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Hampi Hamper, Part 2: Hampi!

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Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:07 pm    Post subject: Hampi Hamper, Part 2: Hampi! Reply with quote

Hampi Hamper, Part 2: Hampi!
The second part of our Hubli trip follows the first part, which
can be found at:
`Hampi Hamper, Part I: Banashankari, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole'
This part can be found at the following URL:

This report starts on Sunday, 18 December 2011, at 5:45 am, when
the vehicle to take us to Hampi, arrived. A very sleepy trio
(with Jr squealing in disgust at having been woken up from his
sleep at an unearthly hour). This would be the only way in which
we would be able to do the bare essentials of Hampi, and get back
to the Hotel in time to do a quick pack-up, and head to the small
but functional Chu Ladni Airport, Hubli (Hubli-Dharwad, to be
a bit more precise).

The road was a bit rough in parts, but relatively smooth,
overall. We reached the huge monolithic Ganesha statue in about 3
hours, after having an indifferent breakfast at a restaurant
called `Naivedyam' (Delhi-ites would identify this name with one
of the best Kannadiga food joints in the capital). The other
prominent ones were Shanbagh's and Pai's - interestingly, both
Konkani names (in addition to the more ubiquitous Kamath's seen
at many places in Karnataka, or the `Bangalore Iyengar Bakery
joints, or the `Darshini's, at many places).
Yes, both were Konkani joints.
And both were close-by, but...closed.

The `kalu' in the name of the huge monolithic statue referred to
the shape of the elephant-headed deity's belly, being close to a
gram in shape. `Kalu' in Kannada refers to a legume: gram, beans
and the like. I picked this up from a Kannadiga friend, who also
told me the etymology of `Bengaluru/Bangalore'. Benda-kallu-uru:
or the boiled legume/bean city. Interesting! I have also noted
that Kannadigas love what we Delhi'ites refer to as `French
beans', or the `barbatti'. This also happens to be one of my
favourite food items. I especially love a Kannadiga preparation
of finely chopped beans, cooked in grated coconut powder, with a
hint of mustard seeds (`rai', specifically). Before the reader
again gets exasperated at the topic gravitating to matters of the
stomach, let me quickly get back on track.

We requested the guide to do us an express walk-through of the
absolute essentials at Hampi, and he wasted no time in taking us
around. The attractions around Hampi are spread over a really
huge area, and having a vehicle at hand is a big help. The second
spot was the Virupaksha temple.

Apart from the impressive architecture, an interesting sight was
a pin-hole camera: a small gap in the stone results in the
gopuram (the temple entrance spire) being projected onto a dark
wall, with the gopuram image (obviously) inverted. This is on the
banks of the Tungabhadra river - but we did not have much time on
our hands, so we avoided the remains of the market beside the river.
We visited the large shivalinga.

Our next stop was another prominent point in Hampi, the
Lakshminarasimha statue.

We headed to the Queen's palace, where we sighted the Lotus
Mahal, where the Kings two consorts came together to gossip and
discuss - each had a palace to her own, the base remains of which
still remain. The wood/sandalwood palace has long been lost to
the ravages of time.

There were three watch-towers for the lady bodyguards to keep a
watch on the happenings in this complex. The elephant stables for
the 11 main elephants were impressive, with the quarters of the
support staff being at right angles to this set of buildings.
Along with the Virupaksha temple, the Lakshminarasimha statue,
and the chariot in the Vijay Vittala complex in front of the hall
of musical pillars, the elephant stables are one of the two most
endearing images of elephant stables in Indian history (the other
being at Mandavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, also popularly known as

Jr was in a cranky mood all throughout. TW and I had taken turns
at carrying him around - when he does not want it, he absolutely
refuses to walk. Not that he is quiet in the lap, either. Both he
and I had slept well on the journey to Hampi, so it was not due
to lack of sleep. He was not too well, and not eating or
exercising much - it was the strain, perhaps. The next and last
stop was the The Vijay Vittala complex, where one can take one of
the numerous golf carts `manned' by lady drivers. This maintains
a nice pollution-free environment. Moving around in a car(t) is
something Jr does not mind too much, and the screaming and
shrieking started as soon as we got down. The complex is under
renovation, and we were shown numerous nice sculptures on the
stone. The Hall of musical pillars is under renovation - and we
listened to its history in rapt attention.

