Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology!

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Ramayana identifies this area as Kishkindha, home to King Sugreeva, his vanar sena (monkey army) and birth place of Lord Hanuman.

The mammoth boulders ( huge rocks/stones) stand testimony to the vagaries of time in a gravity defying stance.

They pile on each other in a beautiful symmetry, making you wonder, why don't they slide down?

History tells us the existence of a wealthy, glorious and powerful dynasty, The Vijayanagara Empire.

The dynasty was founded by 2 brothers, Harihara and Bukka.

The legacy was splendidly carried forward by his descendants, amongst which King Krishnadevarya has inked his place in the annals of history with flourish.

UNESCO has declared the city - or rather city of ruins - as a World Heritage Site. It will be protected as per international norms due to its historical significance.

This is the land of architecture, worship and sculptures.

The pious land of followers of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.

The Land protected by boulders on 3 sides and by the mighty Tungabhadra river on one side.

The land which has withstood the invasions of the Bahmani kingdom and survived to tell the 600+year old history.

This is HAMPI!

Aimlessly, I watched the changing scenery from my car's window. The car was moving at a decent speed of 100 km/hr, owing to smooth (albeit single road at some stretches) roads.

Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by anushree

As we approached Hampi, the land turned into vastness of rice cultivation. Clumps of rice plant stalk were neatly arranged in symmetrical rows, in standing water. It looked ethereal.

Villagers help you with the directions with a smile, since google maps might not receive the EDGE signals here. To think about it, the 3G connectivity wont be great.

Our sight seeing tour enriched our historical knowledge and tested our agility while walking on the hills and attractions.

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

Jaws dropped while admiring the finesse of the rock carvings and the engineering/architectural skills of our ancestors.

Granite is the main stone used in making temples and sculptures.

A common temple structure would be 4 slabs standing straight, supported on top by a huge plinth in a horizontal manner. More information regarding the ruins follows...

Ruins are spread over a considerable area. Having personal transportation is a must, for effective usage of time.

Places of Interest :

Although Hampi has more than 50 places to visit as per ASI and UNESCO, the main ones are worth visiting.

They are divided into 2 parts as per convenience and proximity to each other.

It is advisable to cover one stretch of ruins together and then proceed to the other.

It is important to hire a local guide who will be able to explain entire details. Charges will be maximum Rs.2500 for 6 hours,completing everything worthwhile.

The first trail starts from Hemkuta hills, comprising of Sasivekalu (mustard seed) Ganesha, Kadalekalu (bengal gram) Ganesha, Krishna Temple, Hemkuta hills and ending at Virupaksha Temple. Ugra Narsimha and Shivlinga are nearby.

Sasivekalu (mustard seed) Ganesha — Lord Ganesha is beautifully sculpted out of big chunk of granite, on the foothills of the Hemkuta.The name was kept to mislead the people into expecting a smaller version of the Lord instead of a massive one.

It lies in the open air,with just a roof above.

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

The masterstroke of the sculptor is the back of the statue. It resembles a woman's behind, indicating that Goddess Parvati has seated Lord Ganesha on her lap. A snake is wrapped around the Lord's tummy.

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

Temples on the Hemkuta - Many temples dot the surface of the hills,albeit without any deity.

Day 2

Archaeological finds suggest that these temples were dedicated to Lord Shiva. The structures are kinda similar in nature. Some are just 4 pillars supported by a roof, typical to this era. Hampi bazaar stores also look the same type.

Kadalekalu Ganesha -It is named as bengal gram, kadalekalu in kannada, because of its appearance. Lord's tummy is perfectly rotund. However, some part of it has been broken over time!

Day 1

The monolithic idol nests comfortably within the sanctum sanctorum of its dedicated temple. You would be surprised to see the enormous idol, since you wont be expecting something big inside.

You should sit outside, near the carved pillars and view the surroundings! Ah, Peace!

