By Trinetta Fernandes
Five Female Travel Enthusiasts. One Weekend. That’s all we needed to set out exploring yet another place. We were clear about discovering a piece of ancient India and we zeroed in on Hampi.
Hampi is located in North Karnatak on the banks of the river Tungabhadra, approximately 709 kms. from Mumbai. It was once the capital of the Hindu Vijaynagar Empire which ruled South India between 14th to 16th century AD. The ruined temple city is famously known as the ‘Boulder city of India’. It is a labyrinth of temples, busy market places, narrow streets, ancient monuments surrounded by boulder strew mountains. It also features among UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
|First sightings of boulders|
The friendly rickshaw guys who picked us up from the Hospet Bus Stand offered to take us around after we quickly checked into our guest house. Finding an economical place to live is no mammoth task. Tiny lanes lined with rows of houses with extra rooms attached are a common sight. Tourism has helped generate a source of revenue for the locals.
Our rickshaw drivers doubled up as our guides and thus we began our exploration. Our first stop was the magnificent Virupaksha Temple, which is believed to be one of the oldest active temples in India. It dates back to the 7th century AD. The temple complex was filled with people performing prayer rituals along with the tourists queued up to admire the carvings on stone at the entrance of the temple. The intricate designs on stone along with the precision would have been quite a task in the times the temple was built.
|A view of the Virupaksha Temple entrance|
Filled with admiration after visiting the temple complex, we headed onwards. While there are local tourists, Hampi is also a common destination with international tourists. Our next stop was the royal enclosures and the elephant stables.
The stables served as a home to the royal elephants. It is a long structure spread across a garden. Every stable is big enough to accommodate a minimum of two elephants. Within the same premises is situated the Lotus Temple. It is an ornate structure with a mixture of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Our guides informed us it was used by the queens during their leisure time.
|The Elephant Enclosures|
|The Lotus Temple|
|The Lakshmi Narsimha|
Famished by now, we headed to have a meal at a rather quaint restaurant ‘Mango Tree’ after which we went to see the Lakshmi Narsimha. The statue of a ‘half man and half lion’ carved out of a single rock is 6.7 m high. It is said to be one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu with detailed carving. The complex houses the Badavi Linga Temple, which is largest monolithic Linga in Hampi. It is filled with water throughout the year and the temple priest spends his entire day in waist deep water- such is his devotion!
|The Vittala Temple Complex|
|The Stone Chariot|
The complex offers a spot for every tired traveller to rest. One can find their quiet place and sit back to admire the vast temple complex or indulge in a coracle ride across the river, just behind the temple. (A coracle is a small round traditional boat)
|A quiet spot in the Vittala Temple Complex|
The weekend had ended and so had our trip. We headed back home with sore feet, happy hearts and content smiles. We cannot wait to go explore another place soon!
AUTHOR BIO - Trinetta works in the Development Sector as a Social Worker. An animal lover, she loves heading out of the out at every given opportunity. She enjoys solo traveling as well as exploring places with her girl group.
Have you visited an ancient city on your travels recently?