The chariot of course, was a big hit with tourists.

The idol in the sanctum sanctorum behind the hall of
musical pillars was taken to Pandharipur in Maharashtra to escape
being desecrated by invaders. Pandharipur was the very place from
where the stone to chisel the idol was sourced - as we were told,
that to date, it is known as the `Kannada Vittala'.

From there, we had an extremely unimpressive buffet lunch at the
Mayur. Jr is at his happiest when he doesn't have to partake of
any food, and he made his intentions crystal clear (the earlier
night, he had broken a crystal glass at the hotel restaurant). We
had to set out very quickly, whereas some of our companions opted
to do some more exploration. The driver got us back to Hubli in
less than 3 hours. We packed up, and set out for the Chu
Ladni airport.

The Chu Ladni airport covers the conurbanations of Hubli and
Dharwad, and is a small, but very clean and well-maintained
airport. This is adorned with images of the beautiful state of
Karnataka. On arrival at the airport, we got the extremely
encouraging news that our 1.5 hour flight to Mumbai (which was
running, Thank Heavens for that), was delayed by 1.5 hours.
I noted that the new terminal building with the strengthened
runway was inaugurated on 27.04.2007.
Our itinerary for this segment of the trip was as follows:

IT 2122: Kingfisher (Red) (ATR)
[Seats: 12A, 11A, 11C; PNR: JMJPWO, NPANYC, MRTYFZ]
Chu Ladni Airport, Hubli-Dharwad - CSIA T1, Mumbai
Hubli (HBX) - Mumbai (BOM)
[08:15 pm - 09:45 pm]

What! It was not that we had expected Kingfisher airlines to
communicate anything about a delayed flight with its `guests'.
Even Air India is extremely regular in sending SMSes, and
following them up with phone calls. I had been completely
exasperated in trying to web check-in for the flight. The
communication with the call centre was of no avail. I got lame
excuses for each thing that did not work.
``Oh, you can't do this as you have one redemption ticket.''
``But Sir, I have done this on the onward leg.''
``Please wait, let me check with the booking office.''
``Oh, you can't do this as you have changed the date of the flight.''
``But of course, I had to do this because you changed the timings
of this flight one your own, and did not bother to inform your
`guests'. Worse still, when I had tried to change this, I was
told that the flight timings had not changed (though the website
said this, and the three day schedule clearly said this, but the
booking page, did not).''
``Please wait, let me check with the booking office.''
``Oh, you can't do this because your ticket has an inconsistency
in the date of departure. The itinerary says one thing,
whereas the ticket, another.''
``That is something which is beyond my control, Sir. Why can't I
do a web check-in?''
``Oh, you can't do this because you are wait-listed. is
your wife. Only your child has a confirmed reservation.''
``W-H-A-T! I thought I had had this sorted out with the
Kingfisher airlines call centre on 09 December, and got tickets
with itineraries, which said `confirmed'. After all this drama,
am I still wait-listed?''
``Please wait, let me check with the booking office.''
``Sir, I have had the problem resolved. I have also mailed you
the itineraries.''
``Whew - and why can we not do a web check-in?''
``Please wait, let me check with the booking office.''
After hearing the Kingfisher music for the n'th exasperating
time, there was a fool-proof reply,
``Sir, this is a system problem.''
``When can I expect to see 250 points against the names of me,
and my wife?''
``I am extremely sorry, Sir - you can try again in an hour.''
``And if it still does not work?''
(Such problems catch the call centre staff completely unaware)
``Sir, you can write to''
``I have written about numerous problems to this email address,
and also copies emails to and, without avail.''
``Blah blah blah...''
It didn't work in the next 24 hours, nor did I get any reply from
the above-mentioned email ID(s).

