Hampi - The Way Travelers Celebrate Birthdays

1st Jul 2017
Photo of Hampi - The Way Travelers Celebrate Birthdays by Agam Jain - Gypsy On Voyage

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I was sitting at my office desk in Pune and I got a text from one of my friends, she was planning a birthday trip for one of our common friends. She was planning a trip to Hampi from Bangalore for the weekend and she asked me if I could travel from Pune there to join them. I figured out my weekend schedule and instantly booked my return journey tickets from Pune to Hosapete which lies on the Hubli-Bellary Highway and nearly 13 km from Hampi. The destination and my inclusion in this trip were kept a secret from the birthday girl.

I started my journey from Pune on Friday night, traveled nearly 600 km overnight and reached Hosapete in the morning. My friends had already reached there before me since my bus was running late due to bad weather. By the time, the birthday girl knew that they're going to Hampi, then suddenly I appeared in front of her and she was overwhelmed to see me there, the smile on her face was as beautiful as it could be.

Day 1

We figured out what would be the best possible way to roam around, we hired an auto rickshaw to travel from Hosapete to Hampi & the same to explore places over there. We had already booked rooms at Venu Guest House, so we headed there directly to check in. We freshened up while the auto driver waited for us & then we started to explore the world-renowned ruins of Hampi.

Hampi was the center of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century and attracted a lot of traders from Portugal and Persia because it was prosperous and wealthy. Today, Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage and attracts a lot of tourists from all over the globe because of its history and the rich culture.

We stepped out to explore the ruins at noon, we headed to the Krishna Temple which dates back to 1515 CE. The Krishna Temple is also called Balakrishna Temple and the original statue of Balakrishna now sits in a Chennai museum. Then, we headed to Elephant Stables & Lotus Mahal. Lotus Mahal is a two-storeyed pavilion in the royal center, this place used to be a meeting place for women of the royal family. The next stop was Shiva Temple which is an underground temple and is estimated to be built during the 14th century.

Next, we headed to Queen's Bath which has a method of moving fresh water into it and taking away the wash water and overflows. It was probably a public bath for men and travelers. Then, our next stop was the Vitthala Temple and it is still a mystery when and who built it. The Vitthala temple has a Garuda shrine in the form of a stone chariot in its courtyard, it is often pictured as a symbol of Hampi. In the front of the stone chariot is a large mandapa which has 56 carved stone beams of different diameters, shape, length and surface finish that produces musical sounds when struck. According to local traditional belief, this hall was used for public celebrations with music and dance.

It was already evening and we didn't want to miss the beautiful sunset from Matanga Hill so, we headed there. There's a small trek to reach the top, it is a very easy trek with stairs. We took around 30 mins to reach the top and the view from there was more mesmerizing than expected. Tungabhadra River flows on the right with the famous Virupaksha Temple sitting to its left, the unique hills of that region are spread to the miles. There are coconut tree's forests in the middle which are very soothing to the eyes. As I sat down there, the cool breeze was flowing kissing my cheeks and the sun was setting with the sky turning red with each passing moment.

Before the sun would've completely set and the dark would've completely taken over the light, we thought of walking down so that it won't be difficult judging the stairs. As we reached down, the light completely disappeared and we moved for our last stop of the day, Virupaksha Temple. It is dedicated to Virupaksha, an aspect of Lord Shiva and the guardian deity of the Vijayanagara Kings. Within the temple-courtyard are many small shrines and pillared halls. According to local tradition, the Virupaksha is the only temple that continued to be a gathering place of Hindus and frequented by pilgrims after the destruction of Hampi in 1565.

After performing Darshana, we directly ran towards cafes in the market because we were very hungry at that time. The market has many multi-cuisine cafes and few of the cafes offer the table-chair concept while others were following the tradition of sitting on the ground. We did not know any specific cafe, so we randomly entered a cafe which was a traditional one. They had arranged cotton mattresses and the tables of lesser height which were the perfect size for people sitting on the ground to feast.

After dinner, we explored the market to find the cake shop and surprisingly, there's no cake shop in Hampi. We had to go to Hosapete to buy the birthday cake. After coming back from Hosapete, we directly headed to our rooms, freshened up and sat together to play some games. As the clock struck 12, we surprised the birthday girl with a decorated terrace where the candles were lit all over which gave off a feeling of togetherness. The birthday girl cut the cake and we all had a blast before dozing off.

Day 2

We woke up a little late as we were worn out last day, we hired scooters this time to explore the places on the other side of the river. We advanced towards the Anjaneya Temple which is known to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. The temple lies on the top of the hill and one has to climb 570 steps to reach on the top. After we reached upstairs, we had Darshana at the temple and sat outside for quite some time as the wind was pleasant and the view was mesmerizing.

Next, we headed to the Sanapur Lake which is fed by Tungabhadra Dam canal. The ride to the lake was very smooth and we rode for quite a few km ahead of Sanapur Lake. This was a beautiful place with the utmost calmness. The road stretches parallel to the canal and covered by hills of boulders both the sides. We relished this time the most we could. We left around 5 o'clock from there as I had to board my bus back to Pune from Hosapete at 6:30 PM.

Bidding off goodbye to my friends was difficult as I didn't know when are we going to see each other again. The bus arrived and I boarded the bus with a smile on my face which was only because I made the most of these two days.

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