I was not sure if it a mythological site or a historic site.
The tiny girl whose mother sell tea at the trekking path near the Kodanda Raama temple was damn sure where Sita dropped her jewels when Ravana abducted her in his Pushpak viman (plane). Also sure where Sugriva (the monkey warrior) lived. Also sure where Rama crowned Sugriva after killing Vali. All are as perfectly and logically located to convince that it’s all true. Every stone in Hampi has a story to tell. Even in the ruined form, Hampi speaks of it’s glory and imperial majesty.
I hate myself to call her a tout (7-8 year old). But she was. She caught me when I stopped at her mom’s shop to have tea. Her shop means, a few strategically located rocks under a sprawling tamarin tree and a mud baked stove!.
The lady spoke perfect English …..you want tea please?…you want cigarette please?….you want biscuit please….? …three rupee tea….five rupee biscuit….
I asked her about the location of the cave. The girl jumped and said she would show. Just around the corner she pointed at a place down near the riverbank and said it’s where Suvriva lived. Her guide fee? She would ride my bicycle till I climb down to the riverside and come back! She did all these with the perfect agility and tact of a veteran tout.
I thought of dedicating this post to them as a patronage to Their ‘shop’ is located exactly mid way between the Kondarama Temple and the King’s Balance on the trekking trail. I repeat, no roofs, no chairs, no benches, nothing. Just a smoking clay stove and an aluminum teakettle on it. The rocks around and the tamarin tree are the basic infrastructure. (Please see the attached picture)
It all started in a small way. Two local warrior brothers Hakka and Bukka were captured as prisoners by Tuglak when he attacked the Chalukya kingdom of Kampili (about 25 km from the present day Hampi). The Sultan was impressed by the conduct of the two. Later when the southern provinces started the rebellions, the sultan sent these two to pacify the region. They did pacify the local chieftains. But what happened was the beginning of a large empire with Hakka & Bukka as the founders!
They established their capital at Anegundi near Hampi. Later the Capital was shifted to Hampi (1336AD) and the empire grew from strength to strength. Vijayanagar Empire (City of Victory) was born encompassing the whole of southern peninsula, stretching from the Arabian sea to the Bay of Bengal.
The glory has come to an abrupt end two centuries later when the Vijayanagar commander Rama Raya was defeated by a confederation of Muslim kings. The capital city was ransacked. After this fateful battle the capital was shifted from Hampi, but the Empire never recovered. Slowly the kingdoms started disintegrating.
Abdul Razaq, a Muslim envoy, who visited Hampi in its glorious past wrote “ Vijayanagara is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like it ..."
Domingos Paes (Portuguese traveler who visited Hampi during AD 1520-22, during the reign of Emperor Krishnadevaraya ) quoted,
“Going forward, you have a broad and beautiful street, full of rows of fine houses and streets of the sort I have described, and it is to be understood that the houses belong to men rich enough to afford such. In this street live many merchants, and there you will find all sorts of rubies, and diamonds, and emeralds, and pearls, and seed pearls, and cloths, and every other sort of thing there is on earth and that you may wish to buy”
It’s a fallen empire. Nevertheless the ruins of the fallen city vividly speaks of its glorious past…of diamond and pearl markets…of palaces…of temples…
Hampi is located in the central part of the southern state of Karnataka. Currently the living Hampi is a tiny town with a number of small agricultural villages dotted arround the ruins.
Hospet (HPT), a small town about 15 km from Hampi, is the nearest railway station and bus station that offers connectivity to the other main cities of south India.
Train No. 6592 Hampi Express (Bangalore(SBC)- Hospet(HPT)), Train No. 6591 Hampi Express ( Hospet(HPT)- Bangalore(SBC) is the daily overnight train connects Bangalore to Hospet . A second class sleeper cost somewhere around 200rs one way.
Train No.7227/ 7228 Kancheguda (Hyderabad) – Vasco Da Gama (Goa) Express trains too pass via Hospet
Slow, but the local passenger train (stops at all stations) No.583/584 Hubli Passenger train too is an option for those who don’t mind a bit of less luxury and wants to travel cheap.
Also there are a set of State transport (KSRTC) buses playing from Hospet to the places like Goa, Bangalore, Bijapur etc.
A few private bus operators too operate a bit more luxurious buses.
From Hospet reaching Hampi can be done by local buses (20 minutes, 6 rs) which ply every half an hour or so. Or you can join the share taxi (autorickshaw) for rs7.
The Hospet railway station is about 3 kilometer from the bus station (rs 15 by autorickshaw )
All will get you dropped at the center of the Hampi ‘city center’ which is nothing but a open bus station with a number of teashops around. The first local bus from Hampi to Hospet leaves by around 6.30 in the morning.
Your journey starts from here. The lodgings are mostly located in this area (almost all are at walk able distance). People would approach you offering lodging. You may go with them, or chose to neglect. Agree for the deal after you have seen the room and other facilities. Rends ranges anything from Rs90 to say Rs300. Season has a 30 to 100% premium. Some of them are lodges; some are just regular houses with few rooms offered for the tourists. Do not expect any luxury or great food. Almost all are peaceful, basic facilities run by the local people.
You need an itinerary and a plan within Hampi. This is a sprawling ruins site covering at least 30 sq.kilometer.
More commonly the whole of Hampi is divided into two parts. The Sacred Center and the Royal Center. These clusters are about 3 kilometers apart. As the name indicates the Scacred center has a large number of religious sites ;and the palaces and associated royalty buildings are located at the Royal area.
You need at least 3 days to have a decent tour of the whole of Hampi. I would say if you wants to see every thing in Hampi, even 20 days are not enough. I’ve visited Hampi many times. Every time I go there I keep discovering some new ‘hidden’ things. That’s the charm of Hampi. If you have a taste for ruins, archeology, temples...., Hampi is a love at first site(sight!), you would never ever recover from this.
There are many options to go about visiting places in Hampi.
If you are walkman/walkwoman, go ahead! A large number of places can (only) be covered by just walking. Some times it’s great to walk a lot, sometimes it’s necessary as tracks are not motorable. A few of these walking trails are sort of semi trekking. The others are sort of climbing a rock (semi stepped) to see a place at the top of a few hills. If you are a hardcore trekking fan, go ahead, there are hills all around with heaps and heaps of boulders, exactly like a moon surface.
Carry water bottle, and a nice broad hat. There are some small shops selling cool drinks, tea etc at some locations.
Expect a fare amount of sunrays.So sun screen and stuffs like that are not a bad idea.
Many shops offer bicycle hire. Charge about 30rs a day (7 am to say 9 pm). Most of the bicycle rent places are located at the street in front of the main temple (Virupaxa Temple), Just 500meters from the Hampi bus stand. The shop expects you to pledge something as a security to rent the bicycle. Usually they ask for something like the driving license or a similar identity proof. Also they may agree without any such thing if you can prove your ‘credibility’.
For example, I did not want to give my driving license (though there is no big harm), instead I tried to offer a photocopy of it. They were a bit skeptical. Then I showed my company’s ID card and gave my business card. They started agreeing with a half mind, and then I said I was staying at the nearby gust house. That was enough for them to believe me. Evening I dropped the bicycle back by 8pm.
Next day, I turned up to the shop. No questions, no ID card, no questions, the shop assistant just released a cycle for me without even consulting his boss sitting inside. So it’s not a big thing to hire a bicycle.
Scooter/ Mopeds (tiny two wheeler): For obvious reasons they would ask for some genuine documents as security. Again it depends on how you talk and what you offer as a pledge. Passport (try to negotiate with a photo copy of it) or a driving license should be more than enough. Charges about 300 rs depending on the type of the vehicles. Fill petrol yourselves as the tank would be almost empty (may be enough to reach a fuel station). Ideally a liter should be enough to cover say 30-40 kilometers.
