From Hassan we packed our bags and started to Hampi. We planned to stay in Royal Orchid Hotel in Hospet, Hospet the nearest town to Hampi. I guess without GPS in a land of unknown language I would have definitely been lost. All sign boards are in Kannada , it is like outsiders “find your own way out”. From Hassan to Chitradurga so called NH took us through the country side in double lane roads. Luckily the roads were in commutable condition but it lacks reflectors and sign boards which makes night travelling difficult. The only 6 track that you connect is BLR – Mumbai Highway for about 30 to 40 Km before reaching Chitradurga. Munching in Chitradurga will keep your tummy from grumbling. From Chitradurga to Hospet 4 lane project is on so keep your eyes glued on to the road to drive safely, also the road is prone to heavy duty vehicle traffic. After a long time we got to see some sun flowers fields in this route.
It takes minimum 3 days to cover 75% of the important UNESCO sites in Hampi. The toll gate of Vijiyanagar built in 14th century (Talarigate ) beckons you to the ruins of Vijayanagara Kingdom. Vijayanagar Kingdom chose Hampi as its capital for two reasons , no 1 invading Hampi will seem formidable as it is surrounded by rock hills and no 2 sourcing granite stones for building the empire becomes facile . Little did the Vijayanagar kings knew about the devastation that was about to happen in the 16th century ; Deccan Muslims ravaged the kingdom and incinerated many monuments . Now when you enter Hampi , you have to utilise the best of your imagination ability to recreate history.
The Vijay Vittal Temple
We stared off with Vijaya Vittal temple, the Raja gopuram was made of bricks and the inner santum & manadapas were made of stones. In front of the temple there is a grand ratha made of stone. India there are 3 grand rathas : Konark – Orrisa , Mamllampuram -TN and Hampi – Vijay Vittal temple. The ratha initially had two horses which were destroyed, hence elephants have been placed by the archaeological department. There is no deity in the temple it is in semi destructed sate, it is rumoured that the deity was stealthily transferred to a temple in Maharashtra during Mugal invasion. The paintings on stones have faded away with time ,epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana are depicted in the stone carvings . The stone carvings also depict they way of life in those days and how Vijayanagara people traded horses to the Chinese and Russians . There are 3 madapas : Maha madapa is rich in its architecture , there is a mandapa with pillars that produce different musical sounds and other madapa is in a destructed state. Every main temple in Hampi had trade bazaars in the front.
The Virupaksha Temple
The Virupaksha temple which was present even before Vijayanagar Kingdom’s regime is the only temple which has a deity to worship. The main God is Virupaksha – Lord Shiva , Pampa devi his consort also has a shrine in side the temple complex. The main gopuram was constructed by Vijayanagra king Devaraya -II , one can find the topsy-turvy shadow of the gopuram inside the temple. Virupaksha is the only temple to have a 3 headed Nadhi. Folks around say the temple was not destructed since Muslims in those days worshipped Shiva in Mecca( I don’t know how far the facts are true).
Nobody can dare think of having a peek at the Queen while she is bathing , outside the Mahal there is a canal for the crocodiles to guard the ladies from outsiders. Vijayanagar kings liked Mugal architecture so they embraced it in their monuments. The queens’ bath holds designs from mugal architure. There are canals to source water to the pool and outlets to drain water.
Lotus mahal & Elephant stables
The Loust mahal or the Leisure hall is truly a marvel of Mugal architecture by the Vijaya nagara Kings.
Out of 2000 elephants, 11 best stayed here . The one in the middle was the chief, his name was Arjuna. Each elephant had a care taker and they had room stays close to the stable.
Mahanavami Dibba/ Dasara was celebrated here, this is the place where the king addresses his people. The building was a wooden structure which was completely burnt, now the basement alone remains. The kings have a separate entry to the podium from the backside which has only 10 to 12 steps. There is a common bath place for holi celebration , close to this platform there is a stepped water tank and there are also canals to source water. There were also other important building next to Mahanavami Dibba but now only stones and sand remain.
Secret chamber for king and the noble men to discuss , camouflaged like a water tank to a common man’s eyes. There is also a secret tunnle to get to this place.
Mantanga Hill Top
Next day our Guide asked us to join him for a trek to witness a blissful sunrise at the Mantanga Hill top.It’s a 30 min trek up the hill, gives you panoramic view of Hampi. Walk bare foot if you don’t have trekking shoes, the stones are slippery. One can have a look at the Virupaksha temple & the Achutharaya temple complex arial view. There is a monolithic Nadhi close to this hill.
After the trek we refreshed ourselves and visited few temples other side of the Tungabardra river. There are old temples that belong to the Ramayana period, we just visited a few. Hanuman hill, birth place of Lord Hanuman we missed this place for a silly reason (I dread monkeys). The hill resembles the face of Lord Hanuman.
The next day we concluded our tour by visiting Urga Narashima temple, Ganehsa temple, Hazara Rama temple and Actutha Raya temple.
My guide told me that it was actually Lord Lakshmi Narashima. The sculpture initially had Lakshmi devi siting on the left side but the idol is missing, Lakshmi Devi’s hand alone can be seen. Therefore without Lakshmi Devi he becomes Ugra Narashima.
Where to eat ?
Hampi does not have many fine dine restaurants , Mango tree near Virupaksha temple complex is a decent restaurant for north indian & Italian cuisines. If you are on a hunt for South Indian meal then there is a bramin’s place on the other side of Tungabadra river (Mrs.Sujatha cooks food for travellers). One meal costs you rs 150 but worth every penny; a typical south Indian meals that includes sweet, variety rice, curries and plain rice. If you are planning for a meal here, you must priorly inform Ms. Sujatha with the help of your guide . Cottages are available with minimal rent and also renal bikes on the other side of Tungabadra river. There is also a place called mini Goa , main tourist attraction for foreigners for sun bath.
Bit of history
Hakka( Harihara – I) & Bukka from Sangam dynasty formed the Vijayanagar Kingdom, later came Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty. Krishna deva Raya belonged to the Tuluva Dynasty regime lasted only for 20 years but only during his period the dynasty expanded and trade flourished. Folks around say that he was not killed in battle, but died out of depression after his son’s death (killed by his son in law Ramaraya for power). RamRaya was in the ministry of the Tuluva dynasty , he waged war with the Mugals in Bijapur. While returning back with victory , Muslims in Vijayanagar joined hands with Bijapur Mugals and ravaged the whole city and killed Rama Raya. Tuluva dynasty saw its fall , Araveedu Dynasty took on the empire and ruled Vijayanagra making Penugonda ( Anatapur)as its capital. Hampi was deserted after 1600 AD , eventually became home for trees and animals. The ruins of Hampi were discovered by Colonel Colin Mackenzie in 1800.
Guides are costly esp certified ones, per day it costs around 1500 to 1700 rs. But it’s a waste of time to visit Hampi without a good guide. Best thing is to buy a guide book which costs you 500 bucks and it also covers everything. The right season to visit is between Nov to Dec. Even in December you will get tanned if you don’t use your sun screen.
PS: Tired of editing and formatting this blog 😦