Hampi, on one side of the Tungabhadra river, has all the Vijayanagara ruins. In this series of Hampi, we will visit the places from Virupaksha Temple to Vittala temple, which can be covered by road.
Given here is the map we covered on the first day.
The first group of temples to visit are the Ganesha, Hemakuta and Virupaksha temple.
1. SASIVEKALU & KADALEKALU GANESHA
Lord Ganesha, the remover of all the obstacles, is the first shrine that we should be visiting in any temple. There are two monolithic Ganesha temples here.
The Sasivekalu Ganesha has a snake tied around his tummy and is found sitting on the lap of Goddess Parvathi. This unique sitting posture can be observed only from behind the statue.
The Kadalekalu Ganesha is named so because his tummy is like a big Kadale (Bengal gram). This Ganesha was huge, really huge, nearly three times the average human size.
They both are in adjacent complexes.
2. HEMAKUTA HILLS
Hemakuta hills is a series of small temples just adjacent to the Ganesha temple on a hillock. Balancing ourselves through the gentle slopes, we explored this cluster which reminded me of the shore temple of Mahabalipuram.
From there, we descended the hillock into the Virupaksha temple.
2. VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE
Virupaksha temple is one of the significant Shiva temples which is still functioning.
To start our morning walk through this big complex was the best decision we made. On either side of the street, ruined bazaars are lined up. Now it only seems to be pillars and rooms made of stones.
At one end of the bazaar is the big monolithic Nandi. It is customary to have a statue of Nandi at the entrance of Shiva temples. Though now the bazaar, the temple, and Nandi are marked as three different ruins to visit, they should have had it as one massive complex!
On entering the Virupaksha temple, we see two praharams. Like many temples of that age, the pillars have extraordinary sculptures. Daily accessories are carved out of stones, and a huge water reservoir made of stone stands at one side.
The roof of the first mandapam has colourful paintings on the ceiling, depicting different stories from mythology. The extraordinary architectural beauty in this temple is that the shadow of the main gopuram falls like an inverted image on the wall! A matchbox-sized opening on the wall is designed so that when the rays pass through them, it creates an inverted image of the gopuram! Fascinating, no?
4. KRISHNA TEMPLE
A little away from the Virupaksha temple is the Krishna temple.
This temple has a big bazaar in the front and a temple tank. History says each bazaar pertained to one particular trade. I couldn't remember which was which, though.
The temple gopuram is badly in ruins, and restoration work is in progress. It was so calm, and as we walked, we could hear our footsteps. So peaceful!
Inside the temple, there are various sculptures and inscriptions. Most of the sculptures you can understand if you know Indian mythology since they depict stories of Krishna or that of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
5. BADAVLINGA & NARASIMHA
A five-minute drive from the Krishna temple leads to the Badavlinga temple. Legend says a poor woman constructed the temple with all the little savings she had and hence the name.
This is a monolithic Linga, and there is always water at the base of the Linga. There are three openings on the roof through which sun rays play over the Linga.
The Lakshmi Narasimha temple is adjacent to the Badavlinga temple. The Lakshmi statue is no longer there now. One can see the broken hand of Lakshmi passing through the hip of Lord Narasimha.
This is again a huge statue almost twice or thrice of average human size. The highlight of the place is that both the statues are situated amidst lush green trees.
6. SARASWATI TEMPLE & UDDANA VEERABHADRA TEMPLE.
Down the road of Badavalinga temple is the Saraswati temple. It is entirely in ruins.
The Veerabhadra temple is a functioning temple and a must-visit. The statue of the Lord is huge and looks like a warrior with a sword and a shield.
It is a small temple on the way so that it can be easily missed out. Keep an eye on the temple to get the Lord's blessings.
A drive from Veerabadra temple leads to the watchtower. Watchtower is a small flight of stairs from where the ruins of Hampi city can be seen. It was like our private Machu Pichu, a ruined city that only the foundations of the walls present.