Auto rickshaw: There are two ways to go about this. Hire an exclusive Auto rickshaw driver cum tour guide for a day (about 300 to 450rs ).(These are the second batch of touts who would approach, the first being the lodge touts ).This is the best way to cover this area if you are hard pressed for time and also wants some kind of exclusivity. The trouble is you cannot enjoy the wandering and ‘lost in nowhere’ feel for which Hampi is ideal for.
The second option is to hire on a case-to-case basis. You may not find them everywhere, as these are not reachable to all locations. So, for example walk and cover everything in the Sacred area, and then hire a rickshaw to get you dropped (rs 25 to 40) at the Royal area to continue your exploration of that area again by walking.
Other options: Hire a car (Rs 1500+/ day) or tour by the organized (bus) operators as part of a larger package.
I prefer bicycle for many reasons.
First of all it’s funny to ride one in the ruins. Then, the most important, is the flexibility.
For example I’ve to reach from say point A to B to C to D.
From A to B is somewhat far for walking, so scooter or rickshaw or bicycle are the OK options.
Again B to C is a sort of semi trekking path. Scooter or rickshaw would not go any further. But you can walk with the bicycle.
Again when you’ve reached C, it may be far to reach D by walk and you may not be able to get a rickshaw waiting there. If you have the bicycle with you, you can happily continue further by riding.
Map: There is a saying that a sub-lieutenant with a map and compass is the single most dangerous thing in any battle field.
Fiddle and fiddle and fiddle with a site map (at least you would impress the co tourists and the onlookers).If you already don’t have one, buy a map from the first tout who bump you (rs10, rs25 etc).
Probably the first site you would be visiting is the Virupaxa temple or the Kadale Kalu Ganesha statue. A good map is painted inside the Virupaxa temple complex wall, on the left side just after you have crossed the arch near the ticket counter. Also a neat map is located near the Kadale Kalu Ganesha statue. Also there are a couple more located at the Rolyal area. These are extremely detailed maps (with 95 or so locations marked) compared to the the ones usualy available for sale or in the guide books. So I take photo of these ASI (Archeological Survey of India) maps and use my camera view finder to check it later at different locations.
At some locations you may easily get lost. But you wont be lost fo long. Anyway be a bit careful about the direction sense, if you feel you are heading towards a less troden or unusual path. The highest risk is you would lose a lot of time to find your path back and this is a bit risky say if it is late in the evening.
You can locate enough sign posts, but not to the ample level.
The bus to Hampi The ‘Hampi Highway’ (!) starts at Hospet, runs through the heartland of the ruins and ends at the Hampi bus stand which is at the Sacred Center.
This journey takes about 30minutes from Hospet by the local bus (every ½ hr one leaves, 5rs or so). The first 15 minutes or so pass eventless, that is through the typical dusty villages, paddy fields, etc. Don’t think that this is a tourist bus. A large number of people are villagers going about with their business. The bus stops at many places, people get in people get down.
Then all of a sudden the magic starts. You would spot a lone ruined tiny monument here, a ruined tomb there…. The bus goes on as if nothing is happening. Hold on. This is only the tip of the iceberg. About a few more kilometers down, the road runs through the arch announcing that you are entering the ruins site. Excitements are on high. Every one (the tourists!) eagerly looks through the window to find the ruins. Nothing at sight except the paddy and banana plantations.
Then the bus reaches a small town junction called Kamalapur. The bus pulls into a tiny bus station. There is feverish activity of getting down getting in. This is the place where people changeover to catch another bus which goes to other near and bit far towns and villages. Also you’ll have to come here later to go to many places like the Museum, Pttabhirama temple etc.
If you can see one more bus standing at the station, the possibility is high that the conductor of that bus shouts perpetually (like a panic goat) “Kammpillllikampillllikampilll likampillllikampillli….”. What he means is his bus is going to a place called Kampili and he is about to leave.
You stay put in your Hampi bus. This is not Hampi. In this feverish activity try to catch a window seat, if you are already not occupied one. Your bus leaves this place in about 3 to 5 minutes and the bus is now almost empty except the tourists.
The bus now runs right through the middle of the Royal center. Again a couple of kilometers of paddy fields and then the Sacred center starts. Now you can get down any where and walk (as you are already going to do it later any way), or get down at the last stop about 5 kilometer down.
The last stop is where you can get the accommodation etc. You will find two armies attacking your bus the moment the bus enters the station. The first is more formidable, the tourists with all the backpacks trying to catch the return trip. The later is the infantry of the hotel agents (every one holding a tariff card or something like that).
You can catch one of them or leave.
As the entire hotel places are close to each other, much expected more lethal armored division – taxi/autorickshaw brigade- is missing in the attack! But don’t (mis)underestimate this group, they would approach you once you have checked in and come out for the sight seeing.
Eyes firmly fixed at an imaginary point in the horizon, body stiff, ears in switched off mode….. I usually walk out of the bus like Arnold Schwarzenegger does in the Terminator. No touts in the world can stand that....they just neglect me.
Any way the touts are not aggressive but rather a nuisance. Not a big deal to break the net, if you prefers to.
The bicycle & scooter trail: There is nothing called designated bicycle trail in the site. But there are many narrow dirt trails crisscrossing the ruins. Geographically the is more flat than say the sacred center area.So are the trails here. If you are interested in roaming a bit, say into the village are etc, it’s better to have a bicycle or scooter.
The great track I’ve seen is the one running from the Narasimha statue/ the Hampi-Kamalapura road, along the small irrigation canal (Thirtha Canal). This track meander through the agriculture land with the appearance of a very occasional ruin sites. This is not a tourist trail. So if you are interested to get out of the tourist seen ‘mess’ say in the evening, take a ride along such paths.
You would almost find no one on the way except a few villages working in the filed or a bullock cart (you have to give way as both can cross that easily). Such tracks can be frighteningly lonely at times. There are no dangers except that you are lonely. You wont find someone easily to ask for a direction. But keep going you would meet some one on the way (say after ½ hour or so). The people are nice and helpful.
Also do not venture in the night etc, since these places are not lit and extremely lonely. You may do even that say if you have some flashlight and with a 2-3 people group.
Facilities in Hampi Though it’s a tiny hamlet, Hampi has a set of basic facilities you would expect in any midsize town.
Telephone: This is not an issue. There are many telephone booths doted around the market area. You can make national and international calls at the standard rate. All are metered and they would give you a bill printout.
Regarding mobile phones, I’m not sure how much would be the signal strength for each operators. But it’s only a question of time someone would install (or have any already?) a tower.
Money change. A bank (Canera Bank) is located at the main entrance to the bazaar area (10am to 2pm, Saturday up to 12 pm, Sunday holiday). Also are the numerous shops in the area hanging the boards ‘Cash advance with your credit card’. I feel they just charge your card and give cash. I’m not sure about the service charges. There are plenty on them in front of the virupaxa temple.
Post office. There is a small post office located very close to the virupaxa temple. Walk towards the temple and take the left narrow street just before the temple. On the right hand side you can see the post office with its roof beautifully covered with a sort of flowering creeper. It’s a nice idea to send a souvenir postcard from this place with the Hampi stamp on it.
Book Stall. You can find a couple of them in the bazaar area. Not any big bookshops, but with reasonably good collection of books on Hampi, Vijayanagar, etc. Also there are people who move around carrying books postcard etc.
General stores The items like toiletry can be bought from the local shops (opens at 7 am). But again, no great choices. But decent options for a small duration stay in Hampi can be expected. There are some near the Hampi bus station and many at the bazaar area.
Medical Stores A couple of them are available in the bazaar area.
