Virupaksha Temple

It rises in one smooth motion, hovers and then taps the crown of my head. I briefly feel the bristles touch my scalp. I shut my eyes.

We’re in Virpaksha Temple, Hampi and I’ve just been blessed by the live-in holy Elephant.

Flecked with Orange spots, the symbolic Ohms imprinted on its ears and a bronze bell tinkling around its thick neck, the religious giant stood looking – well, actually rather bored. It’s keeper – a thin, gangly man, stood both by the Elephant and a large hat filled with coins and notes. Yes, in true religious fashion – you had to pay to get blessed.

The man barked ‘ten rupees’ at me, but I slipped five into the Elephant’s quick moving trunk. The surrounding Indians seemed to be getting blessed for free -a typical tourist pays scenario. It turned out to be a good job too, as I only had ten rupees in coins and father missed the first photo opportunity.

This was the second:

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