Each pillar has various avatars/demigods/idols carved intricately. A guide will explain you everything in detail.

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

Virupaksha Temple - The gopuram, traditional doorway of a south indian temple, has mesmerised everyone by casting an inverted shadow. This is due to the pinhole effect of a camera. A small hole which acts as a catalyst, makes this phenomenon possible. It occurs during a specific time of the day. Its unbelievable, our ancestors possessed these kinds of engineering skills!

Lord Shiva is the main deity of the temple, which is functional even today. The view from hemkuta hills, enables you to see all the 3 gopurams in entirety.

Hampi Bazaar - Situated outside the temple, its an ancient bazaar which featured rows of shops at 2 levels. UNESCO has forbidden any commercial establishment on the vicinity, including vehicle parking. Auto Rickshaws can be hired for Rs.20/- per head till the parking lot. Either ways, you can walk the minimal distance as well.

Ugra Narsimha Statue

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

This massive structure is carved on a stone pedestal from a single block of stone! Goddess Lakshmi, which is believed to be seated on his lap is no longer attached with the main statue.

He is called Ugra Narsimha because he appears to be angry. One of the icons of Hampi ruins.

Shivalinga - At the cost of sounding repetitive, i would again say, massive statue of Lord shiva, worshipped in the form of shivalinga.

It stands adjacent to the narsimha and was constructed by a poor woman,ode to her devotion. The floor of the shivalinga is full of water, rendering it impossible to go and touch it.

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

The next trail comprises of the Royal Enclosure and Vithhala Temple complex.

Day 2

Vitthala Temple Complex -

The temple features the iconic stone chariot, musical pillars and kalyanamantapa. One half of the temple was constructed by King devaraya and taken forward by his successor king krishnadevaraya.

Stone chariot now adorns the INR rupee note and is the most popular icon of hampi. The statue of garuda, vehicle of Lord Vishnu is installed within it. The wheels are now stationary but the wear and tear indicates it's usage in early times.

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

Home to Lord vitthala, the sanctum sanctorum now stand empty. The idol was shifted to maharashtra apparently by priests when they feared Muslim invaders, long time ago.

Architectural marvel are the musical pillars. Also known as saregama pillars. They emit sounds when tapped. Currently due to undergoing renovation and preservation of the pillars, tapping isn't permitted.

The musicians used to create melodious sounds for the king's entertainment using them.

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

A tourist needs to purchase ticket at the entrance to enter. This ticket gives you entry to royal enclosure as well. Make sure you keep them handy.

Journey from the parking spot till the temple complex is about 1-1.5 kms.

You can walk, if you feel up for it otherwise Govt. runs electric buggy services, for nominal fee of Rs.20/- to and fro. Keep your ticket safe for return journey.

Royal Enclosure --

Living quarters of the royalty and public buildings comprise the royal enclosure.

Queen' s bath -- The King's two wives had access to the bath which features a brilliant drainage system for inflow and outflow for the waters of the Tungabhadra!

Maybe you will feel let's just check it off the list and visit, that's when it will blow your mind off with the layout.

The swimming pool area is spacious and in depth. Historians tell us that the surrounding chambers were for the handmaidens to hold the Queen’s clothes instead of keeping them down.

This acted as their spa treatment centre!

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

Lotus Mahal- The stone part of a royal zenana quarter which was primarily constructed out of wood. The rest of it has been burnt away centuries ago. Named as the Lotus Mahal due to its resemblance to the flower, is a confluence of Indo-Muslim architecture.

One can also see the aqueducts and granary nearby.

Dasara Dibba — A high stone pedestal which allowed the King to preside over the Dasara celebrations. Intricate carvings are found on the platform. Durbar halls are situated nearby.

Elephant Stables - The King had more 4000 elephants at his service, out of which only 12 were deemed as Royal Elephants. These stables are located amongst perfectly manicured lawns. If you didn't know they are stables, then you would assume it is one of the royal buildings.

