A long weekend planned us a 3 days visit to Hampi! As Jessica got comp-off on 3rd October, I too took leave for my birthday. We researched some more places around Hampi and added Bijapur and Badami also to our trip.
Day 1 – 30th September 2017
We took a Gol Gumbaaz Express train from Bangalore to Bijapur and reached there by 11am since the train was late by 1 hour. We kept our bags in the clock room. Gol Gumbaaz was visible the moment we stepped out of the station. We booked a Tonga outside the station for ₹500.
Bijapur, initially known as Vijayapura or the City of Victory, was established by the Chalukyas and later, taken over by the Yadavas. It was only during the subsequent rule of the Deccan Sultanates that Bijapur attained many of its famous Islamic landmarks.
Our first stop was Jumma Masjid. It is the largest and oldest mosque in the Deccan. It is at 1200 yards to the east of the citadel. Ali Adil Shah I, after his triumphant victory over Vijayanagara built this mosque. The mosque, with a height of 120 ft, is set over an area of 10,810 sq m. Well-designed arches & rooms and a fountain at the center are some of the features that make the mosque look beautiful. There is a big hall and a huge dome and 33 domes closely encircling it. Additionally, there also are 12 arches built with 12 interleaving arches and intricately designed gateway, which was designed by Aurangzeb. The holy Koran, inscribed in gold, is also one of the attracting features of the mosque.
Next we went to Jod Gumbaz. It is a set of tombs that have now been converted into a dargah. Since we could not go inside, we just clicked a few pictures from outside and went back to our Tonga. Our Tonga wala was missing so we clicked pictures with the horse while we waited.
Tonga Bhaiya took us to Taj Bawdi which is a water reservoir that was built to commemorate Taj Sultana, Ibrahim II ’s first wife. The entrance arch is very impressive and has two octagonal towers; the east & west wings of the two towers were used as rest houses.
Our next stop was Ibrahim Rauza which is the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (ruled 1580-1627) who was known for religious tolerance. Built on a single rock bed, it is noted for the symmetry of its features. Ibrahim Rauza comprises two buildings, a magnificent tomb and a remarkable mosque enveloped by a garden. Facing each other, these twin buildings have a fountain in between them. Both the buildings have square plans with four minarets at the corners and a bulbous dome at the centre, which emerges from lotus petals. This is the most ornate building in Bijapur. We found some kids who saw us clicking pictures and wanted to click our pictures together. They asked us to sit on the window and directed us to pose. The result is amazing. One of the kid innocently asked “Apke Mummy Papa kuch nahi bolte ja aap log ghoomte ho?”. We just smiled since we did not know what to tell her about being an adult.
By the time we came out of Ibrahim Rauza, we were hungry and wanted to go to eat. So we asked Tonga wale bhaiya to take us for lunch. He then informed us that mostly all the important attractions has been covered and we just need to see 3 more small places and then we would be proceeding for lunch and finally at Gol Gumbaz.
Next we went to Malik-e-Maidan (Master of the Battlefield). It has a large cannon, 4.45 metres (14.6 ft) long and 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in diameter with a 700 millimetres (28 in) bore. The cannon weighs 55 tonnes and is considered one of the largest medieval guns made. The cannon’s nozzle is fashioned into the shape of a lion’s head with open jaws & between the carved fangs is depicted an elephant being crushed to death. It was cast from bell metal by a Turkish Bell Smith and erected by Ibrahim Adil Shah II.
Tonga wale bhaiya then took us to Upli Burj. It is a 80 feet tower which was built in 1584 by Hyder Khan. This is a spherical structure with stone steps winding round the outside. There are 70 steps to reach the top of the tower to get a great view of Bijapur. Since we were too hungry and tired, we gave the climbing a miss.
Our last stop before lunch was Barakaman. Barakaman (meaning 12 arches) is a mausoleum of Ali Roza built in 1672. It has now seven arches and the tomb containing the graves of Ali, his queens and eleven other ladies possibly belonging to the Zenana of the queens. The place was very beautiful and picturesque, so despite being hungry we clicked lots of pictures. Our inner model woke and the chain poses started. Finally hunger took us over and we decided to go for lunch.
