Kind people on Death Highway: Karnataka, India

15p rural village breakfasts are the best!

It was hard to get the legs moving, what with the lack of sleep, and I needed a tea or coffee. We pulled up at the first sign of civilisation we came to even though there wasn’t anywhere to eat, or so it appeared. I spotted some jugs of water on a small stone hut and took a look inside. They were serving breakfast which is surprising as most things don’t open until ten in India and certainly not at just gone six. There was no choice in what I ate but I didn’t care, it was food.


Family time

The scenery changed again with large boulders appearing on the horizon and a return of the lush green palms. It was stunning. Passing through one village we saw a hill and both turned to each other and said “shall we climb?” Pushing our bikes down an alley way to reach the base of the hill we were approached by a family who owned the property. We took up their invite into their simple stone house where we were offered tea.


Ghee masala, ghee sugar and an amazingly weird “bread”

First we were given buttermilk, a popular Indian “health drink”, which sounds fantastic but has the worse taste known to mankind. In politeness I took a few sips, to the amusement of Hugo who was crying with laughter at the situation. It was so unbearable, we had no other choice than to hand our glasses back and explain that it wasn’t to our taste. The family gave us some Tiffin (light Indian meal/snack usually served with tea or a drink) which consisted of rice, masala ghee butter, ghee sugar and this weird dumpling/bread like thing. It was absolutely fantastic but we have no idea what it was nor do any of the Indian’s we’ve asked.


Looking through the family photo albums

Of course, a visit into a local Indian home isn’t complete without getting the family photo album out. Thankfully there was only two albums filled with hundreds of similar photos of the family all with slightly different poses.


Climbing the hill with the family watching over us

The family and their neighbours told us we couldn’t climb to the top of the hill because the midday sun is too dangerous but we weren’t to let it stop us, we loved climbing! The view from half way up was pretty spectacular and we were getting stung by too many prickles so we decide to come down once we reached half way. The family were also watching us so we felt rude if we went against their wishes to go further.


The view at the top of the hill

After exchanging goodbyes we were on the road again. The locals in the villages along this stretch of rural road were ever so curious and all wanted to stop and chat. Of course we had no time to stop for them all but this one man, an English teacher, insisted we go to his house and experience some Indian hospitality.


The English professor and family

We had homemade lemonade and bananas with his family and the village postmaster who lived in his home which doubled up as the Post Office. He was a charming young man who clearly loved his young daughter. It was a beautiful days ride through through rural villages with the dry Barron landscape, scorpions and snakes reminding me of when I lived in The Kimberley, Western Australia. I rarely saw another vehicle.


Chitradurga Fort

We stopped in the town of Chitradurga which has a handful of beautiful old temples and a fort. We had planned to explore but after struggling to find accommodation and another 100km on the bike I just couldn’t be arsed. I’m done with ticking things off a list.


Top tip: don’t walk past a monkey carrying bananas

It was only 145km to Hampi, a tad too far for a days cycle especially in this heat. I was reluctant to take the national highway, a big long stretch of nothingness apart from huge trucks who drive like maniacs. We passed five crash sites during the day, all must have been fatal. Despite now standing my ground on the road, I was pushed off the road numerous times as lorries skimmed past. I’ve never travelled in a country with what must be such poor education of road safety. Not only was it boring, the sun was scorching and I started to realise why everyone had told us we shouldn’t cycle to Hampi. “Too dangerous” “too hot” “too rural” yes I can see why it seemed like a pretty dumb idea but there was no stopping us.


A large cart thing used for festivals I believe

Relishing in the heat, I was on top form and clocked 80km before midday. We stopped at a local town where everyone crowded around us, took our photos and shook our hands, which was harmless but all a bit too much. Powering through another 60km to Hospet, the next town with accommodation and just 5km from Hampi, we joked that something was bound to go wrong. It was nearing the end of the day after all.


The second wind turbine blade I passed

We were so excited to reach Hampi we decided to push on. Soon after we were faced with a diversion after the road became no more. I didn’t have time for this, I needed a cold shower so I carried my bike across the building site, ignoring the diversion sign. I couldn’t care less if I was nearly dying of heat exhaustion and my stomach was eating itself from inside, I had made the 145km cycle to Hampi in an absolutely outstanding time. I was proud.

Now if someone had told me I still had to swim across a river with my bags and bike that evening I would never have believed them. Find out what happened in the next post…………



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