Without new Experiences something inside us sleeps.The Sleeper must awaken”
Hampi is every traveller’s dream and has an eclectic ambience. On one hand you experience a culture rich in history(every street and corner is steeped in history),On the other hand on crossing the river, you enter into another world – Virupapur Gadde or more popularly known as the Hippie Island. Contradictory indeed ! You will find the street lined with cafes which cater to the foreign tourists from all over the world. Tourists from Israel are a common sight.
The cafes also have lodging facilities.The menus of the cafes cater to the foreign palette – you can choose from a variety of continental dishes. I particularly enjoyed the set breakfast of “Goutami” – German bakery.There are about three German Bakeries in the street. In the evenings a lot more is on offer than food.- Hookahs and Alcoholic drinks (although the beer is served in coffee mugs) 🙂 I enjoyed both the aspects of Hampi – during the day feverishly touring the city full of monuments,temples,structures,mountains and in the evening chilling out at the cafes.
The story of Hampi
Hampi rose into prominence in the early 14th century when the Kampili Kings rose to power. In 1327, the kingdom was attacked by Muhammad-bin-Tughluq who took two brothers, Bukka and Harihara as prisoners along with thousands of other people. These brothers tricked the Sultan into setting them free and returned to Kampili to set up a kingdom of their own with its capital at Vijayanagara. Thus the Vijayanagara Empire was founded by Harihara I and Bukka I of the Sungama dynasty in 1336. The Sungama dynasty was followed by the Saluvas and the Tuluvas each of whom added Vijayanagara’s architectural beauty.
A number of prominent temples and architectural features of Hampi were built under the patronage of King Krishnadevaraya in the early 16th century. After his death, the Vijayanagara kingdom began its decline.Hampi was the capital of the erstwhile Vijayanagar Empire.
The Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by a coalition of Muslim sultanates-Bidar,Bijapur,Ahmednagar and Golkunda. Its capital was conquered, pillaged and destroyed by the sultanate armies in 1565, after which Hampi remained in ruins until discovered by Collin Mckenzie in 1800.
Located in Karnataka near the modern-era city of Hospete, Hampi’s ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares (16 sq mi) and it has been described by UNESCO as an “austere, grandiose site” of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India that includes “forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures and water structures.
How Hampi derived its name
The river near the Hemkuta hill came to be known as the Pampa river,the Sanskrit word Pampa morphed into kannada word Hampa and the place where Parvati (also known as Pampa) pursued Shiva came to be known as Hampe or Hampi
Hampi was in my to-visit list for a long time and we were planning to visit this summer but we rescheduled on the advice of a close friend and rightly so. The ideal season to visit Hampi is Nov-Feb as these are the cooler months.
I booked myself a trip with Mumbai Travellers(22nd Dec -25th Dec) and booked my berth with VRL travels(AC Sleeper coach) as most of our group members were travelling by the same coach.In my earlier Aurangabad post, I had advised all to book an upper berth which I did this time and trust me the journey was much less bumpy. I met two fellow travellers at the bus stop and we immediately bonded well. We reached Hospette at 9 am and after the tour leader got everyone together, we set out to the Hospette Bus Stand, where we freshened up and were all charged up after a refreshing cup of tea .Hampi is about 13 kms from Hospette which is a short ride of 30 mins .
Breakfast in Hampi
At Hampi,we had breakfast on a roadside eatery where the food was delicious and very pocket friendly. Idli,Sambhar,chutney and Vada all for a price of Rs 30 and piping hot coffee at Rs 15.After breakfast we continued our journey and as soon as we were on the road, we could see the majestic Virupaksha Temple and one of the seven markets of Hampi where in days gone by, gold and silver traders carried on their trade.It was decided by the tour leaders to visit the temple later as we had to now check into our rooms and freshen up.
So we proceeded towards the river as our Resort was on the other side of the Tungabhadra river.
A short boat ride of 2-3 mins took us ashore to Viruppar Gadde or more popularly known as Hippie Island.Soon after alighting from the boat, one gets a touristy feeling as the place is swarming with small kids pestering you to buy books and postcards on Hampi. Bargain well if you are interested in buying one.
The street has a kind of festive look with the hawkers displaying their wares.On the left hand side are the famed cafes.
After walking for 2 kms we reached our resort Mowgli where we had to wait for some time for our rooms to be readied.
We were disappointed to find that the rooms were small for triple sharing but we managed quite comfortably as all the three ladies bonded well and did not have any issues.Our disapointment with Mumbai Travellers however did not end here as we noticed that the tour leaders assigned to us were neither very efficient nor organised. They were quite chaotic and did not comply with the timings or the itinerary of our planned tour.So I advise you to have a good look at other tour operators prior booking your trip with Mumbai Travellers.
