I had planned to visit hampi in September 2017 but couldn't make it as I suffered with dengue when I was about to book my tickets and hotel. Everything was set and I had looked up all the places which are must visit.
Days went by going to hospital and taking lots and lots of rest. It took almost around 3-4 weeks to recover completely. Then I came back to Bangalore to continue working. From then on I was raring to go. Then finally I had decided to go in the end of October. I called up my cousin and asked if he is free to come. After a day or so he said let's go and hampi was waiting for us.
I took a comp off on 30th as I had worked on 2nd october. I booked train tickets and hotel and waited for the trip to begin. I was working in night shift on the day before the journey so I decided to go to railway station from office itself and packed my bag and left to office.
The travel day :
Day 1 -
Left office at 6:15 am. Took two buses to reach BNC station. It was around 7:30 am when I reached the station and I had another hour until my train comes to take me away. So there I was walking around the station looking at people eagerly waiting for their train, dogs enjoying their sleep time, trains arriving and passing by. I walked for some time and went into waiting room and took a seat and waited for the time to pass.
As usually train arrived a bit late and took its time to halt before beginning the journey. Train looked empty and felt as if it has been abondoned. There were only 2 people in my compartment and around 10 in the whole boggie. After taking 2-3 small breaks train reached yelhanka around 9:30 am. Form where my cousin accompanied me and our journey to hampi trip had begun. We sat there in the empty boogie filled with less than 10 members and waiting to get breakfast if someone would come selling it. We had nuts and dry fruits looking for the breakfast. After sometime breakfast arrived and I had idli vada which was average in taste. We sat in the side berth looking outside and talking about random things. I decided to sleep for sometime as I was feeling sleepy and I went up and slept.
I woke up at around 1:00 pm and washed my face and stood near the door enjoying the breeze and view outside. After waiting for some time we had some snacks when train stopped in a station for few minutes. After passing through empty fields and curvy tracks we reached hospete around 5:00 pm. From there we took a bus to reach hampi. The sun was about to set and we could spot the beauty from the bus and were very eager to arrive hampi before sunset to get a glimpse of sunset from a nearby view point to the city centre but by the time we had arrived the sun was already set and it was dark. Though we tried making our way onto the hill as we were welcomed by lighting ruins and sparkling temples but we couldn't get any view except the light show and monkeys on top of boulders.
We went searching for our hotel crossing through hampi bazaar which had small shop a selling variety of different things from hats, books to air tickets and foreign exchange. After tumbling for few minutes here and there we reached the hotel and got the room in the ground floor. I filled in the details and after talking with the hotel guy for sometime I took a bath as I was getting irritated. I took a bath and we went to our first sighting which was the must and most visited vripuksha temple which was like a central point of the Hampi city. As it was dark we couldn't get to see much of the architecture brilliance but what we saw after entering the temple was people lighting diyas and taking blessings of elephant lakshmi.
We roamed around the temple looking at idols and other temples around the area. There were various small temples. There was a flex where the history and rulers of the place was written in a pictorial representation depicting who ruled from which year to which year. After looking at it for sometime we went towards Lakshmi elephant and spent some time looking at it. We decided to go and have dinner as we were hungry and decided to go to one of the must visited restaurant in hampi which was
Mango tree restaurant.
The restaurants in hampi are totally unique and different to the ones you see everywhere else in India. They have tables on one side just like every other restaurant and they have sit on the floor and dine arrangement to the other side. Just like what you see in a jewellery shop( owner sitting in a comfortable sofa like bed). The ambience was absolutely gorgeous. I liked the way they have arranged the seating on the floor. It was so relaxing and comfortable that makes you fall in love with the place before even having a look at the menu. The lights, the paintings, the flowers on the table, the music and everything was just awesome. We ordered our dinner which had Gobi Manchurian and pasta along with cool drinks. The food was tasty and the service was good. We enjoyed our food looking at the paintings and the new faces when someone entered the restaurant. There were many foreigners than of Indians and they all looked as if they were having a great time and having fun in hampi. We finished our dinner and went back to hotel room passing through the bazaar and looking at shops, cafés and people. We were disappointed that we couldn't get to see sunset but food and restaurant made up for it. That marked the end of the day as we had to get up early in the morning and trek a hill to see the sun rise. We slept around 10 pm.