Internet & Email There are a few Internet places in this area. Connections are usually slow but manageable for a couple of quick emails. Many of them offer the USB connectivity for downloading the pictures from your digital camera.
For browsing usually they charge about 60rs per hour (15minutes, 30 minutes etc are charged accordingly)
Forget about uploading the images to your sites or servers using these Internet connections. They are really really slow for that.
But you can get it burned in CDs. They charge about 60-100 rs for this service. My advice is to get two copies of the same CD. In case if one is broken, lost, corrupted etc you have the second one.
Surprisingly most of these internet cafés have an astonishing collection of music CDs. They offer the ‘service’ of making a copy of your choice (pirated!). rs 100 or so per CD.
Travel Agents. There are some travel agents who do the booking services in Hampi. But this is not the right hub for doing your forward journey planning. Go to Hospet for major bookings. The Hospet Railway station has the computerized reservation terminal. Also the KSRTC (State run buses) offer bus reservation facilities.There are numerous travel agents at Hospet.
Warnings and Cautions. Hampi is NOT in the list of dangerous place category. But the spooky look of its geography is a bit scary till you get used to it. Loneliness is the hallmark of Hampi.
All the regular cautions you take in a tourist place would put you at ease. There have been some incidents of purse-snatching etc in the past but I feel these fears nee not have to override your curiosity to move around freely.
The river: I would say this as the most dangerous thing in Hampi. Never get into these if you are not good at swimming. You can NEVER judge the depth of the river as it’s fully flowing through the rocky and boulder-strewn terrain. You will not know if your next step in the river bottom is 3feet deep or 30feet deep.
Some of the rocks under water are extremely slippery and you may not get a firm grip if you are standing on them.
Particularly avoid (even if you know swimming) the areas where swirl currents are present. Rainy season is especially dangerous.
You can go all the way up to the river; walk on the rocks, and the tiny rocky ‘islands’ etc. May be you can get into the water also where it is designated (the Ghats), see to that there are many people around you when you are getting into the water. The warning boards advices people to not to get into the water. But there are some places where you can enjoy the splash river water.
Night at the ruins: Avoid this. Some of the ruins site has some kind of nightlife; some are eerily remote and deserted in the night. For example some of the ruins site are illuminated for the night view. But the majority of the ruins sites far from the Bazaar area are not illuminated. There are many problems. First you can’t trace your path back in the night. The racks in the ruins are sparsely lit. The trouble is more so if you are on the hills. There is a reason for you needs to be on the hill in the evening- to view the spectacular sunsets. Usually you are not alone. The ambient at the top of the hill is so soothing that you may want to stay there for a long time even after the sun set. If you are alone just join one of the other groups who decent after the sunset. Don’t wait for you to be the last person. This is more so for the taller and more hills in Hampi.
The hills They are a bit risky if you are trying to climb through the less trodden paths. Some are huge and steep. Some of the climbs go dangerously close through the edges of steep cliffs. Be extremely careful at these areas. Always see that someone is at the vicinity, if in case some help is requited.
The stepped ones are highly advisable. But it’s fun if you can manage with the less trodden paths with due cautions.
The next thing in the less trodden paths are the thorn plants. There are plenty of these types, which would hook on to your cloths. Some are harmless (just the seers get stuck to cloths), but some are with sharp thorns.
The Heat Hampi is a hot expanse. There are no big shelters amid the vast area of ruins except the trees and the ruined buildings itself. Even in the colder seasons, noontime can be a bit hotter to make you tiered. Carry water bottle and a hat or an umbrella. Wear (preferably) lose thin light colored cloths covering limbs.
Though the open areas are hot, the inside of the temples etc can be refreshingly cool. Take enough rest at one spot before heading to the next.
Scams Hampi has its share of the herby sellers and the likes. Avoid them all (and their areas) if you are into plain clean tourism. Your instinct would tell you once you are into such spots or encounter such people.
Petty thieves are not uncommon. Have an eye on your belongings esp. in the crowded areas like the bus station, temple entrance etc.
Also the thief monkeys, especially on top of the Hanuman Hill (Anjaneyadri ) at Anegondi. They are really motivated and would just be looking for a chance to snatch (food). Never ever tries to feed them. They are not pleasing pets like dogs cats etc. It’s their kingdom and they make it a point to prove it by being assertive. Just be prudent and neglect the gangs, you will be fine.
Important sites to visit in Hampi
(The list is practicaly count less (may be 1000s!). Imagine this as an old capital city got frozen in time and we are trying to visit each houses,shops, buildings, temples, palaces.... I’m trying to explain what is known to me and where I’ve been)
Virupaxa temple This is the oldest temple in Hampi. Virupaxa means the one with oblique eye. This refers to Lord Shiva as he has three eyes. Loard Shiva is the principle deity of this temple.
It’s an interesting fact that this temple is one of the few places in the site, which is highly sought after by both the devotees and tourists alike. That makes this a bit crowded place.
It has been estimated that this temple has been functioning eversince 7th century AD uninterruptedly. That makes this one of the oldest functioning temples in India.
The temple is a sprawling complex with many antechambers, halls, flag posts, lamp posts, towers gateways and many shrines.
You can witness the daily temple rituals and ceremonies in the mornings and evenings. Usually the sanctum is closed in the noon. So moving inside may not be possible at that point of time.
The temple is east facing and has mainly two large courtyards. You will directly enter into the first courtyard through the first tower (gopura). This courtyard mainly houses a pillared hall called 100-column hall at the corner.
Just next to your left immediately after you have entered, you can see the triple headed Nandi, something unique.
Further forward (east) towards the second tower you would find the ticket counter and the shoe store (1 rupee per pair). If I remember correctly, the entry fee was 5 rupees, still camera 50rs and movie camera 250 rupee.
On entering the second tower (gopura) on your left side you would see the temples important inmate, the little naughty elephant. Give a one-rupee coin (the elephant will take it from you with its trunk) and you can get a smooch on head treated as blessing.
Further westward you would see the main hall with an extravaganza of carvings and ceiling paintings and pillars.
Further west is the sanctum sanctorum of Lord virupaxa. Next to it there are many shrines devoted to Godess Pampa, Bhuvaneswari, 9 planets ( Nava Grahas) etc. There are pillared halls around this area. A couple of underground shrines too can be found.A stone urn too is located somewhere outside the shrine
Photography is not permitted inside the sanctum area.
Behind the main sanctum a flight of steps leads to the rear exit of the temple complex. Just before the exit on the right side you would fined a dark chamber with a slit on the wall. The sunrays pas through the slit and fall on the western wall. If you see closely, you can see the inverted image of the main tower as shadow in the image. Usually there is a bit of crowd to see the optical feast.
If you exit through the rear door outside the complex, you would reach in the temple residential area with banana plantation all around. Take a left turn through a very narrow path you’ll reach a small but interesting pond with pillared halls all around it. Also you can see a number of crisscrossing aqueduct system in this area (inside the temple usually they are underground)
The gate at north tower near the main sanctum leads to the temple’s main pond, the Manmata Tank.
This is a sprawling tank made of rock slabs around it. The water is stagnated and not in a good condition. There are ductworks that connect the tan to the nearby Thungabadhra river.
Many shrines are doted along the banks of the river. Some are as old as 8 century AD. But most are empty and not functioning temples.
Altogether you need at least 1 ½ hours to see this temple complex. Hire a guide if you feel so (about rs50).
Virupaxa Bazaar/ Hampi bazaar Located at the font of the Virupaxa temple, this wide street with shops of the houses of the then elites, ends near the monolithic Nandi (bull) at the foothill of the Matanga Hill. The street is walk able and about less that a kilometer long. Motors vehicles (like cars, buses etc) are not allowed into this area. The ruins of the then ‘super markets’ are now being occupied by the villagers as their homes. Little they know that where they are living now was the houses of milliners about five centuries back.
At the far end of the street close to the nandi, on the right side you can even see a nursery school for the village children. Probably this is the world’s oldest nursery school building!
Currently there is no big bazaar in the older sense, except the structures of it. Most of the shops sell tea snacks, and other travel related shops are located here.
If you are staying in Hampi, go for a morning walk along this street. It’s magical. You can witness the village Hampi ‘waking up’ slowly on either sides of the street.
You can use a bicycle or walk. It takes about 30 minutes plus to cover this street.
Kondarama Temple This is a functioning temple with religious importance. This is the place where Rama killed Vali and crowned Sugreeva, and hence the name ( means crowned Rama). The temple has a Ghat (religious bathing spot) with stepped hall adjacent to it.
This temple is somewhat at the foot hill of Mathanga Hill (sun set view from this hill top is fantastic) facing the Tungabhadra river. You can reach here only by walking along the banks of the river. Also it’s possible to bring your bicycle (a little bit difficult though) along so that you can further countinue ride whan the track soon became bicycleable.
From Virupaxa temple go towards the Nandi at the other end of the bazaar. Just before you reach the Nandi, you can see a path taking to left (towards the river bank).A sign board there would direct you. Take that path and it will lead up to a point, further to which it’s not possible to ride bicycle. Just walk through the semi paved/ stepped rock. Sometimes it enters into a cave like rock formation for a few meters. When you come out of it you are at the temple Ghat section. It takes about 45 minutes by walk/ 20 minutes by bicycle plus walk to reach Kondarama Temple from the Virupaxa temple.
This is more known for it’s religious importance than for the architectural importance. Three very tall statues of Rama, Sita and Laxmana are the idols here.
During the monsoon times the river raises and the water reaches up to the temple.
Yentrodharaka Anjaneya temple This is located behind but a bit uphill of the Kondarama Temple. Some steps and a paved rocky path would lead you to this temple. It would take about 15 minutes for you to reach from the Kondarama temple to Yentrodharaka Anjaneya temple
Again this a functioning temple of Anjaneya (Hanuman, the monkey God). Hamuman is sitting a peculiar posture with a ‘Yendra’ (amulet or charm gadget) around him.
Hampi has special importance for the worshipers of Hamuman, as mythical Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom was located here. You can see plenty of motifs and carvings of Hanuman all around the sites. Some are brilliantly colorful.
Hemakuta Hill Not one of the tallest hills in Hampi. But this hill offers a splendid view of the sprawling ruins site. Located at the south of Virupaxa temple. This hill is sprinkled generously with a large number of temples and arch ways and halls. The whole of the hill is fortified with tall wide stone walls. The ruins of which can be still be seen. Once you have reached (about ½ hour climb) the top, it’s almost a flat expanse with occasional ups and downs. One of the best place in Hampi to see the sunrise and sunset. Never miss a sun rise or set in Hampi (any one of the many suggest places are ok). Fibulas and romantic. How peacefully the sun says goodbye to the rocky expanse and sink into the horizon. Wonderful!
Myth have it that it’s on this hill that Lord Shiva did penance before marrying his consort, a local girl who impressed him by her earnestness for him. Also this is the place where he burnt Kama (the God of lust) with his third (fire) eye.
Hence a number of temples in this area are dedicated to Lord Shiva.
No admission free. Make fetish out of photography.
Jain temples This is a case of mistaken identity. These temples are called/identified as jain temples owing to its architecture resembles Jain temples. They have beautifully detailed pyramid shaped roof structure.
The fact is most of them are Shiva temples. But they are not functioning temples now.
They are located on top of the Hemakuta Hills, adjusant and south of the virupaxa temple. Walking climbing is essential to reach the top of this place. But not a very tedious kind of trekking. It’s work climbing to the top of the hill to reach these temple complexes. In about half an hout from the Virupaxa temple you would reach at the top of this hill.
Theses are in fact one of the oldest cluster of temples in Hampi, much older than the empire itself. The most important of all the numerous temples scattered around here is the temple trio of Trikutachala (means 3 temples). These are located on the hill close to the Virupaxa temple. All the three temples share a common courtyard. It’s a great place to get an aerial view of the Virupaxa temple complex. Also a fantastc place to rest for some time. The veranda and the halls of the temples are really cool with nice breeze.
It would take around ½ hours plus to have a look at these temples. And another ½ hour plus to move around at the top area. May me some more time if you prefer to take a small nap or rest or something like that!
No admission fee. No camera fee. You can shoot photos left right and centre!
Kadale Kalu Ganesha Means Gram seed Ganesha ! The shape of the Ganesha statue is in the form of a gram seed.
It’s located at the base of the Hemakuta hill, away from the Jain temples. This is a 5 meter tall monolithic statue installed in an inner sanctum. The pillered hall infront is great with special carvings on.
No admission fee. Photography ok.
Sasive Kalu Ganesha Means mustard seed Ganesha, since this Ganesha is in the shape of mustard seed! Located very close to the Kadale Kalu Ganesha. Ganapathi (Ganesha/Vinayaka) is notorious for his food habit. One day he ate somuch that his tummy almost busted. He just caught a snake and tied around his tummy as a belt to save his tummy.
You can see the snake carved around his tummy. Also he holds the ‘ankush’, pasha (noose), and his broken tusk. The hand which holds modak (a kind of sweet) is broken and not reconstructed.
Both the statues are ajjusant and can be covered in about ½ hour plus time.
At this area a very nice site map is installed by the ASI (Archeological dept.)
Ugra Narasimha / Laxmi Narasimha This is the iconic statue of Hampi. Ugra Narasimha means Narasimha (the half man- half lion 4th incarnation of Lord Vishnu) Narasimha in his terrifying posture. The eyes and the facial expresson are the basis for this assumption. But another section believes that this is Laxmi Narasimha, means Narasimhia with his consort Laxmi on his lap.
This is the largest statue in Hampi. The Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven headed snake. The heads of the snake is acting as the hood.
But this stature has been damaged seriously during the raid by the rival kings. The Laxmi statue on his lap is missing. But the Goddesses’s hand is visible at his back in the embracing posture. This is the basis to believe that this is Laximi Narasimha rather than Ugra Narasimha.
You can reach here by road. This is located at mid way of the main road that connects the royal center to the sacred centre.
Badava Linga This linga is again the largest monolithic linga in Hampi. Located next to the Narasimha statue. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name.
The sanctum in which the linga is installed is always filled with water an a water channel is made to run through it.
Hindu mythology has it that Lord Shiva kept his secret consort (river Ganga) in his hair as Parvathi being his ‘actual’ wife! Hence in all the Shiva temples you can see a water drip made to fall on the Shiva linga, to keep him drenched!
Both Narasimha & Badva Linga can be seen in about ½ hour.
Photos ok and no fees to visit.
Ganagitti Temple This is a Jain temple complex you would find on the right side on the way towards Kampily, about one kilometer from Kamalapura. The main road just runs adjacent to this temple compound.
Ganagitti temple means The Oil women temple! The reason for the curious name is unknown. There is the main temple and a small shrine adjacent to it. In front of the main temple is the Stumbha (lamp post) with inscription on it. That says the temple was built in AD 1386. This is a typical example of the early Vijayanagara architecture.The temple was commissioned by Irugua, the commander in chief of emperor Harihara II.
You may spend about ½ hour here. You can visit this on your way to the Bhima gate further down. No admission fee. No restriction on photography.