After lunch, Tonga wale bhaiya dropped us off at Gol Gumbaz. Gol Gumbaz is one of the major attractions of the city. Built by Yaqut of Dabul (architect under Mohammed Adil Shah’s patronage), the structure is remarked as the world’s 2nd largest dome. There is no pillar used in raising the structure. There are stairs that connect four minarets to the dome. Thus, one can enjoy the panoramic view of the city. A particular attraction in this monument is the Whispering Gallery, where every sound is echoed seven times and even a sound as faint as a whisper can be heard. But the place was inundated by a cacophony of shrieks, whistles and whoops made by the visiting tourists. We could see the whole of Bijapur from 7th floor. Since we had to catch a train to Badami at 5pm and it was already 4pm when we reached Gol Gumbaz, we climbed 7 floors without break. We stayed there for 5-10 mins then again climbed down the stairs. We were down by 4:30pm. We took an auto to station outside Gol Gumbaz and reached station in 10 min. We took our luggage from clock room and boarded our train to Badami.
We reached Badami by 7:30pm. We took a share auto to Badami Bus Stand where there were many Hotels. We had not booked any hotel here. When we reached the bus stand, we went to 3 hotels before we finally got an A/C room in Anand Deluxe for ₹1600 per night. We called our Hotel in Hampi to ask if we come on 1st October night would they give us room since our booking was from 2nd October. They asked us to look online. Rooms were not available online for 1st October, so we decided to stay the next night in Badami and go to Hampi on 2nd October by morning bus. We had our dinner and told in the reception that we needed an auto for Badami tour in the morning. At night, the AC stopped working so we told the house keeping to check. They tried to make it work but it did not work so we told them that we will pay the price of non AC room only.
Day 2 – 1st October 2017
I woke up to get ready and found out that water was not coming in the washroom. I asked the housekeeping to check. I didn’t have to wait for long when the water came but there was no hot water. We somehow got ready since we were getting late. Our experience in the hotel was not a pleasant one. Our booked auto was waiting for us outside. We started late because of the water problems. We had breakfast at a small dhaaba.
Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, was the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for its rock cut structural temples. It is located in a ravine at the foot of a rugged, red sandstone outcrop that surrounds Agastya lake. As per legend, Vatapi was an asura who was killed during a war with Agastya Rishi in this location.
We started our visit with Bhootnath temple. The Bhutanatha group of temples is a cluster of sandstone shrines dedicated to the deity Bhutanatha (Lord Shiva). There are two major temples here. Temple No.1, on the east side of the Agastya lake, called the Bhutanatha temple has a superstructure that resembles early South Indian style or North Indian style with its open mantapa (hall or Veranda) extending into the lake, while the smaller Temple No.2 on the north-east side of the lake, sometimes called the Mallikarjuna group of temples, has a stepped superstructure, commonly found in Kalyani Chalukya constructions. The inner shrine and mantapa (hall) of Temple No.1 were constructed in the late 7th century, during the reign of the Badami Chalukyas. While the outer mantapa, facing the Badami tank, was completed during the rule of the Kalyani Chalukyas of the 11th century. Hence the Bhutanatha temple contain architectural forms from different periods.The temple was so peaceful and beautiful that we spent a lot of time clicking pictures there.
Since we had started late and we also spent a lot of time in Bhutnath temple, Auto wale bhaiya asked us to come back fast from museum otherwise we might miss something. The Badami museum has a rich collection of explored materials, sculptures, inscriptions and architectural artefacts from in and around Badami. The first two galleries are in the open where one can see the idols and images of Shiva and Vishnu in different forms, Ganapathi, a panel narrating Bhagwata scenes, the famous Lajja-Gauri etc. The third gallery has been converted into a scaled model of the nearby pre-historic rock shelter (Shidlaphadi Shelter). The Archaeological Museum is home to sculptures and artefacts from the Chalukyan and Rashtrakutas dynasties (550-950 A.D.) and medieval period (8th-18th century C.E.). The new fourth gallery has arranged the architectural exhibits and epigraphs.
Badami Fort is situated behind Badami Museum, on top of a hill on the northern banks of Agasthya Lake, on the other side of Cave Temples. The fort can be reached by a plight of steep steps from the museum. There are several decorated gateways build out the rock with carvings. The walkway to the fort was carved out from huge redstone hillock, providing unique setting to the fort. There are two temples inside the fort, well known as Lower Shivalaya and Upper Shivalaya. The Lower Shivalaya is a small two story structure on the corner of hill overlooking the Badami town. The Upper Shivalaya is a Dravidian style structure on top of the hill. The fort provides magnificent views of all the monument of Badami, including Caves, Lake, Bhoothanatha temples and other monuments. Though the initial structured were constructed during the Chalukya period, most part of the existing fort on eastern side was build in 18th century by Tipu Sultan who was so impressed with the place and ordered to build a fort. The fort’s main attraction is the 16th century Tipu’s cannon. Since we did not have too much time and the weather was too hot, we did not explore the fort properly. We climbed the cliff from where we could see entire Badami town.
