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Traveling is a Drug one must admit. When one gets addicted, it kind of gets difficult to get rid of it. You will find excuses, inspirations and so on, to travel more, regardless to the destinations being close or far, I am sure all the travelers can relate to what I am talking about here.
So, it happened one evening when me along with my friends – Bobby & Ajay were watching this documentary called “Mysteries of Asia: Lost Temples of India” where they discuss about this particular place called “Hampi – The Ghost City” – which in the Southern part of India – Northern Karnataka, living in the same state we hadn’t been there. I know most of the time we tend to ignore the places we are close by or we grew up, rather we tend to take it for granted.
Hampi is within the ruins of Vijayanagara once a bustling city – Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi got its name from the River Pampa which is now called as Tungabhadra – on the banks of which the city was built. The site was chosen because it had natural defenses, in the form of rocky hills on three sides and the river on the fourth. It was a thriving, bustling city till the second half of the 16th century, when it was laid siege to and ultimately overrun by the Sultan of Bijapur. As legend has it, the city’s temples were ravaged by the invaders and its sandalwood palaces burnt down in an attempt to wipe it clean from popular memory. And so Hampi was forgotten – its stone survivors overwhelmed by jungle growth; until British archaeologists stumbled upon it several many decades later. And here were are, Like all others who thong to this place to get a glimpse of our very own history,,,, As the Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes mentioned in 1522 AD, “This is the land of riches”…You will have to witness it to believe it !!!
I felt a little bad for not have explored this beautiful place however it’s never too late. Mostly I love travelling alone as I mentioned in my first post however as they say “More the merrier”. I was happier when my childhood friends, who also equally love travelling and exploring the unexplored agreed to join me. Hence, we decided overnight to travel and explore what this place had to offer. All we knew is this place wasn’t going to disappoint us for sure. I, Bobby and Ajay re-assembled at my place with our bags packed and left to Hampi at around 11:45 PM, this was in the month of September 2014, most ideal period of the Year to Visit Hampi J . Since it was an immediate travel plan we had not booked any accommodation, we thought we will figure out by the time we reach Hampi – by the time Bobby said that he googled and most recommendations was to stay at Hosapete town which is 12kms away from Hampi. We all concluded that we find accommodation at Hosapete
I always love trips like this when you don’t have plan so much. Travelling with your best buddies are always an advantage, you can stop the car any time you want, take pictures, eat and talk nonstop about any topic under the sun. Our journey took place and we loved every bit about it, excited to see the place for the first time we were just like those kids going to a fair.. 😂😂
By the time we crossed Bangalore it was around 1:00 AM in the Morning, we thought of giving a theme to this travel and called ourselves as “Wolf Pack” and themed it as “wolf pack – Trip to Enthralling Hampi”. Ajay had taken the Driver Seat, me – the navigator and Bobby as soon he got inside the car – he started sleeping 😂. Ajay is one person who can’t keep quiet and is perfect companion if you are driving at night – ideally he can speak about anything – name the topic, he would have something to talk about – we started talking about politics, work etc.
This being an unplanned trip of ours we dint do any homework about the places to explore. We decided to go old School without using much of a technology. The only place we kept in our mind was Hospete which we followed the route by asking the road side shopkeepers, daba’s and the passerby, keeping only one place in mind
I really didn’t keep a track of time nor the distance. I saw the road sign, I could see that we were only 80 KM away from Hosapete and the time was around 6:30 am, we reached Hosapete around 7:30 am and started searching for accommodation, we saw these two Hotels – “Shanbhag Towers” and other being “Hotel Priyadarshini” (mostly due to our Budget), we settled in for Priyadarshini because it had a nice Bar & Restaurant attached to it.
Even though we arrived quite early, the hotel staff were quite accommodative and helped with reservation. As soon we got our room, we took a quick nap, freshened up and headed for the Breakfast. Breakfast was quite good and started conversing with the Hotel staff related to Places to visit etc, one recommendation provided was to take Local Guide while at Hampi if you need to know the place, history etc., because Hampi being quite vast, we might miss certain important places.
After having quite a heavy breakfast – we set out to Hampi, as we got close to Hampi we started seeing the ruins, for some reason I started having chills while we passed through the ruins and the structures.
We finally arrived at Hampi – near Virupaksha Temple. Virupaksha Temple is part of Group of Monuments at Hampi, the presiding diety is Lord Shiva – one of the Hindu God. This temple was built by the Queen “Lokhamadevi” – wife of Vikramaditya II in order to commemorate the King’s victory over Pallava of Kanchipuram. We parked the car and the first thing we wanted to do was hire a Local Guide.
As we were passing by the Virupaksha Temple, we got to see some of the erotic carvings on the Temple Tower, in most case these carvings can only be seen on the outside walls but none on the inside walls. In its popular saying, they say that these carvings were meant for educational purpose in those days as temple’s were visited by large part of the population and these carving on temple pillars & walls formed a ideal place to spread awareness
Finally we found a Guide and started inquiring about the guide fee – it looks like the guide fee is standard/fixed – 1500 Rupees per day, we hired him and thus started our tour of Hampi. We started with Virupaksha Temple and the structures nearby, the guide was very knowledgeable was able to answer any queries which we put forth and was good with Camera as well. Oh I forgot to introduce him, our Guide’s name: Mr. Gurumurthy – if any is visiting Hampi and would like to have a Local Guide – in order to know history, places etc of Hampi, you can contact Gurumurthy on + 91 94815 66709.
