Hampi though ruined welcomes you proudly with the rich history through its architecture. I took an overnight bus from Pune and reached Hospet, from where the city of ruins is 13 km away. I took an auto which dropped me to Hampi in nearly 20 minutes. While on my way passing through those huge rocks and I spotted some houses built within them.
I started to explore the Vijaynagar Empire with my guide from the partitioned Royal enclosure. The enclosure has a victory (Dushera) platform, ruins of Raj Mahal, few temples, and pushkarni (stepwell). We went to see the pushkarni and what grabbed my attention was the numbers written on each stone. These numbers were useful if the king wanted to reallocate the well to some other place. And this proved that each stone was indeed magical here. The Dussehra platform was built smartly in such a way that the staircase for the king is at the rear side of the platform. The reason being the king never gave up on his kingdom and it also depreciated the uncertainty. From atop, it was fun visualizing the enclosure with various possibilities. At the bottom, I spotted some carvings of the activities that belonged to our day to day life.
All the monuments were within walking distance and I headed towards the Lotus Mahal. Those unknown architects left me amazed by their work and planning. The lotus Mahal was built for the queen to spend their time when kings went for wars and the mahal worked nothing less than an air conditioner. The top of the mahal had a water tank that was filled hours before the queen arrived and the mahal had hollow pipes through which the water rushed keeping the rooms cool.
I climbed the Hemkuta hill to end my day by watching the sun disappearing behind those boulders. Ah, what a hypnotizing view it was accompanied by the slow breeze that brushed my face gently.
Early morning the next day I stepped into Virupaksha temple and at the entrance met an old female elephant, Lakshmi. She with two localities was going to Tungabhadra River for her bath and apparently it was her daily routine. I followed them till the river, where very innocently she lazed in the river.
Giving Lakshmi some privacy I went back to the temple again and while interacting with locals I realized they believed that Lakshmi was the mediator between them and God and she gave blessings with her trunk. The peculiar thing at Virupaksha was the paintings on the ceiling of the Kalyana Mandapa (Marriage hall). They represent the holy wedding of Shiva and Parvati and some depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.
Next on my list was the famous chariot of Hampi at Vijaya Vithala Temple Complex, which I had only seen on a 50 rupee note. To reach the Vithala temple I took a battery operated buggy from the parking. Without neglecting the carvings on the entrance I entered into the complex. The temple was built by King Devaraya II and further progressed by Krishnadevaraya. Hence the temple is seen divided into five main parts, the Sabha Mandapa, the Ranga Mandapa (Dancing Hall), Kalyana Mandapa, Utsav Mandapa, and Stone Chariot.
The seven thin pillars of the dancing hall circulate one thick post at the center. Each of these produces the sound of different instruments. But the chariot clutched all my attention; it has the most exceptional architecture of the Vijayanagara kingdom.
The chariot or Ratha stands in the courtyard of the temple where horses are replaced by the elephants. Few places that showcase the passion, hard work and creativity of architects back then are Krishna Temple and Rama Hazara Temple. These temples have exquisite carvings depicting the stories of Bal Krishna and Ramayana respectively and these carvings are just incomparable. The fact that irked me was people imposed their power and cruelty on this artistry.
Tungabhadra River divides the Hampi city into two parts, Kishkinda and Anegundi also popular as Hippie Island. All the monuments and temples are on the Kishkinda side. To cross the river which takes not more than 2 minutes, boats are used throughout the day. What left me inarticulate was a circular boat called Coracle. These boats are nothing but frames of woven grasses, reed, or samplings interweaved barks. The ride takes you to the world of peace especially when clouds flip into various colors and a slow breeze passes through your hair. The best part comes when the boatman spins the boat in the middle of the river. I had never even imagined something that could be so phenomenal before I experienced it at Hampi.
I spent my last day cycling on the Anegundi side. My guide urged me to visit Anjaneya Hill which is believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman. Other than the monuments, Hampi makes you fall in love with the lush green paddy fields and banana fields. From atop Anjaneya Hill, I looked down at the artistic ruined city of the Vijaynagar Empire. Since childhood, I have been listening to numerous stories about the royalty of Hampi and hence the place had crowned by bucket list and I finally got a chance to wander in these ruined palaces and temples. Every monument even the smallest stone had a magical power to hold me and take me to the era when Hampi bazaar (market) was full of diamonds and gold.
While my guide eloquently narrated the history of the Vijaynagar Empire, I interrupted him with the question that was continuously popping in my mind, “What if Colin Mackenzie never visited the place?” Evidently, he didn’t have an answer.
With lots of beautiful memories to cherish, I returned to Pune with the hope to visit and experience the magic to Hampi again soon!