Ever since I got placed last November, I’ve been flirting with the idea of pushing past my comfort zone and trying new things. I realized that even the things I do to improve myself, though of increasing difficulty, were still within my comfort zone. For instance, I am comfortable reading books, listening to talks, podcasts, lifting weights. Though the intensity of weight lifting, the amount of weights lifted etc. has increased, this is still an activity that is within my comfort zone.
So that’s when I decided that a solo trip was the thing to do, for I do not consider myself to be a travel person. The idea of being on a bus for 10+ hours seemed to be daunting and excruciating. Moreover, I just didn’t like traveling because I was afraid it would mess up my schedule of working out, reading eating etc. Hence, traveling solo seemed to be the right thing to do, as it would put me in situations where I would have to use my wits and abilities instead of someone else’s.
Hampi seemed to be the reasonable choice as my roommate, Ganesh had been there twice and it also seemed like a place which was nothing like any other place I had ever been to. Ganesh helped me out with the planning initially and then the day before I was to leave, I did my own research.
I didn’t book my return ticket to Hampi as I figured I would decide my return based on the rent and other expenses after reaching Hampi. I packed some biscuits and peanut candy, along with peanut butter and milk powder. You could say that I was concerned about meeting my calorie requirements.
I still remember the night of departure. I was more terrified than excited. I had never done anything like this before. For instance, when I had gone to Nashik, Goa etc. for interviews, I had flown mostly and I always had some acquaintance of my parents’ at Nashik and Goa.
So, a 10 hours+ bus journey, to a place where I had no contacts was something new and hence rightfully terrifying. I was also excited as it was something I had wanted to do for a very long time.
So I board the bus and after making sure that my cash was safe, I drifted off to sleep. I woke a few hours before the bus was to reach Hospet. From there, I got into a state bus to get to Hampi.
This is where talking to Ganesh helped, as he was the one who had told me about the state bus service to Hampi, else I would have gotten into some auto that would’ve charged around ten times the bus fare.
After reaching Hampi, I quickly found a shack that charged 300INR per night. It wasn’t luxurious, but it would suffice for the next few days. Moreover, it had an attached bathroom, which I very much appreciated. I paid for 2 nights right away. Then I decided to visit the ruins. I guess I was too excited about exploring as I covered the temple ruins area and the royal enclosure area on the same day. It felt more like ticking off things from my to-do list. Sure, I appreciated the beauty of the place and the ruins but I rarely stopped at a place for long unless I was tired.
This sure taught me something about myself. I am a type A person, for whom everything is a race/contest. Sure, I knew this about myself from before but, this experience made me fully acknowledge this fact about myself.
Later that day, when I got back to my shack, I freshened up and decided to go to the Matunga hill, which was a short distance away. I went in my slippers which, turned out had no grip. My climb made me sweaty and before I knew it, my feet were sweaty too, thereby further damning my quest to reach the top of the hill. I decided to go back to my shack and then, later on, went out for dinner. The poor network meant that I had to go to certain spots to get halfway decent range. That’s when I would post pics or call my mum.
Throughout the day, I had kept on walking like a madman, thankfully my hat prevented my face and my head from catching too much of the sun which was mercilessly glaring down at me. Needless to say, I was tired and quickly drifted off to sleep that night. The next day, I woke up early and put on my shoes and decided to try and climb the Matunga hill again. I took a different path this time and again made it 3/4th of the hill, but then my fear got the better of me and I decided to stay there itself, almost 1/4th of distance away from the summit.
That’s when I contemplated about fear. I believe, that there are 2 kinds of fear. The first is the kind that is essential for survival. The kind of fear that prevents us from jumping off a cliff or the kind that prevents us from socializing with wild animals. This fear keeps us alive. Then there is the fear that prevents us from reaching our true potential. Stage fright for instance. Man’s challenge in life is not to never be afraid, but to realize which kind of fear he is dealing with and then take appropriate steps to tackle the issue.
