Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Hampi was the capital of the erstwhile Vijayanagar Empire. In its heyday it was a magnificent city with countless temples and palaces. The city was robbed of all its grandeur in 1565 AD when it was attacked by the Mughals. The remains of the city transport you back into the bygone era.
As we drove into Hampi, I felt as though we were on the sets of an Indiana Jones movie. The huge boulders scattered everywhere and the ruins resembled a movie scene. We arrived at the Hampi Bazaar. The Hampi Bazaar is the hub from where one can explore the entire area. It was a pleasant June morning and it was drizzling. We decided that the best way to have a look at the ruins was on a 2-wheeler. Accordingly we hired 3 bikes and started off after a hearty breakfast to enjoy the good weather.
The Hampi Bazaar is essentially a walkway with tiny shops and restaurants on both the sides and leads you straight to the Virupaksha temple. The temple is a 12-storied structure and is the tallest in Hampi. Some scenes from the movie “The Myth” were shot in this temple.
We had to visit a lot of places in the 2 days that we had on hand. We managed to visit the Queen’s bath, (which used to be the bathing place of the royal women), the underground Shiva temple (that was dark inside and probably inhabited by a colony of bats) the Vithala Temple Complex (also known as the “Sa Re Ga Ma” temple because of the musical pillars in the temple.) Each pillar is known to produce a distinct musical note when you knock it with your fingers or a slender stick. There was a sign that said – “Do Not Touch The Pillars”. Our guide informed us that the over enthusiastic visitors inadvertently damaged the pillars by knocking on them with stones and stout sticks. The sign was put up to prevent further damage to the structure. This temple is a UNESCO world heritage monument for the musical pillars and the stone chariot that it houses. We were also informed that there are only 3 such chariots in India – one each in – Hampi, Puri and Mahabalipuram.
We saw some really huge monolithic idols - the Sasivekalu Ganesh, the huge Lakshminarayana idol, the Badavalinga, the Monolithic Bull and the Kadelakalu Ganesh to name a few. We also visited The Royal Enclosure, the Riverside ruins, Sugreeva’s Cave, Achyuta Raya’s temple and the Hazara Rama Temple.
We also spent some time on the rocky river bank and went for a coracle ride. This was my first coracle ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The river was calm, and the cool breeze made it even more enjoyable. Before we disembarked from the coracle, the boatman sent the coracle into a spin. That was his trademark!
We had our lunch at the Mango Tree Restaurant. It is a very cozy place nestled in a banana plantation. We walked through the plantation and reached the restaurant which is on the banks of the Tungabhadra and offers a spectacular view of the river. The seating arrangement was unique. It was a terraced floor facing the river and a huge mango tree stood in the middle. That’s how the restaurant got its name. Because of the rain we had to sit inside and couldn’t get a chance to sit on the straw mats spread out on the terraced floor.
After 2 days of driving around Hampi we headed back to Hospet to board our train to Hyderabad. A week after returning from Hampi, I saw the movie “The Myth”. I did not have any difficulty in identifying the various temples and monuments featured in the movie. Hampi was a wonderful experience and I would surely go back there again.
Hyderabad > Hospet by Rayalaseema Express
Train No: 7416 for Hyderabad to Hospet
Train No:7429 for Hospet to Hyderabad
Hospet > Hampi by Local Bus: Rs 10
Hospet > Hampi by Auto-rickshaw: Rs 100
Hospet > Hampi by Auto-rickshaw (shared) : Rs 15/25 per head.
Bicycle & Moped rental
Bicycle : Rs 30 per day
Moped : Rs 150 per day (petrol Rs 50 per litre - this was in 2006-2007)