“Traveling makes one modest — you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
And this is what happened to me when I visited Hampi. I was awestruck by the beauty of this ruined yet glorious world heritage site. This beautiful ancient city is situated on the bank of Tungabhadra River; also know as a Pampa river originally. (Pampa was a Lord Brahma’s daughter who later married to Lord Shiva.) This place was famous as Pampa however the name got anglicized from Pampa to Hampe and now Hampi.
Hampi is said to represents the Vijaya Nagara Empire and exhibits fine example of an architecture with scientific construction approach. It was one of the richest city at its prime and many international traders would come to this place to sell their products. This village was built around the famous Virupasksha temple and houses many temples, monuments and bazaars. Hampi gets it’s major attention due to naturally placed boulders and hills around it. At the time of Sunrise and Sunset these boulders reflect the magnificent color shades and you simply fall in love with this place.
Image source: http://travel.paintedstork.com/blog/2013/02/hemakuta-hill-hampi.html
When I decided to visit Hampi I researched many articles for places to visit, which route to follow to see widespread monuments; but trust me, you really do not get any idea of this place from tourists maps online. You have to be physically present to understand the placing of these monuments in Hampi. It can be categorized in three parts: Royal enclave part, central urban part and riverside ruins.
While you are on Hampi tour you need to take a note of few points below:
- All monuments close by 6 p.m. in Hampi so plan your itinerary wisely.
- Carry water bottle and snacks to munch on. (Food stalls are available only in central urban part and nearby Matanga Hill.
- Carry sunscreen and hats ( extremely hot temperatures even on winter afternoon)
- Best time to visit: October to February
And most importantly:
Hampi is said to be the kingdom of Vanara Sena, or Kingdom of the Apes, which as Hindu’s believe, is where Lord Rama fought in the Ramayana. You will see Monkeys living peacefully in association with Human beings however they have special interest in your bags, goggles and water bottles. So Stay safe..
The flight delay and breakdown of car had cost me & my friends a lot on time; so on Day 1, we wisely decided to visit boulders around the village, chandikeshwar temple, and from central urban part – Hampi Bazar, and Virupeksha temple (open till 9.00pm)
Hampi Bazaar is based on the same lines as that of Flea Markets in Goa. You see stalls & T-shirts printed with spiritual words like “Om”, “Hari Om” and pictures of Lord Shiva. One can shop leather jackets, purses, shoes and sandals, silver jewelry, gems and many more.
Just on 2 minutes walk of Hampi Bazaar is the famous 500 years old Virupaksha Temple adorened with Gopuras and statues of Bhuvaneshwari and Pampa Devi. This temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva and is still in use for worshiping. Virupaksha defines the lord Shiva form that said to have only eyes with no shape, in a deeper meaning “ seeing thru Samadhi”. Interestingly it is the only intact temple as against the ruined Hampi structures. Melodious Sanskrit Shlokas are played in the temple courtyard, which gives more life to the place. In the main courtyard of temple one can see Vijaystambha standing tall symbolizing the Vijay Nagara as a city of Victory.
As there were no other monuments open late in the evening , we decided to have dinner at mango tree Hotel near Hampi Bazaar. We ordered Special Thali to taste the flavors of Karnataka and believe me it was deliciously yummy!
After early breakfast we started our tour to Hampi in a real meaning. Monuments in Hampi are located quite far from each other and you need your own vehicle to explore the place fully. You can hire motorbike or bicycle; however, I would not advise bicycle option unless you are physically fit and a sport enthusiast due to up and down hills all the way.
Our excursion on second day started with Royal enclave group that houses Lotus Mahal, Queen’s bath, elephant’s stable, Hazara Rama Complex and Underground Shiva temple. ( all these heritage structure lie 3-5 mins apart by vehicle and you can cover them approximately in one and half hour)
Out of all, I personally liked Hazararama complex due to lovely carvings on the walls. Royal family for praying purpose used this temple. It has about 1000 carvings & inscriptions depicting the story of Ramayana.
For Underground shiva temple I would suggest not to risk yourself to see the Shivalinga statue as the inner mandpa is a home to “Bats “, stinks a bit and is total dark though the exterior of this temple is built in very dramatic way with one level below from the normal ground level.
When you travel from Royal to central urban part, on a way you see Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Shivlinga Temple and Sasivekalu Ganesha temple. These giant statues give altogether a different definition to this place. No wonder why Hampi was always under construction… The time and effort taken on carvings are justified with these extravaganza elements in Hampi.
As you go more towards the hill from Ganesha temple you reach up to the Hemakuta Hill from here you would see beautiful landscape of Hampi Bazaar and Virupasksha temple. Just after the hill is lovely Krishna temple and the Krishna Bazaar. Below is the picture of the carvings from doorway of Krishna temple.
After covering these temples, take a break for lunch and then proceed to last but must see group of riverside ruins & Vijay Vithalla temple. For Riverside ruins one could start walking from the base of matanga hill along the river towards VijayVithalla temple. The nature trail is absolutely scenic and expedition to Hampi can be thoroughly enjoyed on this path.
Vijay- Vithalla complex is one of the best temple complexes in Hampi and houses the famous stone chariot which is a symbol of Karnataka Tourism.
This temple is signature style of Dravidian, Chinese and Chalukyakan architecture and a must see attraction in Hampi. The pillars from of this temple are known as musical pillar. They generate sounds of different musical instruments when played by fingers or wooden sticks. The carvings are alluring and many of the figures when seen from different angles showcase different noticeable shapes.
Hampi is a great visual delight but what adds more value to this place are local people of Hampi. They are very generous and always ready to guide you without any intention of receiving tips. They not only respect the Hampi and its culture but also respect the travelers around the world. This places truly lives up to the code of counduct “Atithi Devo Bhav”. (‘The guest is equivalent to God’) Everywhere you will see smiley faces, greeting you with “Namaste” and willing to help you. For me trip to Hampi was mesmerizing due to its stone-age look, heritage monuments, good people and of course great food!
- There are lots of clean and neat guesthouses near Virupaksha temple for budget travelers.
- One can explore the Hippie culture nestled onto the other side of a river. You will have to take small round coracle boats to cross the river. (Rides are open only till 6.00 pm)
- Hampi is famous for bouldering and many boulderers across the world come to this place to pursue their passion.
- One can witness a great multicultural experience at 3 days Hampi festival that happens in November every year.
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