Friday, February 11, 2011

Humbled by Hampi...

We had fallen in love with the beauty of Karnataka, ever since we were students in Bangalore. Every place of tourist interest we had visited had made us bigger lovers of this beautiful state spread along the breathtaking Western Ghats. Be it the sluggish charisma of Mysore, the smug gorgeousness of Madikeri, the ravishing virgin, Gokarna beaches…every place effortlessly seduced us on our very first visit. But what Hampi did to us was beyond any measure of comparison…

Having heard of the legends surrounding Hampi from our friends who had been there, we set out with abundant spirits for
a three days-two nights stay. Very few people knew much about the erstwhile affluent golden kingdom of Vijaynagar ruled by the great king Krishnadeva- so we did some reading before we left.
We lodged at the very comfortable Malligi hotel in Hospet, some 30 minutes from Hampi.

As we took a bus to Hampi, we were first met by small rural communities bustling with people who have embraced the modern life, despite being so close to the primordial ruins. As we crossed into the threshold of smooth boulders into the Hampi kingdom, we were met by an inexplicable serenity. As the bus made its customary journey among the wrecks, every nook seemed to ooze with untold splendor... Was it because we were here for the first time or were our senses experiencing something more that what can be expressed???

Virupaksha Temple
 Our first stop was the majestic Virupaksha [] temple, which took us more than half a day for us to cover. But for those who are bereft of fathomless inquisitiveness, it might take lesser time. The Virupaksha temple is believed to be one of the oldest active temples (7th century) existing in India. The temple complex consists of the holy sanctum housing Lord Shiva, pillared halls and a series of giant entrance towers. The experience was simply enchanting.
The Monolithic Bull that guards Virupaksha temple
Lunch at the unique Mango Tree restaurant, pat on the banks of the river was another unique experience. Constructed very intelligently on branches of a mango tree, this eatery has seats at different levels- all giving you attractive glimpses of the river (sit wherever you want), the nearby ruins as well as the omnipresent smooth boulders. Did I also mention the delicious hot International cuisine? Just perfect!!!
This was followed by visit to the nearby Pushkarini, or tank where people visiting the numerous temples took their holy dips. Forgotten by civilization, this modest corral with its sapphire waters, is no less an attraction in comparison to its majestic neighbors. After the Pushkarini, we hired a two-wheeler and visited the surrounding temples…

The Lakshmi Narasimha temple that houses the giant monolithic statue of the man-lion God and is the largest icon in Hampi.
The famous Kadalekalu or gram seed Ganesha - a 14-foot tall sculpture carved on the slopes of the Hemakuta Hill
The Pattabhirama Temple dedicated to lord Rama, has tall mythical beasts carved in the shape of a series of pillars
The Glorious pillars
The Bala-Krishna Temple dedicated to the Lord’s infant incarnation
We also visted the the giant statue of Sasivekalu or mustard seed Ganesh and the huge Shiva Lingam adjacent to the Lakshmi Narasimha temple.

The most noteworthy thing about the temples was that they ALL lacked deities!!!  Being God-fearing Hindus, with the worship culture deeply ingrained in us- the pitch dark, ghostly interiors shocked us to no extent! And it spoke volumes of the plunder which these temples underwent during different phases in history…

We started the second day with a whirlwind tour of the ruins of erstwhile Vijaynagara and basked in the glory of several ancient structures like…

Ruins of the King's palace-an aerial view

The Elephant Stables- Sheltered all royal elephants
Elephant's royal!!

 The Lotus Mahal, used by the queen as a pleasure pavilion. The pavilion spots style arches and the roofs and base typical of Hindu temples

 The Hazara Rama Temple- with its exceptionally carved outer walls depicting story of Ramayana, was a private temple of the king.

The Indo-Islamic Queen’s bath, an indoor aquatic complex probably used by the courtly ladies or the king himself

A window from the Guard's Watch Tower-an exquisitely haunting Islamic structure
Most of the buildings were within the Royal Enclosure- a fortified campus with a seat of the erstwhile kings.

Post lunch we trekked the Matunga hill, which is famous for the sunrise-sunset views as also being the haunt of Hanuman and Sugreeva. Our efforts of the difficult trek were rewarded by a breathtaking view of the sunset on the Tungabhadra river.
Hampi- an aerial view from Matunga Hill

Virupaksha temple from Anjaneya Hill
Anjaneya Hill- the view from below
We also trekked the nearby Anjaneya hill, the holy birthplace of the Lord Hanuman- the view from the Hill in its entirety showed us the sprawling kingdom.
The guardian Nandi for the 1008 Shiva Lingas on Tungabhadra's bank
On the third day we took a basket-boat along the swirling waters of Tungabhadra, trekked (to discover a thousand and eight Shiva Lingas, as well as several forgotten statues carved on hilltops) and walked a long distance to reach the Vittala temple. Every bit of adventure to reach the Vittala Temple was worth the experience. 
The famous Giant stone chariot of Vittala temple- marked in the pages of history
A beautiful endowment of history to mankind and dedicated to Vittala- this temple is the architectural highlight of Hampi. It is specially noted for its hall with extraordinary musical pillars which resonate when tapped. The famous stone chariot with wheels carved out of stone [] stands majestically in front of the main temple.

On return we took the riverside trek path that connects the ancient Hampi Bazaar to the Vittala temple, which again was a singular experience.
The Tungabhadra Dam by night
We returned to Bangalore, as entirely different humans- humbled by what history has bestowed upon us. How rich a culture we belong to, how vast our ancestral origins are and how small we are in today’s society, just trying to fathom that vastness, which translated to their normal life style.

The single visit etched in our memories runs into several volumes…a blog post just seems so inadequate to describe how and what we felt. I’m sure you would agree, if you have had a similar spectacular experience at Hampi…

[All photgraphs were taken by my husband Lokanath Khamari. For more breath taking views of Hampi, visit:]


  1. very nice description and beautiful pics.. all the best..

  2. Been to somanathapura last year... haven't been to humpi yet, your post makes me to visit this place at the earliest! Great pics...

  3. @Raniiiii... Thanks a lot. Do keep reading. I loved your blog too!!

    @Mohan... Thanks for the encouragement (& votes) as always. I will convey your compliment to Lokanath. Please do visit Hampi. You will surely fall in love with those ruins. We'd just booked bus tickets & gone. Very easy to get accommodation & travel. Have fun :)

  4. Interesting article and very nice pictures. I'd like to go there. Maybe one day...

  5. Really Wonderful blog.. I am from Hampi and working in Minneapolis USA.
    I own a Travels in Hampi.

  6. Hey Swati,
    Nice blog. Thanks for bringing back all my chidhood memories. I hail from bellary :)

  7. Have to visit the place.... nice pics!! thankz for reminding!! :) :)

  8. You have some great shots here. Amazing description.

    My parents have been to Hampi, and they brag about it a lot. Now I know why!

  9. Wow Swati, thanks for this beautiful story on Hampi. Hampi is on my to do list and hope to make a road trip there this year. I also loved the photographs - you must pass on my compliments to him (as a photographer myself, I cant help but notice it). Cant wait to make it there.

  10. Had heard a lot about his place. These pics are fascinating me more to plan for the trip. Wonderful read. Good wishes for the contest.

  11. Have been trying to ride to Hampi since eons...thanks for such a good account of the place, will for sure visit the place asap :)

  12. Good Explanation about our HAMPI... & great pics Lokanath hats off.......Pradeep B S

  13. It is truely a divine experience of exploring the once prosperous and robust economy of Vijaynagar trip is to discover the palace of Krishnadevaraya, which seems to have been destroyed. Nice pics

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