Hampi

Hampi
Our Hampi Diaries

Puru

Dedicated to the artists of Ancient India who created such beautiful monuments like Hampi

Preface

Presenting Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonder of Indian Architecture. This small book consists of a mini guide too which will help you plan your Hampi trip better. Hope you enjoy it.

Puru 2-Feb-2013

Contents
Hampi – A Travel Guide Hampi Diaries – First Day’s Explorations Hampi Diaries – The Early Morning Trek Hampi Diaries – A Guided Tour of the Sacred Center Hampi Diaries – The Royal Center Hampi Diaries – The Coracle Ride Across Tungabhadra Hampi Diaries – Vitthala Temple Hampi Diaries – Hemakuta Hill 1 6 15 21 26 29

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Hampi – A Travel Guide
December 27, 2012

Erstwhile capital of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi – once home to half a million people – lies in ruins today. However, the beauty of these ruins have enthralled archaeologists and travelers for centuries now. The old city, around 25 sq km in area, has hundreds of temples, shrines, palaces, fortifications, magnificent examples of city planning, bazaars and even aqueducts. Such is the beauty and importance of the royal city of Hampi that it has been included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. If the man made structures were not enough, Hampi has millions of unique geological formations surrounding it, known simply as the ‘Hampi boulders’. Time to visit Hampi has hot summers and warm to cool winters. The best time to visit is from November to February. However, the sun can be harsh even during winters so come prepared with umbrellas, hats and sun tan.

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The nearest airport to Hampi is Hubli and a major international airport is Bangalore. It is advisable to make the travel bookings at well in advance. Hospet, which is around 15 km away from Hampi, is the nearest railway station and is connected to different parts of the country by rail network. The station code is HPT. Overnight trains run to Hospet from Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Goa etc. Frequent buses of KSRTC ply to Hospet from different parts of Karnataka. Other than this, there are private bus services from Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad etc to Hospet. Getting Around As Hampi is spread in a large area, it may not be irascible to cover all the places on foot. However rental bicycles and gear-less mopeds are available for hire. Bicycles comes for INR 100/- for a day whereas Mopeds will cost INR 200/- . A point to notice here is that there is no petrol pump in Hampi, the nearest being in Kamalapura, and the local shops sell petrol at a premium – often at INR 100/- a litre. Another way of commuting is through three wheeler auto rickshaws. An auto-rickshaw can be hired for a day at INR 600-700 /- . Although it is more comfortable, it takes away a lot of fun from the trips. Be prepared to bargain.

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Since most of the resorts and guest houses are located on the other side of the Tungabhadra river, one has to take boats to cross the river. The last boat plies at 5:30 PM. The tickets cost INR 10/- per passenger and INR 15/- with luggage. You might also want to take a coracle (round boat made of bamboo) to reach Vitthala temple from Chakratirtha. This will cost you INR 150/- per person. Stay The places to stay in Hampi can be categorized in two groups, the guest houses and home-stays in the Hampi village and the resorts and guest houses on the other side of the river. The ones on the other side are bigger and more comfortable, more suited to families and tourists who want all the comforts. However, they have two drawback – a) They are far from the place of action b) You need to return at 5:30 PM when the last boat leaves. If you miss this boat, its a 40 km long drive to reach the other side. The residents of Hampi have converted some houses into guesthouses and have also started renting their rooms as home-stays While these places are not very comfortable, they give you the real taste of the place. Hampi bazaar is just 2 minutes walk from these accommodations. To Do in Hampi A visit to Hampi will include a lot of walking, hiking, climbing over stone steps and rock boulders, boating, bathing in the river and

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anything else which you can imagine. For convenience, am listing a few of them here. 1. Climb the Matanga Hill in the morning; and morning means early morning, before sunrise. You will not only see a 360 degree panoramic view of Hampi and surrounding mountains,but this will also warm you up for the rest of the trip. 2. Visit the Hampi Bazaar, Pan Supari Bazaar, Virupaksha Temple, Achutaraya Temple, Balakrishna Temple and the surroundings. 3. Take a coracle to Vitthala temple. Have the time of your life while your boat navigates through the Tungabhadra river flowing between rocky mountains. 4. Go on a bicycle / moped trip to the Royal enclosures. 5. Take a hike to the Hemakuta hill in the evening and stand at the Sunset point marveling at the scenery. 6. Walk aimlessly. Imagine you are an explorer set out to discover the mysteries of the past. There are chances that you might stumble upon something hidden previously. 7. Shop for small souvenirs at the Hampi bazaar. Bargain like there was no tomorrow. 8. Have a relaxed lunch at the Mango Tree. It is really wonderful.

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Eat and Drink Hampi is a place with religious significance, hence non vegetarian foods and alcoholic drinks are not allowed in the area. This is a good time to try different kind of fruit punches, lassis, mango shakes etc. The restaurants in the area serve great continental food. Make sure you try some of the Israeli food there. Some restaurants which we tried and found to be good are Mango Tree, Garden Paradise and Mowgli. The post Hampi – A Travel Guide appeared first on Shadows Galore.

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Hampi Diaries – First Day’s Explorations
December 28, 2012

Ever since I read the funny tales of Tenaliram and Krishnadevaraya in the children’s magazine Nandan years back, Vijayanagar has held its place in my to visit lists. So this Christmas vacation, when Ekta made me an offer, that we visit Hampi – the once mighty capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, I could not refuse. So on the morning of 22 Dec 2012, after a 10 hour bus journey, we were in Hospet, the town nearest to Hampi. The journey was rather uneventful except that I hardly got any sleep and Ekta slept throughout the journey. We reached Hospet at around 9 AM and took an auto to reach Hampi which is around 15 km away. On reaching the Hampi village, the first sight that greets you is of the Tungabhadra River running parallel to the serpentine road flanked by a vast sea of mighty boulders in the background. Boats run across the river to go to the other side. It is a tranquil little place and we had no problem in finding our guest house and renting a bike. Interestingly we came to know that Liquor or Non Vegetarian food is not allowed within the boundaries of Hampi. Ekta was elated and I, heartbroken.

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Ducks swimming in the Tungabhadra waters, as we saw them from the Mango Tree

Since we were famished, after some rest we immediately set out to find some food – in the direction of the famous Mango Tree Restaurant. It’s a beautiful place on the banks of Tungabhadra, set under the shade of a giant mango tree. The path to the restaurant winds through a banana plantation and one needs to remove the footwear to enter the restaurant. It is a place where you can sit on mats in the open and enjoy the view of the Hampi boulders and the riverfront with trees all around while having your meal.I had been craving for South Indian food ever since coming from Chennai and settled for a Thali while Ekta tried the “Israeli” Humus and Falafel with Chapati. Served on Banana leaves, the food was delicious.

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Israeli Food served on Banana leaves. A delicious fusion of India and the World at the Mango Tree Restaurant

After the lunch, we were ready to do some exploration of our own. So we set out on the path suggested by locals and soon found ourselves in the middle of the Hampi Bazaar. On both sides of the main street were lines of stone structures which once made the main bazaar of Hampi. Ironically it was a living market till the beginning of this year but was the shops running in these structures were demolished by the government to “return the place to its original condition”. Seems Tughlaq still lives in the corridors of power of our republic.

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A view of the Hampi Bazaar with the Virupaksha Temple in the background and Hemakuta hill on the left.

At the far end of the bazaar were a big monolithic Nandi and a giant flight of stone steps going up. As we climbed up those stairs, we could see a panoramic view of The Hampi Market and the shikhara of the Virupaksha temple at a distance. This was the view of the city center of one of the mightiest Hindu empires in Indian history.

The Mighty Boulders of Hampi

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Once we were on the top of the steps, we were able to finally appreciate the beauty of these famed rock formations, known as the Hampi boulders. Huge rocks shaped by winds over millenniums flanked us from every direction and I felt so insignificant in front of them. Maybe this is why ancient sages went to mountains in search of peace. One’s ego melts away when confronted by these mighty rocks which have seen empires rising and falling, countless humans passing by…

Achutaraya Temple, as we first saw it down in the valley

There was a small Hanuman temple on the top and there was a one old lady sitting there who after seeing us, went inside the temple and came out with tilak to put on our foreheads. On the horizon, we could see more mountains and as I went to the edge, was taken by surprise. The ruins of a large temple emerged in the valley beneath like the Flying Dutchman. Even from this height we could tell that this was something magnificent. We scurried downwards towards it.

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Carvings on the walls

The temple we accidently found was the Achutaraya temple built in the 15th century and we had stumbled upon it from the wrong direction. The outer structures of the temple were in a rundown condition but the inner sanctum was quite well preserved. There were intricate carvings on the walls and throughout the base of the temple were bold reliefs depicting scenes from battle, with elephants, camels, horses and infantry. I noticed that there were two distinct campuses and while the bases of the Gopurams were

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made of stone, the superstructure was made of brick and lime. I was not sure that this was the same architecture I had seen in the temples of Kanchipuram and Madurai. Later, while I was reading the ASI guidebook on Hampi, came to know that this was a distinct style of Vijayanagar. In front of the temple was another line of ancient shops, which I later learnt was known as the courtesans street. But in ignorance, we did not pay much attention to it.

A decapitated figurine found in a corner in the Achutaraya Temple

After spending some time in the Achutaraya temple, we decided to go along a trail in the rocks which we believed went to the top Matanga Hills. This trail was actually another flight of stone steps, but was in a rundown condition with many of the steps having fallen down. We kept climbing in the hot sun till we were almost under the peak of the mountain.

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Achutaraya Temple

However, at this point, the path became very dangerous and the probability of us slipping and falling down became disproportionately high. Being a married man now, I did not risk the lives of myself and my brand new wife and forced her to turn back. The descent was more difficult than the climb but we managed somehow. We would never know how close we were to success before we quit, but we will try it from a more proper route tomorrow. By this time, the hot sun and physical exercise had taken its toll and we were very tired. So we came back to our guest house to take rest for an hour. That “an hour” became four hours and by the time we woke up, it was dark. So we visited the local market. The market is as small as the village but sells quite a few curiosities. Ekta got enamored with some camel and yak leather bags. Dunno how genuine they are but they were colorful and rather expensive. Although she did not buy them today, I have a gut feeling that we are going back with one. This was a short day, and after a dinner again at Mango Tree we are back at the guest house to rest and plan the rest of the trip….

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Hampi Diaries – The Early Morning Trek
December 30, 2012

Day 2 started early. Ekta woke me up at 6:30 AM shouting that the sun will be up. Well it turned out that sun was already up by that time. Anyway, we got ready in a hurry and got out for our morning photography trip. Our first stop was the bank of Tungabhadra. Since it was a Sunday morning, the ghats of Hampi were packed with tourists, school kids etc who had just arrived on an excursion. While we stood there staring at the people, I looked at Ekta’s face. She did not look in a very good mood; I asked why and she replied, “Because there is nothing interesting here!” So we chucked the idea of taking photos of the river and set out for our next target, which we had missed the day before – the Matanga hills.

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The Ascent

So we reached the foothills again and then started climbing. The weather was quite cool and it was definitely better than before. We got lost at a couple of points but some helpful soul had made arrow marks leading to the hill. After a point it was another flight of steep stone steps going up, but this time it was in a better shape and did not appear life threatening. As we went up, we could see the panoramic view of the valley below. We could see a temple below us which I incorrectly identified as the Achutaraya Temple. It turned out to be the Balakrishna temple. More about it later…

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Balakrishna Temple and the market, as we saw it from the MatangaHill

View of the valley from other side, shows Pushkarani, a part ofCourtesan street, Varaha Temple, Ancient bridge and theTungabhadra river winding around the boulders

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We climbed and climbed and did not stop till we were completely out of breath. Either age is catching up with me or IT has made me completely useless. It took us another 30 minutes for us to scale the 500 odd steps and reach the top. It turned out that the hike was worth the effort. The 360 degree view of the Hampi town and various sites around it was fabulous in the rays of the morning sun. To add to it, we were getting good mobile signal and we were able to check emails, sms, Facebook updates etc.

