Hampi – a showpiece of India’s might
My 3rd place on Go-Unesco List.. as usual I had planned for this trip much in advance with couple of friends and towards the end only me & Prashanth could make it. Initially we booked a cab but since everyone dropped out, we were lucky enough to get KSRTC bus tickets in the last minute. We booked the tickets online at 7 pm and started the journey at 10 pm. We reached Hospet at around 7 am and found a decent place to freshen up.There are a lot of good hotels just next to the bus stand and make sure you bargain for half the price if you are not planning to stay overnight. The person at the hotel suggested that we take the KSTDC package tour to Hampi which starts at 9.30 am from Hospet and return at 7 pm.The best part is its just Rs.225/- per person and covers almost all the major attractions.After freshening up, we had delicious breakfast at a roadside stall.
Then started the tour with a group of 14 other people and Tour guide with his funny accent ( he apparently knows to speak 6 international languages). It was good that we chose to carry enough water bottles and something to munch as it was a day long trip with too many places to cover. Don’t rush to see the bottom of the blog..I know its quite long..but definitely worth reading!!!
Firstly, something about Hampi : At Hampi,the past comes alive. Whispering winds,magnificient ruins,traces and scents of a bygone era all linger fresh here. And they virtually transport you to a world of kings,battles and long forgotten marvels. The ancient city of Hampi was spread across a 26 sq Km area along the Tungabhadra River. In medieval times,it was ruled by the Vijayanagara dynasty, famed for its patronage to art and culture.
Hampi’s history goes back beyond historical times,for it is said that this region was the mythical Kishkinda-kshetra from the Ramayana.It is here that Rama is said to have fought alongside the monkey-king Sugriva against Vali,who had usurped Sugriva’s kingdom.
During the medieval period,Hampi and its environs were ruled by a succession of dynasties, including the Kadambas,the Chalukyas,the Rashtrakutas and the Hoysalas. Then between 1326-27,the Delhi Sultan Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, conquered the area but,within ten years the Sangama brothers,Harihara and Bukka, led a rebellion and regained the area. They founded the celebrated city of Vijayanagara,’City of Victory’.
The splendid ruins spread across this area include some of the finest specimens of medieval Indian Architecture and attest to the greatness of the Vijayanagara empire.The Hampi monuments are of interest to anyone,whether tourist or academic,who want a glimpse into this great historical period.
Now before you get bored I will start writing about the places in the order we were shown.
Our first stop was at,
1. Sri Virupaksha temple :
Dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Pampadevi,this is the only temple here that is still used for worship.Parts of the temple pre-date the Vijayanagara empire.The temple with its 9 storied (52 m high) gopura, towers above the other structures at Hampi.
From the east gopura,one enters a large courtyard ( 78 m x 51 m ) which has several sub-shrines and a large number of mandapas.
The ceiling of the Ranga Mantapa is beautifully painted with scenes from the epics and Puranas. The interesting feature is that there is a small aperture in one of the enclosures which is made at an angle so that one can see the inverted shadow of the main Gopura. Don’t forget to take blessings from the Holy Elephant on your way back. We were happy to visit this place in this season where we could savour some of the best mangoes.
After a small drive we get down for next stop,
2. Hemakuta Hill :
On the slope of Hemakuta Hill,are two huge stone images of Ganesa.The one called Sasivekalu or mustard seed is about 2.4 m high.The image is covered by a large and open mandapa, with plain rough pillars.
Nearby is another monolith,ironically called Kadalekalu or gramseed Ganesa. The huge seat carved out of a massive boulder,is around 4.5m high and enshrined in a large temple with an open pillared mandapa in front.
Tour Guide’s Version : The belly of Kadalekalu Ganesa is destroyed by the invaders who thought there would be some treasury hidden in it!!!
Next we stop at,
3. Krishna Temple :
This temple has an inscription of Krishnadeva Raya dating to AD 1513.This large and ornate east facing temple complex is built in the typical Vijayanagara style. One of the pillars in the ardhamandapa is noteworthy as all the ten avataras of Vishnu, including the rare one of Kalki,are carved on it. Sad to see that only a part of the superstructure of the east gopura exists, but its west face contains fine stucco figures of warriors with shields, spirited horses and elephants. Exactly opposite to the Krishna temple is the Hampi Bazaar about 10.6 m wide and 732 m long with double-storeyed colonnaded structures flanking its sides.Though it lies in ruins today,it
once served as one of the important thoroughfares of the city.
