Glorious Hampi – Vitthal Temple, Royal Enclosure & Hazara Ram

Day 3 : Early morning we shifted to Padma Guest House at Hampi (Virupaksha) Bazar so that it would be easier to commute to all other locations. We also hired 2 mopeds and started for Kamalapuram, which is 15 kms from Hampi. We visited the Pattabhiram Temple, Talarigatta gate and archaeological museum at Kamalapuram. The museum has a very good replica of Hampi which was useful for us to clear some orientation issues. Due to hills around Hampi it can get difficult to understand the directions.

Lunch was had at an Amma’s cafe where we tasted one of the best curd rice ever. The chopped onion and garlic only added to the culinary delight and I could have eaten it everyday. After deciding the venue of all our future lunches we headed over to the ‘Royal Enclosure’. This is a largish area, probably the primary area or citadel of the kingdom. However on the way our guide insisted that we visit the queens bath which has some beautiful patterns on the ceiling, Jain temple, Bhima’s gate, and then Madhava Temple – unique in itself as it has 2 Garbhgrihas. Finally we entered the Royal enclosure where the huge Mahanavmi Dibba stands. This raised platform, around 12 meters high and 50 square metres at the base is a good vantage point to take a 360 degree view around. The sides of the dibba have an assortment of intricate carvings – warrioirs, musicians, animals and dancers. We even saw a camel and a few weird animals. The Stepped Tank (Pushakarni) is adjacent to the dibba and is connected to other areas of the enclosure via an aqueduct. Apart from these, the enclosure houses a lot of ruins or old buildings and an underground chamber that we could not get into.

We then rushed to the adjacent Zenana Enclosure which is home to a few finest buildings in Hampi. The Lotus Mahal & Elephant stables are an absolute treat for your eyes with their picture perfect dimensions and beautiful architecture. The Mahal is built in brick and mortar and seems to combine the Hindu & Islamic styles of architecture. The elephant stables are a horizontal, 10 domed building. Here, there are separate rooms to house 11 elephants. The superstructure of the central room is is shambles. There is a small museum of stone idols inside the stable.

Then we went to the Hazara Rama Temple – this place was a big treat for us. The temple’s Sabha-mandap has got hundreds (probably a thousand) of carved panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Stupid ASI has build walls in between so to go through the sequence you have to climb up the sabha-mandap and down many times. We were there till it got really dark. One needs to carry torch to see panels inside Sabha-mandap. These panels are beautifully carved with minute details and we enjoyed reading all the panels. We had to return our 2 wheelers by 7, but when we went there it was around 7.30 and we convinced the person to keep the vehicles with us for that night. Then we had dinner and spent some good time on the bank of Tungabhadra. During the day, the dam gates had been opened and by now  the river was gushing with full force. Many of the small temples that are situated on the banks had already gone under water!

Lotus Mahal

Lotus Mahal

Day 4 : This morning we had decided to visit Vitthal Temple area. However, rather than taking the regular route we decided to use the longer hike that winds around the river. En route, the King’s Balance is a good place for photography. All that remains today is a tall square arch. Probably a balance might have been hung from this arch. When we reached Vitthal Temple, it was still and would open by 9.30 so we went further and visited the inscribed Vishnu Temple. The carvings here are a treat – there are numerous animals carved on the the facades surrounding the entrance. We went shutter friendly again and spent all our time here till the might Vitthal opened his gates to us. Finally we were at the most famous monument of Hampi – The Vitthal Mandir, we had read a lot about it and had watched videos of the musical pillars. We were not disappointed. It was perfectly sunny, so we got some really good photos of the Stone Chariot, pillars and carvings of Vitthal Temple. A peculiar thing is that I observed carved outlines of men and women on floor of the entrance. (check the photo).

After spending over an hour it was time to go back, and we went to the Narsimha Temple, followed by Rangatha Temple and finally Acyhutraya Temple. Acyhutraya temple too has a huge bazar like Virupaksha, Krishna and Vishnu temple. By the time we returned to Hampi Bazar it was 1.30 and we had curd rice again at Amma’s. Then we went to Hazarrama Temple again, took some good photographs and on the way back we went to Danaik Enclosure which we left out yesterday. The Palace of Krishna Devraya, Danaik’s Enclosure, Nobelman’s Quarter and Mohhamadan watch Tower etc are the only buildings worth a visit. The Mohhamadan watch Tower is the only building with complete Muslim architecture. The rest are a mix of Muslim & Hindu styles. By this time it was already 5, and the only thing remaining was – Underground Shiva temple. By the time we reached there ASI authorities had already closed the gate. So, after confirming nobody’s around, we jumped from the gate, we had almost half hour ahead of light and we used that half hour very well. There are very few temples which have god idols inside them and this was one of them. We could not enter Garbhgriha as it was full of water, even in Rangmadap was filled with 1ft water. There are very few unique carving on this temple like that of wrestling men.

Queen's Bath

Queen’s Bath

Before returning our mopeds, we spent some more time on the Hemkuta hill, near the Kadekalu Ganesh, watching a marvellous sunset. Then we returned the bikes and went on for some shopping. Things to shop are very similar to Goa. Only additional things I found were very cute bells and gypsy ornaments. Then we bought dozens of Hampi t-shirts for friends and went off for dinner, and later sleep.

Day 5 : Today we had only had day at Hampi and the only things remaining were Hanuman Hill and Matanga Hill. Hanuman hill was out of question as Tungabhadra was still flooded. We had planed to get up really early – before sunrise but actually we got up by 6 and went to Matanga hill. All the hills in Hampi are just boulders stacked on each other and Matanga is no different. On our way to Matanga Hill, Ashwin got lost. We were almost at the top and we came to know that he is lost, we tried calling his name but no answer. We waited almost for half hour and then we were about to start descending to look for him and then we spotted him on the route. It took him another 20 mins to reach where we were sitting. Finally we reached the first level and got some nice panoramas in the fresh morning light. We also tried our hands on bouldering as well. Finally we reached the top and nobody else was there except few really big monkeys. View from the top was just awesome. We should have visited Matanga hill on the day 1 it self. It the tallest hill and we can see Hampi and part of Anegondi as well. Atchutraya and Krishnadevaraya Temple look spectacular from the top. We had climbed up the hill from the end of Hampi Bazar and there are 3 routes in total which lead from the base to top. While descending we took another route which was descending at Atchutraya Temple.

By the time we reached back to Hampi Bazar, it was 11. We had lunch and left for Hospet from where we caught a train to Hubli and From Hubli, the 10 pm bus to Pune. Note that there is a bus from Hopset directly to Pune which starts around 5 in the evening.

All in all, this turned out to be a awesome trip, and am looking forward to going again, especially to visit Badami, pattadakkal and aihole!

King's Balance

King’s Balance

Sunset behind Kadekalu Ganesh

Sunset behind Kadekalu Ganesh

Ornate Yalis, Vitthal Temple

Ornate Yalis, Vitthal Temple