Matanga Rishi’s Ashram

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A Mandapa glows in morning sun at the top of the Matanga Hill

Ancient Watchtower on a distant Hill, stands alone, still guarding its Kingdom

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On the top, there was a big building marked as the ashrama of the Matanga Rishi. There were three stone mandapas under one of which we sat down to rest. Then we ventured into the ashrama; it was a spooky place with lots of pillars and rooms, galleries leading to the abyss below and a temple of Kali in the middle. The place looked deserted but there were signs that someone had lived there till recent. There were view points from where one could get a panoramic view of what lied beneath – a photographer’s delight! We spent a lot of time taking photographs and then started our descent. At the foothills, a path led to the river but we had no time for it as we were getting late for an appointment. More about that appointment and rest of our day in the next post.. The post Hampi Diaries – The Early Morning Trek appeared first on Shadows Galore.

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Hampi Diaries – A Guided Tour of the Sacred Center
January 05, 2013

Our appointment was at 9:30 AM with our tour guide Krishna, who we had met the evening before. So at 9:30 AM sharp, we reached Virupaksha Temple where we were supposed to meet him. We were a total of six, us, a Swedish couple and two guys from Hyderabad. One of the Hyderabadis turned out to be a friend who I used to know during my engineering days in Chennai; it’s a small world indeed.

Virupaksha Temple, from where the Guided tours usually start

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Our tour started with the Royal Ganesha, a seven meter high giant idol of Lord Ganesha carved out of a single rock. The temple was built around the idol. However, it was not a temple anymore, as the guide explained, Hindus do not worship broken idols.

Temple of the Royal Ganesha

The Royal Ganesha

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After the Royal Ganesha, we went to see what is interestingly called the Mustard Ganesha. Since the Royal Ganesha was reserved only for the royalty, a mustard merchant got this Ganesha made so that common people could visit it and have darshan. This Ganesha was unique in a way, if you behind the idol, you can see the figure of a woman at the back. The son Ganehsa actually sits on the lap of his mother Parvati in this depiction.

A view of the Spice Market from the Balakrishna Temple

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The Inner sanctum of the Balakrishna Temple

Beautiful Carvings inside the Balakrishna Temple

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From the Mustard Ganesha, we went to the Balakrishna Temple, an exquisitely carved temple which dedicated to Baby Krishna which was constructed to commemorate Krishnadevaraya’s victory over Odissa in 1513 AD. The temple had beautiful mandapas supported on intricately carved pillars depicting flowers, mythical animals and scenes from Krishna’s life. The gopura had reliefs of Vijayanagara armies chasing the vanquished enemy.

Lakshmi Narasimha

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Badavalinga

The Lakshmi Narasimha and Badavalinga Shiva were the next two stops we took before starting off to the Royal enclosure. Narasimha was another giant and impressive idol of Vishnu in his Narasimha avatar. Sheltered under the giant Sheshanag, Narasimha looked very fierce. It is said that a figure of Lakshmi was originally sitting on the lap of Narasimha, but now it was almost completely gone with just a beautifully sculptured hand around Narasimha’s waist left intact. The Siva was a huge lingam said to be commissioned by a poor old woman with her life’s savings. The lingam was intact with its base permanently under water.

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Our guide giving a demonstration of the Musical pillars

From here we started towards the Royal Enclosure which lies around 3-4 km away. But in the way, there was another thing to be seen – Musical pillar. We passed by many ruined temples and buildings in various states of disrepair and stopped at a roadside temple. The sanctum was locked up and was almost tumbling down and only the front porch was open for visitors. Here the guide showed us stone columns which gave musical sounds of tabla and ghatakam when tapped. It indeed worked and we were left amazed at this little piece of master-craftsmanship from ancient India!

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Underground Shiva Temple

The last stop before we entered the Royal Enclosure was the Underground Temple. Well, it is not an Underground Temple as per se. Just that, the surrounding ground level has risen, sinking the temple below and hence the name. The temple was good in the middle of a lush green lawn. But a bigger part of it was under not so clean water so we did not venture much inside. There is another temple in the vicinity called the Hazaar Rama Temple but for some strange reasons, the guide decided to give it a miss. Next in our Hampi Diaries – The Royal Enclosure … You can find the map of the sacred center here. For more and better resolution photographs, please go to Hampi Diaries – A Guided Tour of the Sacred Area, a set on Flickr.

