Under The Mango Tree: A unique Hampi Experience
Many moons ago in the first 007 movie “Dr. No”, Ursula Andress, emerged from the Caribbean island lagoon, in a bikini so hot that the island burst into flames by the end of the movie. She was humming the lines…
“Underneath the mango tree
Me honey and me can watch for the moon
Underneath the mango tree
Me honey and me make boolooloop soon
Underneath the moonlit sky
Me honey and I can sit hand in hand…..”
That my friends is our connection of the bond babe with Hampi’s most famous restaurant “Under The Mango Tree”, though I am not sure the owners had the song in mind when they named it.
The main seating area in the The Mango tree restaurant is under a group of huge mango trees thus named the same. Although they could have easily called it “In Banana Plantations” as to reach the restaurant you have to take a winding path through a huge banana plantation, which also has patches of vegetables like tomatoes, chillies, gourd etc.
|Waiting Area Under The Mango Tree|
The restaurant is on top of list among backpackers and you need to wait for more than half hour during the lunch hour standing outside with no proper arrangements. But hey who said you visit it when you are in a hurry? The Mango Tree is all about location and view. Set on the terraced bank of Tungabhadra, with a view to the river from every seat. Just to set the expectations correct the whole place has evolved from a shack and do not expect luxury, but good food and great view are in abundance.
|Venkat -He Clicked The Best Picture Of The Trip|
After walking through the banana plantation you reach the entrance and in true Indian style you need to remove your footwear, wash your hands and wait till you are called. You sit on floor cross legged, wooden benches being your table. A meal for two will set you back by around 200 rupees if you are splurging on mineral water and juices otherwise you can relish it for less than 70 Rs. Our famished group ordered thalies hoping this being the most ordered item will come quickly, only to wait for more than 30 minutes. But hey remember this place is for backpackers who are not in a hurry to go anywhere.
Waiting for the food we started enjoying the view and observed a turf war going on between a Kingfisher and 2 Bee Eaters over a branch hanging over the river. The Bee eaters catch insects while flying and a kingfisher perches on a branch before diving to catch a fish.So there is no competition for food or branch in the normal order of things. But for some reason the bee eaters did not like the kingfisher and every time he will sit on the branch they will attack him. Finally the poor kingfisher decided to fly somewhere else, leaving the bee eaters with their branch. This is my friends the reason people throng to the mango tree restaurant, as they get spectacular view with a dose of nature along with good food.
|The View From Under The Mango Tree|
The other thing we observed was a mysterious girl right across our group trying to focus on a book on India she was reading, but subtly adjusting to pose for the shutterbugs. This whole setting of a lone backpacker under the mango tree reading a book about India made me click this picture. As you will see the whole atmosphere is relaxed and expect for the waiters nobody is in hurry. The waiters do look in hurry when you talk to them but they just vanish after that only to emerge some time later with a grin but not your order. The poor guys must be running on the stairs of the restaurant 1000 times a day.
|Discovery of India Under The Mango Tree|
|desi Veg Thali|
Finally the Thalies arrived and I was so hungry that I was grabbing food from it even before our server has kept it on the table. But Venkat one of the youngest members of our group and a very talented photographer took this picture of the thali. (He by the way took the best shot of the trip which you can see at his facebookpage here.) The food is toned downed for chillies and is very wholesome, and considering the rush at the restaurant is always fresh and piping hot. The let down was lack of a desert as part of the Thali, so I decided to order one after the meal, only to understand why Mango Tree does not include desert in the thali. Our server sold the Kheer to me and in place of the yummy rice and milk variety I got something that was out of this world and meant for people out of this world. All my fellow Desi Travelers were laughing their heart out at my face on taking the first spoon of this thing ( It was not kheer and I don’t know the name hence thing).
After this we decided to visit the main Sacred Center or temple complex of Hampi where the Virupaksha temple and adjoining ruins are situated. But that my friends will be the next post ( Pic below)
The Temple Complex
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