There were lots of monkey in the fort and outside the museum. When we came out to sit in our auto, one of the monkey snatched marigold flower to eat from the garland that our auto wala had used to decorate the auto.
Next we went to Badami Caves. The Badami cave temples are a complex of four Hindu, a Jain and possibly Buddhist cave temples. The construction of cave one and cave two has north Deccan style while cave three has the styles of Nagara and Dravida. There are 4 distinct caves – 1 dedicated to Shiva, 2 to Vishnu, 1 to Jainism and 1 not so distinct one but with impressions of Buddhism.
Cave 1 is ancient and oldest. The cave portrays the Tandava-dancing Shiva as Nataraja on the rock face to the right of entrance. The image, 5 feet (1.5 m) tall, has 18 arms in a form that expresses the dance positions arranged in a geometric pattern which is a time division symbolising the cosmic wheel. The eighteen arms express Natya mudras (symbolic hand gestures), with some holding objects such as drums, a flame torch, a serpent, a trident and an axe. Shiva has his son Ganesha and the bull Nandi by his side. Adjoining the Nataraja, the wall depicts the goddess Durga of Shaktism tradition slaying the buffalo-demon Mahishasura. The other 3 famous sculptures in this cave are that of Mahishasur Mardini, Harihara and Ardha Narishwar. Ardha Narishwara is a combination of Shiva (left) and Parvati (right) along with Nandi and Bhringi.
There are no idols in the sanctum of Cave 2 and in fact it is pretty dark inside. The largest relief in Cave 2 depicts the legend of Vishnu in his Trivikrama form. The ceilings have elaborate sculptures of chakras and intersecting connected Swastikas – the sacred Hindu symbol. Bhudevi (Mother Earth) being held on a lotus by Vishnu in Varaha Avtar. Apparently, she was kidnapped and taken to hell and he intervened to release her. Varaha is the symbol of Chalukyas and they have left their impression on every structure that was built at that time with the Varaha Symbol.
Cave 3 is earliest dated Hindu temple in the Deccan region. It is dedicated to Vishnu; it is the largest cave in the complex. It has intricately carved friezes and giant figures of Trivikrama, Anantasayana, Vasudeva, Varaha, Harihara and Narasimha. Cave 3’s primary theme is Vaishnavite, though it also shows Harihara on its southern wall – half Vishnu and half Shiva shown fused as one, making the cave important to Shaivism studies.
Cave 4 has elaborated carvings of Paswanath (23rd) and Mahaveer (24th) Jain Tirthankara all in Digambara Jain style. The notable ones are Parswanath in meditation with Adisesha the 5 hooded serpent watching over him. The other one is that of Mahaveera meditating in Padmasana style. There is one of Bahubali through his body the serpents are coming out and his sister Bhahmi and other beautiful ladies are at his feet.
We were already very tired when we reached Badami caves. The weather was also very hot. Badami caves was very crowded because of the long weekend. It was very difficult to get a good photo without people photobombing. The caves were somewhat smelly inside, so we didn’t stay inside the caves for long. We sat outside Cave 3 when we got tired of climbing and saw the hustle and bustle of fellow tourists. From Cave 4 we could get a fantastic aerial view of Bhoothnath Temple.
On the way down, to the right, Adil Shah Mosque can be seen which is not operational. The structure very similar to that of the ones seen in Bijapur.
We then started our trip to far off places from Badami. We first went to Mahakuta temple. The temples are dated to 6th-7th century AD during the reign of the Chalukyas of Badami. Presently, these are the only living temples presently among the ones built by the Chalukyas. The Mahakuta Temple complex has temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. There is a natural spring flowing through the mountains which also flows through the temple complex in a spring-fed tank called Vishnu Pushkarni. A natural mountain spring flows through the temple complex that feeds fresh water into the Pushkarini continuously. This tank is also known as Papavinasha Tirth which means purification tank. Mahakuta is full of Shivlingas all around and called Dakshina Kashi. A Shiva linga known as Panchamukhi Shiva linga is present in the centre of Pushkarni tank with one face in each direction and one on top. There were too many semi-naked men taking bath in the tank that we were very uncomfortable. So we didn’t stay there for long.
