For the next two days we would be visiting the ruined city of Hampi, imperial capital of the Hindu Vijayanagar kings over 500 years ago and one of the richest cities in the world before being invaded and devastated by Muslim invaders. The problem was, how were we going to make this incredible history interesting for the kids, aged 3, 7 and 11?
Easy, thanks to India Book House, a publisher of comic books covering everything you could possibly think of relating to life in India – history, myths and legends, religion, you name it. So, we bought the comic book Great Rulers of India which graphically describes life in Hampi in the early 1500’s. With book in hand, it was easy to tour the ruins with the family, as in many ways the comics really did make it all come alive.
Hampi today is a very small village surrounded by the ruins of the ancient city. The ruins are monumental, and they are alive, in that the ancient temples are open for worship today and as we entered the Virupaksha Temple we saw a wedding procession passing by. We were blessed by the temple elephant, and spent the day exploring the temples and more remote monuments of this massive living archaeological site. The kids loved it – climbing up and down towers, watching the people watching them, exploring the temples and more. The landscape is spectacular – lush and tropical with huge hills covered with massive boulders, and not overrun with tourists. Most backpackers prefer to stay in Hampi village but with Raja and his vehicle on call, we were happy in Hospet.
We ate some of our best meals in India at a restaurant within the Hampi ruins called Under the Mango Tree. Outdoors, no shoes, with terrific views of the rock strewn landscape. The kids loved the food and the outdoor freedom.
That night we asked Raja if he would be willing to take us to Hampi for sunrise and without hesitation he said he would be happy to, so the next morning at 5am we were on our way again. Raja had arranged a guide who would escort us up Matanga Hill, one of the largest hills in Hampi, for the sunrise. The climb was relatively easy, and we reached the top in time for the magnificent sunrise. We opened a pack of cookies and within a minute were being approached from all directions by monkeys – the cookies quickly disappeared back into the backpack as the kids were becoming hysterical. When the cookies went, so did the monkeys. We climbed back down, and went to the Mango Tree for breakfast.
We spent that second day touring more sites in Hampi, and we went on a coracle ride on the river – a coracle is a round “boat” made of reeds and held together by tar paper. An amazing cruise. The kids were intrigued by everything they saw, from the massive elephant stables to the huge Ganesha statues to the singing stones of the Vitthala Temple, a World heritage Site where the various pillars were built to be able to be played like a xylophone!
In Hampi village we bought some local clothes for the whole family – very lightweight and just right for the hot climate.
After a full day it was back to the Malligi for a swim in the pool, dinner and bed.
PS I’m now planning great family trips to India myself. For more info on what I can do for your family, visit here.