Friday, November 11, 2011

Tribute to Hampi

A group of 9 people, myself, my better half, my parents, my better half's parents, my sister, my better half's brother and sister-in-law, decided to go to Hampi, the former capital of the Vijayanagara(City of Victory) Empire. Presently we have only the ruins, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was actually I who choose the place, they had very little idea about Hampi, but at the end of the tour we were all very happy for the tour to Hampi. I thought the best way I can pay tribute to Hampi is by writing about our trip to Hampi and our experiences.

After a successful one day roaming in Bangalore, the entire group started off to Hampi. We boarded the Hampi Express from Bangalore @ 22:00. Since the day involved lot of travelling, we were very tired, so everyone slept well in the train, it was good as we badly needed a good rest so that we regain the energy to spend it in Hampi, as we had just heard that it involves lot of walking.

After getting down @ Hospet, we took 2 autos to Hospet Bus Stand and from there a Bus to Hampi. The ticket charge was high compared to Tamilnadu, but it was okay, after all we are heading towards one of the UNESCO’s Heritage Site. And the travel was very pleasant as we see lot of streams on the way, a big lake and finally we could sense that we are nearing Hampi as we started seeing the ruins of Vijayanagar Kingdom. I could imagine how it would have been during the golden days of the Vijayanagara Kingdom. And I am sure we are all excited to roam around Hampi.

Day 1 @ Hampi:

We reached the Vishnu Guest house, a part of their home is converted as rooms for Tourists and they charge Rs. 500 per day. It is value for money kind of Guest house, very clean and with minimum facilities, bed, masquito net, clean toilets. And since you are only going to go there for sleep, it is really a good option.

Get more details from here: http://www.google.co.in/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCYQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.holidayiq.com%2FVishnu-Guest-House-Hampi-hotel-7786.html&ei=jiV0TtbyGcq4rAfrvum_Aw&usg=AFQjCNFs8WbQKN3AU_uhZiR6m97Cw7QcWw

We got ready and searched for good hotels for breakfast. We did not find anything but the under the tree hotels. Though the taste was good, everything was getting over as we went very late for the breakfast. And for breakfast for tourists, that is the only source of food. Do not miss the Mirchi Bajji, as it is made of real green chilli, very spicy.

After the breakfast, we started searching for autos to roam around Hampi, since they know most of the people are tourists, they simple said, 120 Rs, per head, for an hour, G’s dad was efficient in negotiating, so he came down to 700 Rs for whole day. We talked to our guest house owner, Sasidhar and found out that the rate is still high. So we further negotiated, to settle @ 500 Rs per day. We took two auto rickshaws.

We started off with Kadalekalu Ganesha:

It is a huge monolithic statue, of 15 ft high, the room was small for the statue that the backside of the statue was so dark that we were afraid to go behind. We did not have the torch light and the light coming from our mobile was very less. We found a foreigner, who helped us with her torch, so we went behind and saw. The back side of Gaensha was also perfectly carved with the Poonool and dress. And the pillared Mantapa in front of the temple was also very good with sculptures in its pillars.

Krishna Temple

We were very impressed with the Kadalekalu Ganesha itself. Actually whenever you go for tour, the first place that you visit should be a very good one, and then you will psychologically be boosted or charged up for the rest of the day. Then we proceeded to the Krishna temple. All elderly people directly went inside the temple, but I, G, Somu and Vidhya went to the opposite side of the temple, which are the Krishna Bazar and Pushkarani.

Me n G @ Krishna Bazaar & Me @ Pushkarani

Somu Bawa, Vidhya and G near the Mysterious container

Then opposite to the temple only, we saw this; don’t know what it was used for, but really an interesting structure. G said, probably it was used as food container, in that case don’t know why is it kept @ the road.

Then we proceeded to the Krishna Temple, by this time the elderly people have completed exploring the Krishna temple and proceeded towards the next one. But we explore much more that we took really lot of time to each and every detail, actually that is not as detailed as it should be seen.

Krishna temple was built by Krishnadevaraya in 1513 AD, but the temple was not named after him, but after the God Bala Krishna. But the shrines are not there. For more details about Krishna temple, please click here. It is stone everywhere, we have to spend lot of money for buying stones for concrete. But here it is stone everywhere and they had built the entire city, Hampi out of stones.

