Time stops at Hampi. Or perhaps, like a very gentle breeze, it simply meanders past so slowly that you can barely sense it. There is something almost dreamlike about the seat of the former Vijayanagara Empire — steeped in history and tradition, redolent with ancient myth and legend, clinging on to a brittle, faded beauty of another era.
The train halts at a tiny station in the middle of nowhere (the sort of place you normally see through windows as you hurtle by) and we get out. It is a cool morning, pleasant enough for us to dispense with air-conditioning and roll down the windows of the cab. We are headed to the newly opened Hyatt Place, Hampi.
Grey-brown hills surround the pristine, studiedly green Vidyanagar Township in the village of Toranagallu, Bellary, where the hotel is located. The roughly hewed grey stone walls of the property are oddly reminiscent of the ancient city of Hampi as is the deep sunken courtyard in the lobby and a photograph of menhirs that hangs on the wall of my spacious room. An attempt to retain a soupcon of local flavour is certainly being made, but luckily, it doesn’t mean dispensing with all those modern amenities so dear to a traveller’s heart. The king-size bed is decadently sinkable in; the rooms are equipped with a 40-inch LED television, a refrigerator, iron and coffee maker. The rooms are Wi-fi enabled and the work space is compact and well-designed. The rooms are undeniably luxurious, the only drawback being the view from the window — a glimpse of the neighbouring factory whose chimney spews spires of red smoke.
Breakfast is complimentary with both Continental and Indian options, in addition to the standard — fruit, coffee, juice and cereal. I attempt to burn off the calories by heading to the gym, but I must confess it’s rather disappointing. Two treadmills, two elliptical trainers, a solitary cycle and a few weights are all that it boasts of. The management reassures me it is temporary and points to the gym coming up by the swimming pool.
I borrow a cycle from the hotel and decide to explore the township. The township is beautifully laid out, sparkling clean and organised. I cycle past fields full of children playing football, the Vidyanagar airstrip, small and quaint housing colonies, and a rather interesting looking park with sculptures, lots of green lawn, a large lake and an aviary. I even discover a tiny shopping complex too and manage to pick up a couple of souvenirs.
I go back to a hot lunch — braised chicken, vegetables and a virgin mojito. Armed with a large tube of sunscreen, my sunglasses and a cap borrowed from the hotel, I am all set to explore Hampi. The hotel organises these forays providing guests with transport, a well-informed guide and a large basket of delectable butter cookies.
When we return, it is late and I’m exhausted. I refuse dinner and go up to my room, dying to shower and get some rest. The chef, however, refuses to let me sleep without dinner.
Fed, comforted and sleepy, I cuddle up on my cosy bed, and not surprisingly, get 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. After all, as Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “A well-spent day brings happy sleep.”
Name: Hyatt Place, Hampi
Contact: 0-83956-61234 or visit hampi.place.hyatt.com
Tariff: Rs. 4,900 (plus tax)
The rooms, the location, the amenities, the food, the service
The view of the factory from our window
The temporary gym
(The writer was at the hotel on invitation)