“In the end, the character of a civilisation is encased in its structure”
HAMPI! What are the first thoughts that come to your mind when you hear this name? I have faint memories of when I was a kid, my parents taking me to a temple here at Hampi. Without any further ado, I remember heading to Badami, Aihole and back to Bangalore and finish off seeing all these places in two days. Twenty- something years later, who would have thought I’d go back to re-discover what this holy – hippie – happy place called Hampi holds that would leave me with memories that would pull my mind and heart back to it again and again?
When my friends suggested me to visit this place, I thought ‘Huh! Hampi? Really?”. I must say, my perception about this place changed during my recent trip
I took time off in between jobs before taking my current assignment at the Indian School of Business. I was bored over the weekdays, my husband who is mostly held up with gigs throughout the week didn’t have much commitments at work during that week. So, we (I) planned a random road trip to Hampi. We didn’t want to drive at night, hence started at about 12 noon on a Thursday. We hit the highway towards Mehboobnagar – Bhutpur – Raichur – Sindhanur – Hospet. We stopped by for an hour for lunch at The Hill Park hotel. This is a decent place for you to charge up with good food. Food is goooood! You can order pretty much anything and can be sure it’ll be good. There are other retail chain outlets like Thickshake Factory, Baskin Robbins and Cafe Coffee Day in this drive-in restaurant.
Pitstop at Hill Park.
Recommendation : We started by noon, hence, got caught in the highway traffic. I’d recommend one starts early in the day. A 7 – 8 hr drive to Hampi took us 10 hrs. The Raichur highway road is not that great. The traffic will only add to it. The other way to reach Hampi is take a bus / train to Hospet and hire a cab or take a bus to Hampi.
We booked our stay at Clarks Inn. This is a 3 star hotel with excellent amenities. After a long drive through Hospet, getting lost in places which had sign boards of Sloth Bear, we reached our hotel. As we entered the reception 10 pm that day, the staff gave us a warm welcome and gave keys to our room without any hassles. What’s noteworthy about this hotel’s reception is that the floor is made of glass. Under the glass lies a pond with fishes. After a long drive with husband playing some of Above & Beyond’s music, it wasn’t that tiring after all. We retired for the day after having sumptuous dinner at the hotel. Being the only decent hotel in the centre of the town, food was priced on the higher side which is acceptable. There is also a popular joint about 100 mts from the hotel, towards the junction/ circle that serves authentic North Karnataka food. You can choose to have one meal during your stay if the ambiance is not a concern.
Our hotel stat at Hampi and the glass floor with Fishies.
The next day started rather early. We had breakfast in our room and hit the road to explore the historic side of Hampi by 10 am. I wasn’t always interested in history. Umm, except, may be, while watching Bajirao Mastani! Well, after a short ride, we met a local guide who told us that we will not be able to understand what Hampi has in store until we hire a guide. His line instantly convinced us and we are glad we hired him. There’s so much hidden in Hampi’s architecture which happens to be King Krishnadevaraya’s kingdom. He, for sure, was one king who lived up his life in the most pompous way. Hampi was later ruined by the Moghuls and the ruins are beautiful to look at.
Also, it is believed that this is the place where the mythical monkey warrior, Sugreeva lived. He used the cave to hide the jewels dropped by Sita, when the demon king Ravana abducted her. Later Sugreeva met Rama & Laxmana nearby the riverside searching for Sita.
Tip : Hire the local guides who have a license and are government authorised. There are several reasons. But, just do. They charge anywhere between ₹1,100 to ₹1,500 for a day and try to fit in all places in one day. This includes – Sri Virupaksha Temple, Vitthala Comples, Queen’s bath,Achutaraya Temple, Monoithic Bull, Mathanga Hill, Hemakuta Hill Temple, Ugra Narasimha Statue, King’s Balance and the place where Lord Krishnadevaraya used to host Dussera for his kingdom’s citizens.
