Vitthala Temple - HampiHampi - Karnataka.
The moment we arrived in the mysterious boulder-strewn landscape we knew that Hampi would be a great experience, and that we may have to stay for some time. Remembering advice by a friend from Bristol (Emmy) and Flo, we set out to find and stay with the Hampi Childrens Trust, with a mind to volunteer for a few days. Well two and a half weeks have passed and we are still enjoying work with the 36 children every day. We have taken every afternoon/evening session doing various crafts with them. Juggling balls, mosaics and kites to name a few, along with visiting temples, playing cricket and going for picnics.
Making Juggling Balls
The trust provides the children (aged 4-14) with the chance to attend school, have healthy meals and enjoy activities. They take in children from the poor areas of the town, and encourage learning and discourage begging from tourists. The trust very much encourages volunteers and welcomes new ideas, activities and resources. We provided a good deal of all of these and feel most at home here, indeed, we regret having booked our tickets moving on from here later today. The children have even just managed to cope with Guys one syllable name, usually the just called me "y-EMMA" also. We will never forget the cries "Yemma, PATCH!" when tape or a plaster is required, or "BOAT!" when Guy has to make an emergency on-the-spot origami boat!
Guy climbing a tree with children from the trust
It has been great to live in one place for a few weeks, and it has been a very different travelling experience, almost becoming one of the locals! We have found that although it can be exhausting working with the children in the 40 C heat of the day, we have also found much time to enjoy relaxing activities. We spent some days making our very own travel version of the board game; Carcassonne. Then, as always, we had to make the expansion packs too! We introduced a long-term volunteer from the USA - Matt to the game and enjoyed many evenings gaming. Matt - I hope we meet up again in North India, and if not - Nebraska soon! Guy had to find a new book to read, and at the children's trust, found Harry Potter I & II. Sheepishly, he sneaked them back to his room and read them both in three days! Undercover Harry Potter addict!
Handpainted Carcassonne Game
A little about the amazing Hampi. Former capital of the Vitthala empire The strange land of huge, impossibly balanced boulders was originally brought here by an army of monkeys, preparing for battle with Sri Lanka, legend has it. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of temples built among the hills and rocks, with the Tungabhadra river flowing gently in the valley. Indeed this is where Lakshmi the Vitthala temple elephant receives her daily wash!
Currently it is the hottest time of the year, daily temperatures exceed 40 C and it does not get much cooler at night. Locals tell us all the rocks absorb the intense heat of the day and radiate it at night. While this is possibly the finest place I have ever seen for climbing, it is not really possible in this season as the rock is scaldingly hot to touch during hours of sun. Though we have enjoyed some bouldering whenever possible.
Bouldering with Cherry on Matanga Hill
Emma had her birthday last Wednesday. We celebrated with the children all day, who sung a rhythmically peculiar version of Happy Birthday and made her beautiful cards.
Coracle boat ride
We met with Pia and Ena again for a few days, and went in a Coracle boat - a sort of circular tub made from palm fronds and covered with tar, walked among the rocks and took what turned out to be a disastrous moped trip in which we had no less than 7 punctures! We also met with Cherry again, whom we last saw in Gokarna. We enjoyed a trip to the local cinema in the nearby city of Hospet to watch a Tollywood (Tamil Nadu version of Bollywood) film. The experience was very funny, and very different from the expected silence of an English cinema. In true Indian spirit there was much commotion and continuous whoops and cheers whenever the love story became a little racy. It made for a really enjoyable show and we think that audience participation should be incorporated into cinemas back home, though without the huge rat that we thought was a dog!
Sina and Issy meditation pose
We once again met with Issy and Sina from Switzerland who we met around a month ago in Munnar. They kindly gave us a his & hers Swiss Army knife each, in order to cut mangos, predominantly. In exchange for these lovely gifts, we guided them to an old temple full of bats! We spent all night deploying all the different knifes and tools. y-Emma mainly enjoyed the mini tweezers and shaped her eyebrows for the first time in 8 weeks!
Bats in old temple
So this evening we embark on a delightful 10 hour bus journey, arriving 06:00, then have a day in the city of Hyderabad before flying to Delhi in the evening. Inspired by working with the children, we would like to head to Uttarakhand soon to work with the orphans in the Himalayan region of this state.
Saved the best until last - Another storm from our rooftop above the Vitthala temple