August 14, 2016

Wandering alone in Karnataka - Part 2: Exploring Hampi!

Hi Guys,

To read Part 1, click here (The Start)

Day 2 – Jul 31, 2016

After finishing my breakfast at Mango Tree, I was all set to start my exploration!

A bit about Hampi here – Hampi is one of the biggest ruins that you will see in our country. Hampi was the capital of Vijaynagar empire which is of the key kingdoms in India around 14th-16th century in India and had the famous Krishnadevaraya as one of the kings. The city was established in the southern banks of mighty Tungabhadra River amidst Rocks and Boulders. The city has been constructed with Rock on Rock. The ruins are spread across 29 sq. km of Area and is a UNESCO Heritage site. There are around 85 key marked monuments and numerous unmarked monuments here.

Though I had seen a lot of maps on Hampi, nothing stayed in my head for the place is humongous. I started with Virupaksha temple which is the centre of Hampi today. It is a huge temple that was built across various phases starting from as early as 5th century when the Inner Sanctums are said to be built. The outer structures and towers were built by the Vijaynagar rules around 14th century. The temple's entrance tower is majestic at a height of 50m and 9 tiered. It is a still a living temple and visited by numerous people from surrounding villages every day. The mainy deity is Lord Shiva. The temple was so crowded when I visited the first time. Then I headed to Tungabhadra River which borders along the temple. The river is huge, was flowing full with monsoon waters and so scenic. Had to admire the stone steps that were constructed centuries ago to access the river and also the height prevents the flooding of river.
Virupaksha Temple
I came out of the temple and got a Local Map from one of the sellers and as soon as that happened, many Auto drivers swanked around me saying that they will take me around the full of Hampi. I was in no mood for that. If you are running short of time, Autos are the best option to roam around. They charge around 600-800 for a full day which is till 4 pm. After dissuading them, I climbed on the hill that is on the left of the temple. Also known as Hemakunta hill, the hill houses a few temples including temples for Lord Ganesh, Hanuman, Jain temples, a two towered entrance and a Sunset point. The first time I climbed, I had no idea where to head to and climbed down half the way.
Atop the Hemakunta Hill
Jain Temples on Hemakunta Hill
Then I headed straight from the temple and started following a trail. The trail was along the Tungabhadra River and was filled with boulders. It led to Kodandarama temple which is a small living temple. The priest outside advised me to go ahead and there are lot of places around. So, I started walking and after sometime I was roaming all alone with no idea of where the trail leads. As I was wondering of turning back, met a group of tourists coming from the other way. They advised me to go ahead as there are lot of interesting places.
Tungabhadra river along the trail
Ahead was an interesting place known as King’s Balance where Kings used to weigh themselves and donate to the villages around. Going ahead I striked upon the famous Vittala temple complex. Vittala temple is currently a ruined temple, but is known for the famous Stone Chariot. An impressive Chariot made completely of stone is constructed facing the temple. The entrance to the temple is Rs. 30 and can be used to access Lotus Mahal too if accessed on the same day. On coming out I figured out, there is an easily accessible way to the temple on the other side with a road connecting Hampi to the place (but that is at least 8 kms away from Hampi).
Vittala Temple
The famous Stone Chariot
Then I followed back the trail and as I reached Kodandarama temple, there was Chaos outside. A cobra had entered the temple and it was crawling around. A few Cows were coming by the way and they were threatening the Cobra and people were threatening the cows to get away. It was quite a scene. I headed to see the Monolithic Bull statue and then tried climbing the Matanga hill, but then stopped after 30-35 steps as I saw no one around. As I came back to Hampi Bazaar, monkeys were running all around snatching anything edible from people. A child lost her banana and her mother lost the flowers that decorated her hair. As I was clicking photos of them, one monkey snarled at me. I closed my camera, kept it inside the bag and rushed to Mango Tree for Lunch and it was already around 3 pm. It started raining as I was having lunch.
Monolithic Bull
One of those mischievous monkeys

After rains, I went back to room and then headed again to the Tungabhadra river. As I was sitting on the banks, the rains arrived again. This time it was quite scenic to see the rain spreading from west to east and how people figure out arrival of rains and cover the shops. And the rains meant an end to my explorations for the day.

To be continued...

To read Part 3, click here (Reminiscence of Vijayanagar Kingdom)

To read Part 4, click here (Hampi - Dudhsgar - Margao - Murdeswar)

Happy Reading!

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