The mahouts (caretakers) have a special opening inside the stables which makes them walk through the individual spaces.

Relax and enjoy the atmosphere in these lawns.

Photo of Hampi.. Land of Boulders, Ruins, History and Mythology! by anushree

Virupapura Gadde

Termed as "Hippie Island" owing to the high influx of foreigner tourists during favourable season. The place offers cheaper accommodation and quirky cafes.

If you prefer to drive, it is almost 40 min away from main city. Ferry ( mostly coracles and speed boat) will transfer you in 5-10 minutes, last service being at 5 pm.

Lord Hanuman's birthplace is marked with a temple on a steep hill, with approx 200+ steps.

Shopping

Be prepared to bargain with the shopkeepers, since the charges get higher even for an Indian tourist. Dont even ask the foreigner rates, thou shall faint!

Bookworms can head to akash art and gallery, situated near virupaksha temple to buy novels and other literatures. Amazing hand made soaps and essential oils are also available. Would highly recommend sandalwood soap for Rs.85/-.

The adjoining street shops sell T shirts, handicrafts, metal statues and junk jewellery. Half of them look rusted and not worth buying.

Accommodation

Trip Advisor lists many guesthouses at nominal rates. They are either in virupapura gadde or nearby virupaksha temple. They seem convenient for budget happy travellers. The village of kamalapur and nearby areas have decent hotels which are apt for family travels. They look much cleaner and value for money.

* I would recommend clarks inn and heritage resort.

* Clarks inn is in kamalapur village whereas heritage is 6 kms away from it.

* Heritage is a quaint, picture-perfect resort with amazing food, staff and rooms. Nominal rates as well. They have their own organic garden and pool villas. Drivers are provided free accommodation and food.

* Orange County resorts, now renamed as Evolve Back resorts lies 5-6 further than the village. Stay here for relaxation and enjoying the money's value. If money isn't a constraint, book Jalmahal!

Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by anushree

This is luxury redefined. Styled in form of Vijaynagara palace, you feel like royalty, thanks to exemplary service, well anointed rooms and attentive staff.. I can simply write on and on about these resorts, maybe another specific post for it.Jalmahal ( Rs.60k for one night)!

* Hospet is the nearest town wherein many options are available for every budget. 12-13 kms away.

* Alternatively, Hyatt Place is a new hotel within vicinity of Jindal steel plant in toranagallu, 45 min drive away.

How to Reach

Nearest Airport is Bengaluru, 6 hours away.

Good news.. Toranagallu airport starts weekly flights soon. Hyd-Hampi will just be over an hour’s flying time. Further it will be 40 min drive to hampi.

Driving from Gulbarga to Hampi took us almost 7 hours on its smooth roads. Route being Glb-jewargi-shahpur-lingsugur-gangavathi-hampi

Driving to Hyderabad will take 7-8 hours. The 4 lane highway connects after you cross mahbubnagar/jadcherla. The route: Hampi- gangavathi-raichur rd-mahbubnagar/jadcherla-shamshabad-Hyd.

Tips

The ideal time to spend in Hampi, according to me, would be 3 days. One day of travelling and rest at night. Next day, visit one section of the ruins and the remaining on the day after. However if you are on a tight schedule, then you can cover everything in one day also. would take you maximum 6 hours (that's what my guide suggested initially)!

Its best to start your sight seeing early i.e. before noon, since the Sun is at its best glory and rewards you with litres of sweat and irritation.

Wearing comfortable clothes is highly recommended. Sunscreen is very important to avoid tanning. Sunglasses and hats are optional.

Walking shoes/comfortable flat footwear is a must.

Carry your water bottles while sightseeing. The reason being, the commercial shops are far from the places due to the UNESCO heritage tag. Many shopping areas were apparently demolished because of the proximity to the ruins. However, things will be available, just not conveniently.

Heartful thanks to Google for providing me with few pictures,which i couldn't click from my Samsung C9 Pro!

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