Like many of us, I grew up despising History Lessons. The long narratives of valiant battles & mercurial dynasties bored me. The odd dates with prime numbers, between which wars were fought, drained me. The long, difficult to pronounce – names of Emperors & Kings, sapped my energy.
Little did I know that I will grow up to fall in love with places that were built hundreds of years back and are replete with stories of wars, battles, strategies & history. Hampi – the ruins of Vijaynagara Empire, is one of my favorite places that’s a rare combination of History, Architecture & Mythology.
Situated on the banks of Tungabhadra river, Hampi is home to myriad religious spots (temples), strewn with boulders all over, dotted with monuments & monolithic structures of mythological and heritage value.
I went to Hampi in August of 2015 when the mornings are pleasant but noons are hot & humid. There’s so much to see, feel & experience in Hampi that one post can’t do justice to the city. So, I have divided my travel story in two posts.
In this post, I will take you through the knick knacks of the city. These places, although, are of day-to-day significance, but are designed so intricately that each wall sings thousands of songs, each pillar is a masterpiece in itself and each carving & mural takes you to a journey back in time.
We started off our journey with the old Hampi Bazaar. As soon as we booked a guide, he took us to a city tour & our first stop was: Lotus Palace.
Also titled Chitragani Mahal and Kamal Mahal, Lotus Palace is part of Zenana Enclosure, reserved for the ladies of that time. The guide took good two minutes to draw the character and personality sketch of the two wives of the King who once ruled the place. I remember him talking about how beautiful they both looked under the moonlit skies and how they would never share anything with each other.
Much hasn’t changed since then. 🙂
In the same complex, is situated – Elephant Stable with 11 adjoining slots – designed to shelter the royal herd of elephants.
What blows your mind is the fact that such simple structures, designed purely for their functional value, can be so beautiful that generations after generations, would travel from far flung & nearby places, alike, to catch a glimpse.
Farms as seen from the heights of Hampi:
Our next stop after Zenana Enclosure was a place that housed a magnanimous Stepped Tank & a few places of heights.
This one was clicked from a place that must have provided the best Sunrise and Sunsets of the city. We visited in August, but I do wonder how this place must look like in spring.
Pushkarani – stepped water tank:
The Pushkaranis are the sacred water tanks of temples. Most of the Hampi temples have pushkaranis. This one was majestic. They don’t allow you to step much inside for the fear of accidents. In fact, this was one of the very few places with a watch guard cautiously ensuring that no one steps inside.
I am sure they did not let anyone inside the temple pushkarnis in the olden days either – for these tanks were of religious significance, then.
Plate or Stone – Who can tell?
This big stone (plate) was lying near the Pushkarni & our guide made an extra effort to take us there. He introduced the stone as the plate that the army used during meals. He also went on claiming that this design of a circular plate with small, multiple bowls on the side is a design indigenous to them. The five stars have copied this design from them, the incumbents of Hampi (the place that belonged to Vijayanagara Empire once).
Known for its exceptional architecture and unmatched craftsmanship, Vittala Temple is one of the largest and the most famous structure in Hampi. Situated near the banks of the Tungabhadra River, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vittalla who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Vittala Temple is home to many iconic & grandeur architectural structures like the Stone Chariot & Musical Pillars.
The Mahamandapam – Main Sanctum
The Maha Mantapa is right in the middle of the inner courtyard of the temple complex. It is beautifully structured and has a highly decorated vase with carvings of warriors, horses, swans and gods.
Inside the Vittala Temple, one of the many main attractions is Ranga Mantapa. The large mantapa is known to India and abroad for its 56 musical pillars.Also called SAREGAMA pillars, these pillars are gifted with music making. Give the pillar a gentle tap and you will witness a musical wonder in front of your eyes – unknown to one and all.
The famous Stone Chariot
And here is the picture of the richly sculpted Stone Chariot – the most stunning architecture of the Vijayanagara empire. The Stone Chariot or Ratha stands in the courtyard of temple. This stone chariot is one of three famous stone chariots of India. You will find the other two in Konark (Odissa) and Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu).
Inside the temple complex, I discovered this tree with a twisted trunk just like the tales from the time that has gone by. You can’t spot the tree’s roots since they are way below the ground. All we have got is the green leaves and brown stems – enough to weave stories to be told to one and all.
Commute: Nearest Airport is Bellary Airport. Nearest Railway Station is Hospet. If you can, I advise you to take a road trip from Bangalore to Hampi. You would not be disappointed.
Stay: Hotel Mayura (KSTDC chain) – one of the better ones in the town. Hygienic, clean & spacious bathrooms. The best part about them is the coffee they serve – the most energetic beverage only for INR 20
Budget (average): INR 5K for two people for two days.
Selfie/ Photography Tips: The best ones will be clicked around Stepped Tank, Vitthala Templa & Elephant Stables.