In and around Virupaksha temple we can see structures which are of the Jain period, Hemkut Jain temples, Ratnantraykut, Parsvanath Charan and Ganigatti jain temple, most of Idols are missing – ideally there are nothing inisde the structures. The entire hill surrounding the Virupaksha Temple is called as Hemakuta Hill. This place is one of best to see the sunrise and sunset and is a treat for photographers, another best place to see the sunset and sunrise is the Matanga Hill.
By this time we were feeling little tired, but I would once again like to say that Hampi is a treat for Photographers, so much to see and so much to capture – we might not know as where to start and where to end. we started inquiring about various things about the place and our guide Gurumurthy was always ready to answer with a smile.
We had now started to get down from the Hemakuta Hill, Next Place of significance was “Kadalekalu Ganesha” – it is one Largest Statue of Ganesha ( Hindu God, Son of Lord Shiva) in Southern India carved in Granite, the name “Kadalekalu” means Bengal_gram/Chicpea – since the belly of Ganesha is in resemblence of Bengal Gram, one more thing to notice if you go behind the Idol you can see an Hand holding/supporting the Idol from the back – Popular belief or artistic represtation could be that it is Ganesha’s Mother Parvathi holding him from the back. It is also believed that some people try to cut open the tummy as they thought there was some treasure in that, you can still see the cut stone in front of the temple!. Now we started heading towards Gopura – Krishna Temple, on the way we met some localites – took some pictures, visited naturally formed Caves.
Krishna Temple – This temple was built during the reign of Krishnadevaraya after his successful campaign against Gajapatis of Orissa, the temple is in the abandoned state – This was abandoned after the fall of Vijaynagara empire. Krishna temple bazaar has been excavated through the last decade, and restoration work is still in progress
After completing Krishna Temple, we started towards the Lotus Mahal, Lotus Mahal – as the name suggests, its in the shape of the Lotus, according to our Guide – Lotus Mahal used to be a place where royal ladies used come and mingle, it used to also serve as meeting point for King and his ministers. There are several monuments nearby
On the way to Lotus Mahal, you can notice this building – according to the guide, this is the place where the finance team of the King used to reside – more to do with storage of coins etc.
Some more from the group Monuments of Hampi…
Finally we are here at the Massive Elephant stable and we can see that these are least destroyed structures in Hampi. This stable was used to park Royal Elephants. There are 11 domed tall chambers, the center one is decorated and huge.
The structure below Recently discovered …Radically different from the rest of tank constructions in Hampi, the Stepped Tank is made of made of finely finished black schist stone blocks. It seems the tank was made elsewhere and later brought and assembled at its current location. Practically every stone is earmarked for this purpose and some bears even ‘sketches’ by its architects. The purpose of this tank is not very sure, mostly it was used during the religious ceremonies by the royals.
We took rest for a while at the tank and started discussing with our guide Gurumurthy – various other aspects about other Structures near by – Every structure in Hampi has a story associated with it and we felt enlightened knowing the history through the ruins and it took us back in time.
This is the place where the king used to behead people whom he found to be cheating in Revenue Funds….Every year there used to be a Cabinet Meeting and if anyone found guilty was punished publicly….On a lighter note, this technique should be used for all Rapists 🙂…lol
The one below quite a gigantic tank or maybe bathing place – I can even term it as swimming pool for visitors who used to visit the empire in those days – its really quite Massive.
We covered most of the major structures in and around the Lotus Mahal – now started heading towards the Vittala Temple, Vittala Temple ( Dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu ) is one of the ancient, well know monument in Hampi and it is quite close to the banks of Tungabhadra River – then Pampa River, the main attraction is the Chariot and the musical pillars. This monument was built during the reign of King Devaraya II. Here are some of the captures on the way to Vittala Temple.
On the way to the Vitalla Temple Complex, I would recommend that you visit Achyutaraya temple complex, this seems to be more less visited compared to Virupaksha and Vitalla Temple complex.
Here we arrive at the most awaited Vittala Temple Complex – as mentioned quite from far, the chariot is quite visible and forms the major attraction – it is considered one of the stunning architecture and only there of them are found in India – One in Orissa (Konark Temple), Second in Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu) and this being the third one. The “Chariot” never moved , unlike those wooden temple cars used in the temple festival ceremonies. What probably moved was its four wheels around its axle, all made of granite. There was a dome like superstructure over the chariot. That too is missing now. However you can see them on the first ever photographs of Hampi taken in 1856 by Alexander Greenlaw
The Musical Pillars: Large Mantapa is famous for its musical pillars which it houses and also called as Saregama pillars indicating the Musical notes emitted by them, you can hear the musical notes when the pillars are tapped gently.