Day 2 :
I woke up first and looked at the time and it was 4:15 am and we had still some time left till our phones get up so I looked at today's itinerary and spent some time on bed. Then as I couldn't wait anymore for the day to start I woke up and finished morning routine and woke my cousin up. I dresses up and went out and it was pitch dark and no sign of anything on the streets. Finally after everything we left around 5:30 and walked through empty streets and bazaar. We made our way through to temple from where we had to take left but it was too dark. We somehow walked on the rocks which were slippery and too add to it it was dark and we couldn't see anything in front of us. We kept hearing sounds of monkeys while we were walking up the hill. We sat down for some time waiting for the light of the day. There were very big boulders all around and temples here and there on the hill.
After wandering around for some time climbing boulders which we could and trying to climb others which were bigger we taught we were not at the right place. We could see the orange line emerging in the sky but we couldn't find the perfect place to view the sun rise. After few minutes we confirmed that we were not at the right place and decided to stay somewhere where we could at least get the view of sun rise. Then there came a security guard to the rescue. We asked him whether this was the sunrise spot or not then he showed us the other hill opposite to where we were standing and said that was the place where we should have been which was
We had another 15-20 minutes and we jogged our way to the other hill and tried our best climbing the uneven steps and boulders. We reached the halfway in less than 15 minutes and we could spot few other trekkers climbing. We reached to the top at the right time when the sun had just came out and it was a great site to behold. Looking at the orange circular sun painting the blue sky and flowing light to this side of universe was worth all the efforts we had put in to reach the top. There were places where we had to walk on soft boulders which didn't have any safety and a single wrong step meant a death slide all the way down. We enjoyed our stay at the top clicking photographs of the sun rise, of the surrounding hills, the temple which was the centre point of the city and other temple ruins. We came down carefully and enjoying the views of the city. It was early in the morning and the fresh air was a blessing after climbing the hill. We decided to explore the near by temple which we saw from the top of the hill which was
We had to get down the hill and carry on trekking some more path to reach the area which was a market place when hampi was being ruled by Sri Krishna devaraya. The place had so much of empty ground which was surrounded by lots of pillars on both sides. The market used to sell things from daily foods to diamonds and gold. To the opposite side of the ground was the temple which had two main entrances one after the other which was unique. As through out the city even this temple was ruined and there was no crowd and not worshipped by the people. It was left the way it was destroyed and there was no maintenance there after. The temple courtyard was filled with tall grass and the gates to the main temple was closed and there were no Idols inside. It was just another architecture brilliance of the times when kings and kingdoms existed and how hard people worked for making it possible. We roamed around the surroundings looking at the ruins and decided to get back to city center. We took the long route back and on our way we came across a Jain temple and a community. After walking for quite a while we came back to city center and decided to have breakfast. We had breakfast in one of the road side stalls near virupaksha temple and enjoyed the taste.
After breakfast we went ahead and Decided to rent bicycles and roam around the city. We tested our cycles and bought a water bottle and off we were like locals roaming every corner of the area. We decided to come from back and went all the way to queen's bath which was around 5 kilometres away from city centre. After pedaling and taking small break in the middle we reached our first spot and delightfully drove towards queen's bath.
Ruins of an ornate, historic bathing chamber used by kings and his wives with an outdoor pool. You just can't get out from here without thinking how grandeur and luxurious queen's lives might have been at that time. One interesting fact about this place is that the temperature was controlled without any use of technology. The architecture was designed in such a a way that at any given time water would be in normal temperature even though it was an outdoor swimming pool. Just get there and get lost with your imagination and see how this place used to be when it was functional. After spending some time looking at the architecture and taking photographs we left to our spot.
We thought that there might be another ruin and we could just visit and carry on quickly from here but once you go here you won't keep track of time. This was the place where most important activities in vijayanagara empire used to happen. There are various sites in the enclosure such as kings seat, pushkarani, secret council chamber, mahanavami dibba, dancing stage etc. It will take more than 1 hour to fully explore the area and enjoy the royal beauty of this place. Hire a guide to know interesting stories and mysteries about the place. Beautiful place giving a glimpse of architecture and engineering centuries ago in vijayanagara empire.