I got a rather frank answer from the (rather good-looking) lady
at the check-in counter: ``Sir, there was some network problem -
even we couldn't access our systems in the morning.''
We were seated right in front of actress Shashikala, a fact which
TW excitedly mentioned to me (via an SMS, which I checked a bit
late, resulting in the excitement turning to a shade of a human
emotion, which husbands do not find too endearing, more so, if the
non-endearing emotion, is enduring.)

TW had had some nice mixed-veg Utthapa(m) packed with some
heavenly plain fresh coconut chutney, some chips, and double the
number of sandwiches which we had ordered. The reader would
expect to read something about the invention of the Good'ol
English Earl disappear into my entrails in no time at all - but
surprise, surprise - I was not hungry at all, and only had my
share. We packed off the rest, to avoid hunger pangs at
tinsel-town, where we would reach around 11:15 pm.

The security check through, Jr did not evince any interest in
taking in any input - he managed to do the opposite, however,
resulting in TW making a dash to the toilet with Jr in tow. The
small waiting hall filled up soon. Kingfisher gets extremely good
loads on this segment (possibly owing to Hubli being the closest
airport to Hampi, and of course, Hubli-Dharwad being a cultural
hub of the country, with most doyens of Hindustani Classical
music coming from here. Most people from the place speak
excellent Hindi - ah, haven't I talked about all this before. To
add insult to injury, I am also digressing from the topic at hand.)
There is one boarding gate at HBX. The check-in lady Renuka herself
made the boarding announcements in Kannada, Hindi and English,
and opened the gate. Jr was running slight temperature, and was a
bit cranky. He tried opening the slightly open door, with TW in
hot pursuit, when the lady rushed to the door saying,
``Madam...please wait.''
``Yes, we have been waiting. For the past TWO hours.''
TW is obviously not one for niceties, especially if she is not in
a good mood. This was for good reason, too - as I have explained
above. The lady looked a bit taken back, and got back to work.

We boarded the aircraft after a go-around of most of the plane,
which saw Jr looking excitedly at the plane. He has never seen a
small propeller plane from up so close with such a good view (at
Mumbai, we had been driven right up to the plane, from where we
used the plane's internal staircase to board the plane). He
excitedly looked at the propellers, and made propeller-like
sounds from his mouth. We boarded the plane to be welcomed by a
lady who was one of the cabin crew on the onward leg of our
flight, too. She recognised TW and Jr too, and welcomed us in.
The registration of this plane was VT-KAE. This was
an ATR-72-500, and in much better condition than the plane on the
first leg. Here is a picture of the back of the seat in front of

This also had drop-down screens, which preferred to
stay on top of their perch for the entire one-and-a-half hours.
Captain Erwin was in command, and as usual, there were two ladies
as the cabin crew. We took off from runway 26, in the dark
sky, over the skies of Hubli-Dharwad. The journey was quite
uneventful, except announcements to the effect that there was
congestion over Mumbai, so we would be delayed even further.

We landed at Mumbai, and got a remote stand, as was to be
anticipated. The luggage came in, and I waited in the pre-paid
taxi line. We had booked a room at the Hotel Milan International,
somewhat close to the airport. Jr was running some fever, and
three dog-tired souls got there, and hit the bed. By the time the
trio woke up in the morning, it was nearly time to set out for
the airport, for the next trip: the trip from Mumbai to Delhi.
We got to the airport on time.
I had done a web check-in for the three of us. Since we had
reached on time, we enquired if it was possible to get us onto
the previous flight (the 1pm one). We were told that it was a
full flight, and I could check with the duty manager. This I duly
did, when she said that our number on the stand-by list would
start from 6! We decided to stick to our original booking, though
I was apprehensive that it might end up a bit tight for me.
After checking in without much ado, we went to our favourite
spot-cum-spotting location, the food court in Terminal 1-C.
Here is a British Airways B772ER taking the taxiway after landing
on runway 27, visible behind an Air India narrow-body in the
new colours.

