Hampi , Karnataka - The remains of the Vijayanagar Empire
January 1, 1970
by Gwen Crasta
Why Visit Hampi?
“The city Vijayanagar is such that the eye has not seen, nor ear heard of any place resembling it upon the earth “. Abdur Razzak a 15th century Persian Ambassador after his visit to the Vijayanagara empire during its peak time.
The picture will never do justice to what my eyes saw when I stood there
Getting to Hampi, Stay and Going around
The closest Railway station and bus stop are Hospet, Karnataka which is about 13 km from Hampi. There are Local buses to Hampi every 15-20 minutes starting in the morning at 7.00 and the last bus back to Hospet at 19.30 Hours. There are hotels ranging from lodges to 3-star accommodation here in Hospet but you could also stay in a village called Kamlapur which is 5 km from Hampi. The Hippie village on the other side of the river also offers accommodation availability, depending on the tourist season. You can explore Hampi on foot or cycles but can also hire rickshaws that will take you around for the day. Cycles are available for rent on a daily basis.Bikes and Two-wheeler are rented out on the other side of the river in the Hippie Village.
I stood there looking at the ruins, Ruins so grand and glorious, scattered carelessly all over, ruins all the same and I thought to my self ‘What an absolutely wonderful empire this must have once been ‘. Built along the banks of the river Tungabhadra lies this absolutely beautiful mess of ruins that will take you back in time and make you wonder just how these wonderful souls ever lived. It is believed that Hampi was one of the richest kingdoms in the world during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya and it is also said that gold and precious stones used to be sold on the market streets of Hampi.
Nestled in the Northern part of Karnataka, Hampi is in parts a small village and a temple town lying in between a rocky terrain and the river Tungabhadra. it is indeed a marvel as to how this empire was built and how it survived years before it was attacked by five different sultanates at the same time causing its decline leading it to become a lost kingdom years before it was discovered again.Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hampi is an open-air museum of 20 expansive temples and numerous other monuments.
What to see in two -days
The Virupaksha Temple
I started my journey early, on a beautiful Friday morning, everything about this place was lovely, the landscape and the ruins are so beautifully breathtaking that it gets etched in your mind from the first time you see it. The Virupaksha temple which is believed to be the main temple of this empire has been restored to its full glory and is in use. Hundreds of devotees gather here to worship and offer prayers every day. The temple elephant is another attraction in this temple who gives you a blessing in return for an offering.
Vittala Temple and the famous Stone Chariot
The best way to explore Hampi is by foot or by cycles. You can hire cycles on a daily rental basis from places around the main temple. There is a lot to cover in and around the group of monuments and if you don’t feel like walking or cycling you could always hire a rickshaw. After visiting the temple we cycled through the Hampi bazar ( now in ruins ) to the monolithic bull.From this point, we climbed our way up only to be offered one of the best views of the ruins and to the Achutraya temple and its market square. there is an alternate route to this temple by a rickshaw or foot but the view you get makes it worth the climb. This complex also houses a dancing hall, a wedding hall and a Pushkarni which is a bathing tank. We walked farther to find a lot of other temples, Hampi has hundreds of temples spread across and it’s quite hard to remember all their names. The Vittalla temple is another beautiful temple housing the famous stone chariot. The chariot is a sculptural marvel. the precession and workmanship are undoubtedly one of the best.The Hazara Rama temple is another beautiful marvel with inscriptions and carvings from the Hindu mythology.As you walk past all these places you cannot help but wonder how these temples would have looked when they were in their complete state with all of the grandeur. Post lunch we visited the numerous other temples and buildings belonging to the Royal family.
The Badavalinga Temple, and Narasimha – The largest Monoliths
The Badavalinga temple houses one of the largest monolithic shiva-linga and has a 92-year-old priest offering prayers. right next to it is another monolith to look at called the Narasimha. Both these monoliths are worth looking at just for their workmanship and eye for detail.The buildings built for the Royal family are way different from the temples , these include the Queens Bath, Krishnadevaraya’s Palace, the Audience Hall, thePushkarni, Queen Palace, the Nobel men’s quarters, the Mohammed watchtower, the Mosque, the Zenana, the octagonal water tank, the underground Shiva temple, The Lotus temple, the granaries and the Elephant Stables .These structures are beautiful and quite different from each other which makes you wonder about the thought and planning put into building one of the richest empires of that time.
One of the best sights this place has to offer apart from the ruins is the sunsets and sunrise. If you think that the sunsets from any part of the world are the same, I beg to differ, cause you haven’t really watched the sun dip and then slowly set from the sky in the midst of the ruins and fields. It was indeed one of the best sunsets that I have ever seen.
If you think all Hampi has to offer are the ruins and temples, it’s only because nobody has told you about the Hippie village ( or the Happy Village ) on the other side of the river. It does have the remains of a few more structures of this great empire but the village is a marvel by itself.Lush green fields, the river flowing by, numerous tiny cozy cafeterias offering all kinds of food from Indian, Arabic, French, Italian, Greek, Israeli etc. name it and you can have it. The idea of settling in this beautiful place did come to my mind because this place gives you a feeling of freedom, joy and absolute bliss and you couldn’t care about anything less in the world when you are here. You should, of course, see the dam and the point of origin of the river Tungabhadra. where you can take a ride on the local floats or boats across the river.That is not all that this little village has to offer, if you are a ‘ look at the sky ‘ kinda person like me then you should definitely stay back and look at the stars and the sky after sunset, because, dear Lord! it’s an absolute beauty !!
What I am taking back from this city
My Trip to Hampi was a short unplanned trip, a quick getaway for the weekend, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful places that I have visited so far and I am taking back a lot of memories from this city. I would like to go back to this place again and I can bet that I am going to fall in love with this place all over again. If any of you do get a chance to visit this UNESCO -World Heritage site anytime in your life, I hope that you fall in love with it just as quickly as I did.