4. Lakshmi Narasimha Statue:
This huge monolith,about 6.7 m high,stands within a walled enclosure,a short distance to the west of the road.It is a four armed seated figure of narasimha,but all the arms are broken now. A large seven-hooded Naga curls above his head.Originally there was a figure of Lakshmi seated on Narasimha’s left thigh.
Tour Guide’s Version : A group of Priests protested and stopped the conservation efforts which left the eyes of Narasimha look artificial like Chinese dragon eyes. Do stop by and buy a souvenir by an artist who carves the Narasimha on Soap. Time to quench our thrist.We found a young kid making Lemon Soda and couldn’t stop without having it. This boy makes 3 glasses of soda in 2 mins!!! Worth watching him do it. Next couple of miles and then we stop by,
5. Badavilinga :
Located next to Lakshmi Narasimha statue,the Badavilinga is 3 m high and stands permanently in water that flows through an ancient channel.
6. Underground Siva Temple:
The most amazing part was when the Tour Guide made the group sit under the Big tree right at the entrance of the temple as he unfolded the stories about this temple. A series of wide large steps along the axis of the tower and the sanctum leads you to the inner part of the temple. The main hall in front of the shrine is huge with massive cubical pillars supporting the roof. Depending upon the water level you may be able to proceed to the sanctum area.When we went, we had to wade through knee deep water. Watch out for bats!
There is a beautiful lawn built around the temple. Usually a less crowded location, the outside (and to some extent the top portions) of this temple you can survey by going around this lawn.
7. Lotus Mahal :
This visually appealing structure has two levels,with open pavilions at the bottom and balconies above. A fusion of Hindu & Islamic Architectural Style,the Mahal got its name from its beautiful, geometrically arranged cusped arches that resemble the petals of a lotus opening to the Sun.
The super structure consists of nine pyramidal sikharas of varying sizes,the central one being the tallest in their original state these were fully decorated, apinted and covered with polished lime – plaster work.
Tour Guides Version : This is also called AC Mahal as the ceiling consisted of a number of vaults and domes symmetrically arranged and the 24 square pillars which support the arches bring in cool air all through the day. I can’t confirm this as we were not allowed to step into the Mahal to feel the cool Air.
8. Elephant Stables :
This long, lofty and dignified building is right next to the Lotus Mahal.It has 11 large chambers with beautiful arched entrances. The domical ceilings of the chambers have lotus motifs and the four cardinal corners of the ceiling at the base of the dome are provided with pointed arched squinches. The domes over the roof are of different types – circular,ribbed ones and vaulted octagonal ones with ribbed sikharas and are symmetrically on either side of the chamber. However the central chamber differs in that it has a square,turret-like super structure over a flat ceiling and consists of slender columnettes forming foliated arch openings with a parapet above.
Right next to it is the Guard’s Quarters.This lofty rectangular structure is a blend of Indo-Islamic style architecture with a high verandah in front,the façade of which is provided with high arches.Inside is an open courtyard surrounded by a closed pillared corridor.
Of all the Structures we have seen in Hampi,I felt this is the only place which still remains in fully built form as compared to the ruins of other structures.
My Version: Right opposite to the Elephant stable area, we saw a small portion where stones in various sizes were stacked up.I assume that there may be a belief that if you had a wish,stack up as many stones as u can and hola..by the time you reach back home your wish is fulfilled . I actually did that!!!
By now we were completely exhausted and hungry,still the guide forced us to the next place,
9. Hazara Rama Temple :
This small but highly ornate temple is no longer in use and the sanctum is empty but originally it was dedicated to Vishnu in the form of Rama.
The name Hazara rama might have been inspired by the ‘Thousand Ramas’ carved on the temple’s walls but it probably may come from Telugu word Hazaramu which means audience hall or entrance hall of a palace.
