After spending a peaceful morning walking up the Matanga for the sunrise and on the wet grass around the Achyutaraya Temple the rest of my day would tun out to be quite the opposite! I had to make the most of my time in Hampi and it wasn’t as bad as it may sound. After having the breakfast of Masala Dosa and Chilli/Mirchi bajjis at a local food vendor, I started the day of frantic hopping around with the grand Vittala temple. It was already past 10 in the morning when I reached the Vittala temple and the place was filled with school children, hundreds of them. I spent quite a bit of time there but could hardly get one picture without anybody walking into it. I was also disappointed that the musical pillars were off limits from the public. I knew I would come back at a better time, and left. The only thing I was satisfied with was that I literally got out of my and got a couple nice pictures.
I had heard of a place called “Nava Brindavana” from someone on twitter and went in search of it. I found it on the map and followed the road to it through green banana plantations. Little did I know that it was on an island on the Tungabadhra river. I quickly noticed that a guy was waiting on the bank with coracle. He wasn’t very happy to hear that I had come alone as he had to row the boat just for me, which he did. On reaching the island he told me that he’d be waiting there and went walking to reach the place. I found an entrance next to a small abandoned building and walked in without any thought. I saw people circling around a few huge Brindavanas. In a few minutes a woman saw me casually walking around and was surprised that I had my footwear on there and a bad hanging over my shoulders. She asked me to get rid of my chappals, leave my bag in a corner and take off my shirt. A young priest saw all this happening and came to us and explained to me that the place was very sacred and they don’t even enter the place without taking a bath in the river. It is from him that I learned that the Brindavanas were for the nine great Hindu Madhwa saints. Brindavans are tombs and also have a place for a Tulsi on the top. I too circled around the Brindavans and sat for while watching the people who were offering prayers with utmost respect. I went and sat peacefully by the river, something I wasn’t able to do at Hampi. I left the place, took the coracle ride back to my motorcycle on the bank. But now I wanted to hop onto the other side of the river, to reach Anegundi.
Luckily, a little distance upstream there was a ferry service to carry me and my bike across the river. I happily sat on the bike and rode onto the deck with a few girls (from Europe, I figured from their language) with their bicycles. On reaching the other side, I was exiting to ride into the ancient place of Anegundi, that was the capital of the Vijayanagara empire before Hampi. It has a history that goes way before the Vijayanagara empire itself. Not only that, it has a lot of ties with Hindu mythology especially with the epic of Ramayana.
It is believed to be the monkey kingdom of Kishkindha that has a mention in Ramayana. There is a hill here, called Anjanaadri, that is believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman. I couldn’t climb the hill and rode on to find an old fort on another smaller hill. There is a Durga temple at the fort entrance and it is said that that Vijayanagara kings would come here to pray before every battle. I went past the temple and reached the fort. It seems like a small and frail fort, but it has held against many attacks and stands strong.
I was given a very strong recommendation by a friend to visit a nearby lake called the Sanapur lake. It is actually a reservoir on one branch of the river and is surrounded by hills of huge boulders all around. A coracle ride on the lake was all I needed to calm me down on a hectic day like this one ;).
Now I had to head back to the Hampi side of the river before the ferry service stopped for the day. I had enough time and decided to have something to eat at the “Laughing Budha Cafe” one of the more popular cafes in Virupapura Gaddi. It has a great view of the river and the gopura of the Virupaksha temple.
Now it was really time for me to cross the river and catch that sunset! I went to the Hemakuta Hill right next to the Virupaksha temple. It is a very small hill with many small temples and mantapas sprinkled all over. It offers a great view of some of the ruins and the perfect place to watch a sunset!