Mahanavami dibba is a massive multi layered platform which rises to the height of 12 metres. This place was a hub for religious ceremonies and celebrating festivals. The sides of this place is decorated with carvings such as festival times, hunting scenes, animals, birds, elephants, deers, horses, dancers, musicians etc which will blow your mind away. Get to the top of the structure and see the view from the top.
Pushkarani is a stepped tank brilliantly designed and constructed which shows the heritage of vijayanagara empire. This place was used to collect and store water. It was designed in such a way that the water was collected from a nearby canal which was around 3-4 kilometres away.
Secret council chamber may not look like a place to see but don't get carried away by its looks. Once you take a tour of this place you will remember it for life. This underground chamber was used to hold secret meetings by kings and his companions. Roof is destroyed and you can see interiors from the top but when you go inside through the uneven steps you will feel a chill down the spine. It will be completely dark and cold out there and you will feel as if you are in a horror scene. Just off your torch once you get in and see how it feels to be there. There are other places here to see which are totally destroyed like rangamahal, quarters etc. From here the next pit stop will be a temple.
Hazara Rama temple:
The 15th century temple dedicated to lord Vishnu in his aspects of lord Rama is the finest of Dravidian architecture. The walls of this temple have the artwork and carvings of 1000 inscriptions of ramayana story. The feel of this place is peaceful where you can just sit and relax for sometime after all the exploration. At the center of the inner hall there are four exquisitely carved and polished pillars of black stone. Just outside the temple you will see a big pillar standing tall which was a bazaar at that time where market used to be held.
After this we hopped on to our bicycles and off we went to lotus Mahal. This was yet another enclosure called zenana enclosure which had various structures like lotus Mahal, watch tower, elephant stable, treasury etc in its surroundings. This was one of the few places where you have to pay entry fee which gives you free entry to museum which is present in kamalapura and vittala temple which was to the other extreme but only if you visit all on the same day.
At the center of the enclosure stands a beautiful structure called lotus Mahal and believed that it is constructed for Queens from royal families. The architecture was elegantly constructed with a mix of Hindu and Islamic styles and with cooling facility by keeping terracotta pipes between two stories and fill them with water which kept the Mahal cool at all times.
Elephant stable was a place where royal elephants were kept. There are eleven big rooms with their own dome where elephants were kept and kings elephant at the center. On any auspicious occasion the elephants were decorated and included in the processions. There is a big lawn nearby where one can sit and relax for sometime.
Zenana enclosure had security purposed watch towers at all sides as vantage points for royal queens to keep guard against any trespassers as well as for military uses. Take a tour around the place looking at the ruins and instresting places and get soaked in the royal history of vijayanagara empire.
We wanted to go to museum the next day but as we had got the entry ticket we straight away went to museum without any delay which was around 3 kilometres away. We peddled our bicycles and some how reached to kamalapura and after few turns and crossing the highway we reached the museum.
Museum represents and shows detailed history of hampi and the dynasty which ruled hampi. Collection of sculptures, exhibits and antiques are placed here. Museum has four galleries and also a miniature model of hampi valley with a corridor around to get an idea how hampi looks. The exhibits in this museum are manifold consisting of elegant replicas of most famed ruler of vijayanagara dynasty krishnadevaraya and his Queens greeting the visitors at the entrance. Visit the museum and you will walk out with better knowledge of hampi city and its history. It also has collection of coins,tools, utensils used at those times. Many sculptures and idols like garuda from chariot at vittala, goddess Lakshmi from ugra narasimha statue and some relics from basement of queen's palace which are missing at hampi are present in the museum. There are stories written by various people who have visited hampi when the kingdom was at its glory and when you read the stories you will get to know the grandeur of the place. Overall the visit to museum was worthwhile all the pedaling and also very impactful spot.
Underground shiva temple:
From here we peddled back enjoying the slope road where we could take rest from pedaling but the cycle kept running and went all the way back to underground shiva temple crossing all our visited places.
