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Hampi Hamper, Part I: Banashankari,Badami,Pattadakal,Aihole

 
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:23 pm    Post subject: Hampi Hamper, Part I: Banashankari,Badami,Pattadakal,Aihole Reply with quote

Hampi Hamper, Part I: Banashankari, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole
--------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12623.html

This trip nearly did not take place.
I was to attend a conference in an exotic location, Hubli.
No, Hubli as such may not exactly ring a bell in anyone's mind,
unless one is fond of Hindustani Classical Music. Those familiar
with the geography of the region would note that it is the
the city with an airport, that is closest to that incredible
World Heritage Site, Hampi. Yes, this is the dream destination I
had read about as a child, poured through images in history books,
read volumes about the Vijayanagara empire, Jester Ramakrishna of
Tenali (better known as Tenali Rama)...yes, I was looking forward
to it like nothing before. It would also be a family trip. I had
saved up enough points on both Air India, and Kingfisher
Airlines, to enable me to take The Wife and Junior (`TW' and
`Jr', respectively) along with me. I will now acquaint the reader
with the time-line: we were to make this trip in December, 2011.
The time, the routing, and the choice of airlines may have
already alerted the reader into agreeing with me, why this trip
nearly did not take place.

I had booked our tickets a long time ahead.
The plans were quite simple.
We would fly from New Delhi to Mumbai, and then, from Mumbai to
Hubli. The return trip would happen in the opposite sequence.
In mid-2011, Hubli had two flights a day, both were operated by
Kingfisher Airlines. Hubli was connected to Bengaluru and Mumbai
by air - the same aircraft did the Bengaluru-Hubli-Mumbai run,
and then came back. I had explored other options as well -
what about getting to Bengaluru, and taking the train to either
Hubli, or Hospet Junction, the closest rail head to Hampi.
However, I did not have enough points to have both TW and Jr do
DEL-BLR and back on a single carrier. Moreover, the timings were
not quite convenient, either.
The Mumbai option looked quite attractive.
There was a slight hitch, however.
As I work in a semi-Government organisation, we are supposed to
patronise the national carrier, Air India. Since Hubli was a
point which did not figure in Air India's route map, I applied for
special permission to fly a private airline, Kingfisher.
I finally got permission for the same.

The initial planning itself was quite tiresome, since I had to go
within my meagre budget, and utilise my frequent flyer points, as
well. Jr would be eligible for a child ticket, which on
Kingfisher Airlines, would enable me to burn only half my points
as an adult ticket would. Some of Jr's earlier flights had been
on infant tickets, which did not have a huge price-tag associated
with them, given that there is no separate seat for an infant.
Infant tickets however, are for children below two years of age,
something Jr had crossed quite some time back.
Air India however, had the same fare and the same number of
points to be redeemed for a child ticket, as for an adult one.
There was an additional point to take care of.
A child ticket could not be easily booked in isolation, as there
has to be an accompanying adult. There are provisions for unaccompanied
minors on flights, but I did not want to go through all the
trouble - I wanted to book tickets the easiest way possible.
And as soon as possible, too - since the number of award ticket
seats on a particular flight are often limited in number.

The Air India tickets I booked at the Air India booking office at
Safdarjung Airport. Why, the reader may ask.
Air India award tickets can be very easily booked on the
Internet, on their website.
This would be a complicated procedure.
Air India allows spouses to pool in their points - at no extra
charge, unlike most carriers, who have a price tag attached to
every transaction one makes, on the website, or God forbid if that
happens - across a booking counter.
TW was to transfer all her points to my account, and the pooled
quota was to be what the two award tickets were to be booked,
against. I had gone by the information on the Air India website,
which is quite outdated in parts. A child ticket would only incur
half the points as compared to an adult ticket, so I had read. On
going to the booking office, I discovered that it was otherwise.
I was told that this was a recent development, which had not yet
been updated on the website. Oh, no problem - there was a slight
shortfall in points, I would top it up. There was a system
glitch, wherein my points were deducted, but the ticket did not
appear. My experience with the staff at both the Nariman Point
Air India building in Mumbai, as well as the ones at the
Safdarjung Airport in New Delhi, has been very nice.
This time, a very senior lady in the Flying Returns section
apologised profusely for the error, and get us seated, while she
went about contacting people to set it right.

The tentative itinerary was as follows:
14 Dec: DEL-BOM
14 Dec: BOM-HBX
19 Dec: HBX-BOM
19 Dec: BOM-DEL
As added complication was that on 20 Dec, I had to be in Mysore.
(This was another reason for exploring the BLR-DEL option, above.)
Which meant that I had to accompany TW and Jr from HBX to BOM,
and from BOM to DEL, and take the night flight from DEL to BLR,
stay the night in BLR, and then head off to Mysore the next
early morning.
Kingfisher Airlines had stopped its MYQ-BLR flights, so Mysore
could only be done by train (the timings were not convenient), or
by bus.

