Hampi is 12 kms fromHospet in Bellary district of Karnataka (Kishkinda Nagari in Trethayuga of Ramayan era) and Vijayanagar Kingdom of Krishna Devaraya fame. Hampi was the mark of golden age of the Vijayanagar empire. It was ruined by the Bahmani rulers, Gilani brothers and Allauddin Khilji.
A small little town, surrounded by hills, each rock in Hampi is replete with history. In-fact on a placard it was written -A town of whispering rocks! The region has witnessed major upheavals, the rise and fall of dynasties, laughter, tears, jubilations, celebrations, desolation and sorrow.One cannot but marvel at the precariously perched rocks – living examples of wind and soil erosion.
Hampi is a town that has frozen in time. Stark poverty is there among the common people.But, they have retained their smiles. Rustic way of life-bringing timber for firewood, in rock slab ovens, using wood and charcoal, farming, drawing water from wells.Women in their kumkum, bangles and ‘gajras’ lifestyle here is slow and relaxed, except the hubbub of tourist life.
If you want to feel the pulse of the town, relive its history, better to stay in the quiet eco-friendly hotels in Hampi,rather than the upbeat,’highbrow” 5-star resorts in Hospet. The best means to move in Hampi is on cycles, Mopeds or Mo-bikes.If you aren’t a rider, avail the auto rickshaw and a tour guide.
Hampi can be hot, so carry water bottles, hats /caps, glares or sunglasses.And of course, the umbrella for the unexpected rains.
Do not miss the banana boat ride amidst all the history and temples!
How to Reach Hampi:
From Bangalore – by Volvo buses – 7-8 hours at ₹700 or 800 per head. One can avail a car too. The Volvo’s are sleeper or semi – sleeper coaches. We had availed Orange Travels – quick and almost non – stop! They provided water and snack packets. We went in June – a bit off season.
Best time to visit Hampi is September – November.
The general weather is hot and dry! Whatever be the weather it is best to carry hats or umbrellas as the sun can be scorching hot. From Hospet, we took an auto to our White Elephant resort in Hampi. If you plan for a budget holiday with good food and reasonable price, White Elephant resort can be a very good option. Ours was aonly ladies group, two-day tripwith my daughter and co – sister.
Shopping in Hampi – Handcrafted stone replicas of the temples and chariot of Vijaynagar . Different types of hats and windchimes . Usual jewellery and trinklets at all tourist sites . If you are a collector do collect picture postcards and brochures !
Where to stay – There are lot of hotels. However we stayed at White Elephant Resort and we were very pleased with their service. Their contact details are as follows:
White Elephant Guesthouse & Restaurant
Reservoir Road, Hampi Area, Sanapur Lake, Kiskinda Area, Gangawati, Anjanhalli
+91 9880 742 715
After a brunch of iced coffee and pizza – their speciality, we took an auto for the day trip. We were fortunate that we got a friendly auto driver who acted as a guide too. A local guy, badly in need of funds. No haggle, no looting, took us around in a relaxed, but organised manner. We paid him Rs 300 for the day.
Places covered in Hampi – We decided to cover as many spots as possible in the South of the town and keep the Vijayanagara kingdom ruins, theVeerupaksha Temple and others for day 2. Kadalekalu Ganpati, Badavilinga,Stepped tank, Chintamani Ashram where Lord Rama had deliberated with the sage to decide on tactics to defeat Bali and to recover Sita from the clutches of Ravan. Raghunatha Temple with its beautiful chariot, Lotus Mahal – south of MahanavamiDibba, Elephant Stables for the royal elephants, HazaarRama Temple, Laxmi Narayan temple, Hanuman temple with 575 steps! A child ‘s play for Pawan putra to just make a massive leap to his formidable abode but a daunting task for us mortals! We could manage only 150 steps,didn’t risk it. My daughter ventured a little higher with her friend to get awesome sunset views!