To the left of the watchtower was the Muslim enclosure. It includes a fort and a mosque. The walk through the place is comfortable as there is seldom any crowd. Walk up to the building at the end and take a left to proceed to the adjacent Hazara Rama temple
8. HAZARA RAMA TEMPLE
It is a beautiful temple. The wall of the compound surrounding the temple is fully sculptured with huge horses and elephants. Inside the temple, the walls are sculpted with stories from Ramayana, which includes the Lava Kusha story as well.
There are the stories of Lord Krishna as well. There are 1000 such sculptures of Rama and hence the name Hazara Rama. The inner sanctum has black polished granite pillars with images of Rama and Krishna sculpted on them. These pillars add more beauty to the temple. Do not miss this place at any cost.
9. UNDERGROUND SHIVA TEMPLE
The underground Shiva temple is called so because the temple is below the ground level!
A flight of stairs leads to the Shiva temple. Two people told two different stories about the temple! Only God knows which is the true one!
One said the temple has an underground passage to the Queen's palace, and she also visited the temple through the same path.
There is always water in this temple. Not just the sanctum sanctorum, but the entire temple is underwater. The guy maintaining the temple told us there is an inlet and outlet for the water, and it is the Tungabhadra river flowing.
When the dam water is released, or during the rainy seasons, the water level rises. One can walk through the cold chill water to the sanctum sanctorum. It is a bit dark with bats flying around, and you will not know where there is a step and where there is not. It is better to have a torch or someone who knows the place to take you along.
10. QUEEN'S BATH
After a quick lunch, we stopped at the Queen's Bath. Man! Weren't they rich people! I looked at that bath and wondered what did they fill it up with?
Water and aromatic oils or milk or rose water or what? It is a vast swimming pool with steps leading in. There is a pipe-like inlet that pours in water, an outlet that can be plugged in to let the water out.
A walkway with windows surrounds it! Imagine all the ladies chilling at the pool. Sigh!!!
11. LOTUS MAHAL & ELEPHANT'S STABLE
The following complex includes the Lotus Mahal and the Elephant'sElephant's stable.
By the side of Lotus Mahal, there is one more stage-like enclosure that is Queen's palace if I remember. Check out the carvings on top of the Lotus Mahal.
Then walking further is the massive Elephant'sElephant's stable! Imagine those huge giants standing in that stables. Huge stables and each dome is of different shape and inside each dome are various carvings.! Imagine the grandeur.
There is a small way between each room in the stable, which pachyderms must have used to move in and out of them. We walked behind the Elephant'sElephant's stable and found that there were many more ruined temples.
Thankfully, the restoration work is in progress.
12. KRISHNADEVARAYA PALACE
Next is Krishnadevaraya's palace. It is a vast complex.
The moment we entered, we saw a vast stage. To me, it looked like they were in the process of constructing a pyramid. But it seems that it was where the dancers and musicians used to perform! So high, I wondered?
Where were the Kings and Queens seated then! Just like how the Dussehra procession is famous in Mysore, in those days, the Dussera procession was famous in Hampi as well, and during the festival, artists performed on this stage.
From there, we proceed towards the stepped tank. The Garden is well-maintained on both sides.
Note: while you walk towards the stepped tank, there will be a line of stone pipes passing through, which you will easily miss thinking them to be some barricades. This series of tubes, made of stone, is strategically placed to form the waterways for the entire kingdom! Interesting, is it not!
They have carved the stones to carry water! And then if you see it, you will realize it is not one straight line! They are placed at angles to keep the free flow of water!! So cool.
The stepped tank is beautiful. You cannot step in.
13. VITTALA TEMPLE
Once we were done with the palace, we headed straight to the Vittala temple.
We had no energy to stop by Bhima's gate. We saw it from a distance and proceeded to the Vittala temple.
