If you want to be moved by an imperial medieval city, that was once the capital of the entire Indian peninsula, you must visit Hampi. But be sure to bring all the imagination you can muster, because the city is in ruins. You will need to soak in all that is left of this once majestic city, all the stories of the kingdom of Vijayanagara, the mythology of the surrounding area and build a picture using your imagination. And I can bet, you will be left wishing that you were alive there at the height of it’s glory.
I had little idea of what to expect of Hampi when I started riding there one morning from Bangalore. I had seen pictures and heard stories, but I didn’t carry that baggage with me. I wasn’t even sure of going when I went to bed the previous night! But leave, I did, on my humble little motorcycle. It was the familiar road till Chitradurga and I had to leave the comfort of the four-lane highway and turn towards Hospet. I had read horror stories of this road and had still went anyway. The road isn’t very bad, it is worn out in patches but the huge trucks were more difficult to tackle as the road has just two lanes.
I reached the town of Hospet in the evening and just before entering I was amazed at the huge Tungabadhra reservoir and the sun hanging just over the water line.
I stood there for a moment and left straight for Hampi hoping to catch the sunset. I did reach Hampi before it was dark but I had missed the sunset and only left to see this view!
After sitting to this view with the silhouette of the gopura of the Virupaksha temple for a while, that is where I head next. Virupaksha is the most popular temple in Hampi. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksheshwara, it is believed to be the oldest here and the deity is worshiped everyday. It is one of the most sacred temples in India. Hampi is also known as “Dakshina Kaashi”, the Kaashi of the south. Like Kaashi (Varanasi), it sits by a sacred river, the Tungabadhra. The river was known by the name of Pampa in the epic of Ramayana and must have been it’s earlier name. Pampa is also the name of Parvathi the consort of Lord Shiva.
Even with lots of people walking in, the temple maintained a calm atmosphere. I walked past the temple elephant, Lakshmi, as she was blessing people with her trunk and entered the shrine. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait in a line quickly got to see the linga. I hung around for a while listening to a guide talking about the paintings on the ceiling of the mantapa and left to find a place for the night.
After failing in my attempts to book a place in Hampi before getting there, I went around the village looking out for the names of guesthouses I remembered. When I actually got there, I was surprised to see that almost every house was converted into a guest house with a cafe on the roof. I did find a simple room for a nominal price. It too had a cafe on the roof, with free WiFi! :) I had my dinner there, walked around the streets to get a feel of the place and finally hit the sack hoping for a good 2 – 3 days of exploring Hampi.
Sorry for not sharing many pictures in this post, I cannot wait till I share all the (pretty) pictures I shot on a new camera I got last month. So, watch out for the next few post that will soon follow!