the southern parts of the country is an exhilarating as well as adventurous experience for any biker. Highways, large trucks, cow crossing, speedy cars, tea shops, old people and lots of smiling faces — make those trips even livelier.
My friends and I were planning a long distance ride for months. Finally, we got a chance to explore the South a bit more. The destination was Hampi in Karnataka state, 850 kilometres away from my hometown Kochi. We completed the motorcycle journey to Hampi via Bengaluru in two days.
Any rider who has faith in the motorcycle and, of course, guts can be a hero. I rode on my 150cc bike (Hero Impulse) and was a little bit nervous because my colleagues got 400 and 500cc bikes. I thought it would be a challenge to hold my bike with them for eight to nine hours a day, but there was no problem at all on highways or rough terrains.
Our first destination, Bengaluru, was 500 kilometres away from Kochi. We rode at a speed of 90-110 km, so we can reach our destination before sunset. GPS and sign boards played a crucial role in making our trip hassle-free. When we reached Bengaluru, a friend of one of my colleagues, Latheef, was waiting there to welcome us. He had arranged good accommodation for us. Day one passed as we had planned. On the second day, we were to start our journey to Hampi.
We woke up early and planned our schedules. We had no idea about the condition of the roads, so we got ready and bid farewell to Latheef, and left early. The climate was good for a bike ride. We rode 200 km on the Bengaluru-Pune express highway, which is on par with highways in the foreign countries. Then we halted in Chithradurga town for an hour. We still had to cover 150 km. Chithradurga is a turning point between Bengaluru and Hampi. We got off the highway and started riding on a narrow road. Heavy winds, lorries and puddles on the road made it a challenging ride.
As we passed towns, the landscape began changing entirely. Farming villages and huts were seen everywhere on both sides of the road. On entering the main road in Hampi, the first thing one would see is the Virupaksha Temple, which was built in the seventh century and has a height of 160 feet. There is a street named Hampi Bazaar, a place crammed with shops, restaurants and budget lodges. We had already booked a room in a lodge in the bazaar. We had planned to stay there for two days to explore Hampi.
Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, a vastly powerful Hindu empire bought suddenly to its knees by a confederation of Muslim kings. Hampi was ransacked following the empire’s defeat and the many extravagant temples, carved from the huge piles of gargantuan boulders littering the land, were abandoned to the forces of nature. It is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Every turn there has a monument which has an age-old history. Hampi ruins have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Crossing Tungabhadra River across Virupaksha Temple has become a new popular hang-out called Hippie Island. It is the liveliest place in Hampi, often crowded with travellers. We can see tourists on motorbikes and people carrying beds on their back walking towards the hills for bouldering. Shops selling dream catchers and musical instruments are lined up on both sides of the street.