Sunday, January 10, 2010

After 37 Posts, 147 Pictures and lots of information, i am really a proud person today. This completes the Hampi series in my blog. Hampi will always be a travel destination that i will never forget. I still remember the day i travelled to Hampi on 22nd December 2007 for the first time and every place, every minute still lingers in my memory.

My planning to this trip was a meticulous and exhaustive one. It was a proper 10 day effort in which i had gone through various websites to gather information. By the end of my planning, i had a complete itinerary on hand with my own prepared route with approximate time to see each of the places. Here i would like to give due credit to the site which contains extensive information about the place. My itinerary would not have been complete without the help of the route maps provided in the site.

I had visited Hampi twice with finding something new each time. However, i had already visited almost 80% during my first visit which went on for 4 days. For an ardent art lover and historian, it will take at least 4 days to cover the whole of Hampi including the summer capital of VijayanDSC01515agar, Anegondi. However, one can cover the major portion of Hampi in two days running around and hiring an auto rickshaw. There are people who spend almost a month in this place visiting every nook and corner of the place.

If someone things that this is all that Hampi has to offer, they would be wrong. 6 kilometres from Hospet, is the Tungabhadra Dam. It is a huge one with nice gardens being set up.  The river here is huge and extremely beautiful during sunset. There is a deer park and a small Avery here. the State Government has also setup a small aquatic museum where live aquatic beings are displayed. The mDSC01523ost famous location over here is the musical fountain where the fountain sprays water in rhythm with the music played. There would be a small show everyday at 7.30 PM for 15 minutes.  People throng from all round the locality for this show.

There are other attractions also near Hampi. At a distance of 100 kilometres from Hospet is the Narihalla Dam and its backwaters called Manasa Sarovara. Here the tourists can ride water scooters and travel on spDSC02570eed boats. The way this place is also good at a high altitude. The third place is the Wonder Valley Resort, which is near to the Narihalla Dam.  This place offers stay also, one can visit this place for pleasure. There is go-carting for  fun and also one can use the swimming pool over here for as much time as they want.

As i come to the end of this series, i bid adieu to Hampi and would like to visit it again. As for the blog, watch out for my next post on Nandi Hills, a beautiful place just out of Bangalore.

--------------------------------------End of Hampi Series-----------------------------------------

This is the last leg of my journey in Hampi and i was really tired after strenuous three days in the hot sun. Anegondi is a small place as we see it today, but it must have been pretty big considering that fact that it was once the capital city of the Vijayanagara empire. There are various places one can visit on the way to Anegondi. DSC01394

As mentioned, we need to take the motor boat to cross the river and reach the Virupapur Gadde. There are pretty good accommodations in that area and we can find most of the foreigners staying in there.  The view of the Virupaksha temple side from Virupapur Gadde is amazing. Again there are places where we can take bicycles or mopeds for hire and go around visiting the places. For lack of time  and strength, i took and auto rickshaw here.

The first monument that comes across on the way to Anegondi is the Bukka’s aqueDSC01396duct and an old bridge constructed near it. The Bukka’s aqueduct is the oldest of the water sources of Vijayanagara and had been there since the days of  Harihara, the first king of Vijayanagara. Currently, it is not of use and broken in places. As we move along, we come across rocky areas and stone boulders on either side of the road. There is one hill here and a temple atop it. This hill is named as Anjanadri and its other name is the legendary Kishkindha. It is believed that this is that hill where the empire of the moneys once existed. It is a steep climb of about 1000 steps and because of the lack of time, i could not climb it.DSC01409

Moving along, we come to the Pampa Sarovar. This small lake is covered with Lotuses all through the year and there is an old Siva shrine here.  The pillars of the temple are as old as the ones in Hampi dating the temple to 15th century. There is also a shrine for the Devi in here. Moving along, there is the famous Durga temple which dates to around 13th century. This temple is on a hill where we need to climb some steps. The kings of Vijayanagara were frequent visitors to this temple and special offerings were made during the Dussera festival. It is a very small shrine but a very important one for the locals. Right in front ofDSC01442 the shrine is a small idol of a lion, the vehicle of Goddess Durga.

Moving along, we see some unidentified mantapas on the road and there one particular mantapa where the ceiling piece has fallen on to the ground but the pillars are intact. The ceiling has a beautiful design and one can find that plate in the floor.

Moving on, we enter the little village of Anegondi. There is an entrance that leads to the villagDSC01444e. There must have been many important monuments in this village once upon a time, but today we  only find the Gagan Mahal, the Queen’s palace. This is currently being used as the Village Panchayat Office. This building is constructed as a fusion of Indo - Islamic architecture and is painted, so we cannot know what it looked like in the past. The designs on the windows are clearly of Islamic architecture as we had seen in the Lotus Mahal. There is a small platform to one side of this structure, which is carved with good design.

