When I arrived here, I was immediately struck with a fear that I was going to be stuck. It's not only that it is very difficult getting buses and trains to and from here, or that the river boat is unreliable, but also there is an intense lethargy about the place that thrusts itself on its visitors.
From our thatched roofed lodge sporting hammocks and mosquito nets, below I can see the romantic river of my childhood dreams. Indians come in small groups all day long to bathe and wash their saris which they display on the river steps while the sun soaks them dry. The children jump in and out and call to us to play with them while a row of naked babies squat on their haunches waiting to be dipped in by their bathing mothers. Boys on the precarious line of manhood show off their strokes to whoever will spare them a glance. A handful of travellers find rest gazing from the shade of the ruins or bathing on the rounded boulders. Behind the reeds, a couple is half immersed in the current as they pan for gold like traditional prospectors. The charm of the river and an explosion of my childhood fantasies came together as a bathing elephant distinguishes itself from the smooth boulders scattered in the slow current.
In case the magical river ghat is not enough to lure you, this all takes place with beautiful scenery and a world heritage site as the backdrop. One side of the gentle valley is lined with the now expected mango, jackfruit, and palm trees, but peaking out behind these are ancient towering temples, worshipped by pensive monkeys that siege my imagination with Jungle Book adventures. On the opposite side is a remarkable rock formation that has it own set of sedated devotees, western pot smoking climbers and rumoured babbas also smoking the ganja in secret caves. I am not surprised that travelers lose themselves here for weeks and occasionally months. Not even the heat which makes is severe enough to create this 'off season' is going to push these lounging travelers onward. In fact, the heat provides them with an excuse for lengthy midday hammock rides which fuel their desire to stay. Hampi, you fly trap, will I be your next catch?