Blessed by Elephants in Hampi, India

Three of us land in Hyderabad and ride to Bangalore via the west coast. We head west across Gulbaga District to Bijapur, south to Hampi, west and down the ghat to the Malabar coast, south on the coast road to Mangalore, back east up the ghat, through Hassan, and to Bangalore.

Except for the first day this tour is entirely in Karnataka.

Out in the country in India the farmers scythe the grain crop and then need to thresh it. Some use passing vehicles to do this (to separate the grains from the heads).

We shared the road with the gypsies today. The men go in front with the goats. They have hooks on long poles to pull down branches. The women follow with donkeys and all their camp equipment and any baby goats.

A “must see” in Bijapur is Gol Gumbaz, the tomb that was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. It was begun in 1626 and took 30 years to build. A 44m wide dome, the biggest in the world at the time and still intact. Its acoustics are so perfect that a whisper on one side can be heard on the other.

Girl in Kushtagi Karnataka.

We went down to Hampi today which is a fabulous place. But the particular road was quite toxic around Hospet. You can barely make Kim out in front of the third truck. As scary as this seems, the Indian lorry drivers take care of us and we are not complaining.

The elephant handlers in Hampi have got it all worked out. Slip them a coin and they give a subtle signal to the elephant and you get a blessing. It is a lot of fun.

Back on the quite roads again today. The roads are a bit crappy but 35c tyres do well. Punctures are extremely rare in countries where there is a lot of walking and cycling.

Big load shot. Small vehicle category.

There must be a festival tomorrow. This bull has been prepared for some big procession. They love their cattle. Quite a way to show it!

This is a common way of using a bicycle out in the village areas of India. The boys can carry a lot more than they could manage to have on their heads. They just wheel the bikes back to their homes.

Travelling down the west coast, each river bridge has to be inland to allow it to be shorter. So its fresh water and this makes for sand usable in concrete. Boats carry the hand-dredged sand to jetties.

It is always hard to get shots of eagles so I was very lucky today to catch this amazing bird just after I’d seen it swoop down and grab a snake.

Cycling in India reveals the ingenuity of people as they confront simple daily challenges. We have a common bond with them as we use our own power, we sweat, and we have our daily problems and successes.