It was my long pending wish to visit Hampi the heritage city of Karnataka but the arid and hot weather of Bellary district always scared me. Being pampered by the cool weathers of Bangalore, one often dreads to be parched mercilessly under the sun. But this time the royal influence of Hampi overtook our fears so we decided to visit the ancient city of Hampi, the once glorious capital of the Vijayanaga Empire.
Our family of four _ me, hubby and our two boys started off to Hampi early morning at 10am (yes 10am is very early for us to start off on a holiday) in my smart and sleek Hyundai i10 geared with our camera and all those flamboyant sunglasses, caps, tucking in loads of cool drinks and many happening Bollywood/sandalwood mp3 s, we then dashed the heavy kit bags into the boot and bang on we were driving on NH4.
It was time for a quick Statutory warning for everybody in the car: please do not throw those plastic bottles and covers out of the window keep your city clean and green. We normally designate a big trash box/cover in the middle of the car as a make shift bin.
Hampi is around 355kms from Bangalore which is an 8 hour drive but our fully automatic car saved us from maneuvering the stick, also we took turns to drive. Driving long distances on a highway waving at unknown kids watching the green paddy fields on the country side is a lot of fun and freedom for me. The gushing winds flying your hair away and the running green pastures leave me wishing if time could just freeze there and I was always on a long drive.
We had only one stop as my drive-o-holic hubby would not stop anywhere in between be it rain, shine or even to attend a nature’s call unless his metallic wife (our car) was too tired. We stopped at a roadside hotel and had a heavy brunch and finished up all privy work as we are still a country that needs a Vidhya Balan to tell people to build loos at home then what speak of highways
We took theBangalore –> Tumkur –> Sira –> Chitradurga –> Hospet –> Kamalapura –> Hampi route starting from NH4.
The road is good all along except after Chitradurga where you take a right turn leading to Hospete this road is very dusty with slow-moving lorry traffic lane due to the never-ending mining activities and construction work. This stretch is only about 10kms but we were struck in this traffic for about 1.5hours and by the time we reached Hospete it was already 7.30pm. We had tentatively booked a hotel as we normally don’t confirm and pay outright as the pictures and reviews on the internet are many times misleading. We reached our destination‘Hotel Mallige’ completely drained and hungry, we were delighted at the sight of the expansive lobby but there was only one room available and we looked desperately at the receptionist as if to say it had to be ours! We were soon led to the room and all our weariness was worn off looking at the comfortable cozy bed. I would rate it as 4star quality hotel with a decent breakfast lounge, swimming pool and a separate dining area. The food was extremely good and we devoured it like demons.
We fixed up with a Government recognized guide from the hotel for our next day exploration after which we headed straight to the room and collapsed on the bed.
Trips are all about fun and adventure but Hampe is one place which needs a certain mindset with a feeling of honor, respect, accomplishment and belongingness and loss at the same time, you need to go back in time to appreciate and understand the rich tradition, art and culture, architecture, craftsmanship, the prosperity during that era and the expanse, the engineering applied in those days, the vision that they had which is evident through their choice of the place to set up the kingdom that was covered by river on one side and rocky terrains on the other 3sides, their religious inclinations, their able statesmanship and administration which are all well depicted in these art forms.
History of Hampe:
Hampi derives its name from the Kannada word Hampe or Pampe the ancient name of river Tungabhadra it also has mythological importance as Kishkindha town the birth place of Hanuman.
Hampi has more than 550 ancient structures of which 58 are listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites.
The Vijayanagara Empire was started by two princes Hakka and Bukka at the behest of sage Vidhyaranya in 1336AD. Hampi was synonymous with prosperity and richness where measures of gold and diamonds were given away to people as donations. It was the land of temples, poets, scholars and musicians ruled by the Vijayanagara kings for over 200years that shot into fame as a leading trade center during King Krishna Deva Raya’s reign.
After a glorious rule the Vijayanagara Empire was besieged and brought down by the Muslim rulers. The five sultans of Deccan came together shedding their differences and fell the Devarayas in the year 1565. The Pampa river had turned crimson where a lakh people were killed, the city was looted of its gold and diamonds for 6months ruthlessly defacing most temples and monuments that still stand tall even after 650 years speaking volumes of the deplorable plunder and killings that mankind ever witnessed.
Note : Draw enough cash as there are no ATMs around the place.
Our exploration begins:
We first set off to Virupaaksha temple 732meters long temple the only temple which survived the attack of the sultanates because of the royal emblem of Vijayanagar that had a carving of varaha/pig, a dagger, sun and moon. Since the pig is considered auspicious for Muslims this temple was untouched.
Opposite to the temple lies a kilometer long lane of stone pillared bazaars where precious gems were once sold in measures of rice. These lanes lead to the huge monolithic bull behind which lies the spectacular Matunga hills from where you can get a complete view of Hampe.
Next was Saasivekaalu Ganapathi(saasive is mustard) even as I thought what tiny intricacy waited us I was pleasantly surprised to see a giant sized saasivekalu which formed the stomach of Lord Ganesh.
Hemakuta hills, Hema in Kannada means gold. The Gods from heaven had poured a heap of gold during Shiva and Pampa’s wedding here, this heap of gold turned into rock during Kali yug and stepping on these hills is believed to give one a severe ache in the leg
Even as the guide told us about it my son was quick enough to demand he should be carried. From these hills you can get a panoramic view of the Virupaksha temple.
Next was Narasimhaswamy idol and Badava Linga, after this we decided to have lunch at a place called Mango Tree which was highly recommended by our guide.