The first place we head to was the Vitthala Temple complex or the stone chariot temple as it is popularly known as. My My! It took me about 3 hours to get to know the story of the place and I believe, I could only cover about 50% of it. Every tree, every pillar, every carving and every stone has a story behind it and, it is not just any story. Every art here is supported by science. It makes one wonder how brilliant our ancestors might have been in an era where there was no electricity, but diamonds and gemstone to light up temples and palaces. This temple is popular for its Musical Pillars. Back in their time, court-men would gather around different pillars and play music on them by tapping it with their fingers. Pillars are made in such a way that each of it gives out the sound of a different instrument like Mrudangam, Tabla, Sitar etc. It was closed for renovation, but our guide was kind enough to take us to a pillar that served the same purpose, but was hidden. We were amazed to see how it works.
King Krishnadevaraya : The animal he is sitting on is carved in such a way that it looks like a different animal – a horse, frog, elephant or lion from every other angle you look at.
King Krishnadevaraya’s darbar with Musical Pillars.
Bird’s eye view of the temple
The complete story of Ramayana has been imbibed in their architecture.
To reach this temple, we have to take a buggy ride and pass by a path that was earlier a marketplace. The structures are thousands of years old that any vehicle entering the premises causing slightest vibration destructs the buildings, hence the only ride we could depend on was a buggy car.
Standing under a 150 year old tree.
Walking ahead of the King’s Balance here, I found my Happy Place by the river side. Sitting on the rocks by Tungabhadra river, watching the fish play around.
What’s life without some of his drama?
Lotus Mahal – where the queen would stay when her husband is away! This place is equipped with natural air conditioning facilities.
Queen’s bath – There is nothing that screams luxury like these pools.
Don’t forget to take blessings from Elephant Lakshmi at Sri Virupaksha Temple.
Sri Virupaksha Temple.
After a long day of exploring Hampi ruins and roaming aroound the town, we head to Mango Tree for dinner. A must visit place too unwind with best food in town.
The next day, we planned to explore the other side of Hampi, the hippie side of it. One can either take a coracle boat ride. We decided to drive for 1.5 hours to reach this place which is actually a 10 minute boat ride from Sri Virupaksha Temple. We are glad we drove all the way. We happened to witness nature’s rich beauty. As we reached ‘Hippie Island’ as it is popularly known, I did a graffiti trail. Foreigners who come here do graffitti art on the walls across the lane. Check the pictures below :
All set for the day!
Shanthi Guest House not to be confused with the popular one. This is a small joint that serves amazing food, has a garden, hammocks, river flowing in front of the restaurant, in short, pure bliss.
Nutella Coconut Pancake.
One of the best thalis I’ve ever had.
The pet dog at this place posed when I pulled out my camera. Majestic!
Pictures from my Grafitti Trail :
As you enter hippie island, you see green paddy field on one hand and shacks serving food, beer and shisha on the other side. Go to any of these shacks, order food, soak in the nature, read a book, meet new people or do nothing. There are petty shops that sell funky clothes, jewelry and interesting music instruments. If you are lucky, you can score some stuff. This place is perfect to laze around. Here are some pictures captured at one of the Shack we visited – Nargila.
At the end of the day, we were rejuvenated. The place, weather, company and everything else were just perfect put a perfect end to the day. We want to carry this feeling back to Hyderabad. We left by 7 pm from Nargila to our hotel.
In case you plan to visit Hampi, you might want to dress modestly. This place is definitely not as convenient like Goa, so one can only expect basic facilities but not luxury necessarily. Phalgun & I loved this place so much that we wish to go to this place again. The best time to visit is from October – February, else the place gets too warm.
The feeling of lazing around here is priceless. Hampi is highly recommended to those who want to unwind in a literal sense. Nothing much to do in the town of Hampi leaves you with exploring the place to bits. There are many other places that I haven’t covered in this blog, though I visited these places like the Kadlekalu Ganesha, Narasimha Swami statues, Sasivekalu Ganesha, Sunset Point, Anjanadri Peak and several other places that the guide will tell you about.
I know that many of my friends have been to Hampi. I would love to hear from about your experience. Do let me know in the comment box. If you have any questions about Hampi, about the stay, food or anything else, you can write to me at email@example.com
I’m off planning my next trip to Pune for the Vh1 Supersonic and to catch up with my long lost friends who live in Pune.
Take care until then xo
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