Hampi to Sindhanur – 77km
Late afternoon on the day before we left Hampi we went back to the Vijaya Vittala Temple as the same ticket covered our earlier visit to the Lotus Temple so we thought we might as well use it. The temple is very ornate inside and has lots of carved pillars, a ‘stone chariot’, plus lots of other buildings …
It was nice to wander around in the evening sunshine athough the peace was rather broken by a whole school-load of children turning up 10 minutes after we got there! My favourite part was the gnarled old tree, which I think might be a type of magnolia, next to the main temple.
So now we are heading north – firstly to our tiger safari and then onward to the Bangladesh border. It’s amazing to think that we have been in India for 10 weeks and we are now in the run down to leave. There are, however, plenty of kilometres to cycle in between – about 2,200 in fact! The road out of Hampi continued on the nice theme we’d experienced on the way in – craggy outcrops of rock and lush paddy fields. Unfortunately after about 10km outside Hampi, where they are used to white western faces, the attitude of the locals changed back to one of staring, laughing and pointing.
Another 10km down the road and the craggy rocks and paddy fields were gone and the landscape became very flat. We did find a super place for breakfast number two in the busy town of Gangavathi, which was just what we needed after our 7.15 start. (We had dosas in case you were wondering….)
The daily temperatures are now reaching 34-35 degrees, so our routine has changed somewhat: we’re now getting up at between 6:15 and 6:30 so that we can be on the road an hour later. This means that we are making the most of the cooler mornings and we are also getting to destination that much earlier. It also means we can get out of the worst of the afternoon heat, chill out and even have a siesta!
We made it to Sindhanur by early afternoon, found the accommodation we’d booked and were in, bikes and bags sorted by early afternoon. We enlisted the help of one of the hotel staff who took us to the Airtel (mobile phone service provider) shop where we enquired about either extending our current plan or getting a new SIM card. I’m not going to go into the faff we had as it’s quite complicated, but suffice it to say that we have been able to extend though not for the full duration of our stay in India. The guy in the shop was very helpful and tried his hardest but as we were there for the best part of a couple of hours it meant we missed out on our siesta!
As usual our hotel was run by a bunch of 20-something guys who’d been pretty helpful during check in etc. We were in bed early as normal, which does mean that we sort of expect to be disturbed at the start of the night as people are still up and about, even though we’re not. However, the hotel staff, their friends and a bunch of similarly aged guys that had booked in as guests spent the whole night getting drunk, shouting and running up and down the corridors. Martina slept through most of it and even though I had a pretty interrupted night’s sleep there was no way I was going out to tell them to be quiet!
The next morning we were up, breakfasted early in our room with our own food and proceeded with our usual packing, getting the bikes and loading. When we went down to the foyer there were about 8 guys lying around (some asleep) on the floor and sofas – not the sort of thing you expect in the foyer of a hotel. It appears that the hotel staff had invited their mates around for a party – it was Saturday night after all. We got on with our stuff only to be ‘helped’ by these partially drunk guys. We have mentioned before that we have found that the intensity of the Indian’s inquisitiveness can be intimidating, but this was the most difficult so far. We had to be pretty forceful in telling them not to touch our bags, bikes, etc. while we were loading the bikes. It wasn’t a particularly nice situation as you never know exactly what drunk people might do next but thankfully it was all fine and we were on our way by 7.15. Martina told me later that she had kept the pepper spray in her pocket…just in case!
A bit more on this subject:
India has more males than females and it really shows as well as the fact that it is a very male-dominated world here. We see a lot fewer women than men out and about in towns during the day, and hardly ever at night. There also appears to be a very high percentage of 20-something males who are the ones we predominantly see and interact with while on the road and in accommodation. It’s difficult for us to judge exactly, because we can’t know what they are saying, but they come over as being very immature…there’s plenty of laughing, giggling and joking at our expense right in front of us – it is their way, but it’s difficult to get used to (if at all).