Underground shiva temple is dedicated to lord Shiva which is constructed below ground level which was something unique to eyes. This place looked quite mysterious and different atmosphere as the place was quite dark and there were bats inside the main sanctum. We cannot enter into the main part of the temple as it is filled with stagnant water and smells bad but the architecture was marvelous. A unique and interesting visit which will make you feel a bit different when you are here. After this cycle Tour around the ruins of hampi immersing ourselves in the heritage and historic preservation of this place and after a worth it visit to museum knowing more about the history and evacuation done by the archeologists we decided to get to other side of the city.
We crossed virupaksha temple and went towards the place where we can take ferry to get to hippie island. We can see the tungabhadra river flowing rapidly which acts as a piligrimage place for some, as a bathing place for some people, as a washing place for some other etc. We have to take ferry to cross the river and get to the hippie island which is totally different to this side of the city. It takes around 5-10 minutes to cross the river but you have to wait till the ferry gets full before it starts it's journey. Or you could take coracle ride which is totally different experience altogether though it costs a little more than ferry ride. One note to remember here is ferries operate at nominal costs only till 5:30 pm and thereafter prices tend to rise like more than 100 for each and you won't any other option than to pay the price to get to other side.
The whole perspective changes once you cross the river. This side of the city is completely different to the other side of the city. This is a completely laid back place compared to busy and enchanting other side. It's because of the hippie foreign backpackers and a few Indians who make this place their home during their stay in hampi. Here, you can either have the laziest fun days of your life by just chilling in the cafes, shacks and restaurants drinking and eating or relaxing with a book. Or take a bike and ride through empty roads with paddy fields on both sides and visit few places like Hanuman temple, sanapur lake and a few spots.
It was around 1:30 pm when we reached here and the main reason for that was the non veg food which we won't get on the temple side. We straight away went to taste of hampi restaurant crossing through a small market type place where few shops and cafes were present. As soon as we entered the restaurant we felt so relaxed looking at the seating arrangement and people chilling while some were playing cards, some reading books, some were in deep conversation and some having their food. We ordered our food and relaxed on the beds arranged on the floor. We didn't have any track of time while we were having our lunch, talking about random things and relaxing. When I saw the time it was around 4:00 pm and even though we were not interested to get up from there we had to continue our exploration on the other side and also because we had booked room on the other side for our stay. We left the place making a promise that we would be here the next day even before the sun rises and make the most out of the day. We went back to ferry and waited for some time before it filled with Indians and foreigners to get to other side. After reaching to other side we took our bicycles and decided to go to vittala temple because we had ticket for it and come back to sunset point which was near virupaksha temple by the time sun sets.
We had no idea that this place was far from virupaksha temple and there was no access to vehicles from some point where we have to walk crossing through boulders and steps. We peddled as far as we could and parked our bicycles and walked rest of the way to reach the temple. From the time when I saw the picture of stone chariot in history textbooks and covers it was finally time to really visit the place and see it through my eyes without any filter and editing. Vittala temple mostly famous for the moving stone chariot and musical pillars explains the cultural heritage of ancient vijayanagara empire. The stone chariot with its majestic wheels and the musical pillars carved from stone reflects craftsmanship and intelligence possesed in those days and to understand the feel of the place are beyond imagination and description and one has to be there and experience it. There are many temples in this complex such as Devi shrine, kalyana mantapa, utsava mantapa, a hundred pillared mantapa and garuda shrine which shows a high level of finesse. We knew that we couldn't make it back to sunset point on time and spent quality time looking all around the temple and it's surroundings.
We walked out of the temple without amazing experience of being there and walked towards some other places nearby such as vittala bazaar where they used to sell horses and another pushkarani which served as water storage tank to collect water from tungabhadra river. We decided to get back to center of the city before it becomes dark as we had to go a long way back which was totally deserted and had to cross boulders. We walked our way back looking at sugriva cave where sugriva of ramayana was hiding from his brother Bali, another place called kings balance which was a big stone pillars used to weigh king against gold and the gold equivalent to kings weight was given to priests and poor people and two storied pavilion which was a two storied structure built out of stone. As we went towards our bicycles I saw that my cycle back tire was punctured. We had to walk our way back to the cycle shop to return the cycle as it was already dark. We were so tired that we went back to room to relax for sometime and found that we missed the key somewhere in the middle of the cycle Tour. We had to call the owner and it took time till he found the duplicate key for it.