We, in front of Krishna Temple

Lakshmi Narasimha

After exploring the Krishna Temple, we proceeded towards the Lakshmi Narasimha temple. Our elders had finished it by then and were sitting to take Tender Coconut. We went inside, it is the largest monolithic statue in Hampi, where Narasimha, the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is sitting on the coil of seven headed snake, Sesha. The statue is severely damaged that even the Lakshmi sitting on Narasimha’s left lap was missing. A local person told that earlier people were allowed inside and tourists used to climb and sit on the head of the snake too for taking the picture and it was causing further damages and now no one is allowed to go near the statue. These monuments must be protected, our ancestors have created something that stand for centuries and we definitely cannot create something like this now, but we can for sure protect them and let our future generation witness the history of India. Some more details can be found here.

Badavi Linga

This Shiva Linga is just adjacent to Lakshmi Narasimha, probably in those olden days, the naughty Saivargal placed the Linga adjacent to Narasimha(or Vainavargal placed Narasimha adjacent to Linga), don’t know, but one thing is sure that for long time they had been fighting like India and Pakistan now. So as part of their rivalry, they might have done that. And this Shiva Linga is made of one single stone and it is illuminated by natural Sun light. And the water that we see here is circulated constantly as it is connected to a canal.

Underground Siva Temple

We @ underground Shiva Temple

For some mysterious reason, this temple is built several meters below the ground level. And because of the reason, many parts of the temple including the Sanctum are under the water and even now when we visited, the water was there that we could not reach the Sanctum. Though the Gopuram is all destroyed over the period of time, the basement of the Gopuram is still intact as it is built using Stones and I didn’t miss to do my monkey actions there.

And generally the Amma Temple will be on the left hand side of the Shiva Temple, but in this place, we saw that the Amman Temple is placed at the right hand side of the Shiva Temple. And in both the temple, the shrine is not there.

The picture above is stone carving ofthe Cow doing Palabisheham for Shiva Linga. We have read this in the Devotional stories. There are many more such stories that are carved in the Pillars.


Next we proceeded towards the Elephant-Stables, the row of domed chambers, where the Royal elephants used to be parked. The middle one was little bigger, may be for King Elephant, 5 chambers were at both sides, and each of them following the Islamic Architecture. Behind each chamber, a small entry is there, probably used by mahouts to enter. It is simply amazing when we imagine the life of the Kings during the ancient days and how strong these architectures would have been built that they stand majestically even after multiple centuries. Now we build apartments that go inside the soil after 2-3 years and I am just calculating how much extra money we have to pay for Car Parking while buying a flatJ.

Commander Hall

We @ the Commander Hall & Ranganathar in Sleeping position in Museum.

On the left side of the Elephant-Stables is this structure and I could not get the history behind this structures, but only the name. Now there is a small museum, where the olden days shrines, photographs of Hampi @ different years and some olden days coins are displayed.

Lotus Mahal

This one was built for the Queen(read first Queen :P) and it is a two storied structure. The structure resembles the Lotus and hence the name. The pillars have space inside it, in which water will be filled, so that the room is kept very cool for the Queens. This Mahal was built for the first queen and then adjacently another Mahal was built for the second Queen.

The second one was built with stone platform and sandalwood structure. And during a fire accident, the entire structure was burnt and only the platform remains. That is what we see in the last picture above.

And one more thing about the Lotus Mahal is that in the ground floor, the arches are placed in such a way that from all four sides, the other side can be seen. The carvings available in the arches are same too.

Hazara Rama Temple

The temple is known for the Ramayana carvings on its walls and don’t miss the carvings on the black stone inside the temple. They look new and fresh. For more detail, please refer here.

They are simply mesmerizing sculptures carved on the stone. Two eyes are simply not sufficient to witness the beauty of these monuments. We are really gifted to visit such a beautiful place.

Mahanavami Dibba and Stepped Well

Mahanavami Dibba is also called as Dasara Dibba, a huge platform set using stones. Probably a structure also existed above the platform, but no trace is left. This structure was used for Dasara celebrations and hence the name. At the back side too there were steps, probably used by the King to ascend the platform, the steps at the front, might have been used by the common people. And as usual the sides of the basement are covered with carvings.

And the stepped well, also called Pushkarani, is another fascinating structure. But I have no idea, why the steps are constructed in this style. And from different place, the water flows into this well, via pipes carved out of stone. Have you even seen a stone pipe? Please go and check out in Hampi at this place.

When we have stone pipe, cannot we have stone door. Yes we can, we have door carved out of Stone. Its stone everywhere, we will further see an unimaginable item, carved out of stone.

Queen's Bath

Next we moved to the place where the Queens used to take bath J. When the Queens are having bath, the servants(female) used to drop flowers in the water from the surrounding, for fragrance. There were holes for the water to enter and exit. The seat was also carved in stone and there was a place where they dry themselves in the sun.