My lack of frequent flyer points on one airline alone meant that
I would have to be innovative with regard to the flights.
I had enough for TW and Jr doing a DEL-BOM, together, but on
Kingfisher Airlines. I had to do it on Air India.
Luckily, there is a 10am DEL-BOM flight on both airlines.
AI 865, and IT 306.
We would set out at the same time, and reach Mumbai at around the
same time. This was the only pair of flights on the two carriers,
that seemed to be synchronise with each other.
We would meet up at Mumbai, roam about the impressive CSIA
Terminal 1-A and 1-C, and then board the Kingfisher flight to
Hubli, in the evening, 06:25 pm.

And what about our return?
There was a morning Kingfisher flight from Hubli to Mumbai, we
would take that, and keeping a margin of a few hours, we would
take the late afternoon flight back to Delhi (which was an
indirect one, it was AI 422 via Gwalior), which if it was on
time, would just give me enough time to drop TW and Jr at home,
pack in a fresh set of clothes, and rush back to the airport to
catch the last flight out of New Delhi, to Bengaluru.
I booked award tickets for TW and Jr on Air India.

All was fine till the Kingfisher crisis blew up.
Lessors took back planes by the dozen, many lay inoperative at
many airports along the length and breadth of the country.
I was not too worried, since if Kingfisher had survived that
long, it would possibly survive this crisis, too.
Alarm bells started ringing some 20 days before we were to set
out, when just by chance, I looked at the Kingfisher schedules.
It showed our flights as per what I had booked.
However, the arrival and departure times of flights on the day
and the previous one, showed that HBX-BOM was now an evening
flight, and BLR-HBX was now a morning flight.
Concerned, I headed off towards the Kingfisher city office.
I was told that all was well, nothing was amiss, and my flights
would indeed operate as per the printed schedule, irrespective of
what the current timings showed.
Somehow, I believed them.
With a week to go, I saw that the schedule had also now changed,
to reflect the new timings. HBX-BOM was an evening flight.
If we set out for BOM in the evening, we would miss our
connecting Air India flight back to New Delhi, and cause me to
lose the points as well, as TW and Jr were on award tickets.
This would also play complete havoc with my Mysore trip.
There was a Winter School there, which I was keen on attending.

I went to the Kingfisher city office again.
I was told that on the day of departure, the flight would operate
as per what was printed on my ticket, though current timings were
different. When I insisted that it was Kingfisher which had
changed its timings without informing its `guests', I was also
told that if I wanted to re-book the tickets to the revised
timings (which meant us setting out for Mumbai one day before,
and possibly curtailing or cancelling our Hampi trip - the basic
reason for coming all the way to Hubli), I would have to incur a
re-booking charge, losing points, and ending up paying a large
amount, which did not justify the trip, in the first place.
I was disgusted, but decided to wait a few days more.
A few days before the trip, I barged into the Kingfisher office,
and after an angry exchange, the booking staff finally agreed
that it was indeed Kingfisher's fault, and would re-book me for a
flight on 18 December, the day before.
Fine.
What about the award tickets?
This they could not do from here, since the booking supervisor
was on leave.
I would have to contact the Pune office, only on the phone.
Would this be possible to do from the city office itself - did
they not have a hotline?
No.
There was some signal problem those days.
Two hours, and still I was searching for a solution.
I came back to my office, and tried the tiresome procedure on a
land-line, painfully explaining my complete situation to the
staff at the Pune office. Each time, there had been a new person
on the phone, who would go through the procedure to a point where
the line simply got cut.
Two hours on two consecutive days.
My patience was fast running out.
I was finally told that the needful had been done.
Tickets had been sent to me over email.
When I checked my email, there was an error.
The date of the flight.
I was tired, disgusted, and angry.
I somehow happened to remember the name of the booking agent.
I went to the Kingfisher office, tried my luck over the phone
right from there, and finally managed to get the updated
itinerary on the ticket, which incredibly, showed two sets of
dates, one of which was the correct one.
I have never had this painful an experience with any airline
booking office, least of all, Kingfisher.

The Kingfisher crisis meant that I was not even sure that a
particular flight would take off. Hence, I had to make
alternative plans. There was Plan A, B, C and D. I had enquired
about buses between Mumbai and Hubli, and noted down their
timings. We could board from a very convenient location - the
Sahara Star signal (and be dropped off there, too),
very close to the domestic airport. This was an overnight bus
trip, both ways. I had checked out timings on VRL travels, Neeta
and Southern Tourist. I had also booked two tickets for TW and Jr
on AI 865 itself for the DEL-BOM leg, in case the Kingfisher IT
306 got cancelled. I cancelled these tickets just a day before
the trip, as it looked quite probable that this part of the
schedule would not be affected. The Hubli sectors were a
different story however, and we would find out more from Mumbai.
I had also booked train tickets for the three Kingfisher legs,
just in case we needed this option. It was an entirely different
matter however, that even a few days before the trip, the booking
status had remained on the waitlist. Trains were absolutely full,
and chances of getting a berth on the Delhi-Mumbai sector, or
Mumbai-Hubli and back, were very less.

There was another twist in the story. Our advancing the departure
date from Hubli meant we needed a roof over our heads for the
night of the 18th. I tried my luck on www.yatra.com, and booked a
room in Hotel Milan International, which is located very close to
the domestic airport in Mumbai.