I freshened up and fell on bed and I don't know how and at what time I slept that when I woke up thinking to go for dinner I saw my cousin sleeping and the time was around 4:00 am. I laughed at my self and went back to sleep and woke up around 5:00 am as we wanted to go to other side early morning. We asked a ferry guy yesterday about when the ferries start the next morning and he had said that they will start around 6:00 we got ready and packed our bags and left towards the virupaksha temple at around 5:30 am. We crossed the empty streets and went towards tungabhadra river and there were people taking baths and others going to take their morning shit but there was no sight of ferry anywhere. There were coracles placed nearby but there was no one riding them. We had to wait for an hour or so looking at other people and waiting for sun rise. Finally after we got a coracle ride with a rider so after paying him hundred rupees each we hopped in to coracle and started the day with a new adventure and reached to hippie island in less than 10 minutes. We took some photos from small boulders nearby of the sunrise and made way towards hoping we'll get a bike without any trouble. To our surprise even before asking anyone a small kids came towards us asking us if we wanted to rent a bike. We said sure and after negotiating the price we settled on a win/win solution and he went back running to get it ready.
We decided to have our breakfast at a small fast food vehicle until we got our bike. By the time we finished our breakfast the bike was ready. We paid the price for breakfast and bike and started our days journey crossing through humps and uneven roads and rode all the way to anjanadri hill. The roads are a bit narrow but there won't be much traffic and riding through paddy fields across the roads will be fun. It is said to be the birth place of lord Hanuman. There is a Hanuman temple present at the top of the hill and one has to climb 575 steps to get there. The views from the top are breathtaking from different vantage points while climbing. There a lot of monkeys at the top trying to take away anything that might interest them. Best place to catch sunrise and sunrise. Enjoy the panaromic 360 degree view of hampi and it's surroundings. As we had some time we decided to explore nearby small places such as krishnadevaraya tomb, chintamani, pampa sarovar, gagan Mahal, nava brindavana.
Pampa sarovar is a beautiful lake related to mythology linked to ramayana. It is believed that sabari a devotee of Rama met here. There are two small shrines and a picturesque pond at this site.
Gagan Mahal is a old palace built in 16th century present in anegundi kingdom and there is nothing more to see here as it is mostly destroyed.
The krishnadevaraya tomb I'd located in the tungabhadra river and is difficult to reach by foot when the river is in full flow. But when we went there the water was less and we could go till the tomb without any difficulty. Not a popular place and neglected by locals and guides as it is a bit far. It is known as 64 pillared mantapa rather than tomb to the locals.
Nava brindavana, a small island in tungabhadra river is a sacred site and a resting point for nine madhava gurus who lived between 13th to 16th century. It's a bit far inside the river and have to walk for sometime if the river is dried and when the water is more one can take a ferry ride to reach here.
Chintamani is a temple situated inside a cave and believed to be when Rama met sugreeva along with Hanuman for the first time to ask for help to find sita. Another story is that Rama shot Bali with an arrow while bali was fighting with sugreeva to the other side of tungabhadra river.
After a short tour of not so famous anegundi and hearing stories of ramayana we took a long ride all the way to sanapur lake. A serene ride through quite roads with scenic surroundings and small villages. It is a water reservoir used for irrigation of lands for nearby villages. There are coracle ride available which will take you for a short ride in the water. You can just sit and relax in the tree shades or you can hike through mountains and explore the place and find a cliff from where you can jump into water or you can take a dip and have fun swimming in the water considering you are good at swimming. Plan to stay a night in one of the few resorts available and enjoy the night watching fresh view of sky and wake up to the awe dropping sun rising from below the water. We took a ride all the way till we crossed a small dam which made a channel from where water was rapidly flowing and passing through big rocks and went on and on and on. We rode till some point and came back to the dam and spent some time chilling below trees. After sometime we decided to get back to hampi island and rode our way back passing through broken old dam.
