Figuring out where to have breakfast, lunch and dinner is essentially an exciting part of any trip as you always try to see whether your intuition of the kind of food that will be available has matched or not. Here in Hampi even though technically there are many spots according to books like lonely planet that serve decent food, we felt it the safest to have our breakfast at the Mayura KSTDC itself. At 7 in the morning we were all ready for one more day of ruin exploration. Unfortunately, breakfast was not yet ready, so we decided to do some ruin exploration to whet our appetite.
On the way to Hampi from Kamlapura we took the first right turn which goes towards Chandrashekara temple. The chilly morning had resulted in a misty expanse over the landscape, Stone structures were scattered around the place, some in disuse and some were well maintained. The Chandrashekara temple was standing all alone without any neighboring structures, had an outside wall to the temple and the inside entrance was locked. A bird had made its nest at the top of the temple's Gopura and was making a screeching sound. Well it looked a very peculiar kind of bird, unfortunately could not get any good photographs of it.
|Unknown strange looking bird|
Next we went to the Octagonal water pavilion. Probably this was used for the purpose of bathing by some of the powerful people in the Vijaynagar empire, the center of the bath has an octagonal shaped platform, A guy was busy studying for his exams sitting there and thus taking photos of the structure by not including him became a bit problematic finally I hid him behind one of the pillars.
|The Octagonal Tank|
From here you can see another temple dedicated to goddess Saraswati, but it looked a bit small and didn't elicit enough interest from us after having seen some huge once, the day before.
We went back to the hotel to find out that the breakfast was still not ready and we were made to wait for a whole hour, to be served poori-baaji. We had totally lost our patience before the food finally arrived, a cat purred under our legs and we were forced to share our food with the poor thing that had already dined at a foreigners table some 10 minutes back.
We were back on track and started with the Royal enclosure, the first structure that we encountered was again a royal bath. A guard was sweeping the place and he gave us a broken tooth smile in anticipation of a tip and started reeling the significance of the place. It seems both the queens of Krishnadevaraya used to come here for their daily baths, the place was pretty huge and the water was sourced from an upstream tank. Moreover the water had to be changed everyday. The architecture looked more moghul than south indian, The walls though basically built from stone were plastered with a limestone kind of solution. Each of the gombuz of the enclosure had a different design, but almost all of the work made on this lime kind of plaster has fallen apart. After paying a 10 Re tip for the sweeper for having elucidated us of the place we moved on towards the Mahanavami dibba.
|The Royal Bath|
|commoners inside the pool|
The Mahanavami dibba was constructed to celebrate the victory of Krishnadevaraya over Udayagiri which is now in Orissa. The huge platform is engraved with the victorious procession of the soldiers and also depicts the battle of orissa. Krishnadevaraya is said to have watched Dussera processions from this platform.
|View from the Dibba|
|Carvings on the Dibba|
The view from the top of the dibba is also very fantastic. It covers a wide expanse of the landscape and you can see ruins all over. The sight really overwhelms you, this was such a huge city throbbing with life and one day it was cut short due to the whims of some stupid conquerors. By this time we had found ourselves a self appointed guide, this guy just came to us and started reeling off the history. At first we didn't pay heed but whatever he said was pretty interesting so he joined our exploration troupe. He showed us an underground chamber whose roof had caved in, but the entrance to which is still through a tunnel. This was the room that was supposedly used by the Kings to discuss state secrets.
|Path to the Underground chamber|
We next visited the stepped tank, this is one of the tanks which shows off the builders knowledge of geometry. The symmetry maintained across the tank is simply phenomenal. The tank is supposedly 7 meters deep but was filled almost to the brim with water. This was a disappointment, the tank has an old stone structure through which water was channeled in in the olden days.
