Sometimes, it just feels amazing to be associated to a rich cultural heritage and a history that dates back to ages unknown. But very often we just tend to ignore all of it and just flow along with life. I wonder that even a traveler from a western country might at times be more aware than the knowledge that I possess about our country. Unfortunately, history of India is so vast that it’s beyond my reach of grasping. So, I just decide to touch upon some of it which might be exciting and visit places which stand proudly with a story to tell
13-15th Nov 2012
I joined my good old friend on a trip to Hampi, Karnataka which is a village located in the ruins of Vijayanagara and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We took a bus from Mumbai and reached Hospet early morning from where we took an auto to Hampi (10-15 kms from Hospet). This beautiful village is built on the banks of river Tungabhadra and derives it’s name from the same. Dating back to about 13th century AD, Hampi is known for it’s divine architecture, skilfully crafted temples and a pristine river. Like someone said “you stand anywhere and click a photograph and it would develop into an amazing frame”. The village is divided into two halves by the river Tungabhadra. On one side are the old temples, hillocks, bazaars and the other side is a more commercial land developed to accommodate tourists. Interestingly, there are no big hotels in that region but only shacks and huts across paddy fields, which would give a feeling of a true village. We took a boat to cross the river from Virupapur Gaddi to reach the other side and quickly checked in one of the huts which we had booked over phone. The village is known to be flocked by more global tourists than fellow Indian visitors. The huts were comfortable at Sunny Guest House and they had a lounge with mattresses lying on the ground and trance music tickling your ears throughout the day. The most amazing way to start off the journey was to begin with a lazy holiday gazing into paddy fields and munching through a delicious breakfast.
In the afternoon we decided to cross the river again and start unveiling history. Since it was pretty hot, we sat down at Mango Tree (the most famous restaurant in Hampi) to drink some fresh fruit juice and then head towards the temple. The biggest temple just across the river known as the Virupaksha temple is home to shrines of several gods and goddesses. We walked around the premises of the temple and spent long hours clicking pictures around. You would also come across elephants, monkeys, goats within the compound of the temple just as easily as humans. But what is totally different about the temple is the peace within. Calm, composed and poised, standing tall through generations it clearly differs from some other temples which anyone would have come across
It was a slow day and we didn’t do much to cover but we realized that there are lots to cover and 2 days might just not be sufficient enough so we hired an auto for the next day. As the sun decided to retire for the day we quickly hurried back to the river bank as the boats stop crossing after 6 pm. We crossed the river and sat down near the river to appreciate the beautiful sun setting down in the far corner of the sky. There is nothing much to do in the evenings but to laze around in the resort lounge. You can mingle around with tourists and people around, watch TV or just sit back and have some good food. Although alcohol is not as abundant here, you can manage to get your hands on some chilled beer on this side of the river.
The next day we started early at about 6 a.m, crossed the river and walked around the terrain and covered Monolith bull, Achyutaraya temple and Kings balance. The ruins of the Achyutaraya temple are amongst the most beautiful ones from the Vijayanagara empire. The open markets or bazaars are a visual treat. You can also observe architectural patterns like aqueducts, pillars with carvings,water tanks across all temples.The king’s balance is also a unique structure where the kings used to weigh themselves with ornaments and distribute them to priests. Hampi is a highly rocky terrain and to walk around the structures and roads is a tough job. It leaves you exhausted within no time. The best way to cover this village is either by hiring an auto or to hire a bike and ride on your own.
So, we hopped on to our auto driven by a local studboy who drove us around the circumference of Hampi, constantly cracking jokes and sharing trivia about the structures. We visited several temples like the monolithic small ganesha and big ganesha temples, Shivalinga, Ugra-Narasimha, Royal enclosures, Queens bath, Underground temple etc. With an unending list of places to cover, we decided to skip the last structure which was the Vittala temple and decided to head towards the outskirts to view sunset from a hilltop. We decided to come back the next day to cover Vittala temple as we had to head back to our sheds. But it was a good decision to see the sunset from the hilltop.
We decided to have a dinner at the Mango Tree. It was already late and the last boat to the other side of the river had crossed but since we had heard a lot about the food there and the ambiance of the restaurant which overlooked the river Tungabhadra we took a chance. The food turned out to be just okay but there were a lot of mosquitoes and it was already dark so the river was not visible. We called our guest house manager and he confirmed that he would arrange something for us to come back to the other side. After about an hour, a guy came with a coracle to pick us up. To be honest, it was not easy to sit through the 10 min ride in the coracle on a cold dark night while the guy waded through with ease. We were lucky to have crossed the river in the dark although we had to pay 5 times extra for the ride.It was Diwali and to our surprise there were no firecrackers around. Nevertheless, it was a long tiring day and we decided to rest early.
The next day we woke early, checked out from our guest house and had breakfast at the famous Goan Corner. Then we came back to visit the last temple which we had skipped – the Vittala temple. The Vittala temple is known for it’s beautiful stone chariot and sculptures beautifully carved in the pillars of the halls. After spending about an hour there we walked back towards Virupapur Gaddi but we came across a beautiful Mandap (ceremonial hall) right on the river bank and sat down for a while and clicked pictures. We then had some amazing wooden oven cooked pizza at Garden Paradise near Hampi Bazaar. We then hired a bike and drove around to Anegundi, Broken bridge and Pampa Sarovar on the other side of the river where we stayed. There is a Hanuman temple on Anjaneya hills which is known to be the birth place of Hanuman. But with about 572 steps it comes across as an imposing hill which cannot be conquered. So we decided to chuck that and roamed around without much to do. There is a beautiful lake where you can sit and relax under the boulders apart from feeding the fishes in the lake. It was about time for us to head back to the village where we hired an auto back to Hospet and then catch our bus to Mumbai.
It was really tiring because we had walked a lot through the rocks, but thankfully we got an extended weekend to rest at home back in Mumbai. The trip was amazing just because the visual treat is still engraved in my memory. Atleast I could touch upon a UNESCO World Heritage site that is so beautiful and picturesque.
Food – Rs 200-300/- per person per meal
Stay – Rs 700-1000/- per room per night
Auto – Rs 600/- per trip
Bike – Rs 100-300/- per day and petrol Rs 100/- per litre
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