By the end of our morning on the beach in Gorkana we had both started feeling a bit ropey and the unavoidable Delhi-belly had arrived 😦 We rested up until the evening, when we took a little walk.
Next morning we were up to another trip to the beach for breakfast and lots of sitting in the shade with cool drinks until it was time to head back and catch our night train to Hassan. It was an hour late arriving at the tiny Gorkana Town station and it was baking hot, so we were very happy to get into our air conditioned carriage.
At 2am the alarm went off and Emma prodded me awake. Ready to get off the train at twenty-past. Only the train was still an hour late so we sat on our rucksacks, waiting for our station. We finally got off at Hassan at about 3:30am and found a tuk-tuk to take us to the taxi stand where he awoke a driver, sleeping in his cab, and he drove us for about an hour down to Sravanabelagola. The battered old car reaked of petrol as he drove us down a partly constructed dual carriage way, with so many near misses we had to close our eyes.
At about 4:30am we were in Sravanbelagola – this is the home of Jainism’s most important temple at the top of a large stone hill with 600+ steps carved into the rock.
— Photo coming
Not much going on at 4:30am though, but we managed to find one shack open and selling coffee, so we sat there for a while, watching the town wake up and finally walked over to a hotel we had identified near the base of the hill. It was about 6 and by now things were beginning to happen, so we got a room for 500 rupees, dumped the bags and set off to walk up the hill before breakfast – and more importantly, before it got hot!
Soon we were at the top and once again amazed by the endless temples and statues in India. The giant figure was about 1000 years old and carved from a single piece of stone.
Having been blessed with two more red dots, we set off down the hill again and tucked into breakfast (getting quite used to 3 curries per day now) at the Hotel Raghu – its the only hotel in town 🙂 Finally a wash and then realisation that we had done everything we had come here for and it was only 8:30 am!
So, being as we are on a quest for good experiences we set off to try and get to Ooty. Well, Ooty is not somewhere many people in Sravanabelagola have heard of, so we asked about Mysore and were told to get the local bus to ther next small, untypeable nevermind unpronouncebale, town. We duly boarded the bus, paid our 20 Rupees each (about 25p) and had a half hour ride through rural India. At the unpronouncable place we were just in time to get the last two seats on a slightly larger, but just as rickety bus to Mysore, this time it would cost us 45Rps each for an hour and a half of uninterrupted sweating.
Well, Mysore bus station is pretty busy, but by now we felt confident enough to ask about Ooty and there was an aircon bus going in 45 mins. Of course it was late but we managed to get a couple of seats for the princely sum of 300Rps each. The journey vwas about 160km and took around 5 hours – wonderful scenery and wildlife parks on our way up into the Nilgiri hill where Ooty was established as a summer hill fort by the British to escape the heat of the Indian summer. On our route we spotted some elephants, deer and more cheeky monkeys as well as lots of scattered tea plantations and our entire journey had cost about 2 pounds each!
After some messing about finding a hotel, we gulped down some food at 10pm and went to bed in a nice hotel – ready for a few days of rest with hot running water !