We then moved on along with our guide to the Hazararama temple. The 1000 rama temple. The temple has engravings of lord Rama and his life, there is also engraving on Luv-Kusha stories. In some places engraving of some episodes of Krishna's story can also be found. An entrance of 4 big pillars invite you.
|Hazara Rama temple Entrance|
|Engravings on the walls of the temple|
|Pillar inside the main shrine|
The main shrine has four pillars which are completely black in nature and seem to have been imported while making the temple. The sanctum sanctuary has three slots for the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. The idols are now said to be in a Chennai museum.
|Sita, Rama and Lakshmana|
|Vaali Sugreeva fight|
|BalaKrishna with Kalinga Snake|
After Hazara rama temple we visited the Zenana enclosure where the queens of the mighy kings resided. At the entrance you encounter two big platforms, one at the right and the other at the left. It seems these platforms were the foundations for the palaces of the two queens of Krishna devaraya. The palaces were build using Sandalwood and thus were burnt down during the raids.
|Erstwhile Palace of One of Krishna devaraya's Queen|
One structure that has managed to survive without any major damages is the Lotus mahal. It is considered to be a socializing area for the queens and other ladies who used to stay there. Huge watch towers surround the place and entrance to them have been barricaded, perhaps to preserve the structure.
|The Lotus Mahal|
|Parakeets on the watch Tower|
|Watch tower for the Zenana enclosure|
The famous elephant stables are just behind the Zenana enclosure and the speciality of the structure is that each of the elephant had the pleasure of enjoying a different architecture in terms of the outside doom and also the internal decorations. A small opening in the wall probably helped the mahout to move from one cell to the other. After paying the guide 50 Rs for the services he rendered to us in improving our knowledge of the place, we went in search of the underground Virupaksha temple.
|The Elephant Stables|
The temple is strictly not underground but is actually below the ground level. The inner shrine is flooded with water and it is possible to peer in only from the main shrines entrance. I'm not sure whether the water was intentioned to be there originally but since the temple is that of lord shiva, it is highly likely that the they intended to flood the place. But putting feet on moss filled water and that too on slippery stone is not easy and we didn't venture any further towards the main sanctum sanctuary.
|The underground shiva temple|
|The water filled main shrine|
|Laksmi Narasimha Statue|
We were now almost coming to the end of checking out the famous spots in Hampi, the Lakshmi narasimha statue is simply majestic and it is supposed that a statue of Lakshmi was sitting on the lap of Narasimha, the hand which goes to the back of Narasimha proves that it is Lakshmi Narasimha and not Ugra narasimha as it was first thought to be. The Badavalinga is right next to Lakshmi narasimha and has water flooded inside the shrine. An ayappa devotee, was taking bath in the water inside saying that it was holy water and it appeared to be pretty deep. Some devotees were throwing coins inside the water, so there must be a whole bunch of coins down there.
With this being a Monday, there was hardly any crowd in the places that we visited. The Krishna temple which is on the way to Hampi depicted the life of Lord Krishna on its walls. This temple is said to have been discovered only in the last decade. Excavation works seems to be going on all around Hampi. A playground which was situated next to our hotel and was being used by kids to play cricket on the first day of our visit had become a spot of frenzied activity on the next day as hundreds of workers had descended down and were busy digging up the spot. A guide said that the government is spending a lot of money in these excavation activities.
|Engraving on the Krishna temple|
The Sasive kaalu ganesha's statue is situated on a small hill lock and it is has been built out of a single stone. A trader is said to have built this in the memory of a king.
With loads of sight seeing already done, the only location that was still remaining on our list was the Museum, The museum situated at Kamplapura is a must visit. the place has a pretty big, to the scale model of the complete city. The bronze statues of Krishna Devaraya and his two queens at the entrance is also pretty imposing. The only problem is that no photography is allowed inside the museum.
|The Museum Entrance|
After having seen and after having had our fill of the great empire, we went back with a feeling of sympathy and sadness to those souls who had strived to build such monuments but unfortunately their skills could not be displayed to the future generations in their full glory.
Taking the Bellary->Hiriyur->Tumkur-> Bangalore. From Bellary the roads are simply fantastic, we stopped at Bellary for lunch and then had our dinner at Kamat upachar on the outskirts of Nelamangala. It took close to 8.5 hours on our return journey which includes both the time taken for lunch, dinner and small breaks in between,