Next we went to Pattadakal Group of Temples. It was a long journey from Mahakuta. We crossed river Malaprabha and many corn fields on the way. Pattadakal is a cluster of temples where the Chalukyan kings were crowned between 6th and 8th century when they returned victorious from war, where queens built temples for their triumphant consorts demonstrating the master pieces of Chalukyan Art which started taking shape in Aihole. There are 10 temples in this place of which 8 are very closely located in one complex, the Papanatha Temple is on the outer fringes of the complex and the Jain Temple built later by the Rashtrakutas is about 10 mins walk away. While Pattadakal was established by the early Chalukyas, it continued to be an important centre for the Rashtrakutas and the later Kalyani Chalukyas. It is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Architectural styles used in Pattadakal are Dravidian, north Indian Nagara style, Chalykyan art and fusion of Dravidian – north Indian style. We were mesmerised by the beauty of Pattadakal. We felt that even if we took hundreds of pictures, it would still not be enough. All the temples in the compound were stunning.
We were very hungry by the time we came out of Pattadakal. So we ate at a local dhaba kind of place. We ordered 2 meals for us. Auto wale bhaiya also ordered meal for himself. It was the tastiest food we had in this trip. It was very cheap too. It cost us ₹150/- only which included our meals and auto wale bhaiya’s meal.
Aihole was our next stop. Aihole is a small village with temples scattered all over. Most of these temples built around the 6th to 7th century are in ruins. Aihole, along with nearby Badami (Vatapi), emerged by the 6th century as the cradle of experimentation with temple architecture, stone artwork, and construction techniques. This resulted in 16 types of free-standing temples and 4 types of rock-cut shrines. The experimentation in architecture and arts that began in Aihole yielded the Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, a UNESCO world heritage site. Aihole has been a part of Hindu mythologies. It has a natural axe-shaped rock on the Malaprabha river bank north of the village, and a rock in the river show a footprint. Parashurama, the sixth Vishnu avatar, is stated in these legends to have washed his axe here after killing abusive Kshatriyas who were exploiting their military powers, giving the land its red color. A 19th-century local tradition believed that rock footprints in the river were those of Parashurama. The Aihole temple compound was about to close in 30 mins when we reached there. We went inside and clicked a few pictures before returning to our auto.
It was a long ride back to Badami. Before heading back to our hotel we went to Banashankari temple.The temple is popularly called Banashankari or Vanashankari since it is located in the Tilakaaranya forest. The temple deity is also called the Shakambhari, which means the “Vegetable Goddess”. It is said that Banashankari is the sixth incarnation of the warrior-goddess Durga. The original temple was built by the 7th century Kalyani Chalukya kings, who worshipped goddess Banashankari as their tutelary deity. It was already dark when we reached the temple, but the line for darshan of deity was huge. After darshan, we climbed a wall to ring the huge bell which was at a height. It was a lot of fun.
Day 3 – 2nd October 2017
We woke up at 6 am to catch our 7 am local bus to Hospet. It was a bumpy ride as the roads were very bad. We reached Ilkal which is halfway at 9:30 am. We found out that Aihole was only few kms away from Ilkal. Basically, we had travelled almost halfway to Hampi and then returned back to Badami. That is why it was a long ride back from Aihole to our hotel. Instead of going back, we could have come directly to Ilkal and got a bus for Hampi the previous day. We finally reached Hospet at 12 pm. The hotel had sent an auto to pick us up from the bus stand. It was another half hr journey to the hotel. By the time we reached our hotel, we were too tired to do anything. We just took bath, had lunch and went to sleep.
We finally got out of our room at 5 pm. As our hotel reception had suggested, we took a ferry (cost ₹30/- each) to the other side of Tungabhadra river to go to Monkey Temple (Hanuman’s birth place). They had told us that there is only 1 road which will lead us to the temple. So we followed the straight road and reached the foot of a hill. We saw some foreigners were going up. We knew that the temple was at the top of a mountain, so we followed them. Kids selling tea & lime juice helped us climb the to top and in return we had to buy tea or juice from them. On the way we found some foreigners with Mattresses and camping kits. They were most probably planning to spend the night on the hills. When we reached the top of a boulder or stone the view was wonderful, but we were wondering where was the temple. When we asked the kids, they told us that it was in the opposite direction. Later we found out that the hill that we climbed was called Anjanadri Parvata named after Hanuman’s mother Anjana. We had to return back by 6:30 pm (as told by our hotel people) or we would miss the ferry back. We hurried to the river bank. The boat people told us that the ferry was at 5:30 pm. And now we had to pay ₹100/- each. We had no choice, so we paid the amount and came back to our side of Hampi.