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Hampi Diaries – The Royal Center
January 12, 2013

Our visit to the Royal Center started after we left the Underground Shiva Temple. We passed through a narrow and dusty path and a building with a lone window which looked so out of places, for a accessorized with a Palm Tree, it looked more a part of an Arabian Sultanate than a kingdom in Southern India.

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This was the building straight out of Arabian Nights

We reached a huge parking lot at one end of which was a ticket counter, INR 10 tickets for Royal Center and Vitthala Temple (INR 250 for foreigners!). There was a hole in a huge wall from which we were supposed to enter and so did we. It was a different world on the other side…

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Zenana Enclosure and the Palace

There were no cars, buses, bikes, toilets, litter .. instead there was a quiet, sprawling manicured lawn which seemed to spread across. The wall we just breached was actually a part of a fairly large fortification, square in size surrounding what our guard described as the Zenaana Enclosure or the Ladies Enclosure. There were just two buildings in this area; the first was actually a richly carved base of what has been left of a Royal Palace, but it was the second building which took our breath away!

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Lotus Mahal

The Beautiful arches of Lotus Mahal

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Lotus Mahal is a beautiful little specimen of the Indo-Islamic Architecture. Named the Lotus Mahal because of the Lotus relief on its arches, this two storied building is built in brick and mortar as opposed to the stone structure of most of Hampi and stand almost unblemished except for the vandalism done on its walls by stupid lovebirds. Our Guide told that this palace used to be a summer retreat for the royal ladies when their men would leave for war campaigns. He also pointed that this was an “Air conditioned” building; there were actually terracotta tiles running through the walls which carried cold water to cool off the building !

The Elephant Stable

From another hole in the wall we came out and stood in front of a huge building. Was it a palace, was it a castle, it was a stable ! What we were looking at was the stable of the Royal elephants of the Vijayanagara empire. Adorned with 11 domes for 11 elephants, the magnificent building was another unique mixture of the South

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Indian and Islamic schools of architecture and was quite well preserved. Adjacent to it was another building which served as the quarters of the guards of the elephants. Well, this guard quarter of the past was big enough to be a museum in present …

The Seat of Power of Vijayanagar

The seat of power of Vijayanagara was a grand monument. Although, only the bases of almost all the buildings were left, yet there was a clear indication of how it would have been in the 15th century. The Kings audience hall was a 100 pillared one, each pillar said to be carved from Sandalwood. We even went down to the underground chamber where the King used to have secret meetings with his nobles and foreign diplomats.

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The Stepped Pond, simple yet beautiful

The Aqueducts of Hampi

Adjacent to the Audience hall is a beautiful stepped pond, made in simple yet ascetic geometrical patterns. It used to be the ceremonial pond of the Royalty for their annual Dussera and Diwali festival. A

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nice serene place ideal to sit by and get photographed. The pond was flanked by a seemingly unimportant but in reality, an architectural feat of Hampi – the aqueducts. Carved in stoned, these aqueducts used to carry water to different parts of the Royal Center. A 500 year old water supply pipeline ! Romans would have been proud to see this.

Mahanavami Dibba

The carving on the walls

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The tallest structure of the Royal Center which is visible from a great distance is the Mahanavami Dibba. From the distance it looks just like an elevated platform, you are aware of its richness only when you go near it. This platform, which was used during the festival for the King to make public appearances is built in three layers, perhaps during different periods. Carved extraordinarily, the sides of the Dibba are a living photo gallery about the life and times of Vijayanagara, showing scenes from daily lives of the people, dances, sports, festivals, massive armies marching to battle, wars – an archaeologist’s delight! There are rich flowered motifs, scenes from Ramayana and other Hindu epics. I have never seen anything like this before ..

Dancers – just look at how their dresses have been carved.