On the day of the trip (14 December, 2011), we were late, as
usual. We rushed into IGI T3 - I first took TW and Jr to the
first row (Island A), where the Kingfisher counters were located.
Even though we had done a web check-in, we had some luggage that
we divided among me and TW. Two boarding passes in hand, I asked
TW to proceed for the security check with Jr, while I went to
Island E for the Air India check-in. I had also done a web
check-in, and the procedure went without much of a hitch. I met
TW and an excited Jr beyond the security point, and by the time
we had advanced up the slope to their boarding gate, both flights
had announced boarding. I rushed away, as TW drove the small
trolley at a good speed towards their boarding gate (this was
partly to distract Jr attention, so that he would not miss my
absence).

My ride today would be PPM, the one-in-a-million parts-per-million
`concentration' plane, VT-PPM. The boarding gate was 28B, with
the Chandigarh flight boarding simultaneously from gate 28A. This
was another familiar A321, PPT: the `presentable' plane, VT-PPT.
AI 865 to Mumbai and onward to Goa, was a very full flight in the
Economy section, where I was. The loads would be easily above
80%, with one of the very few vacant seats being beside me, where
I stored my SLR camera, laptop, laptop cooler, and papers for a
large part of the journey. Just as I made myself comfortable, I
noted a very senior lady captain board, and make her way to the
front office. I awaited the announcement with bated breath.
We had a star captain - Captain Saudamini Deshmukh!
I recounted that the first Indian Airlines
All-women crew-operated flight was one from Calcutta to Silchar
on a Fokker F-27, with Captain Deshmukh in command.
I quickly rang up TW, to appraise her of my excitement.
They had already started taxi'ing, so I quickly cut the call, and
looked forward to a nice flight. There was some delay, the reason
for which was not mentioned.

My itinerary for this leg of the journey was:

AI 865: Air India (A321) [Seat: 10A, PNR: HGNWV]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - CSIA T1, Mumbai
New Delhi (DEL) - Mumbai (BOM)
[10:00 am - 12:20 pm]

while TW and Jr had the following itinerary:

IT 306: Kingfisher Airlines (A321)
[Seats: 30F, 30E; PNR: KDPAEN, CTCLDF]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - CSIA T1, Mumbai
New Delhi (DEL) - Mumbai (BOM)
[10:00 am - 12:05 pm]

I had specifically chosen a seat on the port side, so that
TW and Jr may sight me (and vice versa), if our planes crossed
each other on the way to the runway. The alert reader would note
that I usually take a seat on the starboard side, for most of my
trips. That was not to be however, as IT 306 had taken off before
us. We made a take-off towards the west
(Dwarka) on the new runway 11-29.
I worked on most of the flight, with
the nice Air India audio selection keeping me busy. I flicked
through the video channels during the meal (yes, this description
is just `round the corner!). There were three films. `Dhoom' as a
recent Hindi movie, `Chhalia' as the old Hindi movie, an English
movie I could not identify, a programme on architectural
structures in Chicago, and a Hindi cartoon, possibly based on the
Panchatantra, or the Hitopadesha. I wondered what was keeping Jr
busy at the other end. Would he eat anything? Would he catch up
with some sleep?

I usually look forward (in fact, backward, and in all other
directions, as well) to the first announcement on Air India,
after the seat belt sign goes off. Food. Precisely.
The cabin crew got to work almost immediately, and soon, very
pleasant smells permeated the very full economy cabin of the
A321. The non-vegetarian option had a brown bread
coleslaw-and-shredded-salad sandwich as the first offering. This
was nothing special, but I was hungry, and I gobbled it down.
(The reader should note that this was in spite of having
rice-with-butter as an accompaniment with the morning tea.) I
savoured the dessert, but convinced the mind to divert attention
from it, to concentrate on the main offering. As is fairly common
on Air India, the items of the sides were a vegetable chop (a
tasty mince of seasonal vegetables in a potato mash base, lightly
browned on the outside), and a vegetable patty to the right. In
the middle were three chunks of well-marinated and soft skewered
chicken. After partaking of all this, I turned my attention to
matters sweet. A brownie pleadingly stared out of the bowl. This
was soft, and was thoroughly embellished with crushed dry fruits:
walnuts, raisins, cashew and almonds.
The base was not exactly...base, or blaise.
It was a light chocolate sauce: not too gooey (I would have loved
that!) or overtly sweet, but made a nice conclusion to the meal.
Surprisingly, the beverage service started with coffee, and not the
Indian fascination (tea). The passable instant coffee rounded off
a satisfying `snack', which was almost a meal.

Let me fast forward to Mumbai. I had been a bit surprised to find
Captain Saudamini Deshmukh as the Captain of our flight, as I had
thought that she had retired. However, this was indeed a pleasant
surprise. We got an aerobridge, and even though I got my things
together in the hope of getting an autograph from Captain
Deshmukh, the business class passengers in the front of the cabin
ensured that that was not to be, as by the time I had reached the
front, Captain Deshmukh had left. We had arranged to meet at the
luggage belts in the arrival lounge of Terminal 1-A. I found TW
and Jr near belt number 1, where the IT 306 luggage had just
started to come in. Jr was happy to see me. TW and I compared
notes about our flights.