After visiting the Queen’s bath, we had a pathetic lunch @ a Tourism hotel and then proceeded to witness the Tungabhadra River. It was awesome to see such a big river.

Tungabadhra River & King's Balance

In place near the river, we saw the King’a balance, where the kings would weight gold and silver against themselves and donate them to the temples. They used to do this on a full moon day.

Vithala Temple

Vithala Temple and the Stone Chariot

Then we moved to the very famous, Vithala Temple. It was about to be closed, the guard was not ready to allow us, after a lengthy bargaining, we could get in. Here is where the iconic structure, the symbol of Hampi, Stone Chariot is placed.

Musical Pillars in the Sangeetha Mantapa with Stone hooks at the top

Then we were stunned to see and know about the Musical Pillars in the Sangeetha Mantapa. Here the pillars are organized to produce the 7 Swarams of Karnatic Music and it can be played by the bare hands. I could not understand how it works. One British officer during their regime, cut one of the pillars to see if there is any hollow in the pillar, but it was solid. It is still a mystery even in this advanced technology world. But now the public are not allowed to touch it, as they are getting damaged.

And in the Mantaps, we saw the hooks for hanging the lamp and curtains, not metal hooks, stone hooks; yes the hooks were also made of stone carvings. And we came via the Vithala bazaar, series of space for different shops, in ruins. Probably once, gold and diamonds were sold from those shops. With that our first day in Hampi got over.

Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha Temple & Tungabadhra River

The second day was awesome too. We first started with a visit to Virupaksha temple, the one and only ancient temple in Hampi, where the Pooja happens. This is one form of Lord Shiva, we had Darshan there and visited the Tungabhadra River too.

HemaKutta Hills & Gayathri Pete

Then comes the important item, which our parents liked very much, the visit to the Shri Gayathri Pete at the Hema Kutta hills. This is the mutt for Devanga community people, being the Devangar, they were very happy to visit the Matt. But the guru was not there, we visited the Sowdamma temple and the mutt; also we enquired the details for staying there.

The only other item on our agenda was to visit the Tungabhadra Dam. We hired a 9 seater auto rickshaw J and started travelling to the Dam. The travel by auto rickshaw was different; we always roam around in car for visiting the sites, but Hampi had only auto rickshaws and 9 people in one single auto rickshaw was good; myself and G like it very much. G was just mentioning that it would be nice if we travel some more distance in that auto rickshaw. When we reached there, we realized that we were left with so much of time, so we bargained with him for a decent price for taking us to the other side of Hampi. Coincidentally, G's wish got fulfilled.

Tungabadhra Dam

I must say that the dam was so huge that the other side could not be seen from here and there were 32 shutters and all were open. They had enormous amount of water that all 32 shutters are open. At that time in TN, sufficient water was not there for farming. But now after heavy rainfall, all dams, lakes and rivers are full and flowing.

After the dam, he took us directly to the Nava Brindhavan,which means 9 tombs of saints, where the 9 saints were buried. These 9 saints were the predecessors of Sri Raghavendra. The more about Nava Brindhavan can be found here, http://aalayamkanden.blogspot.com/2010/12/navabrindavan-anegundi.html. But the concern was, we could not reach this place, as this is in the middle of the Tungabhadra River and there was full of water that the ferry service to this place was cancelled. We could not reach to the 64 pillared Mantapa also, as it was submerged in water, but we could see the top of the Mantapa, which is also about to be submerged in the water.

64 Pillared Matapa submerged in the Tungabadhra River

We were very disappointed and on the way back, he took us to the Vaali Parvatha, the place where Vaali stayed and meditated. He just dropped us at the bottom, some people were not ready to climb, so they stayed back and the rest all walked up to the temple and we found a nice elderly person. He took us to the Vali’s cave, where he sat and did meditation. Then to a Ganesh temple, where one can only sit and move forward, it is beneath a big rock. Then he asked if we were interested in going up further. When nobody showed any interest, I dragged him to go to the top, since others are left with no option, they followed us too.

Trek on Vaali Parvatha and a small fort on the top

That was a little trek and we all enjoyed. From the top the view was very good and the wind was also blowing at a very high speed. And he showed us the 6 feet tall, snake’s place. This person use to do Pooja every day in the snake’s place. From the top, we saw a temple and we visited that temple too after we came back.