I wanted to explore Hampi on bicycle and Jessica didn’t know how to ride a bicycle that well. So we decided to hire bicycles from 2nd October evening. The standard rate was ₹100/- per day. Since we would be using for only a few hours on 2nd Oct we bargained the hire person to give us the bikes for ₹250/- for both days. But he asked us to pay the complete amount that day itself. We took the bike and went to Hampi Bazaar. We bought some accessories and then found an empty street to practice bicycle in front of Virupaksha temple. After 2 hours of practice, Jessica did improve a lot but she was still not confident enough. I also realised that we had only 1 day to explore Hampi and bicycle would slow us down. So we decided to return the bicycles and book an auto instead. We had dinner at Mango Tree on the way back and went to return the bicycles, but the shop was already closed. So we decided to return it in the morning.
At night while transferring pictures to laptop, we realised that many of the pictures of the hill got corrupted. Since Jessica had iPhone, I didn’t click any pictures in my phone and now some of our awesome pictures were gone. So we clicked all the photos in both our phones the next day.
Jessica had somehow managed to get a cake for my birthday. She later told me that there is no cake shop in Hampi. She had asked the hotel reception people to get a cake which they brought from Kamalapur which was 11 km away from Hampi. Since she didn’t give a name, they wrote “Happy Birthday 2.10.2017”. I cut the cake at 12 am and received birthday wishes from friends. I was surprised how I was able to receive the calls and get Whatsapp messages because the network was very bad there, specially in our room. We finally went to sleep at 1 am.
Day 4 – 3rd October 2017
We woke up at 8 am and got ready by 9:30 am. We had to check out of the room since we had booked the room for only 1 day. We kept our luggage at the restaurant of the hotel. We had our complementary breakfast. We then clicked few pictures with our bicycles before returning it. When we went to return the bicycle the person who gave us the bicycle was not there, his wife was there instead. We asked her to give us our ₹200/- since we only used the bicycle at night the previous day. She was not ready to return our money. After some argument, she told us that she would return only ₹100/-, take it or leave it. We had no choice and we were already getting late for today’s trip, we took the ₹100/- and went to our auto.
Hampi (Hampe) is a historic temple town recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hampi was established as the capital of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th-century. Hampi was chosen as the capital by the Vijayanagar Kings because of its strategic location, bounded by the Tungabhadra river on one side and surrounded by the boulders and the hills on the other three sides. Hampi predates the Vijayanagara Empire, with evidence of Ashokan epigraphy and its mention in the Ramayana and the Puranas of Hinduism as Pampaa Devi Tirtha Kshetra. Pampa was the old name of the Tungabhadra River (Pampa was Lord Brahma’s daughter). This town has existed from the days of Ramayana and has played a very important role in the life of Rama where he met Sugreeva and Hanuman. Hampi was Kishkinda during the days of Ramayana. It was the kingdom where Rama killed Vaali and coronated Sugreeva as the king of our ancestors. Hanuman was born to Anjana Devi in the Anjanayedri Hill, near Hampi.
We started our trip with a visit to Sasivekalu Ganesha. Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple is located at the southern foot of Hemakuta Hill. This is a giant statue of Lord Ganesha, it is named so as the belly of the statue is shaped like a mustard seed and Sasivekalu is the local name for a mustard seed. In Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha is notorious for his food habits. One day he ate so much of food that his tummy was almost about to burst, so he just caught a snake and tied it around his tummy as a belt to save his tummy from bursting; hence, giving the sculpture its unique design.
Next we went to Krishna Temple. The Krishna Temple was constructed by Krishnadevaraya in 1513 AD to celebrate the triumph of his Orissa campaign where he vanquished Prataparudra Gajapati, the ruler of Orissa (Odisha). Krishnadevaraya is supposed to have brought back an idol of Bala Krishna (which some believe could have been a war trophy) which was enshrined here. The temple campus is adorned with pillared halls and many small shrines. This is one of the rare temples which have epics inscribed on the tower walls. I got a call from Choti Mausi and Badi Mausi for wishing me on my birthday. We clicked a few pictures here.
Opposite Krishna Temple is Krishna Bazaar. Krishna Bazaar was the car street to the temple. There was nothing left but ruins and the crumbling stones. Many parts of the bazaar are still under excavation.
