Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hampi - Word Heritage Site

HAMPI, the seat of the famed VIJAYANAGARA empire was the capital of the largest empire in post-mogul India, covering several states. The destruction of Vijayanagar by marauding Moghul invaders was sudden, shocking and absolute. They reduced the city to ruins amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beggaring description.The ruins of Hampi of the 14th Century lies scattered in about 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation.
In March 2002, the Government of India has announced that Hampi would be developed as an international destination centre.

It was long time we were planning to get out of the hectic work schedule after our wedding. During a tele-conversation I and Srijith decided to go to Hampy – The world heritage site. Thanking Meera for helping me with data to publish this travel log.
Day 1 – Dec 25 2009
6:00 am – Srijith and Rashmi arrive at my place at Jalahhali Cross.
6:30 am – Started our journey in my Black Stallion.
9:00 am – Stop at new Kamat for breakfast. As usual very refreshing spot.
Took NH7 & NH13.
NH7 – Well maintained road (toll of Rs180 till chitradurga). Took diversion due to traffic jam and hence lost way in Tumkur. Spent some extra ½ hr getting back to the highway
Took diversion for NH13 .
NH13 – Road bad as heavy trucks ply in that route for mining.
Totally about 7hrs drive. As there were no proper sign boards nearing Hospet we lost our way at the end of NH13. Some how managed to reached Hospet at about 2pm. Srijith had booked our stay at SLV YATHRI NIVAS through one of his friend. Decent place to stay. Had our beer and lunch at a near by restaurant.
Went to Tungabhadra dam in the evening at about 5. Nice place, good view of the dam. It was cool and refreshing to just look at the river. Lot of school students had come for excursion so place was crowded.
End of day 1. We drank and dined at the hotel itself. North Indian food not recommended.Hampi is a legacy left by the Vijayanagara Empire. The Vijayanagara empire spanned over four centuries and was divided into four dynasties – Sangama (1336-1485), Saluva (1485 – 1505), Tuluva (1491 – 1570) & Aravidu (1542-1646) dynasties. The empire is known to have flourished and reached its peak under Sri Krishna Devaraya when Vijayanagara armies were consistently victorious and the era was called the Golden Era.
Finally in 1565, the “Battle of Talikota” happened and Vijayanagara was defeated by the Sultanates. They went about destructing and plundering the empire for five long months and brought it to a state of ruins in which it remains until today. It was never re-occupied.
We first visited “Sasivekalu Ganesha” and all the other small temples nearby. It was indeed saddening to such great sculptures in a ruined state.
Went to Virupaksha temple next. This temple existed from the 7th century, well before the start of the Vijayanagara empire. However, it was built from a small shrine to a much bigger temple during the Vijayanagara empire. For some reason this temple was not destroyed by the Sultanates and continues to be a place of worship.
The most fascninating place in this temple is a small dark chamber where the light comes through a small brick hole and the shadow of the shrine appears upside down.
We then visited “Kadaekalu Ganesha” and “Lakshmi Narasimha” temple. This magnificient monolithic Lakshmi Narasimha , the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu stand 6.7m tall. The roof of the chamber enshrining the statue is missing, which has led to weathering. The four arms of the statue with various attributes has been broken and the seated figure of his consort, Goddess Lakshmi, on his left lap is missing. The face too has been damaged, making him look ike “Ugra Narasimha”(Angered Narasimha). The presence of the right hand of the Goddess, embracing the Lord at the back is a proof that it is indeed “Lakshmi Narasimha”.We then went to “Badivilinga Temple”. This is a 3m high shiva Linga, carved in one stone. Our next stop was the “Underground Shiva Temple”. This temple was intentionally built below the ground level so that the Shiva Linga would be always surrounded by water.

It was almost 3pm. Now, that was enough for a half day, so we stopped for lunch. We could not find any good hotels since we were not anywhere near the Humpi city. After some search we saw a “Karnataka Tourist home” and decided to go there. Since it was already late, we had almost missed the lunch buffet and the man at the counter told us that there was no more lunch. Since we were really famished, after some bargaining he said we could have whatever was left in the Buffet. One of the best lunches we had although the number of items were very less…J But to quench our thirst , chilled beer was available. After an hours break and relaxation, we set out for the second round of exploration. It was much better since the sun was down and the heat had subsided.

We went to the Lotus Mahal” next. The decorations and architecture is a curious mix of Hindu and Islamic styles. Lotus Mahal’s Islamic style arches and the Hindu style multiplayer roof and base structure are often quoted for the ingenuity of the Vijayanagara artisans. There is a large lawn made around the Lotus Mahal. This is a nice place to relax for a while and take some nice pictures.
We then went to “Mahanavami Dibba”. Many festivities and competitions were said to be celebrated here. The Stepped tank or “Pushkarni” is also situated nearby. The surroundings of this place is a classic example of how advanced and contemporary the water irrigation systems were at that time. There are clearly built water channels which flowed into the ponds and used for irrigation. A lot of these methods and ideas are said to be useful in today’s world as well. We then proceeded to the “Queens Bath” .
Then it was time for some enjoyment and we went for a catamaran ride. After much bargaining he agreed to four of us for Rs.150. We were quite concerned since we four “big” people were being taken on the ride in a small catamaran steered by a boy not older than ten..!!...but it was well worth the ride. A good view of the scenery around as well as some “merry-go-round” antics by the small boy for some entertainment…

Next we visited the “Vittala Temple” and the “Stone Chariot”. This is one of the best sculptures of the Vijaynagara empire and is famous for the “Musical Pillars”. However the Pillars are not open to public viewing anymore .Spent some relaxing and educative time there and also some good sunset pictures.

The last stop was at going through the “Soolai Bazar” or the “Dancing Girls Street”. There is a also a small tank near by which has a pavilion in the center. The tank was believed to be used by the dancing girls.
It was almost 7pm and we were ready to go back to Hospet. Another ½hr drive. But we lost our way a number of times before reaching our place of stay. It was more because the people were not giving proper directions. We were quite perplexed as to whether they were intentionally misdirecting us since it was such a small town and each person was giving completely different directions…!!!
It is worth mentioning here that we had our dinner at “Krishna Palace”. This is a must visit because where else can you find a luxurious candle light non vegetarian buffet with a nice swimming pool on the side…all for Rs.200….!!!

After a nice dinner, we ended our journey to past and dreaded the arrival of the next morning since we were to come back to Bangalore hence to the present routine of life…..

Day 3 – Dec 27, 2009
7:00 am – Had a nice breakfast at Yatri Nivas and started the drive back to Bangalore. Took the same NH13 & NH7. Had lunch at Kamat Yatrinivas and was back home by about 4pm.

Even though a heritage site , Indian govt has not maintained it well. There is no proper route directions for tourists coming in here. Very badly managed. No proper hotels in Hampi.
I had been to Mauritius and had visited Apravasi Ghat, which is also a world heritage centre. Its only approx 2500sqft area but so beautifully maintained by Mauritian govt that I felt ashamed thinking about Hampi. I think we should learn from other countires how to show case our riches. The last words what I could think is -- those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Sharing some captured moments of our trip......
Please Click here .