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The Ruins - Abhi Madangeri

Six of us met at the Cantonment railway station, the train arrived with two more, who had boarded at Majestic and after some pleasantries exchanged, we were on our way to the Ruins. This was Bracketing Circle's second photography trip to Daroji and Hampi. Last trip was with no expectations, but the rare leopard sighting at Daroji exactly a year back was playing games in our mind. The birds of Daroji and the ruins of Vijayanagar was the hot topic of discussion before we hit the berth. 

As I closed my eyes to catch some sleep, I saw Hampi in all its glory, beautifully lit and decorated, with people roaming all around the market places and temples. I was standing at the entrance dwarfed and awestruck by the sheer grandeur of the Empire, suddenly people ran helter skelter, the place caught fire, everything came crumbling down, and a leopard walked right through the crowd towards me. It looked into my eyes for a long time, shook its head and with one giant leap to its right it disappeared into oblivion. 

I woke up suddenly, looked around, it was quite dark and everybody was asleep. Got down from the top berth to wash my face and went back to my berth to just lie down for some more time. I kept thinking about the dream, but forgot about it once everyone was up. The sun was out lighting up everything from fields, huge boulders, villages to our moods as we arrived at Hospet. Our old friend, Venkatesh from JLR was promptly waiting outside to receive us. After a hot cup of tea, we were on our way to our resort at Daroji. On reaching the resort, we freshened up, and straight away headed towards Gol Ghar (JLR's Dining Hall) for a much needed breakfast. After a heavy breakfast, the group was briefed on the itinerary for the next 2 days.

The cameras were out and in the hot sun we were at the bird bath, which was surprisingly, cooler than an air conditioned room. Squirrels, Laughing Dove, Jungle Babblers and a lone Spurfowl was all that we got under the harsh sunlight. Everybody retired to their rooms before catching up at the Gol Ghar for lunch.

Post lunch, all geared up we got ready for the evening birding session along the Tungabhadra canal and a visit to the Bear Sanctuary. We had some good sightings like Painted Sandgrouse, Grey Heron, Sandpiper, Common KF, White Breasted KF, Pied KF, Spotted Owlets, Indian Roller, Plum Headed Parakeets, Peacock, Rufous Treepie, but couldn't find the Indian Eagle Owl and at the Bear Sanctuary, two young bears playing under a tree kept us busy for sometime. Soon we returned to the canal, in search of the Indian Eagle Owl but stopped half way, to shoot the beautiful sunset and cloud formation.

The evening was a briefing on mistakes by participants observed by the Captains during the day and also a talk on changes in approach towards photography followed by a delicious dinner. 

The second day started at 4:30 AM with a hot cup of tea and everyone was fresh to start the climb of Matunga Hill. We started ascending the highest point of Hampi at 5:00 AM and reached the top in next 45 minutes. The equipment was set and we waited with bated breath for the sunrise. 

After the sunrise, we had planned to reach Vijaya Vittala Temple and capture the beauty of the Stone Chariot in the golden light. On our way down, we managed to sight a couple of rare Yellow throated bulbuls, Painted spurfowl and a Shikra. Near the Achutya Raya temple, the movement of leopard was evident by the pugmarks. 

We were in for a shock as we entered the vicinity of Vijaya Vittala temple, as there were vehicles all around week structure. There is a ban on motor vehicles in this area and the only way to reach this temple is the electric golf buggies or take a nice walk. A film shooting crew was all over the place with their huge crane, reflectors, sound boxes, mirrors, iron pillars and other huge decorative items, generators, cooking utensils and what not. Not sure how they got the permission, but it was an ugly picture of a World Heritage Sight.

It looked like the vast remaining ruins of Vijayanagar Empire would not last long if these careless acts didn't stop. The grandeur and splendor of this place would soon disappear into oblivion, and with it the emotions one experiences here.

After a heavy lunch and some afternoon nap, we moved to the hide for some birding at the bird bath. Painted spurfowl, Grey francolin, Jungle quail, Munia, Laughing dove, Grey headed bunting and Jungle Babblers kept us company till 4 PM, and then we left in search of the Indian Eagle Owl, which we had missed during last evening session.

We were lucky to sight around five owls along the canal with many other birds. The sun was retiring for the day and it was time for us to get back home, it was time to say good bye to the ruins.

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+1 #1 Kiran Kashyap 2015-03-12 18:02
Very nice report.!
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