When the food service had commenced on IT 306, TW requested for a
child meal, only to be told that a child meal needs to be booked well
in advance. Yes, even if the child is flying on a child ticket.
We were worried as Jr is a very fussy eater, and food is certainly
not among his list of priorities. The quantity of food served on
the flight had shocked TW. The quantity was very meagre. She had
been used to the large spread on Kingfisher in its heydays, which
would often rival Air India food - both in quality, as well as
quantity. There was a spicy chick-peas preparation (Chhole), a
Chicken cutlet, and some souffle. The latter went well with Jr,

I was doing a domestic transit in Mumbai for the first time. I
had seen passengers going right, and wondered what lay there.
Well, it was nothing much - there was an elevator to the upper
(departures) level, where after a ticket and ID check, we went
to the Kingfisher counters. We had already performed a web
check-in from Delhi itself. We looked forward to going to the
food court in the impressive Terminal 1-C, from where the three
of us could watch planes, and also catch up with some lunch.
That was not to be.
We were told that since the flight was at 06:25 pm, the check-in
would only start around 3pm or so. What?
What if we had through checked in TW and Jr's baggage at DEL
itself? That would have worked, said the clueless agent at the
counter. However, she could not help us one bit. We told her that
we would like to clear the security to have some food, else Jr
may create some disturbance. Actually, nothing could be farther
from the truth, since Jr is at his best when he does not have to
eat. There were two changes in staff at this counter (the web
check-in counter), and we tried our luck with the first-change
lady, as well as one in the far corner of the terminal. No,
nothing worked. Lady Luck smiled on us finally around 1pm, when
the second change happened at the web check-in counter, and we
were handed over our boarding passes without much ado.
TW and I hungrily devoured some junk food at the food court,
leaving Jr to admire the planes all around, in the fervent hope
of feeding him something, while he was distracted by the
aircraft up and close. I then took them all around Terminal 1-A
and 1-C, when Jr sighted something that he finds absolutely
fascinating.
``Escalator! Escalator!''
For the next hour, both TW and I took turns with him riding
escalators where ever he could find one.
As the time passed, he was getting a bit irritable.
He rarely feels the need to sleep, and it was quite noticeable.
The planes and escalators were keeping his mind occupied, and he
was fighting sleep, while getting more and more irritable.
As we went to the downstairs bus gate, while there, TW put him on
her back, and went around a bit. Somehow, some magic worked, and
he fell fast asleep. The sun was setting by now, and when we
boarded a Kingfisher (Red) ATR-72 (a first for all three of us!),
Jr was fast asleep.
Captain Ankur was in command of IT 2121 from Mumbai to Hubli. The
loads on board the plane were over 80%: very few seats were
vacant. The interior wore a very tired look - a far cry from the
glory days of the airline. Jr awoke to find himself inside a
propeller plane. He looked outside at the contraption admiringly.



We made a powerful take-off on the main runway 27-09,
towards the sea. This was a one-and-a-half-hour flight.
Jr was a bit sleepy, and he made himself comfortable on TW's lap,
as we levelled off, and the seat belt signs went off.
There were two ladies in charge of the cabin of the flight, and
they went about their motions on the buy-on-board. There was no
oven on board, so there would be no warm food. TW was getting
some congestion in her throat, and her request for some warm
water was happily met. There was nothing notable on the rest of
the journey, as we made a smooth touchdown at the Chu Ladni airport
at Hubli, or strictly speaking, Hubli-Dharwad. As we walked from
the aircraft to the small terminal, Jr admired the propellers
again, as we went inside the building, took our luggage, and
stepped out again, into some wonderful weather. A friend was
there to receive us. We were driven to our accommodation, at
Hotel Naveen, which was by the side of a beautiful lake, Lake
Unkal. This is a somewhat expensive hotel, and I had pre-booked a
stay for the three of us, at a far more reasonable place elsewhere
in the city. It so happened that this being the tourist season,
hotels were running full, and the organisers managed to get a
splendid deal for us at Hotel Naveen.
There is a large stone vessel at the entrance with water in it,
and flowers of all hues were floating on it. This is a picture
from the next morning.



It was a pity that I just could not find time to even have a
stroll by the lake. TW and Jr were luckier, as they spent some
quality time in the hotel and its lush green lawns, while I was
busy in the conference. Jr roamed about the lawns, played amidst
the ducks and swans, and enjoyed views of the lake, and the
statue of Swami Vivekananda on a small island at the centre of
the lake. Swami Vivekananda had visited Dharwad in 1892.
Hotel Naveen was on the banks of the Lake Unkal, and the hotel
complex had a large concentration of swans/geese, noisily honking
about, which Jr did not mind one bit (and they reciprocated, on
their part - thankfully). from there, Here is a bird's eye view
of the statue.



A colleague's wife had also come there, so they went
around the place a bit in a three-wheeler auto-rickshaw, which Jr
took a liking for, and did not want to leave, even for a minute.

The evenings were occupied as we had quite a few old friends to
meet, and of course, I did not want to miss even a single dinner.
I was a bit disappointed to see a plethora of North Indian food
items, instead of traditional Kannadiga dishes. We also saw from
outside, the structure of the Dr. Gangubai Hangal Gurukul Trust.