The general plan of the east facing temple ( 33.5 m x 61.0 m ) consists of sanctums of the god and goddess, a kalyanamantapa and other subsidiary shrines all contained within a Prakara and enclosed by a high wall.The outer walls are richly carved in bold bas-relief and depict scenes from the Ramayana.
At the centre of the Ardhamandapa are four exquisitely carved and polished pillars of black stone (Guide says these were brought from Warangal – similar to the ones used in 1000 pillar temple). The ornate central ceiling has the usual alternating square courses with a finely carved lotus motif in the middle. (this is where I was posing “ Bhangima”).
This temple is a veritable picture gallery.Its walls & pillars capture the immortal legends of the Ramayana in stone. Certain Architectural features suggest an early date for the temple, these include the style of main entrance porches,the absence of gopuras and composite Vijayanagara pillars; and the comparative plainness of the main sanctum.
Finally the Guide planned to take a break and left us to have lunch at hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari. Decent place though the food wasn’t great.
Post Lunch Tour Resumes…
10. Royal Enclosure:
The Royal Enclosure, the nucleus of hampi city is the largest extent enclosure.Occupying an area of 59,000 Sq mt and protected by lofty double walls it housed as many as 45 buildings including the Mahanavami Dibba,the Kings audience hall,the so called public bath,etc.
The enclosure has 3 entrances,two in the north and once in the west. The first Northern entrance was guarded by massive doorways ( now laid on ground at entrance ). The second northern entrance has a flight of steps and ornamented balustrades and is flanked by two passages. The passage on the west was used exclusively by the royal family, while the other one was for use by dignitaries to access the Mahanavami platform.
Entering the enclosure through the northern main entrance,one comes to a neatly plastered open courtyard and a pillared hall ( probably meant for waiting visitors ). This in turn leads to a well decorated hall with walls veneered with limestone and greenish schist slabs,which served as the king’s private audience hall.
To the south of this hall is an underground secret council chamber of the king made of green chlorite. To the south-west of this secret chamber was the king’s residence with as many as nine chambers including a puja room.
To the west and north west of the residence were structures which have been uncertainly identified as the king’s private treasury, Rangamahal or Chitrasala,the king’s pleasure house or private concert hall,a shrine,a rectangular hall and Hawamahal.
To the east of the palace complex is the sacred area,at the centre of which is a sacrificial altar and a tank for sacred baths.
Two structures with decorative plinths to the south of the sacred area were residences of the queens. To the south of the palace complex and the queen’s residence are long rectangular pillared halls arranged in a row,in units of two and separated by a wide corridor. These were perhaps rooms for women working in the palace complex. The efficient arrangements made for supplying water,storing it and the drainage system is remarkable.Water was brought from an external source through a main aqueduct running in the middle of the Royal enclosure.
The main aqueduct branched into a network of sub-channels to feed 23 small and big tanks within the enclosure.Significantly there were wells at the junction between the main aqueduct and branches that were sources of water in times of emergency. The so-called Public bath located at the south eastern corner is the largest tank in the enclosure and perhaps used for jalakrida by royal women.
A network of underground drains made of slabs of lime-concrete and provided with man holes at regular intervals channelized all the waste and rain water emptying it into a large drain on the southern side of the enclosure.
The Royal enclosure was definitely not built by a single ruler or dynasty and evidence suggests three phases of structural activity.Since many additions and alterations were made in existing structures, it is impossible to exactly date the three phases.
This massive east facing platform rises to a height of 12 m and is built in three diminishing tiers. The first tier and the one above measures 40 and 24 sq mts respectively and is built of well dressed massive granite blocks.
The Mahanavami platform is popularly known as the throne platform or house of victory and was built in 3 phases. In the first phase it was built of well dressed granite blocks and decorated with a variety of courtly scenes,festive moods,hunting scenes and rows of animals and birds carved in relief around the platform representing the life and times of the people of Vijayanagara.
In the second phase,a neatly dressed and moulded plinth in 2 tiers was constructed over the platform. A chamber was provided on the eastern side with a flight of steps in the north and south, leading from the chamber to the roof of the platform.
