I booked 2 tickets for the North Karnataka tour. It cost us just Rs. 1150 per person inclusive of stay. The guide charges and food is to be taken care of separately. This tour starts every Thu from Badami house opposite Bangalore corporation and brings you back on Mon morning. The Thu night and the Sun night are spent on the road in the coach.
This Package tour consists of the itenary as follows:
Day 1 (Thu): start from Blr at 9.15 pm
Day 2 (Fri): Reach Hampi at 5.30 am, local sightseeing, night stay at Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari.
Day3: Reach Badami by late morning, See the caves and fort. Proceed to Pattadkal, Aihole to see the temples. Reach Bijapur for night stay.
Day4: Explore Bijapur, Gol Gumbaz, the mosques, Muluk maidan etc. move through town. Drive to Kudal Sangama, darshan of Shiva and Basaveshwar Samadhi. Begin return journey to Bangalore.
Day 5: By 5.30 am reach Bangalore.
We left Blr on 24th Nov 2005 at 9.15pm for the North Karnataka tour. It had rained and the coach was damp and smelly. It was the first time I was travelling with KSTDC. The tour manager was a warm and friendly. We asked him to spray some freshner in the coach. I still recollect asking him so many questions about the arrangements for stay. I was wondering how a 4 nights and 3 days tour could cost so low. That is the time when I found out that some of the KSTDC tours are worth every penny. They are low budget. The stay is mostly at budget hotels but sometimes you get a good hotel too.
We reached our first stopover at Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari, Kamalapur near Hampi. It is away from the town in a peaceful setting. The rooms are spacious and clean though a budget hotel.
It was 5.30 am we were told to get ready to leave for the day's sightseeing by 6.30 am. After bath and a refershing cup of coffee and fuelling up with hot idli chutney we were ready to go. It was the begining of winter so the climate was pleasant. We decided to first pay our respects to Lord Virupaksha.
I had read a lot about the Vijaynagar empire, its rise and fall, the distruction by the muslim invaders. It is amazing story how this 7th century built temple in still functional and gives one goose bumps to know that the Varaha avatar carved on the entrance door is what protected the temple for the invaders, as a pig is considered unauspicious in the muslim religion.
My father is not very patient but I like to spend a lot of time walking around and taking note of the details. Then we went to all other monuments in Hampi. I was swept away by these sites rich in history. I also wondered why Indians raved so much about Greek architechture when we had our own wonders right here. We spent the entire day exploring Hampi. I took a lot of pictures. We returned to our hotel in the evening and post early dinner went straight to bed.
Next morning we got in to the coach to proceed to Badami. I was just checking the pictures on my digicam and stupid me hit the delete all button! Then and there I resolved to visit Hampi again. So a detailed write up on Hampi is for later while I will continue with the rest of the tour.