A word about the place, its people, and the languages.
This shows in every aspect of daily life.
Coming from Delhi, we were amazed to find people speaking
excellent Hindi. This is deep in Karnataka, with the population
predominantly Kannadigas. No, this is not even North Karnataka,
such as the disputed regions of Belgaum for instance, where both
Marathi and Karnataka are spoken freely, people from both regions
have inter-cultural marriages, and the cuisine reflects elements of
both Kannadiga and Marathi cuisine. In fact, Belgaum has some
unique culinary masterpieces, especially on the sweet side.
`Kunda' is a famous sweet, which comes closest to the North
Indian `milk cake' of the Rajasthani town of Alwar, but with a
consistency that is much more fluid than its North Indian
counterpart. The Alwar milk cake comes in a white version, and a
brown one, the latter having been fried in rich clarified
butter (ghee). The second is `Mandige', a sweet carefully crafted
as a large circle, with many muslin-thin layers of fine flour
with a hint of sweetness embedded in each one of them. The large
circle is cut into four quarter wedges, and wrapped in newspapers
and string, for taking away. Once a sweet meant only for
preparation in Brahmin marriages, there is one family which
curates these masterpieces for general consumption(!). It was in
Belgaum that I first experienced the Karnataka-Konkani ice cream
delight, called `GuDbuD ice cream'. This has a bed of sliced
fresh fruit, two scoops of ice creams of different flavours, and
is topped up with fruits of a drier variety: dry fruits, candied
cherry, chocolate sauce, and all things sinful. This is usually
served in very long glasses, and is almost a meal in itself,
both in terms of calories, as well as being filling.
Needless to say, I had one after a very heavy meal quite
comfortably. When the king comes, the commoners always make space
for him, right?

Oh no, I have digressed from what I was talking about, yet again.
While Belgaum is in North Karnataka, and a part of the `disputed
territory' between Maharashtra and Karnataka (and is a place with
lovely weather, quite like Bengaluru, or the outskirts of Pune),
Hubli is deep inside Karnataka. (Before I forget, I must add that
it was in Belgaum in 2003, that I first saw traffic lights with
LED-based lights, as opposed to the traditional traffic signals,
with coloured glass covering a light bulb.) Even though Kannada
is the mother tongue of most of these people, they have
traditionally been very open to other languages, and speak Hindi
very fluently. Unlike other places in India where there have been
issues with regard to languages, when Hindi was declared as the
national language (for whatever reason, which may not have been
correct, and more so, should not have been imposed on anyone), it
forms part of the school curriculum right from the beginning. The
other interesting part is that though in South India, most of the
doyens of Hindustani Classical Music come from this region -
Hubli, Dharwad, Gadag, and adjoining areas. Pandit Kumar Gandharva
(Shivaputra Siddharamaiah Komlali), Pandit Basavaraja Rajguru,
Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur and his son Pandit Rajashekhar Mansur,
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (one of my favourite finds is Pandit Bhimsen
Joshi singing one of Purandara Dasa's krithis, on Dr. Rajan
Parrikkar's website), Pandit Kulkarni, of course, Dr. Gangubai
Hangal and her daughter Krishna, and so many more. While Kannada
would be the mother tongue, or at least, a prominent language for
many of them, they took to to Hindustani Classical Music in a big
way. All this is even though perhaps the experimentation with the
aesthetic quality of combinations of notes is perhaps far more in
Carnatic Classical Music - the number of Ragas is far greater in
the latter, since every combination of the basic notes does not
lead to a Raga. Doyens of Carnatic music come from nearby states
- the Trinity, Thyagaraja, Syama Sastry, and Muthuswamy
Dikshitar (the latter even went to Varanasi/Benaras to learn
the nuances of Hindustani Classical Music - such is the open-ness
among the South Indian greats, how many doyens of Hindustani
Classical Music have done the opposite?). Of course, Purandara
Dasa was from the region encompassed by modern-day Karnataka.
Before this digression gets too much, let me get back to the
topic at hand.

After the conference was over, we had two days. Owing to the
Kingfisher change in itinerary, our time on the 18th (Sunday) had
been curtailed, and we wanted to do the Hampi circuit on the 17th
(Saturday) itself. One of my friends there told me that to do the
entire Hampi circuit would take a minimum of three days, but we
were prepared even for a very short trip. The way things turned
out, the official conference tour of Hampi was scheduled for the
18th (Sunday), where among the vehicles booked for the trip, they
arranged it in such a way that one vehicle would be able to come
back with us, just in time for us to go back to the hotel, pick
up our bags, and head for the airport to catch the Kingfisher
flight back to Mumbai. They also were very helpful in arranging a
full-day taxi for a trip to four exciting places on the 17th
(Saturday). The Banashankari temple, Vatapi/Badami caves,
Pattadakal (the second World Heritage site in the state of
Karnataka!), and Aihole - we would get to visit all these places
in a day!

The 17th was to be a very hectic day for us. We had woken up
early in the morning. Our first stop was the ancient Banashankari
temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
As we reached the small temple, we saw a small chariot outside
the temple complex, whose closely-spaced wheels indicated some
link with a style exemplified by one of the most endearing images
of Hampi, the stone chariot of the Vijay Vittala temple.