We then went to Lakshmi Narasimha Temple. Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called Sesha. The heads of the snake acts as the hood above his head. The god sits in a cross-legged Yoga position with a belt supporting the knees. The statue is carved out of a single block of stone. The original sculpture had a small figure of Goddess Lakshmi, consort of Narasimha, sitting on his lap. The gigantic statue was vandalized and mutilated in 1565 A.D. during the raid by the Mughals that led to the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire. Now the damaged statue of Lakshmi resides at the Archaeological Museum at Kamalapura.
Located next to the Lakshmi Narasimha statue is Badavi Linga. This is the largest Linga image in Hampi. the Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front. This icon has three eyes carved on its front, representing the three eyes of Shiva. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue).The sanctum in which the Linga is installed is always filled with water as a water channel is made to flow through it.
On the way to the next stop, auto wala showed us Akka Tangi Gudda which is a formation of two gigantic rocks. According to one of the most popular legends regarding the rock formation, two sisters once visited Hampi when the town was at the peak of its glory. They became jealous on seeing the beautiful town and said something bad about it. The reigning deity of the city came to know about the sisters ridiculing the town. The deity was enraged and in her fit of anger the Goddess cursed the two sisters and turned them into stones. The Akka Tangi Gudda is also known as the ‘Jealous Sisters’ of Hampi.
Our next stop was Prasanna Virupaksha temple or Underground Shiva Temple. Underground Shiva Temple can be dated to the 14th century AD. An inscription referring to this temple states that King Krishnadevaraya donated Nagalapura and other villages for worship and offering to the god so that it will beget divine blessings for his parents Narsa Nayaka and Nagajidevi. Underground Shiva Temple (Prasanna Virupaksha Temple) is situated many meters below the ground level and most of the time, the sanctum and the main parts of the temple are submerged in water, restricting entry. It was too dark and we had already seen too many Shivlingas since Badami trip, so we did not go inside. We also did not have too much time as we had to cover everything in Hampi in a day.
Next we went to Zenana Enclosure which was a fortified and secluded area reserved for the royal ladies of the Vijayanagara Empire.
The Queen’s Palace (visible only the basement) is located at the middle of this area, on the left side of your path. Measuring about 46 x 29 meters, this has been the largest palace base excavated in the Hampi ruins so far. Also the three-tired elaborate base structure speaks of its importance as a palace.
It is believed that the watch towers and the whole enclosure were guarded by the eunuchs. These eunuchs prevented any male from entering the area. The only exception is believed to be the king, who had the right to visit his queen inside the enclosure.
Lotus Mahal is one of the very few structures that have been left undamaged by the Mughal attackers. It is a beautiful domed structure has been designed in the shape of a lotus bud. The archways of the structure resemble petals of a lotus and provide the whole structure the shape of a half-open lotus bud. The Lotus Mahal is a two storied symmetric structure that has tall arched windows.
Elephant Stables is majestic structure, with its row of domed chambers, is where the state elephants were kept in days of yore. These were not the military elephants, but elephants used for ceremonial purposes. There was a museum inside with stone idols.
Our next stop was Hazara Rama Temple. The term ‘Hazara Rama’ literally means a thousand Rama and refers to the multitude of relics depicting the reigning deity of the temple. The walls of the temple carry the story of Ramayana carved on stone. Hazara Rama Temple was built in the early part of the 15th century by the then king of Vijayanagara, Devaraya II. There were too many people there. There was a school field trip from Bangalore, so taking pictures without other people photobombing was difficult.
We then went to Royal Enclosure which was the Vijayanagara kingdom’s seat of power. In its prime, it housed as many as 45 buildings including the durbar halls, platform, tanks, underground chambers, and temples. The architectural style of this enclosure is symbolic of the Vijayanagara style of architecture with traces of Mughal influence. When we reached Royal Enclosure, again we found the student group here.
King’s Audience Hall is a raised platform and in olden times, it was the audience hall of the kings where they met with the public and listened to their grievances. It is also known as the Durbar Hall.
The Underground Chamber features independent entry and exit routes. It is believed that the Vijayanagara rulers held important discussions with their trusted aides in this chamber. We could see the chamber from above but could not find how to get in. We asked one of the teachers accompanying the students who showed us the way. It was too dark inside that both of us switched on our phone flash light and still couldn’t see properly. We couldn’t click any picture there but we did click a picture from above.
Bukka’s Aqueduct is a networks of stone ‘pipes’ that connects over 20 wells and ponds.
