How would it be to live in a palace? Well that is not wishful thinking at all, especially when you check into the brand new Evolve Back (formally Orange County) at Hampi. This a world of luxury in the palace like decor of this new resort that promises to change how you will holiday at a heritage destination. In tune with the philosophy of staying true to the ‘Spirit of the Land’ as they like to call it, this is an immersive experience that will leave you feeling enriched.
Hampi is a world heritage UNESCO sight and is well known for its famed ruins and can be reached after a 6 hour drive from Bangalore. As I enter the town of Kamalapura in Hospet district, I am rewarded with stunning sights of rocks that seem to balance each other in a manner that defies gravity. Set against the backdrop of lush greenery and beautiful mountains, the setting is a stunning precursor to my holiday here. I look outside my car window and see a board that says the resort is 0.5 kilometres away and soon we enter into a huge gate that actually resembles an old fort gate complete with spikes! Shortly, I get my first glimpse of the property as I see a line of domes akin to an old palace in beige and beautiful landscapes that have several water bodies all along. And the best part the place is buzzing with birds and I instantly know this is a holiday I will love. Stepping in we are given a lovely welcome drink of coconut water and jaggery and ushered into our huge room that has a large bathroom, Jacuzzi and a large balcony and a huge bedroom area. The room we stayed in is the Nilaya category that is spread over a whopping 850 square foot. The decor is simple yet classy with teak wood furniture and soft furnishings with a dash of rust and purple that gives a grandiose feel. As part of the group’s environmental responsibility, the room has no plastic water bottles. Instead you have a tap that gives you fresh and clean filtered water that is completely safe to drink. Apart from a mini bar stocked with soft drinks, the room has an array of fresh fruits, sweets in a lovely wooden box and toasted cashews and almonds as well so you can snack at any time. The larger rooms include the Zenana inspired by the Queen’s quarters as well as the Suites that come with a private pool and have expansive living and bedroom spaces.
Evolve Back takes its food seriously and the in house restaurants serve a selection of hand crafted cuisine that will whet your appetite taking you on a gastronomic trip like no other. The food is made fresh and the selection is large – from Indian to Continental to local food there is everything on the menu. However, I tried the Vijayanagar Cuisine which is native to this region at the Tuluva multi cuisine restaurant as I wanted to eat something local. I recommend you try the local Soppina Chaaru a lentil preparation cooked with spinach, tomatoes, chillies, black pepper, cumin and other spices that teams delightfully with the boiled organic red rice. As accompaniments go for the Enagayi, a curry made with baby eggplant cooked with spices, coconut, tamarind and jaggery as well as the Bale Hoovu Palya made with banana flowers cooked with coconut, organic spices, asafoetida, curry leaves and mustard. If you are looking for non vegetarian options go for the Gongura Mamsam, a spicy curry made with tender lamb pieces cooked in a gravy of gongura (a green leaf) with freshly ground green chilli paste and tamarind. The Royyala Kura is another good choice made with prawns cooked in a local style with flavourful masalas, tamarind and onions. These also work well with the local flat breads made with ragi or finger millet, jonna or sorghum and akki or rice flour. Try the traditional desserts especially the Sunnundallu a laddu made with roasted urad dal and jaggery as well as the Karjikaayi, a crisp deep fried pastry with dry sweets filling. A meal at Bahamani open for dinner is also a great way to sample some authentic Indian cuisine especially the Biryanis that have a delicate flavour.
The resort has an activity center that has table tennis, carom and even traditional board games that have a connection with the epic Ramayana. And if you are wondering what the connect is, well this is the land of Kishkinda, believed to be the place the Ramayana happened and also the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. The kids’ pool is located here as the resort wants kids below 17 years to have their own pool. Adults however can swim in the beautiful pool located adjacent to the restaurant that is expansive and the changing rooms are in the form of fabricated boulders – a common sight in these environs. The resort has electrically powered bicycles that you can use with guides to look around the place as well. And if you would like to relax I suggest you head for an invigorating experience at Vaidyashala the in house spa that offers authentic Ayurvedic therapies that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
If you would like to explore Hampi and its surroundings, the resort offers numerous trails with an expert local resource who will show you sights that are off the beaten track as well. The resort has designed specific trails that you can choose to take like the Raya Trail that brings you close to the life of the Rayas or Maharajas of the empire. The Vittalapura walk showcases the famous stone chariot as well as the musical pillars. The Tungabadra walk is delightful as you can walk along the river and see nature up close. You can even take a coracle ride, a local boat to experience the sights and sounds here. The Virupaksha trail will get you to see the monolithic statutes as well as see the rare Achutaraya temple. And if you are a birder, Hampi is arguably one of the best birding sites in Karnataka and an early morning walk will reward you with some rare sightings including the very shy Eurasian Eagle Owl and also the Grey Francolin among others. Now where else will you get a holiday that blends history, nature and luxury in a package that is as enticing? Where else but Orange County, Hampi!
Address: Kamalapura – P.K. Halli Road, Kamalapura, Hospet Taluk, Bellary 583101, Karnataka. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +91 (0)8394 294 700
This story appeared in The Luxury Lifestyle Magazine here: