Hampi, Vijayanagara Empire – Part 1

Having read about Vijaya nagara empire, Hampi was an eagerly awaited trip. Hampi is close to 12 hours trip from Chennai . We put a stop at Bangalore, then resume the journey next day. From bangalore to Hampi through Tumkur was a smooth journey with neatly laid roads.

Reaching Hampi in the evening, we decided to start the trip with Sunset view. Referring to few other travelogues, went to Matanga Hills for sunset view. It was a challenging climb with no proper steps. Reached half way point and dropped the plan to climb to the top. But the view of Virupaksha temple was beautiful. Later came to know that there is proper steps but a long one at the back of the hill.

Mathanga Hill View of Virupaksha temple

There was inauguration of ‘Hampi at night’ (some said its demo for senior officials) and got to take the night tour arranged. Ramayana Story of Sukriva/Vali is played as rock-light show. Tungabatra river side was stunning at night with shadow of the monuments in the backdrop of stars and moon.

Light show at Virupaksha Bazaar

Next day started with ASI guide to Virupaksha temple, Ganesha temple, narasimha temple and to vithala temple. Virupaksha is one of the few temples in the surrounding that has deity inside and maintained for offering till date. Rest of the temples were actual place of worship hundreds of years back, but them demolished during the fall of Vijaya nagara empire. Having seen many broken god statues outside the temples, never realized broken statues are not considered for worship anymore. It brought in questions for rational mind.

Lakshmi Narasimhar (Lakshmi piece of the statue was detroyed)

It was disheartening to see each and every place was ruined, and it spread across kilometers. There are 1200 plus monuments in Hampi, most of them are ruins. Between the natural boulders, the ruined city reminded that history was painful than we could ever imagine. But people had taken taken huge efforts to build such large city amongst the boulders nearly 600 to 700 years back.

Virupaksha temple

Never seen so many boulders and rocks in all my life. City beautifully lies between the rocks and naturally gels with in it. Architecture are all of stones or marbles and our guide said, all the wooden work was burned down during looting. And sultans took 6 months to systematically loot the place. It had that much of valuable things and animals in the empire. There were long bazaars (ruins show that) used for all kinds of trading, from vegetables, flowers to precious stones to horses. some of these bazaars are km long. 900 elephants, 20000 horses and 100 thousand men for the rulers at any time. When i read this data in the museum, there was no surprise as we had seen the breadth of the empire by that time.

View from Malyavantha hill

Vithala temple was enormous and beautifully designed. But most of its kopuras are damaged (by canon balls, our guide said) and only one third of it remains. As seen in other temples of tamil nadu, here as well depiction of ramayana, mahabarata, yaali can be seen here. Given Hampi is birth place of Hanuman and it is Sukrivar/Vali kingdom as said in the ramayana, there is even more historical importance. Vithala Bazaar is said to be most famous bazaar of all, no one deny that seeing the ruins itself. And there is the famous Stone Chariot.

Vithala temple with bazaar at both sides

Zanana palace was point of interest for my daughter. Ever since hearing about Queen’s bath, she was excited about allqueen places. Zanana palace is just for queen given as gift to Rama devaraya by one of his ministers. Lotus mahal in there was equipped with air conditioning through the teracotta water pipes running through out the mahal. Luxury were limited to too small group. Our guide said, only the technology is additional, rest of the history repeats. Wisdom!

Zanana Palace – performance area

There was elephant stable and keeper’s place nearby. Keeper’s place also serves as museum for some of excavated sculptures. Elephant stable has small rooms for each elephant and guess there were 10 or 12 rooms.

Elephant Stable

Evening went to Hemakuta hill for sunset view. It is such a beautiful place with temples on the rocks and the surrounding view of mountains & Virupaksha temple. One cannot stop wonder, how do these many rocks come in naturally. and this city gets tuck in itself peacefully. Sitting in the rock, watching the monkeys, wondering the history… This is what travel can bring to us. Losing oneself to the place.

Hemakuta Hill
Sunrise View from Hemakuta Hill

to be Contd…

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