Hampi, a village in northern Karnataka, with surreal boulder-strewn landscape intermingled by bright emerald green paddy fields, the incredible ruins, the lonely banks of Tungabhadra, and lanes lined with bohemian cafes that emanates the hippie vibe, is a haven to travellers. According to historical memoirs, the city of Hampi was once regarded by travellers as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world” centuries ago, before it was pillaged, looted and burnt for months together until only ruins remained. Yet the history and the architecture of Hampi is quite significant and the city falls into UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Well, our journey started with Sasivekalu Ganesh. We witnessed a beautiful 12 feet high monolithic structure of Ganesha installed in what is called an open mantap. If you look closely you will see that the idol of Ganesha has a serpent tied around his stomach. According to Hindu mythology, one day Lord Ganesha, who is famous for his love for food, consumed a lot due to which his stomach was on the verge to burst open. To prevent that he caught hold of a snake and tied it around his stomach.
Next, we strolled towards the Virupaksha Temple. It is quite a mystery as to who built it. Legend has it that Pampadevi has undergone tapasya here at the temple to impress Lord Shiva. Shiva then appeared before her in the form of Shivaling, promising to stay there forever. This idol of Shivaling is Virupaksha.
We spent a long time moving around this place which has a lot of small temples and a famous elephant called Lakshmi, who gives people her blessings. I bought bananas for Lakshmi, but sadly, the naughty monkeys hovering around snatched it all away from me.
Another notable place to visit that you can’t miss out on is the Elephanta Stable which was the royal residence of the royal elephants. There are small doors in between to go from one shelter to another. The elaborate structure indicates the importance that was given to the royal elephants in those days. Built in the Indo-Islamic style, this is a fine example of the beautiful artistry of Vijayanagar artisans.
A few kilometres away can be found the ancient Stepped well. These wells or water tanks were built to be used for ritual bathing and cleansing before the prayers as well as for ceremonies like visarjan of idols. This is a beautiful structure among the ruins of this abandoned city.
Our next destination was The Stone Chariot at the Vitthala Temple. This structure, built in the 16th century is a jewelled spot. It’s a shrine dedicated to Garuda. The Vijayanagar kings were inspired by the sun temple at Konark in Orissa and built a similar one here. The Stone Car is carved on a single hard granite rock. It represents beauty and artistic perfection of the Vijayanagar Empire. The base is engraved with mythical battle scenes in quite a detail with figures of soldiers, hunters, riders, Portuguese, Arabs and Persians carved into it. Interestingly, some people strongly believe that the world would come to a halt when the chariot moves from its place.
A detour to the Sanapur lake is totally worth your time. The fascinating coracle ride is the main attraction, but even without it just sitting by the lake on the rocks is soothing enough.
From the lake, we hurried our way to reach the Anjaneya hill as there was no way we were going to miss the sunset that evening. Anjaneya Hill or Anjani Parvat is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. There is a small temple of Hanuman at the hill whose outside walls are white in colour and is easily spotted from down below. To visit the temple as well as to watch the view of a beautiful sunset, we climbed 575 steps and reached this point. As you sit on the rocks you can see patches of paddy fields, marvellous tree plantations and the whole of the ruins of Hampi stretching into the horizons.
Hampi isn’t just about the historical structures, the temples and the architecture, the city also is a huge attraction for the bohemian style. If you and your friends are all about the hippie culture, you would find it a delight to visit the lit up cafes and shacks. You’ll know you are in the right direction when you find yourself on narrow lanes with walls spray-painted with abstract art by unknown artists. So chill out and relax at the cafes before you leave this city and enjoy the vibe!
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