Hampi: Watching India's history come to life.

By Farah Z.

Hampi in the state of Karnataka is accessible by a well-connected town by the name of Hospet. The transportations between Hospet and Hampi are cycle-rickshaws, pony-tongas and city buses. The daily life of people living along the main road to Hampi ignites the excitement to visit the most celebrated of the medieval Hindu metropolises in the history of India.

Virupakshapura is the most sacred, ancient and best preserved of the Saiva townships of the Vijayanagar period. What appears in the picture is the Main Gopura that is the main gateway to Virupaksha rises to the height of 52 mts. To enter, you have to take off your shoes and pay some amount of money for somebody to watch over your shoes and if you are lucky enough, you will bump into an elephant, who will give you some blessing.

Overlooking the Virupaksha is Hemakuta hill, a baffling site of the great many monuments. Not two, not three but 17 temples, 12 shrines, 3 mantapas, 2 galleries and one pillar. One striking monument is a pillared fort of Hemakuta which resembles a Roman monument.

A stroll down along the river bank of Tungabhadra is an endearing experience for this is where Hampi comes to life, albeit the dead and deserted kingdom. Hampi is famous of its big rocks or boulders. It is a scene like no other, as piles of boulder scattered along the river bank add a dynamic combination to the calm river water.

Indians, river and laundry – how could you separate one from the other? Along the river, most visitors to Hampi take a bath and wash their clothes in the river. The picture captures an old man holding one end of his cloth while the other end was tied to a stick; no clothes pegs needed here in Hampi.

When I was told there is Noblemen’s Quarters in Hampi, I couldn’t help but wonder how civilized the empire was back then. Noblemen consisted of members of the royal family, high officials and generals. At noblemen’s Quarters, there are no less than 6 ruined palaces surrounded by public hall, gymnasium, schools and kitchen.

Lotus Mahal is one of the celebrated monuments in Hampi – used to be a place of power, pagentary and pleasure, all at one. Note the elements of flora and fauna decorating its arches, a typical example of Hindu and Islamic blend in architecture.

At first glance, I mistakenly thought it was a mosque because of the domes and other Islamic similarity in architecture. Apparently, it was an elephant stable which accommodated 10 royal elephants.

Hydraulic skills and elaborated network of water-work are other impressive skills of the Vijayanagara empire. At the Darbar Enclosure, you will find plaster-lined channels, stone tanks, monolithic stone trough and stone aqueducts.

My favorite monument in Hampi can be found in Vithala Temple in the form of a stone car. It was set on moving wheels indicating the elements of stability and movement, both at once.

According to the Persian visitor, the city of Vijayanagar is “such that the eye has not seen, nor ear heard of any place resembling it upon the whole earth”. As the first place visited on my India trip, it rings true as I have neither seen an empire like this nor architecture so beautifully created. There are many other monuments on site, and each has its own stories. In fact, it was difficult for me to select only 10 pictures for this post. Hampi is one of the best places I've visited on the whole wide world. And you too should go and see it with your own eyes. 

Farah Z, the author of Thatsofarah is an avid traveller whose dream is to travel the world with no reservation. At present, she juggles demanding work as a lawyer in Kuala Lumpur and her passion to travel. She travels on average once a month to a new destination. Follow her on Twitter @thatsofarah.

If you would like to contribute a guest post or photo essay of your travels in India on the India Untravelled blog, please email us with your ideas at shivya@indiauntravelled.com.

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