We have no idea whether young men and women socialise together – we’ve not seen it as it’s generally only males and females of the same family that we’ve really seen for example in restaurants. The young men do everything together and it’s very common to see groups of them out and about just about everywhere. They hold hands, walk with their arms around each other’s shoulders and are generally quite tactile.
I should point out that it isn’t only the men that giggle and point etc, When there is a group of women they will certainly giggle but they also tend to wave, which is actually quite nice as it feels more friendly and genuine.
We have stayed with a number of WarmShowers and Couchsurfing hosts recently, all of whom are very educated (degree-level and above) professionals – from doctors and dentists through to entrepreneurs. Some have rather belittled what they refer to as the ‘uneducated’ part of the population (the bulk of the population) and we assume that this isn’t just the workers out in the fields, but also the likes of the truck drivers, shop workers, hotel staff, etc. We have been warned on occasion by our hosts about these ‘uneducated’ people and suggested that we are careful, not to go out when it’s dark, etc, which we have taken on board. It’s only recently though that we can see what they mean in the behaviour of the hotel staff and some restaurant and shop staff, when dealing with us. It’s not a judgement, just an observation, as it’s the way they are and is very different to the how we are, but boy does it take some getting used to?! It’s how they deal with us – the selfie encounters, trying to rip us off and when we call them out on it they smirk at us, the drunken intimidation of the young men in Sindahur on Saturday night – it’s all that kind of stuff. We do know of other cyclists that camp (wild camping and asking to stay in people’s gardens) whilst in India, but I’m afraid we’re not that brave; and we have enough dosh that we can afford budget accommodation which means we can close a door to get away from it all at night!
Sindhanur to Raichur – 90km
Anyway, we extracted ourselves from the hotel, its staff, their mates and an additional bystander by this point, with all of our stuff, and got on the road. As it is a Sunday we had the usual motorcycle riders and passengers asking us where we were from, where we were going etc – I must have answered the question ‘which country?’ At least 50 times today! The scenery was rather bland, mainly flat agricultural land with the odd craggy outcrop, so not the most enjoyable riding. We found another shed-like eating establishment to have lunch in – a new one for us: masala rice. We’d been told that the food gets less spicy the further south you go in India – not in our experience and this one was particularly hot!
The roads were good, so we made good time and were completed 90km to arrive in Raichur by 2pm. This time, once we’d got sorted, we did manage to have a snooze and then went for a wander up to Raichur Fort, on a nearby hill. We had to walk through a fairly poor part of town which was okay, but once again we were ‘hassled’ by a group of 5 young men wanting selfies, which we politely declined. But they were very persistent and almost wouldn’t take no for an answer. One guy even said we weren’t allowed up to the fort, but we could see other people (another group to be hassled by!) up there already. Luckily, at the top, we were on our own so could take in the view, which was okay, but we only stayed a short while as the sun was going down and we didn’t want to be up there in the dark.
Back in the centre of town it became obvious that this is quite a Muslim area; about 14.2% of India’s population is Muslim, the second largest religion. There’s a load of mosques here and it was like being back in Istanbul when it was time for the call to prayer. We tried a couple of places for dinner only to be told they didn’t serve vegetarian options, only beef (first time we’ve even seen this on the menu and had no idea it would be available in India at all – even in a predominantly Muslim area) at one restaurant and mutton at the other. We’ve always been able to choose from an extensive range of veg options, so this was a first. We did finally find a place to eat – it wasn’t the nicest, so let’s hope all the food stays where it’s supposed to! The thali that we have gotten so used to ordering is called a chapati meal in this region, so went for that option for dinner, which cost us about 65p each and it was very nice. With a bottle of water and two chai our total bill was about £1.50!
Raichur to Yadgir – 78km
A couple of quick things to note:
- our dinner from the rather dodgy establishment last night caused no problems – hurrah to us both having good constitutions!
- there were hotel staff lying around asleep in the foyer again this morning! I know we’re not currently in touristville but it’s a bit bizarre to say the least!