Lunch at Mango tree:
I do not know why it is named Mango tree as I only found whole lot of plantain trees. But the experience was really bewitching. It had seating like in a cricket stadium facing the river amidst lush greenery and wild rocks. The guests looked like Dasara dolls of different varieties seated on grand steps.
It was a really very different and enchanting experience. Lunch on a plantain leaf with a river view, I could see many foreigners sitting in front of the plantain leaf with beer bottles licking palak paneer from their finger-tips, we waited for at least 15 minutes to get a seat as most people were lost looking at the nature and refused to leave that serene place. I chose the top most row-step to avoid some nasty kid spilling hot rasam on my head.
The humble platter arrived with some lentils, vegetables, roti rice with a glass of buttermilk and of course bottled water.
I do not know if we were very hungry or the food was more delicious we simply attacked it, it was a grthe food and thoroughly enjoyed the panoramic view of the river.
I could call this a tourist’s hammock but for those of you who expect a Sanjeev Kapoor to be your chef and expect the cozy dining set up of a 5star hotel please stay away because my idea of good food while travelling is steaming hot food which does not give me a stomach upset with a fairly clean and decent atmosphere. It is always a good idea to eat at places with moving crowds as fresh food is guaranteed.
Next we headed to the VijayaVittala temple
This is the most spectacular temple with musical pillars and a stone chariot, in reality it is a temple built like chariot. The wheels can actually move but the horses were severed during the attack, it also had a dome which was demolished by some Englishman quoting that the chariot would break with its enormous weight.
We covered various places like Narasimha swamy temple, Mahadibba, Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stable, Stepped tank, Akka Tangi rocks, Hazara Rama temple, Badava Linga, Krishna bazaar and the kids could take no more. It was a hectic day so we headed back to our hotel and feasted all over again and crashed.
Whenever we travel we plan something called as quick darshan and a detailed darshan. We do our quick darshan normally with a guide to get an idea of the routes and the important places. The detailed darshan is the second visit on the second day to some of the same places which we th
ink is worth spending our time on.
On our second day we visited the Virupaksha temple yet again and took the rocky pathways from Matunga hills that connect and lead to a whole lot of river side monuments I don’t like to call them ruins, they are still great monuments that were maliciously ruined unlike today’s recent buildings that keep falling now and then. The rocky path is like an internal ring road. We visited
- KodandaRama temple
- Yantroddharaka Anjaneya temple which is believed to be installed by saint Vyasa.
- Achuta Raya Temple
- Sugreeva’s cave(just before you hit this point there is also a brindavan of some saint hidden behind the rocky pathways)
- King’s balance
- Purandara dasa mantapa
We visited Vijaya Vittala temple a second time and spent some time taking pictures enjoying the breeze. After accomplishing our detailed darshan we quickly finished our lunch and drove north towards Anegundi an ancient mythological town of Kishkinda the land of monkeys in Ramayana. Anegundi is said to have one of the oldest plateaus on earth which is around 3000 million years old, probably one of the first places on earth when life began.
Places of interest: Anjanadri hills, Malavantha hills, Pampasarovar, Shabari ashram, Gagan palace, fort, Samadi of Krishna Deva Raya, Nava Vrindavana.
We climbed up the Anjanadri hill which is believed to be the birth place of Hanuman. It is
an arduous yet wonderful trek with breath-taking views of the rocky hills but beware of the army of monkeys scanning your hands, go there empty-handed no!not even a water bottle they wouldn’t spare them.
We visited Laxmi temple behind which lies the cave believed to be of Vaali the monkey king. Often I get into this hallucination mode to vex my kids and pretend to recollect something from the past birth sighting familiarity with the place even as my kids shake me hard to come back to normal mode and behave like a mature mom. We were in this fun mood as we saw a tall man walking as if surveying something, we asked him if this was really Vaali’s cave and soon a friendly conversation began and at the end of it we introduced ourselves to him and he said that the land belonged to him and his name was Krishna Deva Raya, I thought he must be a jerk and wanted to tell him that even I was Rani Laxmibai. We bid goodbye as we walked down I suddenly realized that he must be the descendant of king Krishna Deva Raya! Oh no! I had just missed an opportunity to shake hands with the Raja of Anegundi. I frantically searched for him and waited outside the temple but it was turning dark and we had to head back home. I cursed myself for not having clicked pictures. But why did I meet the royal scion? Was I living here before?? Now myentire family was staring madly at me so I quickly got into the car.
But I can proudly say that I spoke to the humble Raja of Anegundi.
The third day of our trip we had tied up a driver and travelled to Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami. This driver happened to be a participant of ‘Kannada da crorepathi’ so during the entire drive there was no music but a vehement commentary about why he did not get a crore.
Aihole: Built by the Chalukyas in 6th century regarded as the cradle of Hindu rock architecture is situated on the Malaprabha river banks. Our parliament building is inspired from Aihole architecture. Most temples here were Vishnu temples that were later replaced with Lingas by Shaivaites, this is evident by the presence of Garuda statue at the entrance of all temples in Aihole.
time. The demon Vatapi was killed by sage Agastya here hence it gets its name Vatapi. The 81 hand mudras in Bharathanatyam are depicted in the Nataraja statue that stands tall at the entrance of these caves. The caves compliment the serene Agastya lake with a vivid panoramic view.
We had seen Hampi, Anegundi, Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami all in 5days which didn’t seem enough but with a heavy heart we had to head back to Bangalore I would love to go back a second time for a week-long trip.
It was the best trip ever filled with fun, adventure, good food, lots of trekking, exploration all in an ancient royal backdrop unraveling history and enriching my experience as a traveller leaving me craving for longer drives.
The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine
This is my entry for ‘The Perfect Road Trip’ contest by Indiblogger in partnership with Ambipur, visit facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia