Hampi : The Largest Old City

The ruins were always my interest. But this time I got a very good companion who loves to visit the monuments, my mother!! I was so happy to take her with me as she always loved history and its greatness.

The plan was made long time back, but we could not make it because of unfavorable situations. But this time everything fell in place and we could finally go. As we had to travel from Hyderabad to Hampi by road (around 385 Kms), the trip needed a holiday of 4 days. This year (2016) the Durga Puja gave us a long weekend, just perfect for the trip. Immediately booked tickets for my parents to come (they wanted to visit this place) to Hyderabad and the plan was to leave on Saturday early morning.

All were excited to have a trip together and all (except the kids) woke up very early to hit the road. We moved the sleeping kids directly to the back seat. As it was early morning, all were a kind of drowsy and sleepy. But something suddenly appeared on the roadside, just could refresh everyone including the kids. We could witness something really beautiful and it really made us pull over and take some snaps. We don’t get to see the bloomed sun flower fields very often. The view of long running bloomed sunflower field touching the sky in the other end, was really an amazing experience for our eyes. My son was very happy to see a flower plant which is taller than him. He enjoyed with his sister posing for the pictures taken by their grandparents.

Everyone was clicking snaps and I was wondering why all the flowers are faced towards one side. Then my mother explained me that the sunflower will always be facing the sun and as the sun moves the flower will turn. And while travelling further I realized that she was right. Even though the stop made us have a late lunch, all enjoyed the beauty of sunflower field and felt very happy to witness them.

On the way we could see many defensible hills, which started to appear while approaching Hampi. Later I read from internet that this was one of the reason, for emperors, to chose this area for building a secure city. And the whole city was really enormous that it was spread over many acres. Even now we can see the ruins of Mandapas or resting areas, spread all over the city proving the richness. And no wonder that this was one of the largest city in its time.

By Saturday afternoon we reached the beautiful old city. The city is still old that we couldn’t find any good restaurants and all were really hungry. Finally we could find a place and had very light lunch.

The plan was to go for sightseeing till the evening and then go to the hotel room. After the lunch we decided to enter the main city where we can see some of the monuments. We hadn’t decided on any particular place for that day. So thought of stopping at a place which comes first. We stopped at a place where we found some vehicles are parked. We got down and started walking. After walking for a while we realized that the place is under archaeological survey, but later we learned the whole Hampi is under archaeological survey. As this place is not much explored, they are yet to put much on the boards. But still the names were written for the Temple and the Octagonal Bath.

The structure of the building was amazing and it was different from other monuments we had visited in the past. Here everything was built from local granite and bricks.
Most of the temples will have a structure made of Granite and then a brick structure above the base granite structure. Even now the granite structures are not broken in most of the temples and the engravings are still clear and visible. But the brick structures are almost fallen apart.

Initially we went inside the temple compound and there we saw a large entrance and then a Mandapa. We could find that the deity is still inside, but we could not find out much as it was very dark inside. Then we walked to see the Octagonal Bath. We found it very amazing that the Octagonal structure was just perfect. There were steps and verandas leading to the pond and there was an octagonal section in the middle of the pond. Even though there was no water in the pond, the structure amused us to take some snaps.

After the pond we headed to see Royal Enclosure. As we didn’t have any plan in mind we just followed the other tourists. The Royal Enclosure consists of Different halls, bathing areas etc. Each place is connected with a big network of roads. We started walking and in no time it started to drizzle and hence we had to rush. Still we went to see most of the places including the Queen’s Bath. Out of all the places, the Pushkarni or the stepped tank was liked by the most. In Hampi, most of the temples are associated with the Pushkarni. The pushkarni’s will have a very long pipe system to fill in the water from nearby rivers. And we could see one of such long running pipe system which carry water from a river to the pushkarni in Royal Enclosure. That really amused us to praise the engineering that our ancestors had.

By the time we finished seeing the Pushkarni, it started to rain heavily and it was getting darker. So we decided to head the hotel and take rest. As we traveled from Hyderabad and did lot of walking, all were so tired. During dinner, we thought of short listing few places for the next days .

The next day, Tungabhadra Dam was the first place as per the plan. We started the journey after breakfast and we headed towards the Dam. After reaching there we realized that the vehicle is allowed only till main gate and there is a 2 KM walk from there. But we were confused that if we have to walk 2 KM with kids and it is definitely going to take a lot of time. So we dropped the plan and looked at the short listed places.

Virupaksha Temple was the next destination in our list. We followed the Google Maps to reach the temple. The way to the temple was so beautiful with lots of paddy fields and hills. I am always a big fan of paddy fields as they can always refresh your mind.

The google map lead us to the back gate of the temple. There was a security guard who was not allowing us to park the vehicle there. His reasons were genuine that the road is very narrow. But seeing my parents and kids, he allowed us to stop the vehicle there. After picking the necessary things we started walking. The whole area was really huge. The temple and its surrounded area are widely spread over the hill. The main temple is still having the deity and seems like they have Pujas everyday. When we reached there someone was saying that the Puja is finishing and the main temple will be closed soon. Then we realized the reason for huge crowd near the main temple and we could not enter inside the main temple. But the outer temple was open all the time and we started roaming around place. We could see many mandapas and ruins of few. Kids started climbing the Rock hill and soon they got tired. But we could rest for sometime on the top, where the wind was so cool even on s sunny day.

After resting for sometime, we realized that its already lunch time. While coming we had seen few shacks, and so thought of having lunch from one of them. We walked towards the first shack that came across our way and asked for menu. They were serving only Thali and Chapattis during lunch. As we do not have much options, decided to have Thali from there. We could find one dog who was taking rest from the hot sun, but no other customers. But soon it started to fill in with many other tourists. We had a very nice lunch from there which was much more than our expectation. We could see that one whole family is managing with taking orders, serving and also for preparing the food. Also we got to know that they stay there during night. It was almost like home made food. You will not find tissues or finger bowls there. They did not have any pipelines coming inside the shack and hence no taps too. But they store water inside big drums and those are used for hand wash. There you will find all the people following our old Indian tradition of washing hands using water filled mugs, even the foreign tourists.

After the food we walked out and we found many shops selling traditional accessories, toys, gifts etc. We bought few things quickly, including a pocket book on Hampi history.

Our next destination was Vittala Temple which was one of the most awaited destination for me. Before this trip I had gone through few writings and learnt that in Vittala temple complex we really do have some attractions which includes Musical Pillars and Stone Chariot. So we made plans to hire a guide from there.

No motor vehicles were allowed near the temple and hence we, along with many other tourists, parked our vehicle in the parking area and then started walking. Then we found a very long queue and we didn’t have any clue on what the queue is all about. We decided to find out. Many people selling the raw mangoe pieces , water melon pieces and pine apple pieces, with salt and pepper masala (and it was always my favorite). We asked one of the guy with mangoes and he explained that there will be battery vehicles taking tourists to the temple. But still you can opt to walk as well. With kids and parents we decided to go by the vehicle. So we waited in the queue. The guy whom we asked insisted on buying something from him and we took some water melon and pineapple from him. They serve these on banana leaves with salt and chilli powder masala sprinkled over them. We never thought that it would be a nice afternoon snacks. All of us including the kids enjoyed them and we again went for few more rounds. By the time we finished eating those lovely snacks, our turn arrived to board the vehicle. Those vehicles were driven by ladies and they were doing a very nice job.

On the way to the temple, we could see continuous structures on both the sides of the way. We were guessing them as pathways for royal family. But soon we realized that there were ancient trading centers and the area was a big famous market. We hired one guide after reaching the temple premise. He was a very nice person who knew many things regarding the temple and its history. We were told that the temple was many times attacked by other kings, Mugal etc. Still the main mandapa is standing even though it was put on fire by the Mugal. He explained the temple structure, the carvings and its importance very well. There was a mandapa for entertainment, Royal wedding and also for worship. The Mandapa for deity worship was not open as the structure might collapse. The carvings on the mandapas explained that the place was visited by traders from China, middle east and other parts of world. He took us to the Entertainment Mandapa where he showed us Music pillars. That was an amazing experience and the technology used in that century amused us. As per him one of the invaders even tried to break few of the pillars to see the technology behind them. When you tap on the pillars, each of them produces different instrument notes which was really amazing. Kids were trying the same for long time and we had to spend lot of time in that mandapa. Then he took us to stone chariot to explain about the same. The Chariot was movable till 3 years back. But now it is fixed there for easy maintenance. All over India we have only two or three stone chariots which was movable and this is one of them. Also there was King’s balance which was almost destroyed. After the guided tour we again went to enjoy the place. Then we went to wait in the queue for the return.

Then we went back to hotel for dinner and went for early sleep, as we had to leave early morning for Pattadakkal and Badami Caves.

Next day, we started early for Pattadakkal. We followed google maps choosing the shortest route. The road took us through some villages. My parents were wondering to see very old village roads which are actually state highways. We reached pattadakkal well before lunch. In Pattadakkal there were many monuments and all of them have different architectural structures. The archaeological department has done a beautiful job to bring all of them here and arrange the monuments in a nice way that we can go through each one and see them.

According to Wikipedia, Pattadakkal was a holy place where the Badami Chalukya Kins were crowned. There are around 10 temples and they are all built on various Indian Architectural styles of South and North. The monuments include Jain Temple, Virupaksha Temple, Sangameshvara Temple, Chandrasekhara Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Kashivishvanatha Temple, Galganatha Temple, Kadasidhvesara Temple, Jambulinga Temple and Papanatha Temple .

After visiting all the temples we decided to go to Badami Caves. This place one of the most awaited place in this trip. The cave temples are excavated on a mountain cliff. Each cave is associated with a temple. we climbed few steps and we reached the first Cave. My mother was tired and she preferred to stay back there, but we climbed again to the second cave and then to the third and fourth. The view from the fourth cave was breathtaking. After climbing so many steps all were very tired, but the view from there, was amazing and we never bothered to sit a relax. We also could experience a very nice breeze which made us stay longer. After clicking few pics, we decided to climb down and both the kids were very much excited to climb down the steps. The steps were always their interest !!!

This was the last place on the list and we went to a nearby place to have lunch. We searched for a descent hotel, but couldn’t find many of them. So we decided to have from one of them.

Immediately after the lunch we started our journey back to Hyderabad. This was more tiring than before days and so the kids slept immediately. They did not wake up till late evening and then my little daughter began to ask for milk. We started to search for hotels again. Luckily we found a tea shop and we requested them to provide some boiled milk. The guy was very nice and he gave us milk. Then we again started our journey. We reached home very late in the night.

The whole trip was amazing and all of us enjoyed all the places in Hampi. Even though finding food was a difficult task, the places were so amazing that many of our friends scheduled their trip to the Old City after seeing the pics. Please do visit Hampi and share your experiences !!!

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