The Whispering Boulders of Hampi – Hampi Diaries – Part I
Destiny spares none. Not even the greatest and grandest. The Vijayanagara Empire with Hampi as its capital was arguably one of its kind.
Hampi Diaries – Part I
Today only the ruins remain of what arguably was the most magnificent and opulent of empires. As Robert Sewell writes “there cannot be another chapter of destruction that can equal the demolition of Hampi and the massacre of its citizens”.
Even in its ruins, Hampi overwhelms you. The opulence and grandeur of this great city during its prime becomes very obvious despite the vagaries of time.
The boulders lying strewn along either banks of the Tungabhadra River cradling and camouflaging the now desolate, battered and broken monuments are mute witnesses to the glory, the majesty, the grandeur, subsequent ruthless massacre and wanton destruction.
We start from Bangalore
Keeping in view that we had to cover a distance of 350 kms plus, we hit the road early at first light from Bangalore. Travelling via Tumkur – Chitradurga –Hospet route we reached Hampi around 2.00 pm. The distance was covered in about 9 hours after liberal breaks for tea, breakfast and lunch.
Our Hosts at Hampi
We had not made any reservations but being a week day took our chances of finding a room at Padma’s Guest House. The place was full but the owners graciously accommodated us in the spare bedroom within their house. Padma’s is a stone’s throw from Virupaksha Temple, one of the most popular monuments in Hampi. Staying at Padma’s means you are in the heart of Hampi. It is a no frills place, guest friendly, clean rooms and a terrace with a view. Padma and her family are very genial and help making your stay and sightseeing a pleasant experience.
Standing on the terrace of Padma’s homestay, sipping our mugs of coffee we were captivated by the sheer magnificence and beauty of the Virupaksha Temple, lit up by the sun light with the ghats in the background.
Places to visit at Hampi
The remains include forts, riverside features, royal complexes, temples, sacred shrines, many pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, bazaars, residential areas, gateways, stables, water structures and tanks etc. Every stone has its own story to tell. The hampi.in website presents a comprehensive list of 80 plus monuments.
You may not be able to see them all in one short trip. People plan a short guided tour hurriedly covering the major sites but Hampi is a place best explored foot loose and fancy free, at leisure. There is so much to see, so much to experience, so much to soak in. Each major temple complex has so much to offer that a week, a fortnight, a month seems too short. Hampi is beyond time limits. Yet by planning judiciously you can still cover the major attractions in a three day trip.
Meeting Pampapati at the Virupaksha Temple
At a stone’s throw from the homestay, it was the first monument in our itinerary. We entered the temple from the main eastern entrance which had a massive gopura well over 50 feet high which opened out into a large courtyard which had several small shrines and mandapas.
The main temple dedicated to Shiva in lingam form and worshipped as Pampapati has many sculptures, murals and paintings depicting various mythical and legendary figures. This is one of the rare monuments still in pristine condition despite the ravages of time post the wanton destruction by the marauding Bahmani invaders. We were told that there is huge rush of devotees during December and there is a annual chariot festival conducted during February. The setting of the temple is a photographer’s delight.
Hampi is not just to be seen, you have to experience it, live it, breathe its history, hear the stones speak and empathize with it.
Hampi Diaries is a four part series of the our travel to and exploration of the historic ruins of the Kingdom of Vijayanagar. This is the first part of the Hampi Diaries. Please click on the below link to read the next part.
To read all the parts please click below