Bhima’s Gate This is one of the many gateways to the walled city. The gate (a huge arch) is interesting with its construction and the carvings on it. The gate got it’s name from the legendary Bhima of the Hindu epic Mahabaratha. A figure of Bhima, one of the five brothers - the Pandavas, is carved on the gate. Probably this is the reason for the name of the gate. Also there are carvings of Draupadi (Pandava’s wife) tying her hair. Also Kichaka vada (killig of Kechaka) who tried to molest Draupathi too is depicted here. Draupathi took the vow that she would not tie her hair unless it’s washed with Keechaka’s blood. Bhima eventually killed Keechaka and tied Draupathi’s hair. All of these are depicted on the gate.
Another interesting feature of the gate is its smart design. You cannot see through the arch of the gate. That is immediately after the entrance strands a huge wall. You’ve to take a deviation and turn around to actually cross the gate. In other words this offers some blind spot for the invading army. Also it’s difficult for the elephant mounted forces to take such quick maneuvers without facing some surprise attacks.
Currently some more excavation is going on here. You can spot the ASI’s marks on the ground.
About 30minutes can be spend here. No admission fee. Usually these spots are empty. Also you can see a couple of more unnamed structures scattered around this area.
Achyutaraya Temple or Tiruvengalanatha Temple A sprawling temple complex with extremely charming carvings. The temple was built by Salakaraju Tirumaladeva., the chief officer of king Achyutaraya. Surprisingly the temple took its name from one of these than the deity installed in it, Lord Tiruvengalanatha or Venkateshwara.
The temple has two compounds one within the other. The main shrine is inside the second compound. There is the main towering archway (Gopura) at the entrance of the complex. All around inside you would find carved halls and sub shrines. One of the important shrines inside is dedicated for Lord Agni, the God of fire. Opposite to the main shrine is the shrine of Garuda, the eagle God. At the southwest you would find the temple of Goddess Devi. At the northwest corner of the outer compound, a Kalayana Mandapa (marriage hall for the annual wedding ceremony of the God and the Goddess) . A water channel is seen all around the second compound. In front of the temple is the wide courtesan’s street.
You can get a gregarious aerial view of this temple from the top of Mathanga hill or from the top of the hill near the monolithic Nandi at the end of the Virupaxa bazaar.
There are multiple ways to reach this sprawling complex. But all are either by walk or at the most by bicycle. One way is to walk from the Kondarama temple towards the King’s balance and you would see a signpost midway directing you towards the right side. And now you are into the courtesans’ street (with stalls on either side) leading towards the main tower of the Achutaraya temple.
The other way is to climb the steps near the Monolithic Nandi at the end of the Hampi bazaar, once on to of the steps , you can see this large temple complex somewhat on the right side down on the planes.
The third way (if you are coming from Vittala Temple) is to take the track from the King’s balance towards the Kondarama temple (track almost parallel to the river) and then you would see the above said signpost
Admission free. Photography OK. It requires at least 30minutes from Kondarama temple to reach here.
The Kings’ balance. This 5-meter or so tall ‘balance’ is located near (southwest of) the Vittala temple. Also called as Tula Bhara or Tula Purushadana, the king weigh himself with gold uses this balance, gems, silver, precious stones etc are distributed to the peasants. It’s believed that this had been done during the special ceremony seasons like solar or lunar eclipses. You can spot three loops on top of the balance, into which the balance actually hung (the balance is not present in the frame) Also in one of the pillars you can spot the king’s carving along with his concerts.
This is an on the way sight so you can club it with the Vittala Temple visit or the Achutaraya Temple visit.
Krishna Temple or Balakrishna Temple This was built by the the king (Krishnadevaraya) in 1513 AD to celebrate the conquest of the eastern kingdom of Udayagiri or Utkala (in present day Orissa state). The main idol installed inside the temple is the statue of BalaKrishna (baby Krishna). This idol now is in the state museum in Chennai (the one near the Montieth Road). A huge slab installed inside the courtyard of the temple states the story of this temple and the conquest.
This is one of the must see sites in Hampi. The carvings are especially spectacular with the Yarzis (dragon) on the pillars and the entrances flanged with impressive carvings of elephants. Many small shrines and pillared halls inside. The temple kitchen is located at the south east of the main shrine. The main tower at the east is an impressive sight with numerous carvings on it (now the tower is under restoration work). You can see the carvings of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu in this temple.
This is one of the few temples with a lot of epic stories are carved on the walls of the tower and the temple.
The main road circles through the outside of this temple. If you cross the road in front of the temple you can see a stage with a rectangular stone container. This was used to store grains for the ritual purpose in the temple festivals.
Further east outside the temple you can see a long hall like structure into the banana plantations. This was the market street of this area. If you walk along this long structure, you’ll reach the impressive temple pond with structures around and at the middle of the tank. The tank is now not in use. Mostly the nearby agricultural places use water from the tank.
No admission fee. Photography OK. You need at least 1 hours plus for this temple. Very easily accessible as this is at the side of the main road.
Anegondi Anegondi itself was a capital city. This tiny kingdom was that eventually expanded into the Vijayanagar Empire covering the whole of south India. Currently Anegondi is sleepy village with a principally farming community inhibiting it. This is located at the opposite bank of the river. The easiest way to reach Anegondi from Hampi is by crossing the river by the coracles.
There are many attractions though not a mind-blowing place like Hampi. Anegondi has a big fort encircling it. Many parts of it is ruins, nevertheless the remains are interesting. Also there are for gates. The ambient of Anegondi is refreshing for the ones who like a peaceful place to do sightseeing at their own pace. Other attractions include Anjenayadri (the hill top Hanuman temple), Panpa sarovar (a tiny shrine and a sacred tank), Gagan Mahal (a small old palace building), Rishimukh Hill ( a fantastic place for who are into spirituality like chanting vedas etc), A ruided stone bridge crossing the river, furhrer up caves with prehistoric cave paintings a number of small and big temples.
The best thing I felt about the Anegondi is the. Anjaneyadri hill experience. This is fantastic place in offering the panoramic view of the Vijayanagar capital area.
The second thing is about the lazy walk in the paddy fields. A fantastic place to spend an evening (be a bit alert that you are a bit far from your base in Hampi, too late may make it difficult for you to navigate through the dark places. Up to say 7 – 7.30pn is ok )
Anjeyanadri Hill. This is somewhere in the center of Anegondi area. You can see this hill from the Hampi side of the river, say from Purandaradasa mandapam or from the Kondarama Temple area. At the top of the hill is the temple dedicated for Hnuman. You can easily spot this hill as the temple is whitewashed and a white trail of steps leading all the way to the top.
The temple is of high importance to the worshipers of Ram (and Hanuman). Surprisingly the Ramayana recite here inside the temple is in Hindi! Those understand Hindi and in interested in Ramayana, listening to this is a feast. The pundit (an old man with white beard) is gifted with the expression to tell the story. There won’t be much of people if it is not any special day. You can just enter the temple and sat next to him and listen. This is done on a continuous basis.
The temple (almost looks like an old house) is always kept closed (to prevent the cheeky monkeys enter inside!). You can just enter the temple (after removing the shoes). All are allowed inside ( someone (foreign tourist) have asked me if they can enter as it looked like a very private temple with religious tone).
The statue of Hanuman is carved on the rock. Also is the small shrine for Rama and his consort Sita inside the temple.
The view from the hilltop is marvelous. Patches of paddy fields, Coconut tree plantations and the whole of the ruins sites is visible stretching into the horizon. Looking at the ruins from here you would know the reason why they chose this place as their capital. All around in the horizons are the rugged rocky mountains and at one side in the mighty Tungabadhra river. It was a naturally secluded strategically important location for a capital city.
A terrific place to see the sunset and sunrise.
