Wow! Beautiful pictures… I exclaimed when I saw my friend Rohit posting pictures of his visit to Hampi, a UNESCO World heritage site located in northern Karnataka, India. We are a group of four friends who share the common passion of travelling and the idea of visiting this temple town struck all of us at the same time. There was no stopping us after that.
Plans made and bags all packed, we took a three hours morning flight to Bengaluru. From Bengaluru, we were required to undertake an overnight journey by Hampi Express to reach Hampi. We took the train and reached our destination with hopes of fulfilling our desire to explore the unknown. We were lucky enough to have chosen the right time to visit the place, as September to February is the best period for going there.
After reaching Hampi we looked for a good hotel and our search finally led us to Hampi Bazar, close to Virupaksha Tower Temple. After settling down in the hotel, we scanned through the various places to be visited and decided their priority on basis of our interests and the time required to visit that place.
Hampi — it took several moments to believe that there on earth exists such unbelievable, magical, forlorn ruins, dotting a landscape with heaps of giant boulders lying scattered miles after miles over a rusty terrain, the look of which would bring crude views to anyone’s mind at first sight. However later when we looked at the jade-green palm groves, paddy fields and banana plantations, we realized that we have reached a place that cannot be left to be ignored and returning from there in a day or two will not complete our scheduled visit.
Ideally, these wonderful ruins were first discovered by Colonel Colin Mackenzie in 1800. A Visit to Hampi will give you both the pleasure of exploring the historical ruins and at the same time the opportunity to meet your spiritual self by visiting its beautiful temples. Hampi, basically a village is full of temples, which are renowned for their magnificent structural design and complex stone carvings across the globe and therefore attracts art lovers, archaeologists and tourists from all over the world. The main deity associated with this place is Lord Shiva.
Our day started with tea and breakfast at Mango Tree, consisting of idlis and dosas. Since we had limited time in hand, we decided to include in our itinerary only the major attractions like Virupaksha Temple, Vittala temple, The Royal center, Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Mahanayami-diiba and the Badavilinga Temple.
Our first stop was at Virupaksha Temple, which is the foremost attraction of Hampi. The architecture amazed us and we were visibly mesmerized as we walked through the broad hallways, reminding us of the days when this temple used to be abuzz with people from that particular time. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva.
Our next destination was the Vittala Temple. The temple belongs to the 16th century and stands among the boulders 2 kms from the Hampi Bazaar. While touring the temple, we saw a beautiful stone chariot in the temple courtyard which is the prime attraction of the place. It actually depicts Lord Vishnu’s vehicle. The wheels of the chariot were once capable of moving. The interesting part was to learn that the outer ‘musical pillars’ of the temple resound when tapped. They were actually designed to replicate 81 different musical instruments. We found the temple very alluring and wanted to spend some more time, but as it was getting dark we decided to head back to our hotel.
DAY 2 – An equally captivating day
The Day 2 included visit to The Royal Centre. The Royal Centre is home to major sights of Hampi. We watched with awe the splendid carvings that symbolize scenes from the famous tales of Ramayana at the Hazarama Temple. Subsequently we saw the Zenana Enclosure, which is the walled quarters of ladies that has nice manicured lawns and the Lotus Mahal where the Queen relaxed in her leisure time. There are eleven huge elephant stables with vaulted entrances and chambers.
Moving on from there we halted at one of the most interesting stop offs near Virupaksha temple. It was the 6.7 m monolithic statue of Lakshimi Narsimha. The statue had bulging eyes, seated in a cross legged position and was topped by a hood of seven snakes.
Our next spot was Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, but before that we had to quiet our hunger pangs. So after having our afternoon meal consisting of typical vegetarian south Indian food, we visited the sanctuary which has a population of around 150 sloth bears.
After strolling for a while, we stood in front of a 12 m high three tired platform which was full of beautiful carvings and presented us with a panoramic view of the walled compound of ruined temples, stepped tanks and audience hall of the King. We learnt that this compound was used as the Royal viewing area for the Dushhera festival, sacred ceremonies and processions. The place is called Mahanayami-diiba. A vision came alive there and then in my mind, of royals sitting and watching the beautiful performances, thus transporting me to that era.
Our final stoppage was at Badavilinga temple, which is again dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has a huge 3 metres shiva linga statue made of black stone. The large size of the statue overwhelmed us and we could not help but stand gazing at it, admiring the beauty of the craftsmanship and the art of the bygone era.
The sun has set and we were scheduled to go back with memories the next day which would remain alive through the numerous pictures we took of the place. Hampi has around 100 sights to cover which was not possible for us during this 2 day short visit, but it was a long cherished desire to visit this historical place and we are glad that we chose it as every bit of our tour was surely worth it.
– Suparna De