“ With fire and sword, with crow bars and axes, they carried on day after day their work of destruction. Never perhaps in the history of the World has such havoc been wrought, and wrought so suddenly, on so splendid a city, teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plentitude of prosperity one day, and on the next seized, pillaged and reduced to ruins, and scenes of savage massacre and horrors begging description.”
– Robert Sewell in his book "The Forgotten empire" on the plunder aftermath Battle of Talikota and the downfall of the majestic , magnificent Vijayanagara empire.Folklore says, in the capital city of Vijayanagara , the loot continued for 6 months day in and day out.
Every ruin has a story. Every monument hides more than what it reveals. Every building throws a glimpse of majestical Vijayanagara times.
The Vijayanagara Empire was an empire based in South India, in the Deccan Plateau region. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of Sangama Dynasty. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts by the southern powers to ward off Islamic invasions by the end of the 13th century. It lasted until 1646 although its power declined after a major military defeat in 1565 by the Deccan sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagara, whose ruins surround present day Hampi, now a World Heritage Site in Karnataka, India.
The architecture style has been prominent and inspired later Hindu temple constructions.The empire’s patronage enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic music evolved into its current form.
Sri Krishnadevaraya is most prominent ruler of the empire and presided over the empire’s zenith.Known to almost every Telugu household as Rayala vaaru and the man behind “Rayalaseema” nomenclature , built the magnificient Hampi . Sri Krishnadevaraya and Tenali Ramakrishna are Telugu’s own Akbar-Birbal twosome.
Our trip started with we luckily getting upgraded to AC 3 tier from SL and getting down at Hospet Railway station (Northern Karnataka ) on the next day morning. We booked rooms in Lakshmi Heritage Hotel (which met our expectations ) in Hampi Bazaar , the downtown Hampi. Hampi is 13 km from Hospet and one can stay in Hotels there. Hampi is one of 15 UNESCO heritage site cities in India and frequented by more foreigners than Indians. We have met people from atleast 8-10 countries from Europe to Russia to Japan. There are decent enough restaurants serving all kinds of cuisines (Continental, Israeli, Chinese, Indian ) to cater to foreign tourists and autowallahs, roadside vendors speak English ,French,Spanish better than Telugu. One can see guides explaining History coupled with Puranas at the ruined temple sites to foreign tourists.
There are numerous points to visit in Hampi if you get yourselves into listening Autowallahs or guides. We , decided to do one day tour with a autowallah (typically charges 800 INR per day ) and covered some places . Next day explored places on our own. One can skip some places as many are temples, if not interested.One can get a map of Hampi ruins online or can buy a small guide for 10-20 Rs once you land there.
Major sites are Main Virupaksha temple near Hampi Bazaar , Vittala temple where Sun chariot and Musical Mantap is located , Monolithic statue temples to showcase the proficiency of artists at that time, Matanga Hill for a super sunrise hike , Achyutaraya temple for the photography enthusiasts , Tungabhadra river banks for an awesome early morning hike , Hazari Rama temple for some sculptural majesty, Malyavantha temple for another top view of Hampi, Anjandari hillock for a grand Hampi view , Sunset point for a surreal experience, Kings and Queens buildings mixed with Hindu and Muslim Architecture, and Royal Enclosure and surroundings(Lotus Mahal, Elephants stable) to showcase how a kingdom existed. Every place has a story ,importance and vitality of its own. We havent covered some we thought would be not so great.
The Archaeological Survey of India museum at Kamalapura exhibits some of the relics excavated and throws light on some of the grand efforts of our archaeologists in excavations which brought the ruins out. The grandeur of the empire can be understood in the literary works of various foreign visitors during Vijayanagara time presented there. It is said that Diamonds , Gold and metals were sold on Streets of Vijayanagara Hampi.
All pics courtesy : Sawant Tandle
Stone Chariot temple at UNESCO World Heritage site Vittala Temple
A Stepwell near Royal Enclosure (You should see the Before excavation and After Excavation pic of these )
Main Virupaksha temple , the central point of present day Hampi
- Do explore both sides of Tungabhadra river. Unfortunately, the round ‘teppa’ boats are not in use now.
- Do take the bicycle or motorbike on rent and have some fun in lush green rural atmosphere . The distance between the sites are sometimes more than 5 km .
- Do take good sunglasses, a head cap and some water bottles for hike trails.
- Do explore other cuisines in Hampi restaurants.
- Do take pride in so many foreigners visiting an Indian Heritage place.
- Do not expect your cell coverage to be present in Hampi .Exception: BSNL.
- Do not take any winter clothes even during severe winters.Not much use there.
- Do not expect pictures to do justice to show the majestical nature of Vijayanagara empire.
PS : Complete Album of pics : Magnificent Hampi
PPS: I think i now have a plot for an awesome novel/ fantasy film 😛
Other travelogue : Lonavla – Matheran