After freshening up at the resort, we set out to explore Hampi at about 1.15 pm.We hopped onto a bus from Hampi Bus stand(Ticket Rs 7 per person) and stopped for lunch at Mango Tree where a Vegetarian Thali,a bottle of mineral water and lassi cost Rs 230.
After lunch, we commenced our sight seeing with a visit to the Queens’s Bath located at the entrance of the Royal Enclosure.The Queen’s Bath is believed to be constructed by Achyuta Raya for the women of the royal family of Vijayanagara. Built in Indo-Islamic style, the Queen’s Bath is an elaborate structure with a simple exterior and an ornate interior. It is a rectangular building and is surrounded by ornate balconies, each having a set of three windows. Each arched bay surrounding the bath is decorated with intricate carved stucco ornamentation on the ceilings and the vaults placed above the arched bays.
The depth of the pool is 6 feet and has stone steps leading to the bottom of the tank.This 30 square meter structure is surrounded by a moat on all sides and a bridge like structure is made to reach the pool. Probably this was designed to prevent people from entering the area when the royals were bathing. The Queen’s Bath is an empty structure now. The floor of the bath has some empty sockets that were once used to support pillars. These pillars are believed to have been part of a canopy that was destroyed during the Deccan Sultans attack on Hampi.After clicking some photographs and spending about half an hour we proceeded to the Royal Enclosure.
The Royal Enclosure is a wide open ground with little shelter.One must set aside plenty of time to visit this area as you need at least an hour to explore the area. So wear comfortable footwear and carry sufficient water to drink.
The Royal Enclosure has lofty walls at the entrance of the doors of the enclosure,which were so heavy that elephants had to be used to open and close the doors.This fortified area had been the seat of power of the fallen Empire.Sprawling over many hundreds of square meters Royal Enclosure is presently scattered with many relics of the bygone era.
The Sculptures on the walls of the Royal Enclosure
The most imposing structure is the Mahanavami Dibba or the Dushera Platform or the House of Victory.The King’s Audience Hall is also located in the area,the stepped Tank,adjacent is another tank used as the bathing area, further south-west is a huge swimming pool used for competitions with watch towers on all sides to decide the winners(as told by our guide).
There is a secret chamber also where the spies met the king directly to give intelligence information.We also saw the cement plates in which food was served to the soldiers.
After going up and down the Dibba several times and taking photographs we proceeded to visit the stepped tank and the swimming pool. Some of us climbed the watch tower and took photographs.
We thereafter visited the Hazara Ram Temple.The temple was used as a private temple for the royal family.Hazara temple means a thousand Ram.The temple is famous for its lovely brass relics and panels depicting the story of Ramayana.
The Hazara Ram Temple
The temple has a sprawling lawn on its northern side. There are two huge gateways that give access to the temple compound. The interior of the temple has ornately sculpted columns. The temple stands as an example of the excellent craftsmanship of Vijayanagara’s sculptors.
Our next visit was the Lotus Mahal and the Elephant Stables where again a lot of time was unnecessarily wasted on deciding whether to visit now or later after a lot of discussion between the two tour leaders it was decided to cover these on the last day
Next We proceeded to the Virupaksha Temple when the sun was setting and the temple looked resplendent.It is located on the south bank of the Tungabhadra river.The temple is also known as Pampapati temple meaning husband of Pampa(Parvati)ie Shiva.You guessed it right it’s a Shiva Temple and stays intact amongst all the ruins of Hampi.
The temple dates back to 9th –10th century.Originally a small shrine and the sanctuary of Virupaksha-Pampa(Shiva and Parvati) existed well before the foundation of the Vijaynagar Empire.The Vijaynagar rulers turned this small shrine into a huge temple complex.The temple is a Unesco World Heritage site.There is also a sanctum of Goddess Bhuneshwaridevi and wherever there is Shiva,there has to be Nandi.We were fortunate to attend the evening puja and after clicking photographs we spotted Lakshmi the Elephant whom the visitors were feeding bananas which she was happily gobbling.
One thing we missed out is the pin-hole camera in the temple. In the rear portion is a dark chamber with a slit in the wall. Light enters in such an angle that an inverted shadow of the Gopuram is projected on the wall! We missed this, thanks to the poor planning by our tour leaders as they planned the visit to the temple in the evening.
