I happened to visit Hampi during 1978 along with my parents. In those time it was typical village with a rustic atmosphere. There was not much interest among localites nor tourist to visit this place, which was known as ruined city ( HALLU HAMPI in vernaclular language ) without any guide we wandered clueless. Moreover we visited in the peak of summer in an old Ambassador car, to add to our discomfort. The only distinct memory was that of Inverted Image Gopuram of Virupakasha temple and me driving the car nearly running over a chicken.
My history professor used to eloquently describe the architecture unleashed by the the regimes of Chalukya, Hoysala, Kadambas and Vijaynagar emperors. I was unable to connect to the historical importance since we hardly got to glimpse the entire landscape of Hampi monuments.
After a gap of nearly 30 years I find that a new civilization has emerged. Perhaps after Hampi being declared a world heritage site in 1987, a mind blowing transformation has taken place at Hampi. It is as if history is being re-written, with guides, autorikshaw doing round trip, bike guides, and professional tour operators unleashing knowledge on the FORGOTTON EMPIRE to the tourists.
The common features are : 1. Road Network 2. Water Management 3. Temple construction 4. Public functions 5. Common Bath 6. Cultural Festivity 7 Art & Architecture 8. Well defined markets 9. Brothel Areas. 10. Diamond Bazaar. The world’s best diamonds were from India and it was openly traded in the bazaars along with other household articles. The royalty kept the best of the diamonds as their share for leasing the mines. Please refer to separate post on Hampi diamonds. Trading activities were carried out between various parts of the world during both the periods. We find gems & jewellery being traded in the bazaars. All household articles such as pottery, grains, vegetables, fruits, beetlenut, flowers etc were being traded. Finest Arabian horses were sold to the nobles in exchange for Diamonds. Further brothel lanes were located in the bazaar for the visitors and artisans from outstation.
Hampi is variously known as Pompei of the East, Open air Mueseum, Poetry in Stone, and architecture's paradise. Today Hampi is truely granted the status of World Heritage.
VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE : Our first point of visit was Virupaksha temple which was guided by a foreigner, because we ignored the offer to be guided @ Rs 400/- for a trip, which we thought was exhorbitant. We entered the Virupaksha temple without any entrance fee ( between 6.30 to 8 am it is free entry) The sheer grandeur started unraveling. At the entrance the temple tower is overpowering. On the left there is a sanctum which is occupied by tourists for changeover, which is really surprising. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is supposed to have been captivated by the dedication of Pampadevi. Lord Shiva consented to marry Pampa in his avatar as Virupaksha, the presiding deity. Behind the Virupaksha temple lies a room wherein we can view the inverted image of the main tower through a pin hole. It is application of Periscope principle. The bazaar in front of the Virupakasha temple is proposed to be shifted to another place to maintain the heritage look. The proposed shopping centre will be the main reporting centre for Hampi excursion. An organized trip with eco friendly mode of transport will be arranged. Further a fixed guide charges would also be ideal depending on no of spots toured or time spent concept.
Hemkunta Hill : After Virupaksha temple visit we walked across a lane adjacent to the right, just on a blinder, towards Hemkunta hill. Here one is astounded by the skills of rock carving work station. It is like a canvas on which artist exhibits his painting. The granite was the main raw material for most types of monumental construction at the site – which was abundant in and around Hampi for over 200 kms. Traditionally, granite blocks were split by first cutting rows of closely spaced cubical holes into which wooden wedges were pounded. When wetted, the wedges expanded, thereby propagating deep cracks through the stone which split as per dimension required by the artisans.
Krishna Temple : The Krishna temple was built by Krishnadevaraya., it is one of the most beautiful monuments located close to Virupaksha temple. The gopuram is vandalized to a large extent.by the Sultans robbing its deities and ornaments. The entire royal family members were massacred in this temple. Blood flowed in the temple premise, women and children were set on fire. The burn marks are visible inside the temple. Luckily after looting the enemy soldiers diverted their attention to grab wealth from many other temples, and spared mass scale demolition. Free entry
Hazaar Rama Temple : One gets to witness the epic of Ramayana depicted on the façade of the temple. The outer boundary walls is filled with battle scenes displaying the royal army in its full splendour. The pillars inside the temple are beautifully finished. The temple has not suffered much of the destruction unleashed by the Sultans. Free entry
Mahanavami Dibba : This place had been the public parade ground for the Dusherra festivity. The Kings had a beautiful stage on the Mahanavami Dibba to witness the procession and various acts enacted during the 10 days festivity, which replicated in the form of Hampi Utsav during Nov every year. During the ancient times puppet show, dance, drama, fireworks and fancy dress competition were enacted to enthrall the Royalty and commoners alike. Many of the monuments are demolished in this area. An underground meeting place for the king and the commanders is also built. Water duct is one the architectural wonder seen leading to the stepped tank. An amphitheatre seems to be destroyed too. Free entry
Vittala Temple : Stone Chariots and musical pillars are the prime example of the perfection of the artisans during the Vijaynagar era. Many a films were shot in this premise in vernacular language as well as Bollywood. The famous Myth movie of Jackie chaan too has been shot over here. Unfortunately the musical pillar temple has collapsed and nobody is allowed inside this premise. The ASI is planning to resurrect this temple, which is a mammoth task.