There is DSC01455a temple just in front of this building which is dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of Vishnu. This is one of the oldest temples of this region considering the pillars and the stone sculptures we find in this temple. This temple is remodelled and the sculptures and pillars we see here are found in the other parts of Anegondi and moved here. The idol of the Ranganatha is in a resting position with a round plate made of brass in the background. There are smaller shrines for the Devi and Alwars (learned men of the age). Near the Dhwajasthamba, there are idols of Garuda (Lord Vishnu’s vehicle) and other gods. DSC01470

Moving on further from this temple, we come across a small lake at which we find an unidentified mantapa on its shore. We cannot reach the mantapa as it is covered with bushes. Moving further we come across the last monument in Anegondi and my journey in Hampi, the Hatchappa Mantapa. The Hatchappa Mantapa is considerably bigger than any of the mantapas we come across in Hampi. It was closed when i reached over there and there are various idols and sculptures in there which were found in various places in Anegondi. There are sculptures of fishermen and other professionals in here. Some of the pillars of this temple are round with good designs on them.

Coming to the end of the tour in Hampi, i return back home…

Saturday, January 9, 2010

As we move from the Achyutharaya Temple towards the Kodandarama temple, we see a big tree with small pieces of cloth with some things inside tied on it. This DSC00751is a local belief that women who have some unfulfilled wishes will have to tie these clothes on to the tree they will be fulfilled. India is a country full of these kind of beliefs. 

Anyway, we reach the Kodandarama temple which looks not so significant. The temple is just near the Tungabhadra river and is on an elevated platform. The construction is recent but there should have been an earlier construction which was destroyed. The idols are made in black and are carved on one side of a giant stone. There is a speciality here.

Normally, whDSC00741en we come across any temple of Lord Rama, there is definitely an idol of Lord Hanuman. But here, bowing to Rama and beside him is Sugreeva, the monkey king. This is a one of its kind temple as we do not see Sugreeva inside a Rama temple. The belief that this area was once Sugreeva’s kingdom Kishkindha adds more weight to his presence here. There is a large open space in front of this temple and every year, the main deity of Hampi, Pampapathi (Virupaksha) is bought here in a procession and Puja is offered here at the Tungabhadra river. I has lucky enough to witness this event when i was in Hampi and this event happens only once in a year.

Right beside this temple is the Yantrodakari Anjaneya (Hanuman) tempDSC00835le. This is very small but extremely important for the locals. Many people throng from other places in India every year. The idol is black and carved on a stone. When i visited  Hampi, there was a special ceremony at this temple for installing silver eyes to the idol. It was wonderful to see the pundits chant hymns and the event occur. Just in front of this temple are a series of old Mantapas and there is a walkway just near the river. Here you can go for a coracle ferry ride on the river. Moving along, we have to walk under two huge stones to walk here. Here you come across the Hampi Swami. He is old andDSC01486 begs for a living.He is the only Swami one can find in Hampi. Walk along on this road and we will turn up on the left of the Monolithic Bull at the end of the Hampi Bazaar.

We then move towards the river on the rear of the Virupaksha Temple. We can find sane charmers here and people taking the holy dip in the river. On the other side of the river is the Virupapur Gadde. There are motor boats which take us there. After reaching Virupapur Gadde, we need to travel around 8 kilometres to reach Anegondi, the capital city of Vijayanagara Kingdom.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Achyutharaya temple is one of the most important and huge temples of Vijayanagara. However, as it is at a distance from the main tourist area, not many people visit here and in the evening it is almost deserted except for the occasional visit of the security guards or couples looking for privacy(it’s sad). This temple can be approached in three ways. As described before, there DSC00773are steps right next to the Monolithic Bull in the Hampi Bazaar which leads to the vast rocky area moving along which, we can reach here. The second way is the one i described earlier, from the Vitthala Temple -> King’s Balance. We will see the third route later.

There is a long road of around 400 meters in front of the temple, called  Achyutharayapete. There are a series of pillared mantapas on either side of this road. There is the temple tank on the right side of the road and this road leads to the northern Mahadwara of the temple complex. It is said that this Mantapas were the business centres for the temple dancers or Devadasis.DSC00776

Located at the foot of the Matanga Hill immediate to the west, this large temple complex is known as Tiruvengalanatha temple from the inscriptions. The temple facing north with the bazaar described earlier as Achyutharayapete was got constructed by Hiriya Tirumalaraya the Mahamandeshwara under the Vijayanagara king, Achyutharaya (1529 - 1542 AD) in the year 1534 AD.

Particularly note worthy is that the temple complex is enclosed with two Prakaras (compounds) and the temple is in the central area of the inner Prakara having three Mahadwaras. The outer Prakara has only one MDSC00783ahadwara, most imposing on the north. The inner sides of the Prakaras, are series of Mantapas with pillars in the facade.

As we enter from the northern Mahadwara, we see another Mahadwara in front. Once we cross this entrance, there is a platform on the left and all that remains here are two pillars. We cannot be sure of the importance of this platform but it looks good. The pillared Mantapas start here and two lions and crocodiles stand  elegantly here. Right in front of the second Mahadwara is the temple. All the pillars of the temple has lions carved oDSC00788n them. We also see a broken idol of a woman greeting in the pillared mantapa that runs all round. The entrance of the temple is guarded by elephants on either side of the steps. The Antarala is guarded by Dwarapalas and even today, they look magnificently beautiful. There are four pillars in the antarala and they are sculpted with Krishna, Vishnu and other gods. There is a small inner sanctum where can only find the stone pedestal on which the idol once resided.

