3 days of Historical Affair
Sometimes man-made things can be mind-blowing and splendid which can’t be believed easily if one doesn’t get to explore the vast ancient city of Hampi, once the capital of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire. This temple town has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in the Northern Karnataka, India.
According to statistics of 2014, Hampi is the most searched historical place in Karnataka on Google. [Wikipedia]
Around 1500 AD, Vijaynagar had about 500,000 inhabitants
Also, the city was closely associated with the incidents of the mythological epic – Ramayana
Hampi – traditionally known as ‘Pampa-kshetra’, ‘Kishkindha-kshetra’ or ‘Bhaskara-kshetra’ — is derived from Pampa – old name of the Tungabhadra River
353 km from Bangalore (nearest Airport) and 74 km away from Bellary
Hosapete (Hospet), 13 km away, is the nearest railway station
All year round, the temperature is hot and humid
Best season to visit – October to February
Most Important Attractions – Virupakhsha Temple, Hemakuta Hill, Vitthala Temple, Anjeyanadri Hills, Matanga Hills, Civil Buildings, Elephant Stables
- Keep your belongings with you safely, there are monkeys all around the temples
- Try to book a standard hotel in Hosapete or near Hosapete beforehand. Or else the hotel attendants will not leave you from the station until you select one of their hotels
- At times some of the temples may be flooded and may be inaccessible.
- Also, there can be masses of small bats in the temples which are less explored by tourists
|| Day 1: ||
Starting the journey from Bangalore in a train to Hosapete, my stomach was full of butterflies for all the excitements I perceived would have waited for me. When we reached Hosapete station, we were received by the staffs of Hotel Mallinga (we had booked the hotel before only). The hotel is a lush experience by itself. We were welcomed to a nice cozy room where we freshened ourselves to start the exploration.
From the hotel, we got a precise map of Hampi and nearby areas of visit. That proved really helpful as the days came. Our first day’s plan was to visit the main temple of Virupaksha and to get an idea of the places around. We boarded a local bus from the nearby Hosapete bus stand and reached Hampi main bus stand in around half an hour. These buses trip frequently over the day time, so easily accessible till 5 – 5:30 p.m. As you enter the Hampi area, you will be able to see many smaller temples ruins from the bus. After reaching there, first of all, we had to search for a restaurant. And we got a rooftop one with standard food and service for a quick lunch. We started off with our visit to the famous Virupaksha Temple.
Virupaksha is a form of Shiva and has other temples dedicated to him. This temple compound is entirely intact still and is used in worship. Shiva is worshiped as the consort of Pampa. The temple structure is that of a typical Indian Shiva temple, but with all its ecstasy. The inside compound of the temple, holding a vast history, welcomed us with its silent dignity. The campus consists of the main temple and other smaller temples consisting a Nandi temple too. A narrow channel of the Tungabhadra River flows along the temple’s terrace and then descends to the temple kitchen and out through the outer court. We could find it while we visited the back part of the temple. This is also a nice place in terms of having a complete view of the temple campus.
After we completed visiting the temple, we went out and took the side way to reach the vast area of Hemakuta hills. It is really too vast to explore even in an hour. So we had to visit it in a bit hurry. But still, we got the essence of many great structures of that time.
The Ganesha temple is really splendid with the open pillars and the huge shrine of Sri Ganesha.
We could spend some time at this place, which is at a bit high level from the ground. The calm breeze of the dusk was really very soothing to the mind. Our exploration ended for the day after we returned to the hotel that day.
|| Day 2: ||
Our dinner at the hotel was too nice to end the previous day. Getting up early with an exotic breakfast, we started our day after reaching Hampi by bus. The plan for the 2nd day was to explore the historical Vittal Temple and the Royal Enclosure.
We started walking by the side of Tungabhadra River where we experienced the Nature’s blend with the river. The rocks and boulders seem to be just perfectly kept to create the rocking camouflage.
As we proceeded, we got into the Vijayanagar Empire – the North-East part of Hampi. The area was not normally used to bring the visitors. It was through the complete rocks and grassy roads. We had to make our own way, and I can still say that we loved the way we could explore. It was really tranquil holding the stories of past. We came to see many ruins which were in either dilapidated state or already broken, not being able to carry the responsibility of ages
Proceeding towards the Vittal Temple, we found out King’s Balance. It consists two carved granite pillars, spanned by a carved horizontal granite transom, used on ceremonial days when scales were hung from the transom, and the Raya (the emperor) was ceremonially weighed against gold or jewels. The treasure was then distributed, to Brahmins or others in the city. [Wikipedia]
There was also a two-storied gate for the Empire, which was surprisingly standing strong in between all these ruins. Crossing through this gate, we got to see the Vittala Temple. Since it is under ASI, we got the tickets from the main gate. Before entering the temple, one can see the ruins of the market area to the right side. Once the horses were traded here. The temple contains the images of foreigners as Persians selling horses.
Once we entered the main temple complex, I was awestruck with its massive elegance. The architectures of the main temple, as well as each of the smaller temples, can spell bound you at any moment. Since the sun was not so bright that day, the cool breeze was playing around making the exploration more amiable.
The world famous Stone Chariot or Ratha, in front of the temple, is one of the three famous stone chariots in India (other two being in Konark and Mahabalipuram). The wheels of the chariot can be rotated but the government cemented them to avoid the damage caused by the visitors. [Wikipedia]
The temple is known for its richly carved giant monolithic musical pillars, supporting the roof of the main temple. These 7 pillars, when struck, emanate the 7 notes from the representative instrument, varying in sound quality based on whether it represents a wind, string or percussion instrument.
While returning back, we visited the Sugriva’s cave, said to be the original home of the ape king Sugriva, where Rama is said to have met him and Hanuman on his journey. The cave is marked by colored markings which make it easy to find.
Returning to Hampi bus stand, we took an hour’s rest and had our lunch in the same place as we were happy with the food the previous day. Our next trip was towards the royal enclosure and the buildings there.
To the southeast of Hampi bus stand, there is the area that contains the ruins of palaces, administrative buildings, and some temples directly associated with royalty. It is better to board a local bus to reach the Underground Shiva Temple. The temple is located somewhat close to the main road (to Hampi bus station) and near the Noblemen’s Quarters. A byroad going towards the Hazara Rama Temple passes through this area.
The Shiva temple is located much below the ground level, hence the name. But the reasons are not known. The other structures are all with little remains except the foundations, as they were largely timber structures, for comfort. The temples and some of the other stone structures survive, however, as do many of the surrounding city wall.
As we walked more into the areas of the royal structures, we got to see Hazara Rama Temple (in ruined condition), Noblemen’s Quarters, Mohammed’s Watch Tower, Pan Supaari Bazaar ( the market for Betel leaf), Elephant Stables, Queen’s Bath, Lotus Temple, and the Royal Areas – including the Stepped Tank. The structures, though ruined, are proofs of extravagant engineering craftsmanships.
By this time, the sun was down and we had to return to our hotel.
For our Day 3 travelogue of Hampi [Part 1], click here.
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