The Stepped Tank is considered one of the most well-preserved structures in the Royal Enclosure. This is a 5 tiered tank that covers an area of 22 square meters and has a depth of 7 meters. Dating back to the 15th century it is an elegant and elaborate tank. The Stepped Tank has been fashioned out of black schist and is believed to have been prefabricated. We could see something written on each step. We overheard a guide telling the teachers that the stones were brought from Andhra Pradesh and it was the mason’s marks in Telugu on each step illustrating the precise point and direction in which it had to be placed, evidence that the entire stepped tank was prefabricated somewhere else and later put together here. There were too many students and they were not allowed to go too near the steps. They mistook us to be part of their group and did not allow us near. So we waited for the students to go and then we clicked pictures.
Mahanavami Dibba is 22-feet tall stage in the Royal Enclosure was a royal stage used for special gatherings, religious celebrations and announcements. Mahanavami Dibba, which is also called the House of Victory, was built by King Krishnadevaraya after he defeated the Gajapati king of Orissa in 1513 AD. Later kings made additions to the structure. Abdur Razak and Domingo Paes, who visited Hampi in 1520 AD and 1442-43 AD in that order, have made references to the use of Mahanavami Dibba by the royal family, for significant festivals like Mahanavami.
Our next stop was Queen’s bath which is a colossal bath that exemplifies the architectural excellence prevalent during the days of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Queen’s Bath is believed to be constructed by Achyuta Raya for the women of the royal family of Vijayanagara. This was a royal pleasure complex for the king and his wives. The Queen’s Bath is a rectangular building. The bath is surrounded by beautiful arched corridors having pillars and projecting ornate balconies with windows.
Then Auto wale bhaiya took us for lunch at a local restaurant. The food was very good and cheap too. Later bhaiya told us that food is better at small restaurants here which we clearly noticed in Badami too.
After lunch we proceeded to Vitthala temple. On the way we stopped at Talarigatta Gate which was one of the main entrance points into the urban centre of the capital from the riverside. Talarigata means tollgate, probably that would have been its original intent.
We finally reached Vitthala temple. The weather was too hot and it was 10-15 min walk from the gate. There was a battery operator car service, but our Auto bhaiya suggested us to walk so that we would see other Mandapas on the way.
The Gejjala Mantapa is believed to have been used for religious functions during the days of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Gejjala Mantapa is a rectangular structure with an exceptional architecture. The intricate pattern of carvings that exist on the structure displays the beauty of the Vijayanagara style of architecture. The whole structure has been built from huge stones, as is the characteristic of almost every structure found in Hampi.
The Kuduregombe Mantapa is situated near the Chariot Road, in an area that lies midway between the Gejjala Mantapa and the famous Vittala Temple. The name derived from the horse sculptures (Kudure means horse in local dialect) that adorn its front pillars. This structure was of some significance during the annual chariot festival or the boat festival held in the temple tank just across. By the time we reached here we were tired due to the scorching sun, so we sat on the steps here for a while before proceeding.
Pushkaranis in Hampi are a part of the ancient town’s planning and architecture. Many of the pushkaranis were built during the time of the Vijayanagara Empire. The water tanks related to the temples were used to serve the ritualistic purposes of those temples. The pushkarani near the famous Vittala Temple is located to the east of the temple complex. The water tank can be found opposite to the ruined Kuduregombe Mantapa near the Vittala Bazaar.
Vitthala Temple was built during the reign of King Devaraya II (1422 – 1446 A.D.). Several portions of the temple were expanded and enhanced during the reign of Krishnadevaraya (1509 – 1529 A.D.), the most famous ruler of the Vijayanagara dynasty. It is dedicated to Lord Vitthala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that the temple was built as an abode for Lord Vishnu in his Vitthala form. However, the Lord had found the temple to be too grand for his use and had returned to live in his own humble home.
The temple complex is a sprawling area that is surrounded by high compound walls and three towering gateways. The temple complex has many halls, shrines and pavilions located inside it. Each of these structures is made of stone and each structure is a beauty in itself.
The Maha Mantapa or main hall of the Vittala Temple is situated in the inner courtyard of the temple complex. It is a structure of immense beauty and is situated on a highly ornate base. The base is decorated with carvings of warriors, horses, swans and several other ornamental designs.
The Stone Chariot or Ratha stands in the courtyard of temple. The Stone Chariot of Vittala Temple is actually a shrine that has been designed in the shape of an ornamental chariot. The shrine is dedicated to Garuda and had an image of Garuda enshrined into the sanctum. In front of the chariot two elephants are positioned as if they are pulling the chariot. In fact these elephants where brought from elsewhere and positioned here at a later stage. Originally two horses were carved in that position. The tails and the rear legs of the horses can be still seen just behind these elephant sculptures.