The plane had been waiting for quite some time, due to
uncertainty over the weather at Gwalior. Visibility was quite
poor, so said the Air India lady, who cheerfully answered many a
query. Queries ranged from, ``I'm going to Delhi - why can't you
take in the Delhi passengers?'', ``I have an important...'' to
``I just rung up my son in Gwalior - he says that it is quite
sunny there''. An elderly couple beside us came back, saying that
if the plane could not land in Gwalior, they could overfly the
city, and go straight to Delhi, and send passengers on an Air
India bus to Gwalior. What - they should at least take some care
of our comfort - at least a nice train to get us to Gwalior
fast.'' I had a selfish interest in the plane going straight to
Delhi, for I had to drop TW and Jr at our residence, dump a
smelly set of clothes into the washing machine, take a fresh set,
and almost immediately, set out for Bengaluru. I was to take the
last Air India flight of the day from Delhi to the Garden City. I
would have a little breather in between.

The A319 was a new bird, with PTVs. Jr boarded the plane very
enthusiastically, and enjoyed the views from the window seat, of
the right side of the row, which we three had to ourselves.
This was quite a full flight, with loads clearly above 80%. The
very senior Captain Kapil Raina was accompanied by a young lady
co-pilot. At the edge of the runway, the Kingfisher area had
three planes stored: two A320s, and an A330. (This was circa
December, 2011).
We took off from the main runway 27-09 over the sea, where TW and
Jr enjoyed the sights of the terminal buildings, the local
suburban train western line, over the Juhu aerodrome, over the
beach. The turn over the sea got Jr excitedly enjoying the sight
of sea traffic: boats and ships, and TW also sighted the Golden
Pagoda, as we skimmed the coast, and then proceed northwards.

My joy knew no bounds as the announcement came to the effect that
we would be served lunch on the BOM-GWL segment. As soon as the
plane reached cruising altitude, the seat belt sign went off, and
the cabin crew got into action. The three of us opted for the
non-veg option. And what a treat it was.
There was a bowl of green salad, with cucumber, carrot and
capsicum/bell pepper slides, with a slice of lemon to go with it.
The main container had a parantha/barota on top. The middle was
a bed of pulao/pilaf, with long-grained basmati rice and lightly
fried cashew and long brown raisins adding to the flavour. To the
right was some nice dal/pulses, and on the left, a nice chicken
curry. There was a nice and strong instant coffee to go with the
meal, and a heavenly `sandwich' sweet. The outer `slices' were
flat oval-shaped rasgulla-like delicious material, while the
inner part had a oh-so-delicious sweet gooey dessicated milk
concoction (milk cake/`kalakand'). This left a fantastic taste
in the mouth - both literally, as well as figuratively.

Were were running late, and the fog visible around Gwalior did
not do much to lift my spirits. The Captain tried a landing after
circling the city, but made a powerful pull-up once again, as the
visibility was possibly not fantastic. We circled the city a few
more times, before finally touching down smoothly on runway 06L.
And what a treat for the aviation buff it was!
There was a fantastic IAF line-up: 3 Beriev A-50 AEW aircraft,
numerous Mirage-2000s, An-32s, Mi-24s, at least one Su-30 MKI,
Mig-21s - you name it! Jr opened his mouth, ``fighter plane''.
``How many planes do you see?'' I goaded him.
``Many planes.''
There were a few giggles around.
My friend had called the civil conclave at the Vijayaraje Scindia
airport in Gwalior - a bus stop. Sometimes buses did not stop at
Gwalior - such as the earlier Air India ATR-42 flights
(DEL-GWL-JLR), which sometimes did not make the stop at Gwalior,
and went straight to Jabalpur. Yes, we sighted a small building
there, which was the civil conclave. Very soon, another new A319
came in, and parked right beside us. This was VT-SCL, possibly
the flight from Delhi to Mumbai, via Gwalior. We made a quick
turnaround, and took off - this time, Jr was not in that good a
mood, and did not take much notice of the planes his father was
feasting his eyes on. The Gwalior-Delhi part was a short segment,
and there was no food/beverage service on this sector, but I was
full and contended, for a change. I had a flight to Bengaluru to
catch the same evening, and would have to drop TW and Jr into a
pre-paid taxi, and rush in, again. What would happen next?
Stay tuned...this happens in the next trip report.
Links to my previous trip reports:

