Hampi, a popular tourist destination in Karnataka has been on my travel list for a while now, and I was eagerly waiting for a long weekend to explore the ruins of Vijayanagara Empire. Oct.2 provided me with the best option to complete my trip to the UNESCO heritage site. Considering the distance to be covered (around 850+Kms), I had my Bike conditioned prior to the trip. And, then chalked out a big plan, to cover Mahbubnagar (Pella Mari Tree), Raichur (Raichur Fort), Hampi (Kishikinda) and finally traveling to Kurnool (if feasible) to complete my 3 day's trip.

My Journey

As planned, I started to Hampi at around 8 AM from Madhapur by taking ORR service road. The service road crosses Himayath Sagar Lake, which offers a great view, and is a good halt. I took shamshabad exit to head towards Mahbubnagar using NH7. The NH7 road is well laid out and one can easily cruise at high speeds. I took the exit near Jadcherla and reached Mahbubnagar in around 2.5 hours. From there, I started towards my 1st destination, Pillalamarri. Pillalamarri is 800 year old banyan tree and is a major tourist attraction. Apart from banyan tree, there is a small zoo in vicinity.

After a quick break at Pillalamarri, I continued my journey towards Raichur via following State Highway 167. The state highway offers a pleasant drive through vegetative fields. After crossing Krishna River, Raichur greets us with a huge Thermal power plant. The atmosphere around Raichur is not very pleasant, as one can feel the pollution resulting from the thermal plant.

I reached Raichur fort at around 1PM. But, in view of the further distance to be taken, I dropped my plan to visit the fort, and instead had a quick lunch at Karnataka tourism restaurant situated near the fort. After the halt, I continued on the final lap of my journey to Hampi, travelling to Gangavati via Sindhanpur. The route between Raichur to Gangavati is pretty scenic to drive.

I reached Gangavati at around 5 PM, from there I took a right to head towards Kampli. The road between Gangavati and Kampli is pretty bad, and it took me around an hour to reach Kampli. From Kampli to Hampi, the drive is pretty smooth; Bhima Gate greets us to lost civilization of Hampi, as we drive further towards Hampi Centre, the ruins along the way (Vittala Temple, Underground Shiva temple, Krishna Temple) takes us back in time. I finally reached Hampi Bazaar (situated near Virupaksha Temple) at around 6 PM. 

The locals have transformed Hampi into a mini-tourist city, offering room services for night stay (starting at 500Rs with check-out timing at 9AM) and plenty of restaurants offering indo-western cuisine. I took a room at Hampi Bazaar for the night stay. After, taking a quick shower, I headed towards Virupaksha Temple for Darshan. Thereafter, I roamed around Hampi bazaar, had a lavish dinner and called it a day.

Day 2: Hampi Darshan

My second day started at around 7AM with a stroll across the peaceful city. The Tungabhadra River and the rich landscape comprising forest and rocky terrains add to the charm of the place. Possibly, the serene environment is the reason why we see a lot of (foreign) tourist flocking to Hampi. I enquired the locals about the possibility of covering Hampi and Anegudi on same day. And, on recommendation, hired a local guide (for 1000Rs) to cover all key point in Hampi by Noon, and then, head to Anegudi for afternoon trip.

I started the trip with my travel guide Viru (Virupaksha) at around 9AM. Viru (Virupaksha) first took me to Virupaksha Temple to explain about the city, its heritage and importance (Read my Blog to know more about Hampi and its past). To my surprise, I met a college friend at Virupaksha Temple, who travelled from Bangalore for the weekend. After a quick meeting, we decided to meet Matunga Hill in the evening and explore Anegudi on the next day. 

Virupaksha Temple has the deities of Lord Shiv and Parvati. And, it also houses Bhuvaneshwari Devi, local goddess. The temple was under the patronage of Hampi Rulers. And, was most ornated by Krishnadevaraya, who build the inner courtyard. The central Hall has a huge ceiling painting, which has paintings of three main gods of Hinduism (Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma), Avatars of Lord Vishnu, Marriage of Lord Shiva with Pampa and pictures of 1st rules of Hampi (Harahara and Bukka). Behind the temple we have an inverted image of the main courtyard caused due to Pinhole effect.

Virupaksha Temple also has a unique three faced Nandi (at the entrance). The three faces are said to represent Past, Present and Future. Near to Virupaksha Temple, we have Group temples of Hemakunta hill, built in Jain architecture style.

My next stop was Kadale Kalu Ganesha (Gram Seed) which is said to be reserved for royals worship. A lot of Ganesh Idols build during Ganesh Chaviti festivals resembles this deity.

Near Kadale Kalu Ganesha is Sasive Kalu Ganesha. This Ganesha idol is supposed to be built by an Andhra Merchant. The sculptor has carved the Ganesh as sitting on his mother Parvati’s lap (viewable from behind the statue).

Krishna temple built in commemoration of victory over Kalinga used to have Bala avatar of Lord Krishna. The entrance has carvings of avatars of Lord Vishnu. Opposite to Krishna temple is a market place.

Next exploration points were Sri Laxmi Narshima shrine and Badavi Linga (poor women Linga). It is believed that Krishnadevaraya worshiped at Sri Laxmi Narshima shrine before war. Badavi Linga is submerged from the water from Tungabhadra river.

