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The Whispering Boulders of Hampi – Part Four

This is the fourth and final part of the Hampi Diaries. Please click on the below link to read the previous parts.

Hampi Diaries All Parts

Hampi Diary – Part IV

 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.

 Into the water world – Underground Siva Temple

By now it was approaching noon. A brief halt for a quick bite, we resumed our tour. Coming out of the Elephant stables past the Zenana Enclosure and Hazara Rama Temple we reached a beautiful lawn covered in green.

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A long row of wide steps from an opening in the lawn, led down to an open roofed doorway. We descended the steps and crossed the doorway to enter the many pillared hall of the main temple dedicated to Prasanna Virupaksha. The floors of the inner chambers and the inner sanctum were totally submerged in water.  There was no way to enter the inner sanctum without wading through. The temple like most others in Hampi is in a state of total ruins.

We scrambled back to the top and hit the main road. A few 100 feet away we turned left and came face to face with a statue of gigantic proportions, much taller than the monolithic bull.

Awe and Fury – The  Ugra Narasimha or Lakshmi Narasimha

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The sculpture depicted Narasimha with protruding eyeballs and fierce facial expression, sitting in a cross legged yoga position. This fourth of the ten incarnations of Vishnu was sitting on a coiled snake, whose seven heads acted as a hood above his head. The Goddess Lakshmi supposed to be seated on his lap is missing; the hands and legs are badly mutiated, presumably destroyed by the invaders. This is the tallest statue in the whole of Hampi. A work unparallel. We were observing man’s height of creative genius and the depths of destructive damage.

A commoner’s indulgence – The Badavi Linga

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We then visited the next door neighbor to Narasimha, the Badavi Linga. Legend has it that the same was commissioned by a poor peasant woman. This is the tallest Linga in Hampi. The Linga has three eyes and the sanctum is always filled with water as a water channel flows through it. The statue is placed in a stone chamber with no ceiling.  Sunlight streams in through the opening, lighting up the Linga during the day. We had a nice view and having heard a lot about the grand designs of the nearby Krishna Temple decided to make it our next halt.

Feast for the eyes – Krishna Temple

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We passed a beautifully sculpted gateway and entered into a complex with a central shrine, many pillared pavilions and halls. The temple walls were a veritable Amar Chitra Katha comic rendering stories from the Bhagavata and Krishna Purana. The pillars in the main mandapa had the ten incarnations of Vishnu sculpted. On one side of the temple is a great hall. A rocky landscape lies on another side. There are long pavilion like structures, which maybe in a different era were shops in the bazaar (like near the Virupaksha temple).There was a rectangular water filled tank the sacred “pushkarani”. All these were feast for the eyes. Hampi had served us mouthwatering desserts of the highest order, taste and style on after another. Alas they could only be feasted with the eyes and eaten.  All this was too much for our poor stomach which started rumbling and grumbling. We decided to break for lunch at the popular Mango Tree restaurant.

And then a feast for the stomach – At Mango Tree

This restaurant is in the middle of a small jungle like setting. With Tungabhadra flowing behind, the view is amazing. Lovely ambience, pleasing rural décor, good food, eclectic crowd, soft conversations and chilled out waiters make it a serene and peaceful place to enjoy your food. Post a sumptuous lunch, we proceeded to visit and thank the elephant god for the lovely feast.

One more before a break – Kadalekalu Ganesha

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Walking towards the base of the Hemkuta Hill we came face to face with what must arguably be one of the largest Ganesha statues in India. Carved out of a single stone the tummy resembles a Bengal gram and hence the name. Kadalekalu is the local name for Bengal gram. The tall and slender stone pillared hall embellished with intricate carvings leads to a inner chamber in which the statue is placed. From the hallway we had a mesmerizing view of the Hampi Bazar, the Matanga hill  and other surrounding areas.

A well earned rest – Back to Padma’s Homestay

After a long morning session which had spilled into mid noon we headed back to Padma’s, our homestay to stretch our weary body and rest the tired legs, before resuming our Hampi trail. A brief rest and shuteye later the twosome were back to the business of exploring the ruins. Our next halt turned out to be a scene from one of the Hollywood potboilers.

Indiana Jones and Temple of the DoomAchyutaraya Temple

Passing through the Hampi Bazaar yet again past the pavilions, past the colossal staue of the monolithic bull, we climb up the huge flight of steps leading to a hillock of boulders lying strewn around massive and threatening. As we kept climbing up on our right was the Matanga hill. We reached a slight turn and peered down between two massive boulders. It was so eye catching that we climbed a bit further and suddenly an awe inspiring sight rooted and stupefied us.

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Down below was the last of the dazzling temples built in the golden age of Vijayanagar’s history. Lying secluded, off the beaten track, at the end of the abandoned Courtesan’s Street in between the Matanga and Gandhamadana Hills. The scene as I mentioned earlier reminded of an Indiana Jones escapade. Achyutaraya built it in honour of Lord Tiruvengalanatha (a form of Lord Vishnu), but it is identified by the name of the king who built it. Post the most savage destruction of any kingdom in world history, this temple lying in utter ruins, evoked memories of the days of glory. We cried silent tears yet again as the stones spoke with great eloquence of the grandeur that was Hampi. Man’s propensity for violence beyond compare left us dazed, numbed and disturbed. Time stood still as we wandered and wondered. We walked back, without much interaction, lost in thought, down the boulder strewn path, down the flight of stairs, through the Hampi Bazar and climbed up the Hemkuta Hill.

Golden sheen – at Hemkuta Hill

There was still time for the sun to be westward bound. We climbed up and sat in one of those canopied structures. We exchanged pleasantries and notes with the sprinkling of tourists. Having booked a seat, we looked forward to nature’s live painting display.

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Slowly the ground around us got bathed in gold and orange. Sensing that the best view would be from the top, we moved up towards the top tier of the hill and along with a few other fellow tourists. The retreating sun bid adieu, changing the sky’s contours from yellow to orange, crimson, pink and blue-black, while disappearing in the far beyond in a blaze of gold and red. We slowly trudged down to our home-stay a stone’s throw away. Unlacing the shoes was a massive effort. We crashed on the bed and before long drifted into dreamy slumber.

Summing up

Did we really see Hampi? The mind says yes but the heart disagrees. Truth be told, we did see a major part of the ruins. But 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. In all these counts our answer from the heart is a resounding “NO”

We promised ourselves that we will come back and sit among the ruins till kingdoms rise or fall. Will hear the boulders whisper again about the grandeur, the magnificence, the power, the glory, the violent, maddening, savagery of the conquering marauders which destroyed an empire that left its imprints in the sands of time.

Trust me, we will come again to hear the “Whispering Boulders of Hampi” and get lost in the timelessness of its magic.

 This is the fourth and final part of the Hampi Diaries. Please click on the below link to read the previous parts.

Hampi Diaries All Parts 

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