Hampi is not just a traveller’s destination but a paradise for history lovers too, Chhavi Gautam visits the seat of the Vijayanagara Empire and comes away fascinated by its history and intricacy!
Established to prevent the incursions from the north and especially the Delhi Sultanate, Hampi ended up becoming the main centre for a constant battle with the Bahamis in the immediate north.
Having been ruled by 23 kings from four different dynasties for more than 300 years, Hampi was plundered after Krishnadevaraya and Achyutaraya (the famous kings) were defeated in the battle of Talikota. Legends say that it took hundreds of elephants and six months to loot this village. Till today, the villagers talk about the gem-embellished sculptures which adorned Hampi.
Daaku (my husband) and I had been wanting to visit Hampi for a long time. One weekend we decided to just hop on a KSRTC bus and reached Hospet. It is approx. 345 km from Bengaluru.
While you can catch a bus directly to Hampi, they are few in number and mostly booked out. But, no worries. Hospet is just 15 km away with buses and autos easily available.
We took an affordable lodge (nothing fancy!) for the night, slept away even though the bed wasn’t too comfortable and remembered to set an alarm for the early morning.
Woke up around 6AM, had a quick breakfast and decided to explore Hampi on foot. After all, it is pleasant in the morning and we were fooled by it!
The elephant stable
We recommend hiring bicycles to go around the city as it gets hotter in the noon time. You can hire them from the nearby market or ask the hotelier to arrange one. It is convenient and affordable (approx. Rs. 100 a day). As we started exploring, Hampi became more and more majestic. Knowing that for 300 years the Vijayanagara Empire was never defeated, a feeling of pride overcame us.
But wait, it does not end here. The city teleports you back to 2000 years as it is closely connected to the epics of Ramayana as well. Start your journey with the Virupaksha temple beyond which runs the Tungabhadra river.
It is the temple of Lord Shiva but also contains shrines of Hindu Goddess Bhuvaneshwari and Pampa. We overheard a guide explaining how Lord Shiva had consented to marry Pampa Devi in his avatar as Virupaksha. Do not forget to be blessed by the gorgeous temple elephant, Lakshmi.
You can hop on to the next temple which is hardly 500 mts away, the Krishna temple. The distinctiveness of the temples in Hampi is because of the Vijayanagar style of architecture. You can easily spot the mandapas and tall gopuras (known as the rajagopuram) which makes the temple look magnificent.
Do not forget your camera! You may be tired of clicking the pictures but Hampi will keep giving your more to shoot, cherish and admire.
Another architecture at Hampi
Next up is the Hemakuta hill. It adorns several temples and architecture that will leave you in the awe of it. Spend some time here and enjoy the surroundings. Then, start walking towards the Vittala temple from the old bus stand to witness the ruins of the Hampi market. It ends at the foothill of the Matanga hill, right in front of Ek Shila Nandi.
Walk towards the Chariot road which starts at the base of the Matanga hills. You will spot the Kodanda temple situated 60 ft above the river. This is the temple where Rama crowned Sugreeva after killing Bali. You can bathe your feet in the Chakra Tirtha (a whirlpool of sorts) below. You can also see 5 ft tall idols of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita carved out from a single rock.
The famous chariot
As you walk ahead, you will reach the Vittala temple. The construction started under the reign of Krishnadevaraya but it was never completed due to constant invasions. Nevertheless, the musical pillar and the halls along with the chariot will leave you spellbound. I kept wondering what it would have been if it was completed! A visit to Hampi is incomplete without witnessing the Royal Enclosures. It is an area which consists of the courtly and military structures. The royal centre was the citadel of the empire. Walk around of enjoy under the shades of trees at the lawn Lotus Mahal or go right up to the Queen’s bath.
By this time, the sun was starting to set. While you can watch the sunset from anywhere in Hampi, we decided to watch it from the other side of the river and quickly grabbed a coracle. We started to climb up the Anjayena hill to reach the Monkey temple, which is also the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. From the top, you can see the lit up Hampi as darkness sets in.
It indeed deserves to be in the UNESCO World Heritage sites. I do hope that on reading this you will want to witness history and will decide to visit Hampi soon.