Clueless as to where the sunset point is, we were climbing the Hemkuta hill. It was 6 pm already! The fear of missing out on the famous sunset of Hampi was creeping in, as we rushed towards the top of the hill. Finally, we reached the top and sat waiting for getting a glimpse of the setting sun, the sound of cool breeze filled the atmosphere with a strange music. The Sun God had decided to cover itself in the cloak made of clouds giving the sky an orange hue which perfectly matched with the colour of ruins and boulders around us. We delved into our own ocean of thoughts, absorbing in the moment we had been waiting for quite a long time. This trip to Hampi had been planned and postponed a zillion times and finally it had come to reality.
Hampi stands witness to the history of rise and fall of Vijaynagara Empire, which was one of the largest and most important kingdoms in Indian history. It also has strong mythological roots attached to it. Hampi is also believed to be the Kishkindha Vanara kingdom and birth place of Lord Hanuman in Hindu mythology. Once a flourishing kingdom, the place is now a UNESCO world heritage site lined with temples and boulders all around. The city has got a strangely laid back vibe with limited number of restaurants and guest houses run by the locals, with very basic facilities available on reasonable rates.
Starting with hogging on veg south Indian thali at Mango Tree restaurant, we set out on a day exploring history and mythology associated with this temple town.
Talking about the major tourist attractions, I would say, every boulder in Hampi has a history associated with it. But, like most of us, we also had only a weekend to explore this hamlet. Hence, we decided to hire an auto-rickshaw for entire day. The best way of moving around in Hampi is by bicycle though. Bicycles and mopeds can be hired for entire day for very nominal charges.
I am listing out few of the tourist attractions of this city of ruins.
Kadalekalu Ganesha Temple: This temple is located very close to Hampi Bazaar and the huge idol of Lord Ganesha in this temple is carved out of a single rock.
Vijaya Vitthala Temple: This temple of Lord Vishnu is the largest and one of the historically most important temples of Vijayanagara empire. The chariot in this temple is recently attracting crowd after getting featured on the new Rs 50 note. Hiring a guide is highly recommended in this temple as the temple stands witness to the history and grandeur of the emperor Shri Krishnadeva Rai’s reign.
Achyutaraya Temple: This is another temple of Lord Vishnu in Hampi. There is also a temple of Lord Hanuman located in the temple complex. The view from the backside of this temple is breathtaking.
Queen’s bathing place and Zanana enclosure: These are the places where the queens of Vijaynagara empire used to live.
Royal Enclosure: Royal enclosure was the place from where the king of Vijaynagara empire ruled from. It consists of durbar halls, platform, tanks, underground chambers and temples. Major attractions here are stepped tank, network of stone pipes connecting wells and ponds, the royal platform known as Mahanavami Dibba which was used during Navami celebrations, Hazara Rama temple, etc.
Lakshmi Narsimha Temple: Lakshmi Narsimha temple complex houses the monolithic idol of Lakshmi Narsimha which is often mistaken as Ugra Narsimha since the idol is damaged. Adjacent to the Lakshmi Narsimha statue, the temple of Lord Shiva known as Badavalinga is located. The sanctum in which the Linga is installed is always filled with water.
Badavalinga temple of Lord Shiva located next to Lakshmi Narsimha statue
Virupaksha Temple: This is the main attraction of Hampi, located in Hampi Bazaar area. This temple of Lord Shiva is an architectural masterpiece. The temple also has a friendly elephant named Lakshmi. The temple looks magnificent at night with the lightings, and the atmosphere is filled with sound of evening prayers and bhajans.
Virupaksha Temple in the morning
Lakshmi, the friendly temple elephant
Hemkuta Hill: This is a temple complex and a popular sunset point located right next to Virupaksha Temple. Since, we were too tired to climb Matanga hill, we decided to witness sunset at Hemkuta hill. Although the sun was covered with clouds, the sheer delight of sitting in silence amidst the ruins and boulders, looking at the cloudy sky was unparalleled.
Virupaksha Temple from the top of Hemkuta Hill
Anjani Hill: This is supposed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman. We had to climb 575 steps in order to reach the top of this hill. One can get the top view of Hampi town from the top of this hill. The top view of Vijaya Vitthala Temple with Tungabhadra river flowing by it with boulders in the backdrop is breathtaking from the top of Anjani hill. This is a popular sunset point of Hampi. We visited this temple in the morning, on our way to the hippie town so, had to miss out on the sunset.
Pampa Sarovar & boulders of Hampi: Pampa Sarovar is one of the five most sacred lakes in Hindu mythology. This lake is of great importance in the Hindu epic, Ramayana as this is where Shabari, a disciple of sage Matanga had met Lord Rama.
Bridge on Tungabhadra river
Roads of Hampi
Sanapur Lake: Located amidst the boulders, this lake is the reservoir of Tungabhadra dam. The lake is famous destination for coracle ride. It is accessible by auto rickshaw or you can also hire a two wheeler from hippie town to visit this lake.
The only direct mode of transport to reach Hampi from Mumbai is taking AC bus to Hospet. From Hospet we decided to take a government bus to Hampi which cost us ₹30 each. Auto rickshaws can also be hired from Hospet to Hampi for 250 bucks.
This was about the temples of Hampi. But the trip doesn’t end here. It’s time to go to the other side of the Tungabhadra river; the hippie island of Hampi. The place deserves a separate travelogue so stay tuned!