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While narrating the stories our guide never made an attempt to hide his hatred towards the Islamic invaders who destroyed Hampi. He said – “This used to be one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, would make foreign travelers stands in awe when they would first see it. This city 500 years ago was inhabited by half million people, now there are just 5000. From a bustling city, Hampi is just an open air museum now”. So, this is what they did to Hampi, looted and burnt it for six months and laid it waste. I cannot say that at that moment, I did not share his feelings. Just looking at the ruins, one could imagine how beautiful this city would have been in its glorious days. How can someone have the heart to destroy something which has taken centuries to be built? The sun was getting brutal by this time and we were tired, hungry and dehydrated. So we decided to call it a day and come back later for what was left – The Hazara Rama Temple and Queen’s Bath. You can find the map of the Royal Center here Hampi Diaries – The Royal Enclosure, a set on Flickr for more photographs in better resolution.

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Hampi Diaries – The Coracle Ride Across Tungabhadra
January 16, 2013

Day 3 started early again. By 7:30 AM we were ready to start our day. Targets of today: Vitthala Temple and Queen’s bath, both of which won’t be covered in this post. Lets just talk about our coracle ride.

Chakratirtha as seen from the river Tungabhadra

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There are two ways of reaching Vitthala Temple without a vehicle; you can either walk along the river Tungabhadra or you can take a coracle which will ferry you to there. Naturally, we chucked the idea of walking and decided to go the water way.

A priest going for his bath at Chakratirtha

We started walking along the Hampi Bazaar and took a left turn where the signboard said Kampa Bupa’s path. This path was a trail along rocky boulders which goes parallel to the river and needed to

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be covered on foot. At the end of it, we found ourselves at the Chakratirtha. Flanked by an old stone temple with large pavilions, this place is the valley point of two mountains, the Matanga Hill and the Rishyamukha Hill. The river Tungabhadra takes a turn to the left from this point and so this place gives a spectacular view of the turning river as well as the boulder hills in the front and ancient ruins on the rocks in a distance. The ghat is a flat sheet of rock which gradually descends into the water. This spot is considered as the holiest bathing spot in Hampi, and even at early morning, was abuzz with priests taking a dip in the river. The sight of the Rishyamukha hill (where Hanuman first met Ram and Lakshman) and the boulders in the front, the swiftly flowing river and the ghat with people and coracles is any photographer’s delight. On the rocks are carved many Shiva Lingas which are still worshiped after centuries. Just sitting at Chakratirtha is a spiritual experience, especially at a clam early morning. The pavilion at the back was apparently built for theuse of Pilgrims who used to come for taking bath in the river. There were not many people around, only a few artists preparing paintings and sketches of the place. I went there and interacted with a few,some of the paintings were really amazing. From Chakratirtha, we took a coracle with a boy-boatman and started. Coracle is a unique boat, shaped like an inverted bowl and made of bamboo. It goes pretty fast in a spinning motion. The small trip to the other side was beautiful. We passed through mighty boulders and our boat-boy showed us various old ruins and stone idols of Nandi on the rocks. The currents were high and at one

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place, we even saw a whirlpool at a distance. It was only when we got down; we saw a signboard cautioning people about crocodiles in the river! It was time to go and meet Lord Vitthala…

From a Coracle

Hampi Diaries – The Coracle Ride Across Tungabhadra, a set on Flickr.

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Hampi Diaries – Vitthala Temple
January 20, 2013

I am bored of writing and by this time, you might have been bored reading all my monologues on Hampi. So this post will be less words and more photographs. Vitthala Temple is the most splendid among the temples of Hampi and is famous for its rich and ornate design and beautiful carvings. Dedicate to Lord Vishnu, this temple was built in the 15th Century AD. The Mahamandapa The Mahamandapa of Vitthala is majestic. It occurred to me that its design resembled a Sri Yantra. Richly carved with ornate motifs, beautiful pillars and richly carved monolithic pillars. It had a lot of Musical pillars which are said to produce the sounds of many musical instruments when tapped. The roof of the Mahamandapa had collapsed centuries back and is being restored.

