This weekend ( 13th to 15th August,2005) , I went on a trip to Hampi. It was the seat of the Vijayanagara empire, the most famous king being Krishnadevraya.
The empire was established by Harihar and Bukka in 1336 AD.
Legend has it that Hampi is the same place as Kishkindha, mentioned in the Ramayana, where Lord Rama met Hanuman and Sugreeva while he was searching for Seeta, when she was abducted by Ravana.
The empire fell at the battle of Talikota in the hands of the combined assault of the neighboring Muslim kingdoms (Bijapur, Bidar etc) in 1565 AD.
So much for the history, now coming to the present, I narrate how our trip was.
The bus to Hospet was at 11:45 PM on the night of 13th August.
We reached early and boarded the bus, which after some delays, started and then stopped under a shed, by which time, some people had already started snoring.
After some time, people got down and found that one of the tyres was punctured.
So the passengers were moved to another bus. That bus took us beyond Malleshwaram and then took a U-turn. Upon enquiring, it turned out that the air conditioning system of the bus had some fault. So we were again taken back to the same place from where we started. Now the tyre of the first bus were exchanged with the tyre of the second one ( Could they not do it in the first place itself ).
Then finally we started at 1:30 AM, though we thought that we would never start at all. Then once settled, we dozed off and reached Hospet without any more misadventures. I woke up at around 6 AM , and found a beautiful scenery around. There were the sunflower fields and green hillocks, also a little bit of drizzling. The river Tungabhadra appeared to be overflowing.
We reached Hospet at about 8 AM, some of us went to look for the hotel and some went to book the ticket for the return journey.
But then we decided we would take some lodging for one or two hours to get ready at Hampi itself. So we boarded a KSTDC bus to Hampi. Passed lots of sugarcane and banana fields on our way. The weather was lovely, with a little bit of drizzling now and then.
Upon reaching Hampi we were approached by a lot of auto rikshaw drivers, who wanted us to hire them for the sightseeing. Some of them took us to look for hotels wherein we could get ready. After much bargaining and all we took a room for two hours. All of us got refreshed there and had some breakfast and Bernd interviewed some of the so called guides, which finally led us to not getting any guide at all. Anyways, we then proceeded on our trip.
It started raining but once we were inside the auto, it drizzled for some time.
Our first stop was the Kadalekalu Ganesha, which was a huge awe-inspiring statue of Ganesha carved out of single stone ( monolith ).
From there we went to see the Balakrishna temple, which was built by Krishnadevraya as a memorial of his victory over Orissa from where the statue was brought. The statue has been put up in the Chennai museum now.
By this time, we started feeling that it is not so enjoyable as there is no-one to explain the historical significance of the places that we are seeing. So we waited for some time, while two of us went to get a guide. In some time, we got a guide and he started telling us some stories about the empire.
Meanwhile, one of the auto rikshaw drivers got “angry” and left us, as we had not accepted his offer of him being a guide to us ( he had failed Bernd’s interview !).
Now we were left with two autos and eight people in the middle of nowhere.
Finally we were able to stop one more auto who agreed after some haggling.
Now the remaining auto drivers started haggling for more fare, than what they had decided upon, when the first auto driver was present. It seemed that we won’t be able to enjoy the trip with this type of unprofessional attitude shown by the people there.
Anyways, after some haggling and all, we left for the next destination.
The next stop was a place with two huge rocks supporting each other, aptly named the twin sisters.
From there we proceeded to the Badavi Shivalinga and the Ugra Narsimha temples.
The badavi shivalinga was made such that a part of it always remains immersed in water which was brought down from the Tungabhadra river via a canal.
The narsimha statue was again carved out of one single stone.
Some parts of the Narsimha statue were broken, so we could not see what should have been Goddess Lakshmi.
After that we proceeded to the Zenana Enclosure which was a walled area reserved for the queens and their maids. We had some refreshing coconut water there. Inside the enclosure was a beautiful structure called the Lotus Mahal.
There were watch towers on all the sides of the enclosure.We climbed up one of the watch towers but it was quite dark inside and the staircase was also very narrow. But once atop, the view was beautiful.
Then on getting down, we went on the other side of the enclosure to see the elephant stables, which are supposed to be used for keeping the elephants used for the king’s processions.
Because of the “peace treaty” made with the auto drivers for the time, we had to leave some of the places unexplored, which disheartened a few of us.
The caravan then proceeded to the Vittala temple complex.
The complex was beautiful with a stone chariot and lots of lovely musical pillars.
It seemed that not an inch of place was left without any carving !
The musical pillars were really amazing. Upon tapping them, each of the group of pillars emanated a different sound.
We then proceeded on foot towards the Hampi bazaar, alongside the river Tungabhadra.
The trek was lovely and we saw some small temples en route. It really felt as though I have come to another century altogether.
There was a temple immersed in the river, which was made to honour a poet.
Then there was a Rangaraja temple which was in ruins. There was another temple called the Achyutraya temple but the guide hurried us, and we had to leave it unexplored.
In between the river we could see pillars which once supported a bridge.
The guide then left us at the Hampi Bazaar and he also completed our day with his haggling about the money. He asked for more money than what was decided upon, and that too without giving any reason. Finally after some drama, he took the money that we had decided upon in the first place.
Then we were left on our own to explore the places. All of us were hungry ( no lunch .. just chips, biscuits etc in the afternoon ), so first of all we went to a restaurant which boasted of having its name mentioned in the Lonely Planet.
We ordered a few things and had our somewhat lunch cum snacks.
After that some of us bought a few goodies from the Hampi bazaar.
Then five of us went to see the Virupaksha temple while four were too tired to take one more step. The temple was impressive and it being a bit late ( almost sunset ), the temple appeared quite mysterious to me. But in the whole lot of temples that we had seen during the day, this was the only one where the priests were present and some Pooja archana was going on. There was an elephant also in the temple complex, to whom people were offering bananas and coconut.
After that we waited at the bus stand for the bus to take us back to Hospet from where we were supposed to board the bus to Bangalore.
We reached Hospet at about 8 PM and still had more than three hours to spend, so we went to a cinema hall to watch a movie, though we had to leave the movie midway, to go to the bus stand. Finally we boarded the same bus which we had come in, in the morning! This time there were no “starting” troubles and being too tired I slept off as soon as I was seated comfortably and woke up to find myself in Bangalore in the wee hours of the morning of Independence day.
All in all, it was a nice trip and I am already getting addicted to such trips and hoping that the next destination comes soon.