A 4 hour bus ride, a 1 hour rickshaw ride and a 12 hour bus ride. My journey from Mumbai to Hampi was almost as long as my stay there.
I reached the banks of Tungabhadra where i got into a boat for Hippie Island. My first sight of the place was an elephant walking up a flight of steps and the boulder ridden river snaking into the distance.
Although not a 60’s phenomenon, the foreigners who came here in the 80’s were called ‘Hippies’ by the locals. Their definition of a hippie was someone who camped on boulders, in caves and out in the open embracing nature. Someone who was free-spirited.
Life in Hampi is very different compared to the hectic pace of the underpaid job I'm in back home. Time passes slowly. There is a stillness - a deep resonant silence amplified by the ancient looming presence of the boulders in this unique landscape. I felt like I truly connected with nature. Hippie Fever was catching up with me – a pleasant change from the dengue fever that I was down with in Mumbai. I did a good job of blending in with my big beard and oversized glasses: I was at one with the hippies on Hippie Island. A New Age Hippie in tune with the ghosts of hippies past.
I rode my moped up to the lake to meet a few of them: Moshe, Avial, Adi and Almog from Israel. Esther is the one who stands out in my mind though. A 20 something girl who had just finished her mandatory term with the army and had come to India to find some inner peace. She had dreadlocks that were like mini tree trunks and I initially mistook her for a man. They all met each other in Goa for the first time, where they first heard about Hampi.
After bonding over drinks and cigarettes we jumped off a 35-feet boulder into the water and shared beers on the coracle boat: Essentially a four-seater tokri (basket) covered in tar, which balances precariously on the water.
As the sun set a few of them pulled out a djembe and didgeridoo. They started jamming while the rest of us were busy sipping our beers and questioning our reality, mostly because everything around me was so surreal.
It was the best sunset of my life; Floyd played in the background and I never felt so alive.
Words & Photography: Karan Khosla