This 5-meter or so tall ‘balance’ is located near the Vittala temple. Also called as Tula Bhara or Tula Purushadana, the king used to weigh himself with gold, gems, silver and precious stones, and distributed to the priests. It’s believed that this had been done during the special ceremony seasons like solar or lunar eclipses. You can spot three loops on top of the balance, into which the balance actually hung. Also in one of the pillars you can spot the king’s image carved along with his concerts.
Whenever we venture out on a trip, we three would have one photograph which majorly forms our Cover Pic, our Guide Mr. Gurumurthy shot this photograph for us and it came out really well.
There were three more monuments which we had skipped earlier since our Guide recommended that we can visit them while on the way back to Hemakuta Hill (Near Virupaksha Temple – that is where we had parked our vehicle), We started towards the Hemakuta Hill, since the sun was setting in, we thought calling it off for the day once we see these structures:
- The Lakshmi Narasimha Statue: This is the largest statue in Hampi. Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called Sesha. The heads of the snake acts as the hood above his head. The god sits in a cross-legged Yoga position with a belt supporting the knees…The original statue contained the image of goddess Lakshmi, consort of the god, sitting on his lap. But this statue has been damaged seriously during the raid leading to the fall of Vijayanagara.
- Badavilinga Temple, Hampi : This is the largest monolithic Linga in Hampi. Located next to the Narasimha statue the Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front.A close look on this icon can reveal three eyes (depicting the three eyes of Siva) carved on it. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue).
The last monument to visit was Sasivekalu Ganesha (Mustard seed Ganesha) which is at the foothill of Hemakuta Hill, Guide recommended that we see this before sun completely sets and will call off for the day.
This concluded our day at Hampi, We thanked our guide Mr. Gurumurthy for wealth of information shared and we were craving for more. We thought we spend some more time on top of Hemakuta Hill watching the sunset and take some good pictures, we had another 2 days left – we started planning for next 2 days
I had now started thinking that we have such amazing places which were close to Bangalore where we grew up and we had never made a point to come and see it, nonetheless we were enjoying every bit the place had to offer, from history to art – art to scenic beauty. The sunset of all things stole my heart away, it was so beautiful, I got engrossed in it.
Meanwhile Plan for the next two days was done – we decided that we head towards our hotel, take some rest, freshen up and re-assemble for Dinner at the attached Bar and Restaurant. Plan was that, early morning we head towards Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami. Our next 2 days tour which we had intended to travel is on a seperate post, please click_here
Here are Information which might be helpful for anyone visiting Hampi:
Right Time to visit Hampi:
October to Feb – Main reason being weather is cooler during this period, avoid going during summer, most of the temple complexes remain open from 6:30 am until 6:30 pm.
How to get to Hampi:
By Airplane: The nearest airport is Hubli which is around 140KMS from Hampi, fly to Hubli and then take a taxi or Bus, The Bus are normally operated by Karnataka State transport and would take around 4 -5 hours to reach from Hubli to Hampi. Please check Plane & Bus Timings accordingly ( refer http://www.ksrtc.in, redbus.in)
By Train: The train stops at Hosapet/Hospet junction, this place very close to the place where we had our accommodation. Train runs serveral times a week from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa. You can book you train tickets from IRCTC website https://www.irctc.co.in, currently other websites such as makemytrip.com, yatra.com do take train reservations.
By Bus: As mentioned earlier – Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation operates daily buses to Hospet from Bangalore, Mysore and Gokarna. From hospet you can reach hampi on a local bus.
By Car: Its around 350Kms from Bangalore, Drive till Chitradurga on NH-4, take a right turn on NH-13 towards Sholapur till Hospet, and then drive another 13km to reach Hampi (direction towards Hampi is well marked).
Moving in and around Hampi: I would strongly recommend that you Hire a Moped, Motorcycle or even a bicycle while at Hampi so that moving around becomes very easy unless you enjoy walking. Bicycle might cost around 150/day and Moped could be more or less around 250 – 300 per day
Contact of Guides:
- Gurumurthy – +91 94815 66709.
- Rama – +91 94491 19485
Stay: For a First time visitor, I would recommend staying at Hospet due to accessibility to railway Station, better Hotels, medical stores, clinics etc. as mentioned earlier Hampi is also not very far from Hospet. You get a wide range of hotels at Hospet from Budget to expensive ones. Use any of the booking sites such as www.Booking.com, www.trivago.in etc.
You can find a cheaper guest houses across the river – “Virupapur Gaddi” it is also called as Hippie Island – I will cover this in a seperate post, we had been to this place quite recently. A lot cheaper guest houses are available here – I would not recommend staying here if you are on a short visit, you can avoid it since there is no road access from the archaeological site Hampi, only way to reach this place from Hampi is via the River, if the water levels are higher it might be too risky, there is road access via an alternate route which is 40Kms away – unless you intend to stay longer in Hampi for more than a week and explore all places nearby and would need a cheaper accommodation, you can look at this option, otherwise I would recommend staying at Hosapet/Hospet.