Ranga mantapa is renowned for its 56 musical pillars. The musical notes and emanated when the pillars are tapped gently. The main pillars are designed as musical instruments. The notes emanating from these pillars vary in sound quality depending on whether the instrument is a percussion, string or wind instrument.
By the time we reached the temple, we were already exhausted due to the hot weather. There were tourist guides standing outside. We did not take a guide since we were running out of cash. There is no ATM in Hampi so we did not have any means to get cash from anywhere. One of the guide commented that we would be seeing a silent movie without a guide. We did not understand what he meant until we came back and found out about the Musical Pillars! We just went and admired the carvings without knowing some fascinating stories and features of Vitthala Temple. By the time we were done exploring, we were too tired to walk. So we took the battery operated car on the way back.
We had planned to go to the Hanuman Temple, so we skipped the museum and went straight to Virupaksha Temple. The auto bhaiya dropped us off at the last stop. The Virupaksha Temple is dedicated to lord Shiva. This temple was constructed in Lakkana Dandesha’s assistance who was a commander under King Deva Raya II. It started off as a little shrine and later developed into a huge complex during the Vijayanagara rule. There is evidence that indicates additions were made to Virupaksha temple during the later years of the Hoysala and Chalukyan sovereignty. The main gopuram(gate) was under going restoration and was covered with stick ladders. So we did not click too many pictures here.
Then we decided to go back to our hotel and freshen up before going to the other side. On our way back, Jessica bought some pretty leather bags from Hampi Bazaar. The problem was we did not have too much cash. We asked the shopkeeper whether he accepted Paytm. I had some balance in Paytm but there was another problem. The network was very bad and my internet was not working. The shopkeeper finally shared his hotspot with me then we made the payments.
After a short trip to our hotel, we took the ferry to the other side of Tungabhadra river. We asked a shopkeeper for the directions to Hanuman Temple since we clearly went in the wrong direction the previous day. He told us that the temple was 5km away. He suggested us to hire a scooty. Since both of us did not know how to ride a scooty, we inquired about auto. He told us that auto people would ask us for too much money.
So we dropped our plan of going to Hanuman Temple. Instead we climbed the hills again. I am still not very sure about the name of the hills. Some people called the Hanuman Temple hills as Anjanadri Hills and I read about Sunset Point in the hills. I think the hills we climbed was the Sunset Point hills and not Anjanari Hills (as I mentioned in the previous day description).
We again found the tea selling kids. This time they took us to a different side of hills. We were taking pictures and talking to the kid who brought us to the top. He kept going down and came back. Jessica noticed that the colour of his t-shirt was different than before. We asked him and found out that they were twin brothers (Raju and Yemnoori). Raju(pink tshirt) sold lemon juice while Yemnoori(orange tshirt) sold Ginger Tea. All the while we thought we were with one kid, but actually they were two kids climbing up and down. We asked him to call his brother too and clicked pictures with both of them. We saw the beautiful sunset from there. While coming down, we saw a group of people mostly foreigners sitting and an Indian guy was playing guitar and singing songs about Shiva and Hampi. Surprisingly, the tea selling kids knew all the lyrics. In middle of helping us get down, they left us and sat down to sing all the songs. We also stood there and enjoyed the songs. Some of the lyrics were quite funny. After a few songs, they came back and helped us get down. We took the Coracle boat again. Our auto driver in the morning had warned us about those boat people. He said after 5:30 they charge too much. He told us a story about how they charged a foreigner ₹1000/-. We had faced the issue with the boat people the previous day. I had assumed that they would ask atleast ₹100 each like the previous day. But, they charged us ₹75/- each.
We had our train from Hospete railway station at 9:30pm. So we decided to have dinner and then go to the station. It was just 6:30pm still we somehow had dinner that early and went to our Hotel to collect our luggage. We booked an auto from Hampi Bazaar to Railway station. While going to the auto we bought souvenirs for ourselves. The shopkeeper told us that we should take a bus from the bus stand which would drop us to the station for ₹30/- each. But sadly, we did not know about this before and had already booked an auto who was waiting for us.
This trip was like a mini History revision lesson. We learned so much and yet we missed so much too. We realised that the other side of Tungabhadra was and entirely different world from this side. It would definitely be a new experience living on the Hampi Island. We missed quite a bit of places to see and dwell, but we managed to soak in the “Hampi” spirit. We definitely see ourselves going back to Hampi again!