We went to laughing Buddha restaurant and took rest sipping cool drinks with a stunning view of virupaksha temple and tungabhadra river and good music to it. There were only few groups of people and most of them were hippie foreigners. Nature lovers will fall in this place with the view and the seating arrangement and add to it all the beautiful cats and dogs lazing around the lawn near the stay area. There are hut rooms and shacks available here. We just chilled there listening to music and drinking cool drinks for half an hour looking at the view. Then we decided to order our food. Food was tasty and there are many options available from pizza, lasagna, pasta and many other but price is on a higher side compared to other places. We had our lunch and just sat there for sometime. It is such a laid back place that you won't feel like getting up from there. But as we had to visit some more places on the other side of the city we decided to day goodbye to the hippie island.
We took a ferry back and walked to virupaksha temple enjoying the view of tungabhadra river. As we had visited vripuksha temple at night we thought to go there again and see how it's in day time. It is one of the intricate architecture present in hampi which is in pristine condition and functional till now. Temple is dedicated to lord Shiva and many more sculptures around which will make you wonder how brilliant our ancestors were. Don't miss the inverted shadow of entrance head through a small hole inside temple premises. It is believed that temple has been functioning uninterruptedly even since small shrine was built in 7th century AD which makes it one of the oldest functioning temples in India.
Ugra narasimha temple:
We had few more temples to cover which were nearby the hemkuta hill and our plan was to come from back and be at sunset point of hemkuta hill to see the sunset. So we walked all the way back to ugra narasimha temple. The first sight of narasimha Swamy idol will blow your mind away. Amazing monolithic carving of lord narasimha sitting tall on the coil of a seven headed snake called sesha at above 6 metres without a roof which was destroyed. Even though the sculpture is damaged it had not loosened it's beauty considering there is no protection from sunlight or rain.
Situated just beside ugra narasimha temple is a huge linga of shiva carved out of a single black stone. There is a canal that runs from the river through the linga to water the fields which are present in the surroundings.
Sri Krishna temple:
As we enter into the city of hampi we come across this 16th century temple ruins dedicated to lord balakrishna with elaborately carved stone pillars and a tower and a sacred water tank. The sanctum and namaskara mandapam are the standout structures here and will give you a divine feeling. Just opposite to the temple you will see a large empty area which is Krishna bazaar and there is a pushkarani of the temple.
This temple is dedicated to lord ganesh and is situated at the foothill of hemakuta hill. The god is seated in a large open mantapa carved out of a single boulder which shows the fine artistic skills.
Another temple of lord ganesha which is present in an enclosed mantapa. This particular ganesha idol looks gigantic and had a very big belly generally called as pea nut ganesha. The temple is a beautiful stone structure and the hall is decorated with tall and slender granite pillars decorated with various mythological characters and themes carved out on them. The view from here is picturesque as the temple is on a hill.
Hemakuta group of temples:
There are numerous temples constructed on the stone hill slope to the right of virupaksha temple. There is a small pond up on the hill just beside one of the temple midst all the boulders and rocks. The architecture of the temples still hold the charm and details even though they are not functional. There is a sunset point if you walk left to the two storied structure from where you can catch the best sunset ever if you wait for it.
This was the last thing I was waiting for and we just sat there reading the history of hampi from a book I bought earlier and waited patiently along with some other people mostly foreigners for sun to go down. After some time we went towards the edge of the hill and sat down to see the best sunset of my life. There were people scattered at the edge of the hill and absolute silence followed while the sun just hypnotized all of us with its charming beauty and bidding us a good bye for the day. What a perfect way to end our once in a lifetime experience of exploring the hampi kingdom. We sat there till the sun went all the way and decided to end our trip by having our dinner at mango tree restaurant.
We climbed down the hill towards the virupaksha temple and made our way to mango tree restaurant and filled out tummies with the delicious food and went to bus stop to take bus to hospete from where we had to take train to Bangalore.
Places to visit :
Places visited :
Sri virupaksha temple
Hazara Rama temple
Underground shiva temple
taste of hampi
hemkuta group of temples