The way to the hilltop is stepped. It’s quite a climb. There are no shops or anything at the top. So bring water etc from the base. There are a few small stalls down selling drinks and snacks. From Hampi you can come to this place by first crossing the river by the coracle. The main crossing points are at the Virupar Gadi (near Virupaxa temple) , Kondarama temple (plus 2 kilometer walk) or near the Vittala Temple (plus 5 kilometer ride by bicycle). The best way is to bring your bicycle/scooter also along with you when you cross (See the coracle crossing details later). The bicycles can be parked at the foothill and you can climb up.
It would take at least 45 minutes to climb up and about the same time to come down. It all depends your decision on how long would you like to spend on top (having come all the way up, tired, with stunning views down, great unending cool breeze etc). Otherwise the temple can be visited quickly. No admission fee. You may donate some coins in the hundi.
Akka Tangi Gundu These are two huge stones leaning against each other. You can find them on the left side of the road when you travel from the underground temple towards Hampi bus station. Akka Tangi Gundu means sister stones. Legent has it that they were two sisters and they became stone as a curse when they ridiculed the place!
The road almost pass through under the stones.
The Underground Temple. For some curious reasons, this temple dedicated for Lord Shiva has been built a bit below the ground level. Also since this is below the ground level, almost all the time the sanctum sanatorium is under water. A water cannel system too is visible around the main temple. But the canal is dry and you can walk down almost till the point where it’s impossible to go further. There is a small temple for Shiva’s consort too near the mail shrine. Also is the Kalyanamandapa (marriage hall) is great. It has been told that this is one of the oldest temples in Hampi.
There is a beautiful lawn around the temple. A great place to sit and relax after a long walk in the much hot and dry Royal enclosure area.
The Underground temple is located somewhat close to the main road (to Hampi bus station) and near the noblemen’s quarters. A byroad going towards the mosque etc pass through this area.
No admission fee. About 30 minutes to roam inside the campus.
Queen’s bath This is the first thing you would see when you enter into the Royal center from the Kamalapura-Hampi main road. A small wide but un topped mud road starts from the main road. When you take the right turn into this road, the first thing you see on the right side is this building. It’s a bit un assuming no decorated rectangular building from out side. But if you get inside, the story is different. The whole building is made with a veranda around inside and a big open pond at the middle of the building. Into the pond are many decorated aqueducts pointing into the pond and balconies. It’s been believed that water in the tank has been filled with fragrance flowers and perfumes.
Outside around the building is a big water cannel encircling the building. You need to cross that at some places where a bridge like structure is made. Probably this was designed to prevent intruders from walking into the place where the royal women folks were taking bath!
There is a small garden too now made in front for the queen’s bath. The architecture is : Indo-Saracenic in style, may be a bit more Islamic style than the Hindu style of architecture with the arches and other decorations.
Lotus Mahal This is a pleasant deviation from the typical architecture you see in Hampi. The exact function of this is not surely known. Most probably this is a socializing area for the women folks in the royal family. This is located inside the Zenana enclosure. This enclosure is big campus within which a number of royal (mostly palaces and the likes) are located.
Unlike the other major structures in Hampi, this is made out of lime mortar and brick made structure.
The shape of the structure is what brought it the name. The archways are the balcony with the domed construction resembles a half opened lotus bud.
Basically this is a two storied structure with an open base floor the sidewalls are having tall arched windows. The upper floors have balconies. The decorations and architecture is a curious mix of Hindu and Islamic styles.
The night illumination is a spectacular sight. A nice piece of building to try some photographic shots. There is a large lawn made around the Lotus mahal. Sleeping on the lawn under the shade of a tree is allowed.
Visit to Lotus Mahal is the part of the Zenana enclosure tour.
Octagonal Water pavilion The Octagonal shaped tent near the roadside could have been once a spectacular water fountain. This is now practically in an abandoned stage with bushes and wild grass growing around it. You can see this on the right side of the Kamalapura- Hampi main road, somewhere close to the Chandrashekara temple. Also if you take a close look, you can see the remains of the water ducts, fountain parts etc.
Octagonal bath Not to get confuse this with the Octagonal Water pavilion. The Octagonal Bath is a gigantic bathing area made in the shape of an Octagon. A huge bath shelter with an octagonal shaped platform at the middle and a circular pillared veranda around it. The circular part between the veranda and the platform is the water (now empty) area.
This is a bit isolated location though pretty well connected by a flat mud road. About 1 kilometer or so from the Chandrashekara temple. Most probably a makeshift thorny gate closes the mud road (what you see in the picture is the saraswathi temple nearby). Just jump over it and proceed. No one will question you as this has been made by the flower farmers to protect their flowers being eaten by the wandering cattle! For all that matter a lone farmer can direct you too to the location.
Saraswathi Temple. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi, the goddess of learning. Located somewhat near to the Octagonal bath. A few steps have to be climbed to reach the top of the platform. Inside the temple is practically empty. This is a nice vantage point to get a view of the planes in this area. There are a few interesting carvings inside too. A part of the temple is now reconstructed. It’s cool to visit inside.
Octagonal bath and Saraswathi temple visit can be combines, as these a close to each other but far from the other nearby spot of visit (Chandrashekara temple ). You can reach here by walk, bicycle scooter etc.
Royal enclosure This fortified area had been the seat of power of the fallen empire. Sprawling over many hundreds square meter, this fortified area is scattered with a number of interesting relics.
The most imposing structure in this area is the Mahanavami Dibba or the Dassera Platform or the ‘House of Victory’
The huge Stone Doors are located just outside the Royal enclosure near the northeast corner.Elephants used to open these as they are extremely heavy for humans to manage.
King’s Audience Hall or the 100 Pillared Hall is located within the enclosure in the northwest area.
Stepped tank is located in the southeast area. Adjacent to this is another tank used as a bathing area. Further at the southwest corner is another huge swimming pool style tank (now empty) is located.
The underground chamber is located somewhere between the King’s Audience hall and the Stepped Tank.
Apart from these the Royal enclosure area is doted with numerous relics of buildings, crisscrossing aqueducts supplying water to these water bodies etc. Practically the royal enclosure area is a wide-open ground with little shelters inside. A good amount of walking is required to move from one spot to another. Vehicles, including bicycles has to be parked outside this area. Try to visit in the evenings or early mornings as you need at least 1 ? hours to roam in this area. Admission free and photography allowed. The road going towards east from the Underground Shiva temple finally makes a bifurcation, a left turn (towards north) would lead you to the Zenana enclosure and the right turn (southward) take you to the Royal enclosure area. These localities are somewhat plane and are well connected with a network of roads (mostly dusty though) .
Zenana enclosure Zenana enclosure means lady’s enclosure. This again is a walled enclosure with many interesting highlights inside. The major attraction is the Lotus Mahal. The whole area was the private enclosure to the royal women folks. The Queen’s Palace (visible only the basement) is located at the middle of this area. The super structure was made of wooden or less durable structures compared to the stone base. It’s Interesting the royal Treasury building too is located in this enclosure at the northwest corner. The whole area is encircled with a tall and broad walls made out of cut stones arranged in interesting patterns. You would be greeted with a Water Pavilion at the right side on entering this area.
The enclosure had been strategically designed for the women folks to watch the royal ceremonial functions in privacy.
Three watchtowers can be seen at the corners of the enclosed area. It has been told that eunuch solders guarded the area. It’s possible to climb on top of one of these watch towers (sometimes the guards may not allow this). It’s a vantage position to survey this area and the Elephant stable behind the Zenana Enclosure. The architecture in this location is predominantly Indo-Islamic in nature.
A ticket counter is located outside the main entrance of the enclosure. I don’t remember the ticket cost (if my memory is right it’s about 10rs for Indian citizens and 100rs or so for the foreign tourists). Photography is allowed, but again my memory is week, I’m not sure if there was a fee for using the camera. But use your camera; this is one of the photogenic locations (esp. the Lotus Maghal) in Hampi.