This is the front of the Banashankari temple. The ancient
structure has been done up on colours, the ancient part is in the
sanctum sanctorum. A digression - a friend (Mr. Frederick
Foresight, for those familiar with my small circle of friends)
had pointed out a typographical mistake with the way I had spelt
`sanctorum' once, it was more of a combination of `sanatorium'
and the correct word.



There is a small pond just outside the entrance, on the other
side.



Of particular interest to me was a young girl who had come with
her father to the temple and was seated outside, and on her lap
was...her cat! The feline was purring appreciatively at the
attention, and the girl and her father smiled at us as we went
by.

The second stop was the Vatapi/Badami caves. There were four
major sections: the Shavite, the Vaishnavite, the Buddhist, and
the Jain. The one dedicated to Lord Shiva came first, as we made
our way up there, past hordes of our ancestors.



There were some lovely carvings all around.



Many carvings were many-faceted: they could have two different
interpretations, if one looked at different parts of the
structure. Our guide showed us a few, hiding a part of a
sculpture to make an interpretation obvious to us.



The next picture shows an overview of the lake overlooking the
cave complex. It is interesting that some early human settlements
were found in the area below, adjoining the caves, where there is
also perhaps a small museum.



To the left of this lake is a structure established by Tipu Sultan,
with can be seen to the right of the large rock, in the next
picture.



A statue of Vishnu:



Badami and Pattadakal possibly exemplify the complete philosophy
of this part of India. They have always been very open to
other contemporary languages, cultures and life-styles.
Pattadakal is the second World Heritage Site in the state of
Karnataka, and has temples of different types in the complex,
which saw the coronation of the ruler. This is on the banks of
the Malaprabha river (the other river in the vicinity is the
Ghataprabha). The complex is maintained beautifully. One sees
experimentation with the two prominent temple styles in India at
that time - the Dravidian style, as well as the Eastern style.
The next picture gives an overview of the front part of the
Pattadakal complex, with the Eastern-style temple to the left
(the type one sees in and around Puri, for instance, with the
characteristic gradually tapering spire and bulbous dome on top),
a Dravidian-type temple (shorter stepped spire), and more
structures towards the right of the image.



Here is a close-up of the Eastern-style temple,



...and one of a Dravidian style one:



This is the Nandi bull in shiny black stone, on the banks of the
Malaprabha.



The image above originally had a hippopotamus standing beside the
stone bull, but sense prevailed on me to edit the huge-bellied
creature out of the frame.



The carvings inside the temples were very nice:



Our heads full of the history of the place, and beautiful images
of the temples and their interiors, we set out for Aihole, the
last stop on our itinerary, for the day.
Aihole is pronounced no, not as my dirty mind would have it, but
something like Eye-Hole-eh, with the `l' pronounced the way that
Maharashtrians and Kannadigas do beautifully, this is the `l'
with a slight roll of a `d' touch in it.
Aihole is possibly one hidden treasure, not too many people know
about. Here was what people today do in terms of architecture, on
computers. People had experimented with various facets of temple
architecture - in stone. In some cases, it was just the gateway,
with the rest of the temple structure not worked on. In some
cases, it was the sanctum sanctorum, and much more! What a
fascinating place this was! The items of interest are spread out
over a very large radius, which makes it slightly difficult to
visit, without a vehicle. We we lucky - we had a limited period of
time, but were able to cover a lot.

Our first stop shows the basic design of the interior of a
temple, given as an assignment to an architecture student.



The next image shows the basic work towards a wall carving, which
shows the basic structure on which finer details are added,
later.



The Nandi bull is am icon of this part of India:



Some of the attractions of this part of Aihole were rock-cut
caves. Here is a view of the general structure of the entrance,
sans any details in the rock.



Our next stop was a large complex, where there were experiments
with many aspects of temple architecture. Here is a slightly
unusual plain, sloping roof.



Here is an experiment with an unusual top of the temple spire.
The reader may note that it is only the basic temple structure
that has been put down in stone, not any detail.



The next structure is something really wonderful, an unusual form
of a temple, with a long hall of pillars, which curves around a
corner. The gopuram (spire) is unfinished.



The arrangement of the pillars (unfinished, as with most other
structures in Aihole) is quite interesting - it is said that
Lutyens was inspired by this design when he went about creating
what today is known as the Parliament House. Here is another view
of the same structure.



The entrance to this structure (through the non-curved end) has
experiments on the set of pillars at the entrance only, nothing
else. There is no idol inside.



There is a wonderful museum near this place, where among many
artifacts and pictures, is a lovely scale model of the structures
around Aihole. Isn't this wonderful?



We were tired, but full of memories as we set out on the 250-odd
kilometres back to Hubli, and Hotel Naveen. Jr had fallen asleep,
and I was also drowsy. I managed to catch up with some sleep before
TW decided to try her hand at driving the Indica for the first
time, which kept me wide awake for the rest of the journey.
No, not because she is also a reader on this forum, she did not
drive too badly. Hampi would come the next day.