Way to Kishkintha Hill and the view from the top

After this we moved to the Kishkintha Hill, the birth place of Hanuman Ji. It’s an awesome hill with 600+ steps. All of us climbed, and the people at the top were very friendly. They gave us very good Tea, which was very refreshing for us. After the Darshan, we came back. We saw a small stream was running, where we washed our face and freshened up. With that all the sites in Hampi were covered and everyone in the group was very happy. The auto-rickshaw driver dropped us in the Hospet Railway station for our return journey.

Everyone should visit Hampi atleast once!!!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Last trip of the year 2007

Lets go here, there...how many people are coming, lets make the hotel bookings...lets plan the logistics.. after all confusions, it was just 2, me n Anish who were ready to leave. We decided to go to Kolleru Birds Sanctuary and Godavari Sagara Sangamam, to complete the 2007 with a great note and welcome 2008.

On the cold Saturday, 29th Dec morning, we started towards Vijayawada. The plan is to reach Vijayawada for lunch, stop @ every 50 KM or @ some nice places.

We stopped for breakfast, near a dam kinda place and near a flower garden to take some nice photographs.

With all this we were on track. Reached AP Tourism hotel @ Vijayawada @ 1:30 PM which is located beside the Krishna river. Blessed with heavy hunger and poor service, we finished our lunch took some rest in the garden there for sometime.

And in every stop Anish didnt forget to call Jai n Saga, frustrate them and calling them to come and join.

Finally we left from there @ 4 and decided to stay @ Elluru. Once we reach Elluru, called Pavan and asked him to find out some nice hotels. Anish initially wanted to go to Kolleru only and find out if some hotels are there to stay...but when we reached Elluru, he also was too tired and put up in Vasanta Mahal, recommended by Pavan.

It just took 10 mins for me to have bath, when I came out I was afraid that the nearby room folks could complain about our room, because Anish was in SOUND sleep.

After bath, we both wanted to go around the town, find out the route to Antarvedi(Godavari Sagara Sangamam) and have dinner. We found one hotel, dono how good the food would be, but entered. On seeing no other customer in the hotel, the debate was whether we were early to the hotels or the hotel food is too bad.

But actually the food was amazing, very cheap compared to Hyderabad, tasting good, lasting even after we are full. It seems the food in places other than Hyderabad in AP are cheap and tasty.

The next day, 30th Dec morning 7 AM we started towards Antarvedi, travelled thru the mists.

While crossing a bridge, we found a way to get into Godavari river, didnt wanna miss that.

Then started again, thanks to the mesmerizing express highways that we were just 25KMs away from Rajamundry. Thats when we realized, we are going in the wrong direction, then asked people and came to the diversion that we had to take.

From there we travelled thru the villages and wherever we were going, a stream was also going either on your either sides or on either of the sides. So far I was thinking that the whole AP is a dry area, coz i have not been to any places other than Hyderabad and its surroundings. But now I realize the AP has more water than TN and its green everywhere.

After missing the route for 2 more times, we finally reached the Sangamam, where we saw the huge, beautiful and empty beach.The whole beach is yours, the dead turtles and red crabs will give you a nice company too.

We spent about 2 hours, roaming around, taking photographs, having dip, seeing both Godavari and Bay of Bengal in the same place, having birds eye view from the lighthouse there, Anish checking if his lense cap will be broken or not if he drops it from there. We started from there @ around 5 PM.

While return we again missed the route, asked here and there, we finally reached Elluru @ 9 PM, again had food @ the same place.

The next day, 31st morning, again we started @ 7 to Kolleru birds sanctuary. On the way, we found a bridge crossing the lake, where we could find some birds and Anish had chance to explore the photograhy skills.

But in the actual Kolleru, there were no birds, we just had boating for 1 hour, came to know from the fisherman there that the lake is being destroyed and no birds come these days. Actually we felt that the tourism can be developed there. The lake was so beautiful.

We came back to Elluru @ around 12:30 and we started from there by 1:15 PM, we reached Vijayawada and I badly wanted to have lunch, coz my headache was increasing, but Anish had just Banana milk shakes. We started again.

Till this point everything was fine, not much tiring. But from there it was very tiring. In just 20 mins only, it was paining to sit in the bike. Still managed to ride and some 30 KMs before the city we had a Reliance A1 Dhaba, where the new year party was going on. I had a full fledged dinner there, but Anish again had some salad and sweets only.

Finally I reached home @ 11 PM. It was full of traffic on the roads, music and boozing on the bachelor's homes and girls making 'KOLAM' in front of their homes. But I had some other special activity to do, so I didnt involve in any of those.