My funny story about Hampi
“Hampi ?……Hampi ???……What do you mean Hampi??!!! Is there such a place called Hampi in India ?” was my startled reaction to my cousin’s suggestion of visiting Hampi over the long weekend. This happened a couple of months ago.
You see, I had gone over to my cousin’s in Bengaluru , 2 long years after she shifted there on a job assignment and so had decided to spend a good 2 weeks from my month long vacation leave with her. Now with her working and me on a break, it was obvious that I was left to my own devices during the day, except for that occasional couple of days where she bunked and so we mostly loafed and partied only in the evenings. The days were interesting enough for me while I roamed and explored the streets and sights of Bengaluru.
It was really great catching up after all this time, as even though we keep in touch, one can hardly go into details and have long talk sessions due to the busy lives we lead. Since there was a long 3 day weekend coming up, we decided to do a short trip out of Bengaluru to make my holiday still more interesting and exciting. And that’s when she threw the idea of ‘Hampi’ at me! But seeing my reaction, she first appeared even more flabbergasted and then started laughing hysterically. She was astounded that I had not heard of this place called Hampi and knew nothing about it. Called me ignorant!
Now having finished school ages ago, and history and geography not being my favourite subjects, though travel definitely excites me, one can only understand why this place never featured in my list of ‘must travel to’! Me being the dreamy and fun-loving kind of Mumbai girl, I always love the idea of travelling to scenic hill stations or beach destinations or any place fun and lively. So when my cousin explained that this was a place steeped in history and culturally beautiful, I was aghast, but she assured me that I would enjoy and cherish the trip even though different from my regular destinations.
And then she threw another shocker at me by saying we would travel by bus! Before I could express my disgust, she had gone online to www.abhibus.com and booked bus tickets for two on an AC sleeper bus. She calmly explained that it would be a 7 hour ride through the night and we would be sleeping through most of it, but it would still be fun. I really couldn’t get nasty with her, as she had decided this was her way of treating me to a wonderful holiday and was paying for everything on this short trip.
We boarded the bus in Bengaluru at around 10.40 pm on Thursday and actually reached Hampi at 6.30 am the next day. All in the blink of an eye, literally! Well….we initially chatted and then gossiped about our fellow-travellers till we fell asleep. And while I won’t say it was like taking off in a plane, it was definitely not as bad as I thought and I actually managed to sleep my way to HAMPI (still can’t get over that name)!
Just getting off the bus on that cool, crispy morning, seemed like I had been transported into another time. It definitely didn’t feel like one of those modern towns, it just felt different. Though thankfully, the hotel that my cousin had booked us into was definitely modern and provided us with all the necessary comforts. We also managed to hire a Kinetic Honda to take us around as more convenient and both of us are comfortable riding as we have our own bikes to travel to work. This done, we set off on our tour of Hampi. I must admit here, that once I had accepted the idea of travelling to this place, I did a thorough study of Hampi on google and marked out the places with my cousin, that I thought would be interesting. So we had our own map to follow. With lots of help from the warm-hearted, welcoming, local folk we managed to make our way to these places over the next two and a half days.
Moving around Hampi made me feel that I had actually stepped back in history. It was amazing to see the overall architecture of the temples, monuments, ruins of the forts and other structures around this city. The dreamer in me could actually visualize those days and times when the grandeur of this city was at its peak and actually made me feel so proud of such a rich heritage, though at the same time sad, that we lost it all. I could see that Hampi was almost a temple town…..plenty of magnificent temples all over the place. It also had innumerable boulders all over, which was quite exciting for me as I loved to jump off the bike, climb over those boulders and take in the view of the city from various vantage points. Bordered with hills on three sides and the Tungabhadra river on the fourth side, the landscape was mesmerizing and made for a spectacular setting with the Hampi ruins amidst it.
So here are a few of the places that we visited and found awesome.
Vittala Temple – One of the most impressive structures in Hampi, this temple is famous for its intricately carved pillars and a huge stone chariot that stands within the temple complex.
Virupaksha Temple – Believed to be the oldest temple in Hampi and a famous pilgrimage site, the main attraction here is a massive temple complex with wonderful carved stone pillars, huge gateways, large halls, attractive lamp posts and a huge temple kitchen.
Sasivekalu Ganesha – Another popular site in Hampi, this is an 8 ft high statue of Lord Ganesha which is erected inside an open pavilion. The statue has a snake tied around its tummy.
Elephant Stables – We saw quite a crowd of tourists milling around here. We found a long building with a row of domed chambers which were supposed to be the resting place of the royal elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire. Surprisingly, this structure was comparatively in a better condition than the rest.
Hampi Bazaar – This is one place I had no reservations about going and checking out. After all, a bazaar or market is as interesting during any era. This was a famous market during those times, where merchants would sell attractive and unusual items from all over the world. But we had to settle for local artefacts done by the villagers.
The Archaeological Museum – Despite viewing history, ruins and artefacts of that period out in the open, this museum gave an insight into the life and times of that bygone era through their collection of rare sculptures and unusual artefacts that belonged to the Vijayanagara Empire and the British rulers.
The Queen’s bath – This royal bathing arrangement for the king and his queens is definitely worth visiting. Even though in ruins, one can still witness the beauty and grand architecture of this royal pool.
I could go on and on marveling about this quaint and interesting historical site……but suffice to say that this trip was an eye-opener for me and made me realize as to really how ignorant and unaware most of us are about our rich history and impressive past. And I have to concede, this was definitely one of my enjoyable and intriguing trips. Thank you cousin!
Picture Credits : Tourism Of India, Mouthshut.com