Vittala Temple is a significant attraction and hence is also the most crowded place. If you have a bicycle, you can drive to the temple. If you have energy, you can walk down the one and a half kilometre stretch. We did not have both, so we stood in line for the buggy!
If you walk down, you will find small ruined shrines on the way, a bazaar, and a temple tank. If you take a buggy, you can go directly to the temple. Do take a guide, for there are plenty of stories here.
Once you enter the main gopuram, you would get to see the famous Hampi Stone Chariot. Since this is a Vishnu Temple, inside the chariot is Lord Garuda. It is said that the stone wheels were movable but now, to avoid the wheels from getting damaged, they are cemented.
If you look under the wheels or the top of the chariot, we can see it is coloured using natural dyes. So once upon a time, the whole chariot must have been in brilliant colours, which must have worn out with the weather. The chariot was initially being pulled by horses which seem missing now.
Moving to the main mandapa are the marvellous musical pillars. Blessed are those who must have heard the sounds of the pillar! Now restoration work is going on, so you cannot even climb atop.
It is unimaginable to think! imagine —
Both the musician and the sculptor went around looking for the suitable rocks that make the perfect sound. Then they made pillars with varied size, depth, and thickness to produce the right music.
There was one ordinary pillar that the guide struck to depict the difference in sound. It was a technological marvel! More than what people of this age can even think of.
The main sanctum sanctorum is just rubble.
Another exciting thing the guide told us was that the Chinese did horse-trading here. Did they come all the way here to do horse-trading? Sculptures are running along the bottom of the musical pillars mantap, which shows Chinese men bringing in the horses and our men examining it. Even the roof of the temple has a touch of Chinese pagoda style. Hmmm, interesting!
There is a Kalyana mantapa, musician's court, and a hundred pillar hall. I don't remember which one. I think the marriage hall has a huge full bloom lotus sculpted in the roof.
If you walk from the outermost entrance of the hall to the centre, there are carvings of a lotus blooming at various stages! Lovely!
Behind the temple is the king's balance. We then rushed to catch the buggy and head to sunset point.
14. MALYAVANTHA HILL/ SUNSET POINT
Malyavantha hill has the religiously important Rama temple called Raghunatha temple. In this temple, Rama and Lakshamana, looking like saints with curled up hair and beaded garland, are seen in a sitting posture.
Sita Devi is standing by the side. The priest said this is the temple or where Rama is meditating and is worried about missing Sita Devi. Meanwhile, lord Anjaneya is in front of the Lord, showing Him the jewels thrown down by Sita Devi.
Pooja is done in North Indian style. Don't know why!
Behind the temple are boulders after boulders. Find one, lay your back, enjoy the panoramic view of Hampi, feel the breeze, and watch the sunset.
We were not very lucky to see a good sunset. Also, it is not a very peaceful place as crowds start to gather here to watch the sunset, and it gets very noisy.
15. ACHUTARAYA TEMPLE
Achutaraya Temple complex is located along the Tungabhadra river. This place can be reached only by walking from Virupaksha to the Vittala temple complex.
On the way to the temple is Kodanda Rama temple, yanthrodara Anjaneya, Ranganthar temple. In front of the Achutaraya temple complex are the huge bazaar and a dried-up temple tank.
The temple has two praharams, and the gopurams are almost ruined. Since this place is approachable only by walk, it is less crowded and peaceful—a must-visit place for lovely photographs.
Through the doors of the temple, you can see at a distance the beautiful Anjanadri and the river flowing before it.
Most of the places take a minimal fee of 10 rupees. The Vittala temple needs a guide. The rest you can manage. Monkeys cause an absolute menace in the Virupaksha temple and Malyavantha hills.
This brought us to the end of day one at Hampi.
The Anegudi side is covered in the coming series. The rest of the temple in the walkable stretch is also covered in the forthcoming series.
Happy Hamping.. Hampi for the religious - Hampi Series III - For the Religious