Please stay tuned for Part 2,
`Hampi Hamper, Part 2: Hampi!'
[to be concluded]
---
Links to my previous trip reports:

25. JAI Ho! Jaipur, Sep'12, My Double Standards?
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12592.html
(This is out of sequence, only to report on something that is very
recent, circa Sep'12)

24. PNQ: PeNning Queued Reports, Dec 2011
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12557.html

23. Little BHO-Peep, Nov 2011
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12496.html

22. The Call of the Vaigai! Madurai, Oct 2011
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12465.html

21. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: Beijing, 2011 Part 3
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12452.html

20. No Panda-monium: Beijing, 2011 Part 2
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12389.html

19. North By Northwest...er, AI and CA: Beijing, 2011 Part 1
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12348.html

18. Going Bananas over Oranges: Nagpur, Aug'11
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12333.html

17. To the City of Joy and back, on Air India: Aug'11
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12238.html

16. To Chennai, Mar'12 with a Celebrity Captain!
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12196.html
(This is out of sequence owing to sheer excitement, and nothing
else!)

15. Marble Rocks, Marbles Rock; Jul 2011
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12157.html

14. The Fish-Eye Beckons! Madurai, on Air India. Jul 2011
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12136.html

13. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 3: Monino!
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12091.html

12. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 2: The Central Museum
of the Armed Forces
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12016.html

11. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 1: The Overall Trip
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11717.html

10. The City of Lakes: Mother's Heart, Heart of the Motherland
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11556.html

9. Mostly Indoors, in Indore:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11533.html

8. Inter-metro Shuttling on AI: DEL-BOM on AI810, BOM-DEL on AI888
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11449.html

7. On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11160.html

6. DEL-BOM on IT308, BOM-DEL on IC166
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10986.html

5. DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10809.html

4. DEL-PNQ on IC849, PNQ-DEL on IC850
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10510.html

3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10401.html

2. DEL-NAG-NDC, NDC-BOM-DEL on G8
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10169.html

1. IGI T3, AI 314 DEL-HKG and AI 311 HKG-DEL
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10018.html
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jbalonso777
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Posts: 1419
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow!
Fantastic TR so far!
All the elements were wonderful as usual!
Especially, the scene of Kingfisher Airlines. I was following it on the news all throughout. It sure was a rushed start to the trip, no doubt about that!
Also, a rush finish, with your BLR flight coming up.
The pictures were wonderful!
Superb descriptions, ALL THROUGHOUT! Food, the Indian diversity (well, the Karnataka diversity, to be specific!) 'The birds eye view' certainly takes the cake!
Waiting for the second part of the TR, I hope its coming up soon Very Happy

Regards,
Jishnu.
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely TR - thanks for posting! I have been pushing off my Hampi trip forever now, hopefully will get to it soon. Luckily have transited Hubli a couple of times on my annual "pilgrimage" - to Goa Smile.
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4477
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
All the elements were wonderful as usual!
Especially, the scene of Kingfisher Airlines. I was following it on the news all throughout. It sure was a rushed start to the trip, no doubt about that!
Also, a rush finish, with your BLR flight coming up

Thanks a lot, Jishnu - yes, the Kingfisher episode added a lot more artificial excitement than I would have wanted, and yes, I managed to get TW and Jr on a taxi, and rush to my BLR flight. The second part is in the works right now, and the BLR visit will also be a two-part report, also covering the nice HAL museum - which I was finally able to see, after many, many years!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sumantra
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Posts: 4477
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimish wrote:
Lovely TR - thanks for posting! I have been pushing off my Hampi trip forever now, hopefully will get to it soon. Luckily have transited Hubli a couple of times on my annual "pilgrimage" - to Goa Smile.

Yes, now with the SG BLR-HBX Q400 flight coming up, it should be easier than the overnight train to Hospet junction. Do we not look forward to a trip report? Annual Goa trip - some people in the world have all the luck Smile However, do we get lucky to get some trip reports from you? You haven't sent us one since that awesome Hyderabad one!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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ameya
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Posts: 3584
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great start to the day. First thing I read after reaching office is a TR from Sumantra, that too on KF ! and with all the hungama.

With all the experience of KF, I am sure you are not keen on flying them again, even if they come back strongly. It will take a long time for them to gain trust, if at all they come back.

Another fantastic description of the aircraft registration along with food !!!
What I have always liked about your TRs is the small section on local things at these off beat places.

Now, I have to give some history else you would feel bad 

The ATR used to operate HYD-BLR-HBX-BOM-HBX-BLR-HYD once upon a time around 2009. Then came the VT-KAC accident in which KF had to write off that plane on a Tuesday afternoon landing on 27A.

With one plane short, for a limited period flights to NDC, LTU, ISK, SSE were cancelled. To accommodate these flights, routings were changed, aircraft were swapped, so as to operate, HYD-BLR-HBX-BOM-SSE/ (NDC-LTU) – BOM – IXU – BOM and the other aircraft doing BOM-IXY-BOM-BHU-BOM – ISK – BOM - HBX-BLR-HYD ended up operating the HBX leg. Effectively around Jan’10 HBX started seeing a day return product from BLR and also the first evening / night departures.