During the third phase,the western part of the Mahanavami platform was encased with beautifully carved schist blocks. On the northern side of the platform,a well paved passage which was used by the dignitaries to climb on the Mahanavami platform. This passage had a beautifully decorated entrance with temple like monolithic door flaps.
After a tiring long walk through the palace area we head back to the bus and stop at Hampi’s Crowning Glory,
11. Vijaya Vittala Temple:
Here we board a battery car to reach the Vittala temple. Vittala temple represents the culmination of the Vijayanagara style of art and architecture. No other building in Hampi can compare with it in terms of florid magnificence.
The Vittala temple remained in active worship till the fall of Vijayanagara in 1565.The spacious prakara has 3 massive gateways that are adorned with lofty gopuras in the north,east and south.
Vittala temple stands in a larger rectangular enclosure ( 164 x 94.5 m). All along the enclosure walls on the interior side are pillared colonnades. At the centre of the enclosed courtyard is the sanctum with its axial mandapas. Arranged around the sanctum is the Amman Shrine, the kalyanamandapa, an utsvamandapa, a hundred pillared mandapa and a stone ratha or chariot dedicated to garuda the mount of Vishnu. Outside the rectangular enclosure in front of the eastern gopura stands a dipastambha,nearly 12 m in height.
The main temple is dedicated to Vishnu as Vittala. The sanctum of the god and its axial mandapas form a long and low structural group about 7.6 m in height and 70 m in length.
The large mahamandapa has symmetrically recessed sides,measuring 30.5 m at its widest and longest points. The mandapa stands on a highly ornate adhisthana some 1.5 m high with sculptured friezes of horses and warriors and hamsa. At intervals along the base, there are ornate miniature vimana-projections containing figures of the dasavatharas.
The steps to the mandapa have an elephant balustrade on the east, but those on the north and south have surul yalis. Thick stone rings at the corners were for holding stone chains. Fragments of the original decorative parapet of brick and mortar, can be seen.
The mandapa contains 56 pillars each around 3.6 m high; forty of these are arranged to form an aisle aro 3 sides, while the remaining 16 form a rectangular court in the centre. Each pillar is a composite sculptural unit,sometimes measuring as much as 1.5 m across and may be termed as a monolithical sculptural group.
The type of pillars vary according to their position in the mandapa.Most of the pillars along the outer edges are composite ones with a large number of slender columnettes around a central shaft. The pillars have heavy pushpapodigai corbels. The ceiling of the mandapa is divided into sections and carved beautifully with lotus motif.The central court is now almost roofless.
Sadly now the tourists are not allowed to step into the temple and listen to the music that emanates when one strikes the pillars.But we were lucky enough to quickly walk on to the other mandapa and listen to the music.
Stone Chariot :
The Stone chariot of the Vittala temple is a remarkable structure. The Chariot with the image of Garuda within it replaces the Shrine normally seen in Vaishnava temples. All the intricate and delicate details found in a wooden rathe are simulated in this stone chariot. The brick superstructure of the ratha, shaped like a vimana is no longer extant.
Since most of our co-tourists were ending the trip with this place, it was time for some group pics.. Then 6 of us head back to Tunga bhadra dam and returned to Hospet busstand by 7 pm.
Now time to explore some local food joints.One of our co-tourists suggested a place for nice tiffins.Me and Prashanth walked around until we found Shirdi Sai tiffins(Opp to Hotel Shanbagh). Must say best idli’s and dosa I ever had. The place was totally packed and it took 15mins for us to get the token. After this do visit the Bikaner Sweets right next to it for good sweets and super yummy hot jalebis.
Time to get back to the Bus stand and started back the journey to Hyderabad.
Since Prashanth had already travelled with Shravya & Ankita it was easy for him to bear me and my nakhras..Thanks for being such a wonderful travel partner!!! Felt very sad to see the City which was once the mark of Vijayanagara Grandeur is now in
ruins!!!https://www.gounesco.com/heritage/proof/29321336601-hampi-showpiece-indias-might/https://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/13055600/stone_chariot.jpghttps://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/13055600/stone_chariot-150x150.jpgUncategorizedBharathi,elephant,gounesco,Hampi,heritage,india,jaibharathi,krishna,lakshmi,monuments,temple,travel,virupaksha,vittala,world heritage travel