Next was the Underground Shiva temple and ruins of Palace area.  On crossing them, I headed towards Lotus Mahal, Zanana palace and Elephant stable. Lotus Mahal is beautifully designed in indo-Islamic style of architecture. It houses water pipelines which act as sprinklers to maintain cool temperature during hot weather. Behind Lotus Mahal, we have elephant stables, which used to house temple elephants and King’s elephant.

On right of Lotus Mahal, we have Hazara Rama temple. The whole episode of Ramayans has been carved on the walls of the Temple. Opposite to Hazara Rama temple is the pan supari market.

Next in line was the Lavish Royal Centre. It houses the huge Kings Audience Hall (used during festival time to meet people), common bath hall and stepped tank. My last stop in Royal centre was Queen’s bath area, built in indo-islamic style.

After covering the royal centre, I headed towards Vitthala palace, the most decorated place in Hampi. It houses the music pillar temple, stone chariot (build in style of Konark sun temple), kalyana mandapa and utsava mandapa. The vitthala palace has been beautifully carved and the sculptor has taken creative liberty to design some unique sculpture. Around the music pillar temple, we can find 10 miniature replicas of the music pillar temple itself, each housing an avatar of lord Vishnu.

It was 4 PM by the time I completed the Hampi Trip, and after biding adieu to Viru (my guide), I headed for a late lunch at Hampi Bazaar. As planned, I joined my friend to head towards Matunga Hill, it is situated opposite to Virupaksha Temple. At entrance, we can find a huge Monolithic Nandi facing Virupaksha Temple. It took us around 30 minutes to climb the hill. The view from the top is breath taking; one can view the entire area from the top and is best place to watch sun-set (Hemkunta Hills and Anjaneyadri Hill being the other best).

On return from Matunga Hill, we headed back to Hampi Bazar for our night stay and dinner.

* Hampi had five major markets, each catering to a specific type of goods. The five major markets are located close to major temples. Pan Supari Market is located near Hazara Rama Temple, Animal market is located near Vittala Temple, Pearls and Gems market is located near Virupaksha Temple. And, the other two markets are located near Krishna Temple and Achyutaraya Temple.

Day 3: Anegudi Trip and return Journey

My final day at Hampi started with morning walk trail to Kondandarama Temple and 1000 Siva lingas. Kondandarama Temple is situated near bank of Tungabadhra River. The deities of Lord Ram, Lord Lakshmana and Goddess Sita are beautifully carved out from the Hill. Adjacent to the temple is Yantroddharaka Hanuman temple.

As we walk along the river coast, we can find 1000 Lingas. It is quite difficult to trace it, as it surrounded by big rocks, but, on observing the surrounding, one can see Nandi positioned on the opposite side of the river, which points us to the position of 1000 Lingas. Along the river bed, we can find beautiful carvings for God & Goddess, possibly are ruins of past empire or creativity of locals. Also, along the bank we have sugreev cave and Varaha Temple.

After the quick trail, we headed back to hampi bazaar for a quick snack and proceed to our journey to Anegudi. The easiest way to Anegudi from Hampi is via motor boat ferry. There are two motor boat ways; one is situated near Hampi bazaar and the other at Vitthala Temple. We took the motor boat ferry located at Vitthala palace (the one at Hampi bazaar is too tricky for motor bike transport). The guys operating the ferry are professionals in moving people and vehicles across the river. After the boat trip, we headed to visit Hanuman shrive located at Anjaneyadri Hill. We need to climb around 400 steps to reach the top. It took us around 30 minutes to climb the hill. On the hill there is a natural carving of Lord Hanuman. From the top one can view the entire Hampi and Tungabhadra River.

After Anjaneyadri Hill, we headed towards Pampa Sarovar and Shabari ashram (situated near Pampa Sarovar). Our last stop at Anegudi was vali cave located at Durga Temple. It is believed that King Vali used to store his wealth in the cave. 

By the time, we returned base from vali cave, it was already 1 PM. I bided adieu from my friend and started for my return journey to Hyderbad. Since, it was already late, I decided to avoid halts and drive not stop. After I crossed Raichur, a welcome rain greeted me back to Telangana. I reached Hyderabad at around 9:30 PM, and headed straight to Paradise for a Biryani parcel. And, after a quick shower and biryani, I laid back to recall the amazing 3-day experience.

What to Do at Hampi

The Best time to visit Hampi is during winter season. Try avoiding summers. Once you reach here, it offers plenty of things to explore; I have listed few for reference.

  1. Do Heritage Walk/cycle Trails (morning and evening) across Hampi. We have at-least 5 trails to explore Hampi (1st one exploring Hemakunta Hills covering krishna temple; 2nd one exploring Royal centre covering Hazara Rama Temple, Lotus Mahal, Krishandevaraya Temple; 3rd one exploring Achyutaraya Temple, Kondandarama Temple and Matunga hill, 4th one exploring Bhima entrance and Vittala temple and the 5th one exploring Anegudi).
  2. Enjoy sunset at Hemakunta Hills or Matunga hill or at Hanuman shrine (at Anegudi).
  3. Stroll and Shop around Hampi evening Bazaar.
  4. Try a range of breakfasts offered at Hampi Bazaar, like British Breakfast, Spanish Breakfast, Iranian breakfast and Indian Breakfast.
  5. Explore Tungabhadra Dam and Nearby Places.

Personal Blog Page: http://health-travel-guide.blogspot.in/

Hari K