Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. It is 353 km from Bangalore. Hampi is one of the famous historical village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara Empire. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi. The name is derived from Pampa, which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River. The name “Hampi” is an anglicized version of the Kannada Hampe, derived from ‘Pampa’.
Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1336 to 1565. Hampi was chosen for the capital because of its strategic location, protected by Tungabhadra river on one side and surrounded by unconquerable hills on the other three sides. Hampi has historical & mythological significance.
The site is simply stunning, abounds with millions of boulders. However, within this barren landscape there are small orchards of banana, and mango trees nestled both side of the river.
How I travelled?
It was a 2 days tour. Quickly planned just before the Christmas weekend. I booked online tickets from Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation for both onward and return journey. We were two, me & my brother-in-law completely excited to visit Hampi. Friday 21 December 2012, around 8:30 pm we started from Chikkalasandra. We took a local bus 210ZA for Majestic Bus Terminal. Where we had booked on Rajahamsa Executive class, that means no sleeper, you have to sleep on the push-back seat. We were waiting for the arrival of the bus, when we got a SMS alert from KSRTC assuring the bus is coming within 15 minutes on the platform number 15. The bus came at the right time. We took our seats comfortably and started poking jokes, enjoying chit-chat wits that add an extra flavor during the journey. At midnight the bus halted at a roadside dhaba for foods, & water. Finally it ran nonstop for Hospet, the nearest town of Hampi. I woke up by 6’o clock in the morning when the bus conductor told that only 13 km remain to Hampi. Finally we reached at Hampi around 6:30 am.
We started looking for lodging near the bus stop. It was Rs 400 – 800, non-AC/AC rates for a room for one day. I do suggest to little bargain, it differs. However, we took a double bed room with attached washroom for Rs 400, we had the return ticket for the same day by 10’o clock in the night. We took little rest, refreshing bath, the breakfast and went out to visit Hampi.
Virupaksha temple is very near by the bus stop, within a walking distance. We first went there. There are many mythical statues sculptured on the pillars, ceiling and walls. They tell many stories related to Puranas, the most ancient literature dates 4th century ad.
The ruins of the empire is spread over the area of 26 sq km. So we decided to take an auto for the next 6 hours that costs Rs 600. The real pleasure in exploring Hampi comes from on the bicycle or by walking around. Virtually every rock in Hampi has a story to say. This story is best heard if you give it time and walk around from rock to rock. It usually costs around 100 rupees/day with Rs 1500 as security deposit. Rs 1500 deposit sounds too much so we took the auto. Basically at Hampi every autowala is a guide. They have maps of Hampi which is included around 18-20 main ruins, temples and caves.
We travelled Hemakuta complex which is situated just behind Virupaksha temple. Many small temples & rock structures are standing here. Most of the structures are architected similar with identical differentiation.
One by one we visited, Achyutaraya Temple also known as Tiruvengalanatha Temple, preksha temple, Anegondi, Anjeyanadri Hill, Archaeological Museum at Kamalapura, Badava Lingam, Chandramauleshwar Temple, The Kings’ balance, The Underground Temple, Uddana Veerabhadra temple, Sri Lakshmi Narasimha, Yeduru Basavanna, Yantrodharaka Anjaneya temple, Zenana enclosure, Virupapura, Sasivekalu Ganesha, Elephant stables, Lotus temple, and Hazara Rama Temple.
Around 1:00 pm we decided for the lunch. We asked the autowala, he took us to a family restaurant on the way to Vittala temple. Indian homely food, quality was good for hungry time. We took some vegetable curries with chapatis that cost Rs 250.
Our next visiting spot was Vittala complex. 22 December 2012 Hampi was sunny and humid. Don’t forget to take cap, sunglass, & water bottle, during the tour. I forgot to take sunglass that means the trouble. In the afternoon sunlight reflecting on the shinning stone-architectures were dazzling into my eyes.
Vittala complex is one of the large monument still exists among the ruins at Hampi. Marathi word ‘Vittala’ is also known by Lord Vishnu. The temple is surrounded by 12-14 ft high stone walls. The main temple is decorated with design, statues and remarkable sculptures at every corner. The famous stone chariot is also situated inside the complex. Across India students come with teachers to learn practical history lessons at Hampi.
Six hours we perceived the standing history created so many unsolved questions in my little mind. I wonder. I was astonished by the architecture, imagination, art, craft, and the rich ancient culture. Sometime it seems dark and open. I discover many unknown mythical statues of the animals and creatures.
Hampi is an ideal spot for people who are interested in history and nature. By 4’o clock we came to Tungabhadra River. People were waiting for coracle ferry. It costs Rs 20 per person and Rs 5 for each piece of luggage. The occasional crocodile may be encountered in the river or on rocks midstream, sometimes several metres long. So don’t put your hands in the river water.
Most of the guest houses are at Anegondi side of the river. If you are staying at Virupapur Gadde side of the river, plan and return by 6’o clock. Everyday the ferry closes after 6’o clock in the evening.
Rocks that you see in every direction you look at. Vegetation is visible in the wet months; but again it never dominates the empty landscape. The village is popular for hippies. Rock climbers frequently visit Hampi to scale the boulders and can often be seen around with their crashpads, mostly on the Virupapura Gaddi side of the river.
There are two famous sunrise and sunset points at Hampi. Matunga Hill is the most famous. Being at the centre of Hampi, and also the highest point, Matanga hilltop is the best spot to get an aerial view of the landscape and the sunset. But we avoid climbing about 600 steps on the hill during the hot part of the day. By 5’o clock in the evening we stepped at Veerabhadra Temple that was amazing. The rooftop of the temple at the summit is the ideal place for the sunset. Relatively a larger crowd trickle in to bid goodbye to the sun to give an artistic finish at Hampi.
We waited about an hour and then the large burning orange leisurely melted bidding farewell 22 December 2012, giving and taking another wonderful span of life.
It was an unexpected adventure before the new year. 23 December 2012, by 5’o clock in the morning we came back to Bangalore. Wish all the very best to all the travelers and readers.