The designated time to leave for Badami the next morning was 7 am but we were again disappointed to learn that the rest of the group along with the two tour leaders were not ready as they had had a late previous night.!!! – a silly reason unacceptable for an organised tour. The tour leaders at least were expected to be ready in time so as to ensure compliance with the tour schedule.We finally left the resort at 8.45AM (1 hr 45 min late) and stopped for breakfast at Sai shreyas where a masala dosa cost Rs 35 and coffee Rs15. We left the restaurant around 10.30 am and reached Badami at 12.30 pm.A guide was hired who gave us a good description of the caves.The entry fee is Rs 10 per person.
Badami Cave temples date back to the 6th & 7th centuries A.D.Badami is acknowledged to have been established by Pulekesin-1 and later established by the Chalukyas. Badami boasts of rock cut architecture inspired by the famed Ajanta & Ellora Caves.The caves are made out of sandstone.There are four caves, three dedicated to the Hindu gods and the last cave dedicated to Jainism.
You can reach cave-1 after a climb of forty steps. The cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva and there are about 81 sculptures of Shiva in the form of Natraj.
Cave no 2 is dedicated to Lord Vishnu the preserver of the Universe according to Hindu mythology. He is presented in the form of Trivikarma (dwarf), his one foot is commanding the Earth the other Is mastering the sky.The third cave presents Lord Vishnu as Narsimha,Varhara,Harihara and Trivikarma.
The last cave is dedicated to Lord Mahavira the 24th Tirthankara.It is the latest addition to the caves and said to about a century old.The caves depict architectural and sculptural grandeur and visitors come from all over the world.The guide explained to us the sculptures in each cave in detail which can be mentioned in a separate blog ! It took us about an hour to see the caves. We did not click photos while climbing as that would take lot of time, instead we clicked photos while descending.I must mention here that avoid visiting this place during Christmas vacations as you will encounter huge crowds and batches of noisy school children !!!After the visit we proceeded for lunch where we were given option to either have lunch at Baseshwar Khanavali for authentic local thali or at Clark’s Inn.The local place had faster service and experienced tour leaders could have organised the lunch for the whole group at one place to save on precious time !! I had lunch at the local joint(paid Rs 60 for the thali) and on checking with the few at Clark’s Inn, found that their food was not even served ! and wasted an additional hour resulting in our missing out on Aiole.
It was 4 pm by the time we left for Pattadakal which takes about thirty minutes and reached about 4.45 when another 15 minutes were wasted on deciding whether to take a guide or not and finally a guide was taken and we started the tour of the temples at 5pm. There are about ten major temples and some small shrines and plinths ,to see all this in half an hour? Aiole closes at 6pm.So we rushed through all the temples and couldn’t take many photographs of this splendid place. We started for Aiole at 5.45, were caught in a bad traffic jam and reached when the gates were closed at Aiole.So we couldn’t see Pattadakal properly and missed Aiole all because of poor planning by the inexperienced tour leaders that Mumbai Travellers had assigned for our group.The agony did not end here and their mismanagement continued till the time we left Hampi.
Pattadakal is a small town near Badami.It is renowned for its ancient temples.It was once the capital of the Chalukya dynasty.It was given the World heritage staus in 1987 and is maintained by ASI.(Archaeological Society of India)There are ten temples,nine Hindu and one jain.
The main temples are the Virupaksha temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Papanatha Temple, Jambulin temple,Sangameshwara temple,Kashivishvanath temple,Chandrashekhara temple,Galgantha temple, Kadasideshwar temple the Jain Temple.The guide hurried us through all the temples due to paucity of time..
After taking a few photographs as it was already dark, we left for Aiole as I mentioned earlier we could not visit but dear readers make it a point to visit Aiole.The temples are magnificient here as I had checked in the net earlier.It is about 30 mins drive but have more time in hand as the street is very narrow and if you are in a bus you might get stuck in the traffic jam, with a scooty or a car you may be lucky 🙂 Disappointed we continued our journey back to Hampi. All of us were heart broken as we passed the closed gates of Aiole.On the way we had a tea/coffee break.We reached the hotel around 9 pm.After resting for a while we did a recce of the restaurants in the island and decided to have dinner at Garden Green Resaturant where we ordered Mexican dishes.The food was good but prices were a bit on the higher side.
Next day sounded exciting as it was bike/scooty ride to Anegundi but not without the chaos and confusion caused by the tour leaders.There were two of them who worked at tandem with each other with the result being utter confusion and chaos !!! all this in the concluding part.
“I am in love with cities I have never been to and people I have never met”
TO BE CONTINUED…………