It’s been a long time since I wrote something here, although the past few months for me has been full of travelling. Finally, my recent trip to Hampi gave me the inspiration to dust off my WordPress account and attempt to capture the surreal beauty that Hampi is.
We, a couple of friends from my B-school, try to make at least one annual trip together. This time, we chose Hampi, and I am so glad we did!
Hampi is a place where you can have all the types of experiences you want – spiritual, adventure, nature surfing, history, and architecture. You can get lost in its village charm and be stupefied by the magnificence of the ruins. It is no wonder a favorite among the lone travelers. With the river Tungabhadra flowing across the town, Hampi gets divided into two parts. One part has the monuments and ruins, and the other side is ideal for taking a bike/bicycle and riding it out amid the paddy fields and natural scenic beauty.
We started from Bangalore on a train to Hospet, from where Hampi is a mere 13 km. Then we caught a ride in a bus to Hampi and reached there starry-eyed. If we were humbled by the huge mountain-like structures made of boulders, we were jumping with joy when we took the ferry to the other side of Hampi to our abode for two days “Bobby ‘One Love'”. Built within the paddy fields, Bobby ‘One Love’ is quirky, colourful place. They have some cottages and mud huts and a garden where you can do yoga. The restaurant is an amalgamation of relaxing aura, colorful ambiance, soulful music and an extensive food menu.
After a heavy brunch, we started on our rented bikes to explore ‘this side’ of Hampi, fondly named by us as the ‘happier side’. Vast expanses of paddy fields, tall coconut trees swaying in the afternoon breeze, boulders strewn landscape were a treat to the eyes.
Hampi is said to be Kishkinda Raj during Ramayana – the monkey kingdom. It here that Sugreev and Bali lived, it is here that Rama killed Bali and befriended Sugreev to go on a search for Sita. No wonder this place still has monkeys running all around. The village of Anegundi is a witness to this all.
The sun was setting down, and we decided to make our way to the lake Sanapur. To our surprise, once we went up the hill, we encountered a big wall. There was no lake to be seen! And then we climbed up the wall, and lo-behold! there was the lake. I am not a big fan of the lakes here in South India, but this lake took my breath away. We went on coracle rides on the lake. It was bit frightening for me, but as we literally rowed into the sunset, I fell in love with the place. The lake is actually a man-made reservoir to help in irrigation. If you follow the lake, you come on to the free flowing stream and the landscape gets even more mesmerizing.
Our night at the huts were comfortable, if not luxurious. It felt close to the nature. The next day, we took the ferry and crossed over to the other side. We took auto-rickshaws to take us to the various ruins. Hampi, capital of the erstwhile Vijayanagar Kingdom, is home to magnificent ruins. They make you wonder about the grandiose of the place during those times. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the ruins have tales of their own and the guides present at these places help you understand them.
For instance, the austere Vittala temple was not just a place to worship, but a place where music and dance were celebrated and the grounds served as trading centers for traders from all over Asia and Europe. The dance halls were erected with pillars which emanate musical sounds.
The royal enclosure rendered me spellbound and sad at the thought that such beautiful creations were destroyed over kingdom and power. There are a number of splendid baths, equipped with aqueducts. The Queens’ bath and the public bath are beautiful structures.
The towering Virupaksha temple, situated on the banks of Tungabhadra, is another masterpiece. Although we didn’t go inside the temple, the majestic temple’s outline set against the clear blue sky was an ephemeral view.
Our trip was coming to an end. Two Days is definitely not enough to experience the magic of this place. In the evening, we strolled in the Hampi market place, from where I picked up some pretty vibrant items. For dinner, we went to this fabled place called ‘Mango Tree’. As my friend correctly said, the air in here had peace. Yet again, I fell in love with the amazing food that restaurants in Hampi serve. From Israeli food to European to Indian, the variety and taste are impeccable.
With a heavy heart, I bid adieu to Hampi, promising myself I would be back soon, this time for a longer stay.
This trip was originally published on Travel with Swagatika