Duration of the journey: 18 hours
Traveling with: A close friend (luxurious traveler (never traveled by non-ac transports, Indian railways, state buses etc)-this trip changed her life… (Thank you very much!))
Time Travelling to the 13th century - Hampi
The colour of this place is sepia with patches of greenery around. Coconut trees, banana fields and mango trees add to the drama. The undeveloped landscape is covered with natural boulders perched upon one another defying the laws of gravity. It feels as if they are romancing in unique positions. It is one of the most unique sites one could ever experience in India. And the best part is, it always leaves you wondering about the story behind each boulder. These boulders are living witness of the mighty Vijayanagra Empire of the 13th century.
Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagra Empire. The empire was formed to protect the Indian religion and culture from the invaders. Over a period ranging from the mid 13th century to the late 16th century, Vijayanagar Empire was ruled by four dynasties – Sangam, Salva, Tulu and Aravidu. The founders of Vijayanagar were selfless and broad minded. Their aim was to protect the Indian culture & traditions, increase knowledge and encourage art & literature. Their lifestyle is reflected in the ruins, rich in history and culture. The ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi.
After an adventurous journey of almost 18 hours, we reached Hospet next day in the evening. From here Hampi is 30 mins drive. We hired a rick from the bus stop to reach to the hotel. There we realised we had to cross a river to reach to our hotel. The rick guy was friendly and showed us a glimpse of the place. We were so awestruck by the beauty of the ruins that we couldn’t keep our heads inside the rick. It felt as if we were time travelling to the 13th century and was worth our adventure. The ruins are surreal, enchanting and will leave you speechless. He dropped us by the river side. From there we took a boat to reach to our hotel.
On our way to the hotel we hired a Hero Puch for two days. It is available for Rs. 150 on a per day basis excluding the cost of the fuel.
We stayed in “The Goa resort”. It is located on the other side of the river Tungabhadra, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourists. There are small huts with basic necessities and a hammock on the outside. The place is trippy and nicely done up with small lamps lining the garden area. Banana fields, paddy fields and boulders surround the resort. The environment is peaceful and full of greenery. It is slightly deserted but can vouch for its safety. The staff is friendly and very cooperative.
There are more than 32 sites in and around Hampi, each with a different story and significance. Therefore, we divided the areas in two-halves that we covered over a span of two days.
We started our trip with the visit to the Hanuman temple on the Anjana Hills. It is situated on the top of the hill which takes about 30 minutes to climb. It is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. We also covered the Sarovar and other shrines in the surrounding area. Later we discovered the other side of the river Tungabhadra. One of the unique things is crossing the river. Each time you have to pay Rs. 10 to cross the river, but the experience is priceless. There are small boats carrying around 8-10 people along with their vehicles. Locals will always be ready to give you a helping hand. The 10 minute boat ride is an experience of its own. You get to meet different travelers and locals on the boat or while waiting for a boat.
All the monuments in Hampi are the living proof of the brilliant craftsmanship of the Vijayanagara Empire. The architectural style of each monument is similar except few of the structures that is a mix of Hindu and Muslim architectural style like Queens Bath, Elephant stable etc. Monolithic pillars are a common style of most of the structures. These pillars are finely carved with the figures of apsara (angels), lotus, swans, yoga postures, horses, elephants, soldiers, kings; Gods like Shiva’s ling, Krishna etc etched on them. There are many carvings inspired from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Each ornate carving depicts the lifestyle, belief royalty, freedom of expression of that era.
Of all the monuments, my personal favorite is the Vitthala temple. This temple is spread in a huge area surrounded by many beautiful ruins. In front of this temple is the famous stone chariot. It is the standing beauty of its time. Soldiers, hunters, the Portuguese, the Arabs and the Persians have been depicted on the chariot.
Many a places we were so enamored by the art and the landscape that we just didn’t click or speak. WE WERE LEFT SPELLBOUND DUMBSTRUCK SPEECHLESS. One such place was the Saraswati temple. This temple is surrounded by open fields. The view is so surreal that we lost our sense of scale and perspective. We sat on the staircase staring into the horizon. It was so peaceful that we could hear our own thoughts and the heart beats until it was broken by a group of Japanese tourists clicking the pictures of cattle grazing in the field:):). Another place that left a deep impact on my soul is the underground Shiva temple. At the entrance is the big statue of Nandi. The Shiv ling is placed inside the temple. The ground is covered with knee deep freezing water. I felt at peace after visiting this temple.
If you love South Indian delicacies, this is the place. First day we went to Mango Tree. It is famous for its South Indian thali and other delicacies. The food is served in an authentic style on the banana leaves. It’s mouthwatering and the taste of sambhar is just perfect. We also tried other restaurants in the vicinity. It may appear Hampi will not have variety in the type of cuisines and serves only Indian delicacies but you will be stumped to see the options. They serve authentic continental, Israeli as well as other types of cuisines.
Evenings are sublime and peaceful. Sunset view from the boulders is simply breathtaking. During the evening there are hippies dancing and singing on the boulders. As the rays of the sun soften, the environment becomes soothing. The music creates calming and trippy effect on the mind, body and soul.
Nights in Hampi is peaceful and laid back. It is dark and ridiculously quiet clouded with the sounds of insects but safe. After the hectic schedule, we stepped out of our resort for some beers and stargazing. Star gazing on the boulders is one of the recommended things to do. There are few places to dance and party. Some of the restaurants play movies. We were little exhausted so we decided to spend a peaceful evening and we ended up watching the Life of Pi in one of the restaurants.
We experienced the most beautiful sunrise by the river side on the boulders. It’s mesmerizingly breathtaking. As the sun rises, the reddish hue covers the sky. The horizon seems to be lined up with the silhouette of the temples and the ruins. Sun peaks from behind the Virupaksha temple making it the most beautiful site ever. We took a Coracle (rounded boat) boat ride down the river just to experience the misty chilled morning. The boatman gave us a thrilling experience by circling the boat in an immense speed at regular intervals. It was like a childhood fun ride.
This place has a unique energy and vibe. It gets on to you the moment you step your foot on this land and the effect lasts forever. The epic landscape is well suited for any hedonist’s dream. In Hampi, there are no moments of despair. It is a happy place with affectionate and trippy people. It is the safest place on Earth and a great place to re-discover the roots of the Indian culture and meet people from different continents and make friends.
I am awe-inspired in love with this place. I wish this place stays this way forever, it’s just gorgeous.
For me, one thing that captures the essence rather describes the feeling associated with this place is the lullaby from Life of Pi. It is the background score that always plays in my mind whenever I think about this place. Just like this song, this place has calming, soothing effect…light; undisturbed thoughts and feels like you are floating in the beauty of the ruins. It will take you to your happy land, in peaceful dreams with a smile on your face or may be happy satisfied teary eyes.
Link for the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vbxdqCi_AQ
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