One one side of the temple is an unidentified mantapa which is totally in ruins now except for the some pillars and the two entrance pillars. All the otheDSC00810r structure is in complete ruins and stones here and there. Observing the structure, we may guess that the structure was a hall where the king used to take rest during his visit to the temple. There is also a very beautiful Rangamantapa (dancing hall), where the temple dancers used to perform during festivals. This mantapa is also full of pillars on which various forms of Vishnu were sculpted beautifully.

As mentioned earlier, the Achyutharaya temple is on the foot of the MatIMG_1617anga Hill. We can view this entire temple complex from the top of the hill. In of my earlier posts, i mentioned that i almost scaled the hill but returned back due to the fear of miscreants. The picture shown here is that view, courtesy my friend Ganesh. The whole of the complex is visible. After leaving the temple, we take the same route back till the beginning of the rocky are. Instead of going straight, we turn left and take a narrow path to reach the Kodandarama Temple. This is the third route i mentioned earlier.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The King’s Balance is exactly a balance that the kings of Vijayanagara used to weigh themselves with grains and distribute thDSC00753em among the poor and needy during festivals and important days. This is totally intact and we can even see the rings on top of the balance to which the plates that used to hold the king and the items were hung. 

As we move on from the King’s Balance, we see there are a series of temples in here and most of them are in ruins, some partially destroyed. It is not better to venture inside these temples for the fear of miscreants and weak constructions. Many of the temples are under renovation. The temples are a mixture of Vaishnava and Saiva DSC00747 sects. As we move on we see a two storied gateway just like the one we had seen on the Hemakuta hillock. Here there is a vast open area and the way is rugged with rocks. There are many small unidentified temples and Mantapas on this way. We also see a stone lamppost just in the middle of this vast open area. It is sad to see all the temples in ruins and once again we need to appreciate the work of the Archaeological Survey of India for its commendable job renovating these monuments. We move on this road further to reach the Varaha Temple.

Popularly known as the Varaha temple because of the Varaha Royal emblemDSC00766 at the eastern entrance, this is a unique Saiva temple, built inside a well laid rectangular Prakara. The entire temple is constructed over a Jagati with a sanctum, vestibule and an open Mukhamantapa. The wall portion of the sanctum and vestibule are treated with Devakoshtas. The entrance of the vestibule is treated with Gajalakshmi at lintel and four armed Saiva Dwarapalas at the door frame. Inside the vestibule is placed a couchant bull. The pillars of this temple are treated with sculptures of Karthikeya, Yashoda Krishna, Ganesha, Makara, Hamsamithuna, peacock, Sivalinga, Nandi and various geometrical designs like Padma, Sarpabandha, creepers etc. The raised Jagati also acts as a Pradakshinapatha around sanctum and vestibule. It looks like a simple temple today as the sculptures are worn out and not clearly visible.

We then move on to an important monument in Hampi, the Achyutharaya temple complex.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Right next to the Vitthala temple, is an unidentified Mantapa. The ceiling no longer exists, but we can identify it as a Mantapa with the large door framDSC00862e like entrance to it. Whatever it may be, but i guess it would have been very important as no other pillar in Hampi is as high as this.  There are some other temples here, but they are locked as the internal structure would have been very weak because of the invasion and also nearly 500 years of wear and tear.

Go along the same road, and we reach the Purandaradasa Mantapa. This small simple Mantapa is dedicated to the composer Purandaradasa, who had written and composed many songs on Lord Vishnu. Every year, a music DSC00860 festival is held at this very Mantapa where renowned musicians from various parts of the country take part. A small platform is specially made outside the Mantapa for this event. There is a 2 foot idol of Purandaradasa inside this Mantapa. This is just at the Tungabhadra river shore and the water is shallow, so you can find tourists and locals having a fun bath in the water. Near this mantapa, the width of the river is less and we can find ruins of an old stone bridge on the river.

The Archaeological Survey of India planned to construct a bridge over the river, but was stopped in the middle as United Nations’ advised against it as there should not be any artificial constructions inside a World Heritage Site. We can still find the iron beams for the unfinished bridge. We moDSC00849ve along and we reach a place full of rocks. There is a vast flat section of rocks here and we find the Sugreeva's Cave.

The Sugreeva’s Cave does not look exactly like a cave because its not even big enough let in a small child on two legs. A person has to be on all fours to enter into it. Moreover, the ceiling of the cave is at a height of just 3 feet from the ground. Legend says that the Monkey warrior Sugreeva had resided here when he had been overthrown by his brother Vali. This belief that the Monkey Kingdom, Kishkindha was here supports this belief. There are huge stone boulders at this cave suggesting a big entrance in the Treta Yuga and the roof collapsed in time due to earthquakes. From the Sugreeva’s Cave, we see the river bed and its a nice place to relax in the sand in the evenings. The temple priests offer their Sandhyavandana (puja during sunrise and sunset) here on the river bed. We walk on to the rocks and move ahead to reach the King's Balance.