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

25. JAI Ho! Jaipur, Sep'12, My Double Standards?
(This is out of sequence, only to report on something that is
very recent, circa Sep'12)

24. PNQ: PeNning Queued Reports, Dec 2011

23. Little BHO-Peep, Nov 2011

22. The Call of the Vaigai! Madurai, Oct 2011

21. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: Beijing, 2011 Part 3

20. No Panda-monium: Beijing, 2011 Part 2

19. North By, AI and CA: Beijing, 2011 Part 1

18. Going Bananas over Oranges: Nagpur, Aug'11

17. To the City of Joy and back, on Air India: Aug'11

16. To Chennai, Mar'12 with a Celebrity Captain!
(This is out of sequence owing to sheer excitement, and nothing

15. Marble Rocks, Marbles Rock; Jul 2011

14. The Fish-Eye Beckons! Madurai, on Air India. Jul 2011

13. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 3: Monino!

12. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 2: The Central Museum
of the Armed Forces

11. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 1: The Overall Trip

10. The City of Lakes: Mother's Heart, Heart of the Motherland

9. Mostly Indoors, in Indore:

8. Inter-metro Shuttling on AI: DEL-BOM on AI810, BOM-DEL on AI888

7. On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660

6. DEL-BOM on IT308, BOM-DEL on IC166

5. DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802

4. DEL-PNQ on IC849, PNQ-DEL on IC850

3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)


1. IGI T3, AI 314 DEL-HKG and AI 311 HKG-DEL
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Location: Mumbai, India

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice TR as usual Sumantra. Not as much KF bashing as I would have expected Very Happy.

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Posts: 3671
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic !
Eagerly awaiting the next part.. hope it is soon..

Already thinking of the possibilities...Was it the same plane ?
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Posts: 4685
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shivendrashukla wrote:
Not as much KF bashing as I would have expected Very Happy.

Thanks, Shivendra! This has been the worst Kingfisher experience I have ever had, and this came just before the huge plummet of the airline. As Ameya once put it, the left hand does not know what the right is up to. It just gave me too many brow creases, and sleepless nights, in addition to lightening not my worries, but my pockets.

ameya wrote:
Eagerly awaiting the next part.. hope it is soon..
Already thinking of the possibilities...Was it the same plane ?

Thank you for your very kind words, Ameya, but the anticlimax was...I was indeed able to make the connection, and save a 2008 TRV-TRZ-MAA-DEL-CCU-(train)-Rourkela-(train)-CCU-DEL trip in just over a day which landed me up with pain in the chest muscles (thankfully, not the cardiac kind), this was very hectic for me. Yes, I too hope that I am able to complete it quickly. It will come in two parts, the first will be the trip to Mysore, and the second part will have a quick run through the HAL Museum in Bengaluru, and the trip back to Delhi.

Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sumantra

On the final day of visarjans in mumbai when everything is shut i decided to spend most of the day reading your TRs,

I must say time well spent, so dont mind the fact that i choose to write my reply to all in this post

right from Little Bho peep -- loved the nursery parallance and the description of the paneer in it --one of my favorite foods

Also loved your metaphoric tone in the TR's in general and the double whammy in Rajasthani prejudice with Jai Ho Jaipur Very Happy

What can i say about Hampi Hamper it takes you through the journey literally back in time, i am yet to complete this journey in its entirety but just thought id share my views with you

Thank you so much for taking the time to write these epics

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Posts: 4685
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A big heartfelt `thanks' to you, Karan, for taking time out to go through my meandering reports! I am really glad that you checked out the last 5 of my reports - kind words make it all worth it. I try to take time out from other frustrations to pen down memories sweet and some not-so-sweet...
Cheers, Sumantra.
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