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The Mahamandapam – Main Sanctum

Beautifully carved motifs

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Beautiful carved pillars in the Southern hall with figures ofNarasimha and Yali

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Musical Pillars

Vishnu

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The Stone Chariot

Carved Base adorned with horses, elephants and horses

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The Stone Chariot
The Stone Chariot is the most famous structure inside the Vitthala Temple and happens to be the symbol of Hampi. This happens to be a temple chariot drawn by elephants and dedicated to Garudathe vehicle of Lord Vishnu. It is placed on a rectangular platform with battle scenes engraved at the base and four richly carved and giant wheels attached to it. The wheels were actually free to move on the axis ! The Stone happens to be a great draw for people who wished to be photographed infront of it. It took me a lot of time to finally find the chariot empty so that I could capture it in peace. One point, some people out of their ignorance or apathy, were climbing over the elephants for getting photographs. While the elephants are made of stone, they should keep it in mind that for one photograph, they can inadvertently damage this monument. The Indian tourist needs to be a little more sensitive about protecting our heritage. These monuments will never be built again.

The Chariot

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Another view of the Chariot

A view of the chariot from the front

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The Inner Sanctum The inner sanctum of the temple lies underground. You have to go down a flight of stairs to a dark Pradakshina hall. It was kindda spooky but I did manage to get a few good photographs without even using a tripod. Am getting more comfortable with my photographic skills these days..

Under the Garbhagriha

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The Pradakshina path around the Garbhagriha

The Final Take- Chinese Dragon While I understand that Black and White photography has been converted into Kitsche these days, but could not resist the temptation of taking the one below sans color. It was my gut feeling that no color would suit its theme. The animal on the sides of the steps in this photograph was explained as a mixture of six animals to us, lion’s mane, horse’s legs, rabbit’s ears , elephant’s trunk etc. Just a few minutes later, another guide while explaining it to some foreign tourists said that it was a Chinese Dragon and they were left wondering what the Chinese were doing in Vijayanagara ..

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An attempt at black and white

Details Vitthala temple can either be reached through the Tungabhadra river by a coracle ferry, or one can walk along the river. The monument opens at 8:30 in the morning and stays open till 5:30 PM. The entry ticket is INR 10.00 for Indians and INR 250.00 and is can be used for the Royal Center also. Camera fee is INR 25 for Video camera. Still camera is free. Use of tripods is not allowed. Hampi Diaries – Vitthala Temple, a set on Flickr.

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Hampi Diaries – Hemakuta Hill
January 26, 2013

Hemakuta Hill happened by chance. On our last afternoon in Hampi, we had packed our bags and stopped by at a restaurant to grabs some refreshments. While sitting there waiting for my lemonade, we were leafing through a Coffe book table about Hampi. It was then that we noticed some remarkable monuments atop a hill. We asked the restaurant owner where these buildings were and he said it was the Hemakuta hill, just besides the Virupaksha Temple. So we were going to miss what was nearest to us, have been to that area at least 10 times during the past 4 days but never bothered to check !

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One of the many shrines scattered on the hill

According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva did penance on Hemakuta before marrying Pampa. To help Pampa in winning over Shiva, the god of love, Kama distracted him and was in turn burnt by his Third eye. Later Rati pleaded with Shiva to bring Kama back to life so he agreed to bring him but only in character and not a physical form. The day Shiva consented to marry Pampa, it rained gold on this hill and thus it was named Hema (gold) – Kuta (hill).

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This shrine looked a bit spooky ..

So, it was natural that most of the temples and shrines on the Hemakuta are dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is more of a huge sheet of rocks than an actual hill and is pretty easy to climb, as opposed to the Matanga hill. The way to this hill goes upwards from the left of the main gateway of the Virupaksha Hill.

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The gate at the top of the hill

The best time to visit Hemakuta is during the morning or evening hours when the sun rays are slanting. It was just a coincidence that we managed to go there in the evening and were pretty happy with the effect. It is a great view from of the Hampi bazaar and Virupaksha temple from the top and the shrines on the hill make it more interesting.

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The gate glowing in evening sun

On the top of the hill, there is a two storied gateway which look towards the landscape below. This spot is known as the sunset point and seems to glow in the rays of the setting sun. Hemakuta Hill was a beautiful finish to our Hampi trip. Although we stayed there for hardly half an hours yet managed to get some glorious photographs. Hope you will enjoy them too..

Hampi Diaries – Hemakuta Hill, a set on Flickr.

The post Hampi Diaries – Hemakuta Hill appeared first on Shadows Galore.

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