In Nov’11 as the KF crisis started and stations pullout happened, the one aircraft in BOM started operating BOM IXY BOM BHU BOM BHJ BOM HXB BOM. The BOM HXB BOM leg being the replacement of BOM IXU BOM

Looking forward for the next part....
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ameya, thanks a lot for your kind words, and...all this incredible history!
That explains quite a lot. Papa had a 01-03 December Kolhapur trip due, which he was initially supposed to do on the Kingfisher flight. Thankfully, his hosts recommended him to come vis Pune instead. I had initially baulked at the idea of his doing this long stretch by road, but the Kingfisher strike put things into perspective. I wish I knew as much as you do!
Admiringly, Sumantra.
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sri_bom
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woha what a nice long report, I can never write something so long hence I use many pictures to cover my laziness Smile

Sorry to note the fiasco that you had with IT, it is frustrating and stressful to travel on mileage points and I am always nervous when I use them that as any changes you are at the mercy of the airlines.

I like your detailed explanation and knowledge about Indian history maybe next time when I am in India we should plan a trip together somewhere.

Although I am from Bombay my family is from Karnataka and I was there in June to settle something and I had the taste of "GADBAD" based on my wife's recommendation which I had never had before in my life. I found that it was a poor cross between a sundae and ice cream. Here is the picture which you have described it so well:




Sri_Bom
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Srinivas, thanks a lot for your appreciation! I am one of those without much useful things to do (I work in a semi-government organisation, right?), so quantity comes out, sans quality, mostly Smile Many a time when I sit down to type a trip report, I go dreaming - day-dreaming, and I try to put down as many thoughts that come in. The reports meander after a while - and yes, often meander towards food, since the compulsive eater that I am, I often take a few food breaks in between. I have been a big fan of different cuisines in Karnataka - the one from the North, the Konkani one (Mangalorean), the traditional South Karnataka one (`Udupi'-style), among others.
Your picture of Gadbad sent signals from my eyes to my tummy, via my brain. However, the ones I have had - in Belgaum, as well as at the KFC in Delhi (Karnataka Food Centre, close to the Moti Bagh crossing in South Delhi) were/are a bit different - they had an overdose of all types of seasonal fruits, and almost all possible dry fruits (walnuts, pistachios, cashews, raisins, almonds, and figs - the last goes fantastically with this combination). Where did you have this - Mumbai, or Singapore? Singapore's South Indian joints are primarily Tamilian ones, from what my gastronomical experiences go, and Mumbai's ones are somewhat Udupi-style (I use the term `somewhat', since it is a bit of fusion cuisince, as I felt it) - the latter almost run exclusively by the Shettys, the prominent Bunt community, who have Tulu as their mother-tongue - what a connection - so was Krishnadeva Raya!
I will complete this somewhat conjoined trip report with a two-part report on a Bengaluru visit - that will have quite a lot of my memories of the city in the late 1990s, and of course, lament about the food available then, and now.
It will be great to plan a trip together! I will hitch-hike on your writing skills and photography, to generate a trip report Wink
Thanks once again, Sumantra.
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sri_bom
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Srinivas, thanks a lot for your appreciation! I am one of those without much useful things to do (I work in a semi-government organisation, right?), so quantity comes out, sans quality, mostly Smile Many a time when I sit down to type a trip report, I go dreaming - day-dreaming, and I try to put down as many thoughts that come in. The reports meander after a while - and yes, often meander towards food, since the compulsive eater that I am, I often take a few food breaks in between. I have been a big fan of different cuisines in Karnataka - the one from the North, the Konkani one (Mangalorean), the traditional South Karnataka one (`Udupi'-style), among others.
Your picture of Gadbad sent signals from my eyes to my tummy, via my brain. However, the ones I have had - in Belgaum, as well as at the KFC in Delhi (Karnataka Food Centre, close to the Moti Bagh crossing in South Delhi) were/are a bit different - they had an overdose of all types of seasonal fruits, and almost all possible dry fruits (walnuts, pistachios, cashews, raisins, almonds, and figs - the last goes fantastically with this combination). Where did you have this - Mumbai, or Singapore? Singapore's South Indian joints are primarily Tamilian ones, from what my gastronomical experiences go, and Mumbai's ones are somewhat Udupi-style (I use the term `somewhat', since it is a bit of fusion cuisince, as I felt it) - the latter almost run exclusively by the Shettys, the prominent Bunt community, who have Tulu as their mother-tongue - what a connection - so was Krishnadeva Raya!
I will complete this somewhat conjoined trip report with a two-part report on a Bengaluru visit - that will have quite a lot of my memories of the city in the late 1990s, and of course, lament about the food available then, and now.
It will be great to plan a trip together! I will hitch-hike on your writing skills and photography, to generate a trip report Wink
Thanks once again, Sumantra.


Although you work in a semi-government organization I can sense that you are definately contributing more to the organization. Smile

I had this in the costal town Udupi. The dry fruits were embedded between the icecreams hence not that visible.

Look forward to more of your airmeal reports.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha ha- `Airmeal' is a good one! You had this at Udupi - wow, the actual place! Hmm...I guess I must make a trip to the KFC restaurant soon.
Thanks, Sumantra.
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avbuff
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR and thanks for those lovely pictures, thoroughly enjoyed,

Sorry to hear about your KF experience. Next time, just avoid them.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ojas, thanks for taking the time to read through these long'ish reports! please try Part 2 as well - the quality of pictures is even better, though they are resized to make them more palatable for mobile devices and slow connections.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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