Also the ticket (for the same day) is valid for entry at the Vittala Temple too. So preserve the ticket.
The path to the other locations like the Elephant Stable, Guard’s Quarters and a few other temples’ runs through the center of this area. The whole area is now made into a sort of open garden with sprawling lawns. It’s a nice place to sit on the lawn under some tree to take some rest after a strenuous walk. A good site map too is located in this area, if you need to (you will need to!) reassure your location and the next direction.
About 1 1/2 hours plus is required to roam and watch things in this area.
Mahanavami Dibba This is the tallest structure in this (royal enclosure) area. In fact this is only the platform of the building and the super structure either has vanished or temporary in nature. From a distance this looks just like an elevated square platform. As you go close, the details emerge. This is made as a sprawling square structure in three layers. On the wall are dexterously carved sculptures and ornamentations depicting any thing from the royal ceremony to the city life to the erstwhile foreign visitors to the kingdom. Any things from the Portuguese to Arabic to Chinese connections are visible.
The king Krishnadevaraya constructed this in commemoration with the victory over Udaygiri (now in Orissa).
The kind used this platform to watch the army march pasts, war games, aquatic sports, animal shows, musical performances and also the most important Navarathri celebrations.
There are mainly two stairways to reach the top. The front one (east facing) is highly decorated on either sides with carvings of elephants, horses and a host of other things. On the top there is nothing special to see except the great views on the campus around it. At the back of the platform a twin staircase is located. Probably this was used as a service staircase during the ceremonies.
Kings Audience Hall. This is located somewhere in the northwest area on the royal enclosure. The super structure is not present. But at the rear of the hall, a stone stairway suggests it was a two-storied structure. On the platform are the sockets of the 100 wooden pillars once part of the superstructure. They are located in a perfect array of 10X10.
It’s believed that this is the place where the king listened to the public of the grievances. The long tough just outside this area was used as the trough for drinking water for the horses of the noblemen who came to attend the court. The superstructure of the hall had been guttered during the invasion.
The Stepped Tank. Again, located inside the royal enclosure, this is geometric feast. It’s a surprise that this has been excavated only in the 1980s. Each and every stones (thousands of them) and ‘earmarked’ and arranged in a stepped pattern. It almost looks like a ‘negative pyramid’. That’s an inverted pyramid of crater made on the ground. The look close on each (any) stones, they all are engraved with some sort of mason marks. This suggests that these were planed and made else where and later just ‘assembled’ at this location. Also there are some stones with the ‘napkin sketches’ by the architects. Probably they were discussing their plans on a pies of notepad..er.. stone piece!
A very long elevated aqueduct supply water to the pond.
You can step down into the tank (there is no water). Be a bit careful, as the steps are not very wide enough if you are a Bigfoot!
Aqueducts and Canals. The whole of Hampi is crisscrossed with a fantastic network of irrigation canals. Connecting everything from temples to palaces to tanks to quarters.
The major canals made by the Vijayanagar kings are the Raya Canal (King’s canal), Basavanna Canal (Nandi or Bull calan), Thirtu Canal (Sacred Canal) and the Kamalapura water tank. All of then are still in use (for agricultural irrigation of the near by village farms) .
In side the Royal area you can see a number of stone aqueducts connecting 20 or so wells and ponds. Most of it is in the ruined stage, but you can still see the sophistication of the water supply system.
Mint The royals of Vijanagara had many mints in the empire. The main one was located in Hampi. The ruins of the mint in Hampi can be seen inside the walled enclosure west of the royal enclosure. Vijayanagar had an astonishing array of coinage in Gould, silver and copper. Most of them spotted the images of gods, animals, birds etc. Also special coins were made in commemorations with occasions like triumphs over other kingdoms. The coin with baby Krishna’s image is an example (made as a mark to celebrate the conquest of Udaygiri by king Krishnadevaraya) . In most of the coins the reverse side is inscribed with the king’s name who ordered to mint the coin.
Elephant Stable. This is located at the east of the Zenana enclosure. A long structure with ‘parking slots’ for the royal elephants. There are 11 domed tall chambers. The center one is specially decorated and big. Probably the musicians and the associated band troupes had been using this during ceremonies involving elephant processions. The metal hooks (used to tie the elephants) on the inside roof can be seen. At the rear of each hall are small manhole type openings for the mahouts to enter the elephant compartments.
The Guard’s quarters The long rectangular building is located at the north side of the elephant stables. The building has a big open hall inside and multiple arches and parapets around it. The ceremonial guards of the royalty used this building. A garden with lawn is made at the area forming the common courtyard of the elephant stable and the guard’s quarters.
Yeduru Basavanna This is a monolithic Nandi or Bull statue. The location of the statue probably marks the one end of the Virupaxa Bazar. That is the statue is located at the dead end of the street where a hill starts. You can walk to the Basavanna statue from the Virupaxa temple along the Hampi Bazaar. When you walk from the Virupaxa temple along the bazaar street, it eventually comes to an end at an open space with a stage/platform. The statue is located at the left side on an elevated stone platform with pillers supporting the upper structure. Nandi (the Bull) is the vehicle of lord Shiva (Virupaxa). It’s thus symbolic that this statue facing the Shiva temple located at the other extreme of the street.
Vittala Temple Probably this is the architectural showpiece of Hampi. The temple itself is built in the form of a campus with compound wall and gateways. There are many halls and temples located inside the temple campus. Vittala is in fact another name of lord Krishna (one of the 10 incarnations of lord Vishnu). The Temple was built in the 16th century. The highlight of the Vittala temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot. And the halls are carved with an overwhelming array of sculptures . The stone chariot located inside is almost an iconic structure of Hampi. It’s believed that the stone chariot was mobile and was used in temple ceremonies. The stone wheels are now almost frozen, though one can distinctly see the wheel fixed on the axis. Look close on the floor, you can see some marks of the old chariot track. It’s believed that the chariot carries Garuda, the eagle god.
You can reach Vittala temple in two ways. The first is by a motor able road and the second is by a walk (sort of trek) along the riverbank. You can take and autorickshaw from Hampi bus stand (Rs30) to Vittala temple. Or catch a local bus frist from Hampi bus stand to Kamapapura and then from Kamaplapura to Vittala temple (ask any one at the Kamalapura bus stand to spot you the right bus)
The trek path from Hampi Bazar to Vittala temple. The trek rout is approximately 2 kilometer from the Hampi Bazaar. It’s more of a walk along a rocky and boulder strewn terrain than any big trekking sort of thing that involves climbing. On an average you can walk this trail in about 45 minutes (with no side trips). The beauty of this trek is that you can do a number of feasible side trips in this track. Though it’s not recommended to take a scooter or a moped in this trail, you can manage with a bicycle. You can’t ride the bicycle at some stretch of this part. You may have to carry it/ pull along with you. But it’s worth as you would be able to cover the rest of it with your bicycle, that is if you are planning to do it with bicycle rather than walking. From Virupaxa temple go towards the Basavanna statue. Almost before you reach the Basavanna statue, you can see a mud road at your left. You may be able to spot a signboard at the junction where this path starts. Take this road, and a few meters ahead at the corner you would find a small open-air restaurant (The Geeta Rivier View Restaurant). The food supplied is not all that great. But a nice location at the riverside to take some rest and sip some cool drink.
