Monday, April 16, 2012

Hampi, at last

A late post about a trip that happened in March. Anyway, Sudden decisions, quick plans and we were off to Hampi, the former capital of mighty Vijayanagara Empire. Though train was the preferred choice, was not able to get tickets. KSRTC operates a single bus to Hampi and it turned out to be a bumpy ride. Info: There are lot of options to choose from, if you decide to stop at Hospet, a town near Hampi. Anyway, we wasted no time in finding a homestay in Hampi Bazaar close to Virupaksha Temple, and it looked decent.

Plan was to complete the sites around Kamalapur on the first day. Hired a bicycle (Rs.40 per cycle) and started the trip around 9AM. Started the trip with visit of the Monolithic bull in Hampi Bazaar, after which pushed towards Kamalapur. First stop was at Chandrasekhara temple, Saraswati temple and Octogonal tank followed by visit to Hazara Rama temple. The Hazara Rama temple had too many sculptures inside and on the outer walls. The ruins in front of the temple, just reminded how mighty the Vijayanagar empire might have been during its peak and how bad the invasion was. The beheaded bull and broken trunks of elephants stands as a symbol of invasion after centuries have passed. We then proceeded to Zenana Enclosure, which encloses the Lotus Mahal, elephant stables, Queen's Palace basement and a small museum.

After a reasonable good food at a small tamil shop outside Zenana enclosure proceeded to Royal Enclosure. It did look great with the Mahanavami Dibba or the grand platform from where king used to watch the annual parade, underground chamber, the stepped bath and a lot of ruins. Stepped bath looked great. On the way back, visited Queen's bath which didn't look very interesting except for the name, Danaik enclosure which housed few more ruins, the underground shiva temple or Prasanna Virupaksha temple, statue of Ugra Narasimha, Badavi Linga, and the Krishna Temple. Cycling was fun after a long time and the hot sun was dehydrating. We were lucky enough to return in time to climb the Hemakutta hills for the sunset. The place was filled with foreigners from all around the world and for whatever reason we were the only people representing our country. The sunset was wonderful so was the Hemakutta temple complex and the Sasivekallu Ganesha statue. An exhaustive but satisfactory day at the end.

Day 2 : Woke up early at around 5.15am and climbed Matanga hills, the highest point in Hampi for the sunrise. Once again, we were the only people from India there. Waited for the sunrise rejoicing the view of Achutha Raya temple complex from the top. The sun rise was awesome. After that returned back to room, got ready and went to Virupaksha temple, followed by visit to Hemakutta temple complex which also houses the Kadalekallu Ganesha among so many other beautiful temples. We continued as per plan and proceeded to Vittala temple complex stopping at Achutha Raya temple, which was almost deserted. Proceeded via Courtesan's street towards Vittala temple complex, visiting other small temple complexes, Sugriva's cave, King's balance. At last the Vittala temple complex, which houses the infamous Stone Chariot, the musical pillars and the Kalyana mandapam. With that we had almost reached the end of the trip. We had covered almost all the places we had planned for. Only item pending in the to-do list was a cool bath in Tungabhadra. We had a lot of time and Tunga in front and the next few hours vanished in the river. Little later, started the journey back to room, and in the way explored few more temples that were hidden from the normal path.

The only disappointment during the trip was food in Hampi Bazaar in front of the Virupaksha temple. Hotels are run by locals and food is a little more than horrible. If a foreigner has to rate Indian food based on the food available there, it would be close to horrible.

Anyway, Hampi turned out to be another satisfactory trip with Sai and Jeyahari, who were enthusiastic when it came to visiting places and fun to hang around with. Think the blog entry just managed to list the places, anyway believe me Hampi  was a lot fascinating and is worth a visit.


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