Lotus Mahal : Lotus Mahal is supposed to be queen’s palace during the summer. The entire momument is beautifully ventilated with privacy for the the women folk. This Mahal is having a Indo-Sacrcenic influence. The royal palace is demolished in front of the Lotus Mahal. This place needs tickets for visiting, which can be combined ticket with Vittala temple. Photography charges are separate.
Elephant Stable : The royal herd of elephants were stationed in the elephant stables. It is a majestic structure which still survives in pristine condition. Some film songs have been shot with dancing scenes picturised above the stables roof. Combined entry fee is charged.
Jain Temple’s Behind the Lotus Mahal enclosure one finds small jain temple signifying that Jains too had influence in Hampi.
Sasvekallu and Doddakalu Ganesh : The lord of knowledge Ganesh is adorning these temple, a portion of his stomach has been destroyed by soldiers of Sultan. The destruction seems to have halted in the midst for reasons unknown on this statue. Both the idols have survived and their Parthenon like structure is amazing.
Urga Narashima and Badavi Linga : Urga Narashima has been the symbol of Hoysalas and Vijaynagar empire. One can see a partially destroyed statue of Urga Narashima ( Lion headed Diety ) enroute to Hazaar Rama temple. This has become the official symbol of the Vijaynagar dynasty. The Shiva Linga seems to have built by a poor lady in honour of the King. This place is always immersed with water. Some people try to throw coin to perch on the linga for good luck and wishes to come true.
Underground Shiva Temple : A marvelous archicteture with water channels routed to the temple, to keep the place cool. This temple is immersed with water, without a clue by the present archeologist, whether it was a faulty construction or breach of water channel. The entrance to the temple is beautifully landscaped. The underground shiva temple has Nandi statutes inside, which is filled in water most of the times. Free Entry
Royal Zenana : The bathing place for the queens of the sultans has been beautifully constructed near the Underground shiva temple. It is now a lovers den to have privacy. There is no water standing in this place, which is surprising. How we wish that we are transported to ancient times with water being present in this premises. Free Entry
Anegundi : This place was the first capital of the Vijaynagar empire and which was later transformed Hampi into their primal capital. This place is across the Tungabhadra river and boasts of some ancient temples and beautiful rocky patches, which are used for adventure rock climbing sports by foreigners and Indians alike.
T.B. River : Coracle ride is taken across to reach Anegondi by tourist, to explore the monuments and hilltop. One can see a temple Mallikarjun being under resurrection by an NGO. A bridge across the T.B. river was discontinued due to the advisory of the world heritage body.
Muesuem : Kamalapur has a beautiful museum of the left over monuments which have been destroyed by the Sultans. These monuments are only partially recovered majority of them seems to have been smuggled to Europe by the britishers. Entry ticket
Bear Park : Doraji Bear sanctuary is supposed to be 14 km away from Kamalapur. Honestly I was not interested in visiting this place for spending more time @ Hampi. Some foreigners stay months undertaking research or trying to feel the rustic atmosphere of Hampi.
T.B. Dam : A beautiful dam is built across the river tungabhadra to harness the energy unleashed by the river. The dam has a beautiful garden and musical fountain is played during the night. Entry ticket for the gardens is charged. Old Bridge : An old bridge across the T B river which was supposed to be replicated has been stopped by the World Heritage committee, if one wants to witness and get the feel one can notice the same enroute to Jaggan chakki falls near Shivasamudram.
Tips to travellers:
Guides are available at the Virupaksha premises. The charges range from Rs 150 to Rs 500/- per family. On guided KSTDC tour the charges are Rs 100/- per head for entire trip of 3 days. The temperature is extremely hot, visit during the rainy season or winter season is advised. In case one likes to travel during summer vacation it is better to carry an umbrella and sunscreen. Drink plenty of water since one skin can become dehydrated with loss of water. If one has the habit of sweating then it is between to consume salt and sugar added water to replenish loss. It is better to have mosquito lotion as a precaution. The river bed at Tungabhadra is extremely slippery, I was personal witness to another co-tourist having a toss into the river, luckily he escaped unhurt. Do not undertake coracle ride during rainy season it could be dangerous.
ACCOMODATION : One of the recommended places for stay is Shanbaug Towers, which is located close to the bus stand. The rooms are neat and clean. They have a bar facility and restaurant. Hot water is available with geyser fitted into a double room. There is a photo studio Konica for fast processing. Other hotels are Mallige, Pai Hotel and KSTDC Mayura hotel. It is recommended one stays a Hospet which is convinient from all angles. Jungle Resorts has opened up an exclusive resort @ Sloth bear Resort. You can contact me for booking the same 9844308466 or 9844410633