August 20, 2016

Wandering alone in Karnataka - Part 3: Reminiscence of the Vijayanagar Kingdom!

Hi Guys,

To read Part 1, click here (The Start)
To read Part 2, click here (Exploring Hampi)

Day 3 – Aug 1, 2016
It was my second day at Hampi and I was determined to cover most of it that day. After an energetic toast and tea at Mango Tree, I rented a Bicycle (Rs.100 per day) and headed straight to Kamalapur. Cycles are good way of covering Hampi though it can be a bit tedious covering distances and riding across the hilly terrain. Kamalapur is a small village 4 kms away from Hampi and has 3 ATMs. The route is filled with all the key ruins apart from lush green paddy and sugarcane fields. After withdrawing money from one of the ATMs, I headed back the same way to start the exploration.
My Cycle for the day
First stop was Lotus Mahal which is inside the Zenena enclosure. There is the basement of Queen’s palace in this enclosure along with beautifully designed Lotus Mahal, the treasury building and a few Watch towers. Just outside the complex is the Elephant’s stable which consists of 11 spacious rooms interconnected with each other. After some imagination of how splendid this place would have been with Queens, soldiers and Elephants, I moved on (You might wonder how Queen's palace and treasury building are in same place - there is a contradictory view that this place was never the Queen's palace and was an administrative building)
Basement of Queen's Palace (Watch Tower visible on extreme left)
Lotus Mahal
Watch Tower
Elephant Stable
After taking my cycle, I headed to Hajarama temple which is said to be a temple built only for the Royal people. Then I headed to the Royal enclosure which houses a lot of ruins which were once the palace that were adorned by Kings. The entrance has Mahanavami Dibba which is tall structure with inscriptions of elephants, horses, etc. The detailing is exquisite. The kings and royal audience have attended ceremonies and festivals from this place. The complex also has a marvelous stepped tank which has beautifully carved out steps leading to the water. Apart from that there are ruins of the palace, King’s Audience and a underground war planning chamber.
Stepped Water Tank
Queen's bath
On the way back, I made a visit to  a huge Krishna temple which is also currently in ruins, but the Government is making efforts to revive the temple. After that, I stopped near a hillock and visited Sasikavelu Ganesh, a huge statue of Lord Ganesh and started climbing the steps and ended upon the two tiered entrance and the Sunset point. Only, then did I realize I was at Hemakunta Hill and how the place is structured. I met another interesting group here consisting of people from Pondicherry staying in Hampi for 7 days and exploring. As I started back to the Bazaar, the sky opened up. The rain coat I had carried all the way came in handy. After finishing Lunch at Mango Tree, I came back to the center of Hampi and it started pouring again.
Krishna Temple Entrance
Sasivekalu Ganesh
I took shelter under the magnificent tower of Virupaksha temple. Once again an Auto Driver came asking if I wanted a whole trip of Hampi in Auto. As I said no, he started chatting with me casually and told he was planning to come over to Tamil Nadu on a trip. I learnt that there are totally around 50-55 temples around Hampi which will take days to cover. As rains slowed down, I came back to my room.
A view from the Sunset point
I went to Virupaksha temple in the night and it was just splendid. The sodium vapour light created a mystic feel to the temple. I again visited the inside of the temple with not much crowd. This time I was able to realize the temple is not just magnificent, but has so many intricate details. I promised to come over early next day to see the temple in broad daylight.
Virupaksha Temple - majestic in day and mystic at night...
Only by the end of this day, I was able to visualize the entire setting of Hampi and the locations of monuments. After looking into the map now, I was able to realize what I had seen and what I had missed out.

Day 4 – Aug 2, 2016
After two days of rains, it was a day with bright sunlight. I had few thoughts in my mind – To head to Hospet to see Tungabhadra dam, to cross the river and see Anegundi (the earlier capital of the kingdom) or visit the left over portion. Decided to go with third option and rented a cycle again. The day started with Virupaksha temple. I also met the same group from Pondicherry again at the temple. The temple was wonderful in bright daylight and it kept throwing new surprises at me. I took a detailed note of the inner sanctum carvings which were designed in the 5th or 6th century. After that, I went to an area marked as ‘Inverted Tower’. It is designed in such a way that light coming through a small hole makes the main tower appear inverted in nature. Interesting design!
Virupaksha Temple in Broad Daylight
Again went all the way to Kamalapur and went to the Archaeological museum. The entrance fee is Rs. 30 and there was no one inside apart from me. The four galleries had a few statues and in center there was a huge model of Hampi designed way back in 1978. The museum wasn't worth a visit.. As I came out, a boy came and told I have to give Rs. 5 for cycle parking and I had to visit a few shops around to get the change! I moved on to Pattabirama temple which is nearby to the museum. As I went there, the place was in complete shambles with the floors and roof opened up and work going on. I came back to the main road and headed to Ganagitti Jain temple which is again on the outskirts. There are quite a lot of Jain and Muslim structures in the area constructed in the same time period as that of Hindu temples.
Ganagitti Jain Temple
Again I moved back to the Royal Enclosure and now with my enlightened knowledge, I had a better glimpse of the place. There were lot of tourists this day compared to the first two days. It was good to see people around after roaming alone in most of the places. As I came out, I saw the two giant Doors kept in floor which I had missed the other day. Similarly, I visited the Underground Siva temple on the way back but it the underground portions were unreachable due to the rains. I headed back to the Hemakunta hill and went to see Badavi Linga and Ugra Narashima, two giant statues located at the entrance of Hampi.

The two giant doors
Badavi Linga - always dipped in water
The magnificent Ugra Narasimha
The day was hot and I was tired by then. So, I slept for some time in the afternoon before returning the cycle in the evening. Around 6 pm, went to Tungabhardra River for the sunset. Unfortunately the clouds avoided the scenic view. Made one last visit to Virupaksha temple in the night and then headed to the room. I had to pack my bags to catch an early train the next day and I was in no mood to pack. I was emotionally attached to Hampi by then.
Tungabhadra River in the evening
After a tough time, I packed things up and slept with dreams of how magnificent the city would have been in its peak. Every rise has a fall!

To be continued...

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

Happy Reading!

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