A few meter ahead the boulder strewn path starts. The trail is sort of diffused into the boulder heap. But still you can make out the path. The trail almost runs parallel to the riverbank. Somewhere in this area the trail runs under through some huge rock formation. This is the small stretch in this trail where you would find a bit difficulty in carrying your bicycle. A few minutes later you would end in an open expanse – a coracle ferry point, a bathing ghat, a stepped hall facing the river – adjacent to the Kondarama Temple (see the separate sub title). This is a point where you can do a number of side trips and explore a bit of the random ruins sites and the shrines. JJust after the temple you can see a tree & a tiny snake shrine, meant for snake worship. Cross the Kondarama Temple, you would again land at a mud track but somewhat bicycle-able. On the left you can find a few temples. Further ahead, you would again land at an open expanse, this time a sandy terrain with shrubs scattered all around. In all probability, you can spot this sign post here. Towards the right if you look, you can see the Achyutaraya Temple. Also you can see the Courtesans Street (marked by ruined structures of ancient market structures) leading to the Achyutaraya Temple.
At this point you can in fact make a side trip to the Achyutaraya Temple or a couple of other medium sized temples located near the sign post. Father you go along the path toward the left (somewhat parallel to the river), you would reach the spot where the tea shop ( to which this article is dedicated to!!! ). It’s on the left side under a tree. Further left the river. This is the point from where you can go for a side trip for the 1008 Lingas and 108 Lingas 108 Shiva lingas. Park the bicycle here and trek towards the river bank to locate this (a bit difficult to spot). Ask someone at this spot for the tentative direction. If you have not lost the directions grossly, in about 20 minutes you would be able to spot this (mind you, it’s a pleasant surprise, and one of my favorite ‘findings’ in the ‘exploration’). From the teashop spot, ask for the direction towards the Vittala temple. Again you would be passing through a rocky terrain with somewhat flat and stepped surfaces. On the left somewhere down, you can spot this cave – The Sugreeva cave . It’s believed that the monkey king Sugreeva lived here. And it’s the spot where Sita dropped her jewels as a mark when Ravana of Lanka abducted her. A rock here has the ‘design’ that the local people believe is similar to that of Sitas’ sari (cloth) . Further on the left side you can spot a green patch of paddy fields with a row of coconut palms. Going still ahead, the track runs through a giant gateway like structure. From here you can see the track running through the Kings’ Balance and eventually ends near the Vittala temple.
Coracle crossings. What’s a coracle? A country boat to cross the river. Basket is a more appropriate word than boat. They are huge flat basketlike craft to ferry people & sheep (yes sheep!). About 6 feet in diameter, coracles are made of bamboo, cane, plastic sheets and a fine coating of bitumen. On an average a coracle takes about 6-8 people. At Hampi there are three places you would find the coracle crossing.
The first one is near the Virupaxa temple. That’s the ghat (bathing place) adjacent to the temple. The crossing is mainly for crossing over to the other side of the river (the Virupapurgadde). Some times the coracle is used to take the tourists a ‘fun trip’ without any particular destination.
The second ‘coracles spot’ is in front of the Kondarama temple. There is a big bathing gaht here too.
The third and the most important ferry point is near the Vittala temple. The road that goes to Anegondi ends here ate the ‘work in progress bridge’. So the ferry is the only shortcut to proceed towards Anegondi. Take the road in front of the Vittala temple that goes towards east (that’s the main royal road with ruined structures on either side). About 2 kilometers from the temple you would reach the point where this road joins a north- south direction road. Towards north it’s Anegondi. Towards south it’s Talarighat Gate (further south Kamalapura ). If you go towards north from here, in about 1 kilometer you would reach the bridge. Take the trail that goes under the bridge along the left side you would reach the ferry point. Depends up on the time there would be about 2 or 3 ferry men doing the service at any time. Or wait there till some 5-6 people get assembled, a ferryman pops up from somewhere! You can take your bicycle or motorcycle along with you in the ferry. The ferryman would help you to load & unload the bike.
The charges vary slightly. They charge about 2 to 5 rupees per head for one way. Similarly if you carry a bicycle, the rate is about 10 rupees (you +bicycle). For a motorcycle+you, it’s about 15 rupees. You neet to cross the ferry to reach places like Anegondi, the Hanuman temple, Sitha Sarovar… and a number of other locations in the anegondi area. Last but least, the coracle crossings is not for the weak hearts. It’s not dangerous, but could be a bit scary for some.
Gejjala Mandapa No one knows what exactly was the function of this structure. This is located at the main road that leads to the Vittala temple. The main road at the east side of the temple is decorated on either side with different kinds of structure. Most of it is now getting excavated and getting re constructed. The first major site of interest you find (when you go from the temple along the main road towards east) is a water tank at the left side. The huge (empty) tank is located at about 500 meters from the temple at the foothills of the boulder-strewn hill. Further if you go along the same road at the right side you would find Kuduregombe Mantapa. A large hall like structure on the road side. There are many decorated pillars on an elevated platform. You can go inside and even take a few minutes rest in the cool place. That’s a big relief especially if you’re moving around the site in scotching sun.
Further east on the left side amid coconut trees and banana plants you would find a small compound. Gejjala Mandapa is located inside this compound. Again this is basically an elevated platform with a roof supported by pillars. In Hampi’s standards this is not a great site to visit. But since it’s on the main track you would be moving, it’s worth a stop and a quick visit. A bit further eastward, you would join the road that connects Anegondi to Kamalapur.
How did they cut & move rocks Everything in Hampi has been made out of rock. At least what remains of the capital is rock and rock only. Some one said every rock in Hampi has a story to tell. True. There is so much. The very first this is how a huge expanse of boulder strewn area had been converted itself into a very beautiful city. A sculpturer said once famously. “The sculpture was inside the rock. I simply removed the unwanted”. It’s so eloquently stated in Hampi. Only this is the whole city was craved out of rock, not just a few sculptures. The question is how did they manage to do this in those days ? No machines, no sophisticated tools….That speaks of another story about human ingenuity and dedication. Gigantic slabs of rocks were cut precisely from the mountains and hills. There are then moved to the construction sites. Well even today you would find it a bit difficult to access most of the places. And we are talking about moving huge pieces of rocks.
As anywhere in the ancient India elephants were the power machines. They used hundreds of them. In construction sites. In battlefields. No wonder so many of the elephants got its place in the carvings along with gods and kings!
Cutting huge blocks of slabs itself was an art and science. What did they use to do that? Two unsuspected items- wood and water! A series of holes are made on the surface of the rock (along the line of cut). Pegged dry wooden pieces into it. Poured water over these pegs to soak it. The wood expands by absorbing water and the rock crack apart slowly. See the picture of the peg holes made on the rock surface. The left side of the rock is flat, means they have cut a slab out of it.
You would fined the Royal area a bit more plane than the area close to the river. In fact the Royal area too was as rock as the other places. But a large quantity of rock was cu away to make all the strictures at the Royal area.
You can see many such quarry site at Hampi if you look keenly. There is one located at the Royal area. If you are near the ‘Noble men’s quarters’, you can see a mud road dividing the site. Places like The Band tower, The Mosque, The Mohammedan Watch tower etc are located at one side of the road. The ‘Noble men’s quarters’ is located at the opposite site. Standing at this point you can see a tall rock on the ‘Noble men’s quarters’ side. A flight of steps and a railing is made to climb this rock. Top of this is a vantage point to see a good view of the ‘Noble men’s quarters’. From somewhere at the top of the rock you scan the rock formations down, you would be able to spot this rock!
Those who are taking note of this thread, please visit this thread later for the final version. Once the content is sort of complete (or i’m saturated, which ever happens first!) I’ll declare it and also would attach the whole content in a downloadable .txt file. So that those who want it can take a printout easily for easy personal reference during the Hampi tour
Uddana Veerabhadra temple
Hazara Rama temple
Malayavanta Raghunatha temple
Pattaabhi Rama temple
108 and 1008 shiva linga
How did they cut & moved the rocks ?
Time to visit & weather
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