Traveling to different places is cherished by most of us. Some like to plan their trip to destinations of glam and some like to get immersed in the art and cultural novelties. Being an Indian, I know the fact that diversity is a noted attribute of this land. You move 500 kms and find the new genres spread before you. Isn’t that the beauty of our nation? In line with my likes and fancies, this time, I chose Hampi, the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state of Karnataka. The place has been recognized by UN cultural organization for its rich architectural heritage that is unmatched.
For a long time, I was experiencing an appeal within to visit Hampi and behold the architectural marvels there. Last weekend I got a chance and decided not to miss it! Just packed my bag and went on to board the bus with my friend. Though it was a last-minute booking with lot of hassles but trust me it was trip worth trying.
Hampi – An Excellent Example of Ancient Indian Architecture
Hampi is noted for the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire that was once extremely prosperous. We find the remnants of temples, palaces and other royal buildings here that are almost clustered. The grandeur speaks through the intricate architectural styles that are high class art forms in them. Hampi was jotted down by the travelers in their accounts as India’s most wealthy city that was buzzing with brisk trade and as a cultural hotspot. It was the capital of Vijayanagar Empire from 136 to 1565 AD. And was destructed by Muslim Kings and Arch rivals of neighboring states.
For decades, the historians and art lovers have flocked to this place to inhale the beauty that Hampi offers. It is a visual delight and an experience to be cherished for life.
I stayed in Hampi for 2 days and will be going again to re-breathe the experience. There are multiple options of exploring the majesty of Vijayanagar Empire. You can hire an Auto or Rent a Bicycle /Bike. I chose the former, as I wanted a guided tour to envisage the Hampi it used to be years ago.
For me Hampi is more than just the architectural beauty surrounded by mountains & Rocks, Every nook and corner here is a raconteur of our great & rich ancient past.
My two days trip was split between Hampi & Kishkindha. The main attractions that I covered during my Hampi trip include the following –
The Most Popular Places to Visit in Hampi
This is among the most notable example of exceptional craftsmanship. This temple dedicated to Lord Vitthala (Incarnation of Lord Shri Vishnu) is situated in the north eastern part of Hampi. History of this beautiful temple dates back to 15th century. My guide told me that the original Idol of the Lord Vitthala was moved to to its present abode, Pandharpur in Maharashtra fearing the destruction by invaders, though I am not sure about the authenticity of this claim.
This stunning stone sculpture stands at par with the Chariots situated in Konark and Mahabalipuram. There is a legend that this was built being inspired by the chariot of Konark Temple.It stands in front of the Shri Vitthalla Temple and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s most loved devotee & carrier the great Garuda.
Musical Pillar & The Ranga Mantapa
The musical pillars situated in Ranga Mantapa of Shri Vitthala Temple are nothing less than a masterpiece. There are 56 musical pillars, where each set of main pillars are surrounded by 7 minor pillars, each emitting a different musical note. Isn’t that interesting?
This beautiful and ancient Temple has seen several fights and invasions but still remains intact surrounded by ruins of Hampi and is operational . The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.The history of temple dates back to about 7th century. As per some legends the temple is even older.We visited the temple in evening and trust me the aura & holiness of this place is beyond a level to be expressed in words.
The Royal Enclosure
The Royal Enclosure could be called as the heart of the entire Hampi complex! This was the core area that has been built as a fortified zone and here lived the royal Raya family. The king also held the royal durbar or assembly here.
Lotus Mahal is a perfect example of Indo-Islamic architecture. The domes of the building resembles open lotus bud.It was used as a palace by Royal Ladies for recreational activities.The palace is surrounded by a tress and the ambiance here is cool and calm.
I was almost stunned by the intricate architecture of this water tank or which is also called as baoli in other regions of India. I counted it as the most awesome structure in the entire Hampi complex.
This is a rectangular building built in Indo-Islamic style. And probably used as private bathing chamber for King and his queens. This building is surrounded by moats on all sides, with a small bridge to reach the bath.
The is the tallest structure in the Royal Enclosure. There are two stairways to reach the top. The east facing stairway is decorated with carvings of horses, elephants etc. My guide told me that this platform was used by the King to watch ceremonial activities.
If we head east of Purandara Mantapa we can reach this signature arched structure made of huge stone beam placed between two stone pillars, it is said that Kings weighed themselves with gems and diamonds which were later distributed among poor.
The road in front of the Virupaksha Swamy Temple takes to this majestic hill named after the great Indian Sage Matunga Maharishi. One can reach the hill top through a 15-minute treck. On top there is a small temple dedicated to Veerabhuvneshawara Swamy. This hill top is famous for its beautiful sunset & sunrise.
(Video: Glimpse of Sunrise from Matunga Hills)
Bala Krishna Temple
This beautiful temple with exquisite carvings is dedicated to Lord Balakrishna ( Krishna as an Infant). The main idol of the temple is shifted to Chennai State Museum.
Hazara Ram Temple
This beautiful temple is dedicated to Lord Shri Rama with deities of Lakshmana & Sita. It is believed to be the private worship place for the King.The beauty of the temple is on its wall where the story of Ramayana is carved.The relics here portrays the scene of Dasara festival with Horses, Elephants, Soldiers & dancing women.
These are cluster of Temples which dates back to 9th to 14th century. Most of the temples in this cluster is dedicated to Lord Shiva.As per legends this the place where Kama was burnt by Shiva’s Fire of Anger.The structure of the temple is totally different from what we find in rest of the hampi.
This statute of Laxmi Narasimha is a major tourist attraction and was carved out of a single stone.It is located on the top of Hemakuta Hills and is the largest monolithic statute in Hampi.The original sculpture had a small figure of Goddess Lakshmi on Shree Narasimha’s Lap, It got mutilated during Mughal Invasion.The separated statue of Lakshmi Devi is kept in Kamalapura Museum.
It is the largest Monolithic Shiva Linga in Hampi and is located next to Ugra Narasimha Statue. The Linga has three eye mark depicting the three eyes of Lord Shiva.The Linga is made of Blackstone.
Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple
This is a small temple with a beautiful Ganesha Idol. The idol depicts the legend of Ganesha tying a snake around his stomach to prevent it from bursting because of over eating. While doing pradikshina I was mesmerized to see that the back of this idol depicts Devi Parvati carrying Ganesha on her lap, Isn’t that a masterpiece?
Kadalekalu Ganpathi Temple
The monolithic idol here is huge and counted among the largest Ganesha Idol in south India. The belly of Lord Ganesha resembles Bengal Gram, thus giving the name Kadalekalu ( Kadle means Bengal Gram). Situated a top Hemakuta Hills the temple provides a picturesque views of the Hampi Bazaar and the Matanga Hill.
Places I visited in Kishkindha ( Details in next Blog: Kishkindha Tales)
Durga Devi Temple
With so much to behold and feel, Hampi gripped my senses deeply. I still think that I should visit there again and live the beauty of it.