The Stepped tank in Hampi which is quite a marvel of architecture. Steps in pyramidal shape Laxmi Narasimha – largest idol in Hampi at 22 feet. Built in 1528. More popular as Ugra Narasimha as it looks pretty fierce though slightly damaged. The supposed temple is no longer visible and now more of an open space. We noticed renovation work being in progress!
Krishna Temple, Hampi –an entrance in the ruins. Fort provides security to it. Bala Krishna idol is now in Chennai Museum.
Well, here the day ended and we had to return before dark . Most of the town is devoid of electricity,wifi or internet! For us it’s a perfect haven to relax without the urban hustle and bustle! Cherry on the cake was the hilarious banana boat ride in the lake. Despite the scorching sun, a slight drizzle and a cloud cover made it bearable and the eagerness to see kept us going!
Do carry your water bottles if you do not want to be dehydrated in Hampi . The eager children running after our auto and ladies trying to sell“ Gajras” was heart warming. We had warm steaming coffee on return whilewatching the fire flies and the sunlight fading behind the rocks,the drone of crickets, I must say was another world aura ! We sat discussing the possible hypotheses regarding the ruins apart from the historical ones, talked on heartbreaks and ghostly experiences – apt atmosphere in a town of ruins. Early dinner of Tandoori roti and chicken Tikka masala. co- sister being an egg-eterian, she had alusabji and egg omelette! Sat listening to nostalgic numbers before retiring for the night. (will need mosquito & insect repellents) exhausted, though an insomniac, slept like a log !!
The last day of the trip was pretty good . It was time for the Vijaynagar trip . So on this day after a heavy breakfast of Alu parathas and raita, we left with our faithful auto driver who came on the dot at 9.30 am. He took us to the Vijaynagar ruins. Here, we hired the government authorised electric car (like in airports). It’s quite a long distance. We stepped down near the mandaps and the chariot. Our very enthusiastic guide gave us interesting narratives on all the structures. We were carrying the tickets that was stamped by ASI (Archaeological Society of India) and would be valid for all the structures and temples to be visited on that day trip .
Saw the Vijay Vitthal Temple, The Prayer, Wedding, Ceremonial and Music mandapas with their intricate carvings of Gods, humans, animals, the various incarnations of Vishnu, scenes from the Ramayana etc. Portuguese and Chinese influence is seen. The Chariot reminds one of the Konark Temple in Orissa. The Market place was for display of merchandise from different parts of India and abroad – Vittal Bazaar.PurandaraMantapanear the bazaar is calm and serene. It is a many pillared structure.Vittal Bazaar was for gems and precious stones whereas PurandaraMantapa was for trading of livestocks from India and Abroad – Portugal, China and Middle East. The bridge across the river is now in ruins. It took three hours to see everything within the walls of the Vijayanagar kingdom. A slight downpour made us go to the Mango Tree restaurant in the heart of the tourist area. We had got drenched, put our footwear out and sat in the Indian style for a delicious vegetarian thali meal. Rain was a dampener! Had to wait till 4.30 pm. Then went to visit Veerupaksha temple. It is in honour of lord Shiva. Veerupaksha temple in Vijaynagar is an active temple, where prayers are held on a daily basis. To enter please remember to carry your identity cards and keep the head covered. My daughter was in a dress and thankfully, I was carrying an extra dupatta elseshe wouldn’t have been allowed in!
The entrance was water logged. And we had to literally, wade inside. Photography is not allowed of the idol. No one leaves without blessings from the trained elephants. Unfortunately, behind the scene, we learnt that they are badly tortured to perform their tricks! PETA take note.
Since our bus was at about 8 pm from Hospet bus stand, we decided to leave and with a heavy heart! We missed the Tungabhadra dam and a few other sites. But vowed to return some other time with a longer itinerary covering Hospet, Badami and Bijapur as well. This trip was an experience of a life time.
We should join hands with the Government to preserve this UNESCO declared World Heritage Site.
Written by: Mitali Mukherjee
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