I stayed at that spot for a while, while thinking about this and then I descended from the hill. I went to the 2 remaining major temple ruins that day and then I got back to my shack. I then went to the Hippie Island that was across the river. I got myself a cycle and then I proceeded to visit the various spots on the island. I decided against climbing the Anjeneya hill, as I had already tried climbing the Matunga hill earlier that day. Nonetheless, I cycled away like a madman, despite the almost unbearable heat. Again, my hat most likely saved me from getting a heat stroke.
Then, on my way back to the cycle shop to return the cycle and go back to my shack, I met this girl who was from Mumbai. We then cycled together to the Sanapur waterfall and then cycled back to the main area of the Hippie Island. I had to leave as the boat service closes after 5:30pm or so. We didn’t exchange numbers or anything. It was different, meeting a person in the middle of nowhere and getting to know then for a short while, only to leave and then never see them again. This is unlike the people you meet on campus, with whom there is always some way of being in touch if you wanted to be in touch.
Cycling for a good 12-14kms was an experience in itself. Sure, I appreciated going downhill with no effort, but cycling uphill was a bitch. That’s when I decided to walk uphill and then cycle downhill. Nonetheless, I was feeling the effects of my cycling for the next few days.
When I got back to the Hampi Bazaar, I raced up the Hemakuta Hill to view the sunset. This was something new for me as though I appreciate sunsets, I don’t particularly enjoy them.
Later that night, I had dinner with this French guy who was staying in a shack near mine. I had met him the previous night and we got along famously after I told him that I spoke French. He was traveling all over India and had been to Spiti Valley, Rajasthan etc. He doesn’t carry a smartphone and was very inquisitive about politics, marriage etc. in India. Also, he seemed to be very appreciative of Indian sculptures. He also gave me a few French pamphlets and magazines to read. We took a picture together and he kept on reminding me multiple times to mail them to him. He also asked me to contact him if I were to ever travel to France.
Meeting this guy meant a lot to me, as it was the first time that I was talking in French to a French person. I remember telling my mum very excitedly about it. For dinner, we went to this restaurant that I hadn’t been to before, but which very soon became my favorite restaurant in Hampi.
The third day, I decided that I was gonna stay for one more night in Hampi and hence extended my stay at the shack. I visited the Narasimha statue which had by then become my favorite statue at Hampi and then I had a very heavy lunch of white sauce pasta. I then slept for a while in the afternoon, before waking up around 5pm to see the sunset from the Hemakuta hills again after which I booked my return tickets for the next day.
By my third night at Hampi, I had grown weary of the place. I had also developed a sore throat and high temperature, thanks to walking in the heat and drinking slightly cold water.
That night, I could barely sleep, and somehow slept at 3, only to wake up by 5:50 to see the sunrise from Matunga hill. This was my third time climbing the hill and I knew what to expect. I got to my 2nd-day spot and then I decided against going any further. Then as I sat there for a while, I saw this one guy going past me, up the hill. I figured I’d see which way he went and then I decided to climb up the hill. And then I finally did it, on my third attempt, I got to the top of the hill. I felt no fever, no sore throat, and no sleep deprivation. Just the sheer exuberance of reaching the top, that too on the day I was to leave Hampi. I was overwhelmed, to say the least.
Though I now think that my fear of climbing was the second kind, as in, it prevented me from reaching my true potential, I also think that it was partly the first kind as well. Maybe, I would have hurt myself if I had willed myself to climb the hill on my first trial, when I was wearing slippers that offered practically no grip, along with my sweaty feet making things worse.
Nonetheless, reaching the top of the Matunga hill meant a lot to me. For others, it might have just been a random trek, but for me, it meant that I had conquered my fear of heights, slipping, dying etc., if only for that moment at least.
I then descended, went to the Virupaksha temple and from there back to my shack, where I packed up my stuff and then went to the lake on the way to the Vittala Temple. I stayed near the lake for a good 3 hours so before going back for lunch. I stayed at the restaurant for another 2 hours or so before collecting my packed luggage and boarding the bus to Hospet, drawing the curtains on one of the most exciting trips I’ve had in recent times!
As you might have noticed this is just the first part. In the second part, I write about the various insights I’ve gained through my trip!
Which recent trip of yours has made a profound impact on your life? Do comment and share your experiences!