We were woken at 6am by the call to prayer from the mosque next door (we had to remind ourselves we were in India!) and we were out on the road by 7:15. The past two mornings have been cloudy, but still warm and a bit muggy, which is a change from what we have been used to. The cloud has burnt off by the early afternoon and then it gets proper hot, so we’re still happy to be up early and beat the real heat of the day.
Martina has mentioned that there’s no boring cycling days in India, which is true – we’ve just gotten used to it and this was just a ‘normal’ cycling day! Fairly straight, flat roads with enough random traffic to keep things interesting, but all-in-all pretty easy going. We turned off the main highway at about 11am and were then on some remote rural roads that finally took us to the the town of Yadgir, which we got to by 1pm – not bad after nearly 80km.
Not a huge amount to Yadgir, so once we’d checked in and freshened up we went for lunch, had a snooze and I even managed to get a beard trim from the barber next door! We did have a little wander to see what the town had to offer – seemed nice enough until I was accosted by a drunk bloke wanting a selfie and a shopkeeper tried to rip Martina off when she was buying water – and it had all been going so well……!
I think we’ve mentioned this before – we get asked ‘selfie, selfie, selfie’ or ‘just one selfie’ all the time when we are riding. There’s no introduction, no ‘Hello, how are you? Could I take a selfie?’, it’s straight in with selfie request. Our usual answer is ‘no thank you’ and generally that suffices or they may ask once more. If we stopped every time someone asked we would literally never get anywhere, because as soon as we stop loads of other people stop too and whip out their phones for a picture. It’s usually more intense at the weekend when people have time to spare, but today, even through it’s Monday, it’s been a bit of a pain in the arse to be honest. Some selfie requesters have had problems taking no for an answer and have been very persistent. I don’t know how other cyclists and western travellers cope with it…we just keep cycling and hope that they get the message, but sometimes they will ride/drive ahead and still take a selfie with us in the background. See what I mean about not taking no as an answer?!
Yadgir to Kalaburagi – 83km
So, having commented about the selfie-askers we decided to count how many we were asked for today – the actual number was only 9! But this included being asked for one first thing before we left the hotel, and a couple of people took photos even though we’d said ‘no thanks’, which we didn’t count. Also, the road we were on for the most part today was a quiet rural highway. The total is, however, usually much higher…..honest!
Yesterday we had sepcifically checked what time the hotel restaurant opened for breakfast and were told 6:30, even though it said 7:00 on their menu – either way it was early enough for us. So, we loaded our bikes and went to the restaurant which was indeed open, but only serving chai – no food until 8:00, which is too late for us, arrgh! So we left without having breakfast and hit the road. A couple of hours later we stopped for a banana and chocolate bar, which wasn’t ideal, but we were starving!
We then pushed on to our final destination at Kalaburagi, which we got to before midday having covered 78km. There was a very colourful religious procession, just as we arrived in town, with lots of dancing and singing, going on, so we stopped to have a look….
We found a great little cafe where we ordered a masala dosa each, and watched them being cooked in front of the restaurant, which was great – I even had a second one!
Found our accommodation, settled in, had a snooze then took a tuk-tuk to the supermarket. The ‘super market’ in question is basically the centre of town where all the market traders are. A bustling place that we really enjoyed looking around as people looked at us but left us in peace. Fantastic veg market with lots of unusual and interesting stuff on sale…
The chilli stalls were particularly impressive, but not somewhere you want to take a deep breath…
We had pakoras and bhaji from a street stall where the owner was obviously delighted that the two westerners had chosen his establishment to eat from!
We also had what could be called ‘anti-rip off’ when we bought some bread rolls – when we asked the price a chap standing our side of the counter said 30 rupees and the owner rolled his eyes and said 10 rupees! A great southern Indian thali on the way home for our evening meal and we were sorted! Back to feeling positive about our Indian experience again, which just goes to show the rollercoaster to emotions we seem to go through!