The times of Hampi

The beginning

We were all itching for an overdue vacation. So, we made a detour [yes, detour] from the mundane route of home to office to home. Hampi.

We packed our bags, woke up at 5 and hopped into a minivan. Waking up early seemed a herculean task, but it was not worthless. We started off with big round smiles on our faces. Good music and petty jokes kept us alive and awake.

En Route to Hampi

Hyderabad > Jadcherla > Mahbubnagar > Raichur > Gangavati > Hampi

Within an hour, we escaped to Jadcherla. Stomach urged for a breakfast. Tea and sandwiches seemed like a salubrious option.

Tea at Jadcherla

The distance from Hyderabad to Hampi is around 380 kilometers. We soon passed Mahbubnagar and landed in Raichur. Raichur encompasses a thermal power plant which looks quite colossal and elegant [especially after dusk]. Just after crossing Raichur, we met Krishna river and crossed the state border. The landscape from Raichur to Gangavati is phenomenal. There is a flux of mesmerizing paddy fields, sunflower plantations and cotton plantations on both sides of the road.

Paddy field in Gangavati

It took us eight long hours to reach Hampi. We had already reserved staying rooms at White Elephant resort.

White Elephant

There are two utterly different sides of Hampi, provincially known as the holy side and the unholy side. The Tungabhadra river acts as a demarcation between the two. We decided to give each side a day.

The Unholy Side

It is relatively remote and underdeveloped than the holy side. Hence, the hotel tariff and food is cheap here. We took a nap for an hour in the resort and then started off to capture the calmness disseminated across the placid unholy side.

Sanapur Lake

Located on Tungabhadra canal, Sanapur lake is a stunning beauty. The exotic breeze elevated us to the state of an intractable delirium. We took a tour of the lake on a round coconut boat. The coconut boat is quite a fancy thing.

Coconut boat

The tour to the unholy side is incomplete without visiting the Durga temple and the Hanuman temple. The Hanuman temple is situated on a hill top. One needs to climb around 600 stairs to reach there. According to the legend, Hanuman was born here.

It was already dark by the time we finished our tour. We chose to dine at Laughing Buddha situated on the bank of Tungabharda river. It is a cozy place. Cold breeze and low lights set up a dainty ambiance, and hence helped us alleviating the travails of the journey.

Colorful lamp at Laughing Buddha

We returned to our hotel, White Elephant, tired and mesmerized. We stayed awake for a while to play card games and then dozed off. Next day we started for the historical holy side.

On our way to the holy side

The holy side

We got to see Tungabhadra dam on the way. It is among the first few dams built in India. It is beautiful and elegant.

Stone carving at Virupaksha temple

The ruins of Hampi are scattered all over the city. We visited a plethora of archaic temples, bazaars and bathing areas. We started with the popular Virupaksha temple. Its intricate architecture gives a delight to the eyes.

Adjacent to Virupaksha, lies Sasivekalu Ganesha temple. The temple is located at the southern foot of Hemakuta hill. The Ganesha idol here is whopping 65 feet long and is carved out of a single [monolithic] rock.

Then we visited Hampi bazaar and Krishna temple. Hampi bazaar is the place where trading used to take place. The traders from all over the world would visit Hampi.

Ruins of hampi bazaar

The main idol installed in the Krishna temple is the figure of Balakrishna [Krishna as infant]. A huge slab installed inside the courtyard of the temple states the story of this temple. The carvings are especially spectacular with the lions on the pillars.

We left Krishna temple to visit Ugra Narasimha and Badavi Linga. Ugra Narasimha is the largest statue in Hampi. Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called Sesha in a cross-legged Yoga position with a belt supporting the knees.

Ugra Narasimha

Badavi Linga is the largest Linga image in Hampi. Located next to the Narasimha statue the Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front. The lower portion of Linga is always submerged in the water which comes from a canal.

Zenana Enclosure

It used to be a secluded area reserved only for the royal women. The major attraction is the Lotus Mahal located at the southeast corner. The Lotus Mahal is also known as the Chitragani Mahal.

Other notable places we visited in Zenana Enclosure :

  • Treasury building
  • Queen’s palace
  • Water Pavillion [Well]
Lotus Mahal

Royal Enclosure

We started off with Hazara Rama Temple. According to the legend, the whole Ramayana can be depicted through the intricate sculptures carved on temple panels. The temple is located adjacent to King’s Palace.

One of the panels of Hazara Rama temple

One among the few least destroyed structures in Royal enclosure, Elephant Stable is a major attraction. This long building with a row of domed chambers was used to park the royal elephants. There are ten tall chambers.

Elephant stable

The King’s Audience Hall, as the name indicates, is a building that was meant for the use of the King of Vijayanagara. It was the building where the king used to meet his subjects and address their grievances. Another significant spot inside Royal enclosure is Stepped well. It was used to store water for religious purposes.

Stepped well

Vittala Temple

Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. No volume of words can explain this spectacle. The highlight of Vittala temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot. The halls are carved with an overwhelming array of sculptures. The stone chariot located inside the campus is almost an iconic structure of Hampi. Facing the Stone Chariot, a series of steps gives access to this elevated open hall called the Maha-Mantapa [the great hall]. The main highlight of the Maha-Mantapa is its richly carved giant monolithic pillars. The outermost of the pillars are popularly called the musical pillars. These slender and short pilasters carved out of the giant pillars emit musical tones when tapped.

Stone chariot

It was already 6:30 PM. We left Hampi and started for Hyderabad.

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