Vithala Temple

Exploring Hampi along Tungabhadra

Where:  To Hampi from Hyderabad

How: Road Trip

When: August 2018

From Hyderabad to Hampi

Hopping to Hampi was almost final once the Nigams (you would know them if you have been following us)  decided to visit us in Hyderabad. A rough itinerary was chalked out and we started around 8 in the morning and hence began another road trip which was a long ride of about 8 hours and roughly a distance of 380 km from Hyderabad.

Would you be surprised if I tell you that not a single milestone or board tells you the direction for Hampi – a UNESCO world heritage site on the highway. Thanks to Google Maps otherwise it would have been a treasure hunt, literally.

Entering Hampi
Entering Hampi

But things change drastically as soon as you enter Hampi. The town greets you with gorgeous views particulary if you are travelling during monsoon and then the ranges of boulders which kind of makes a natural boundary for Hampi as far as your eyes can see and the scattered moments of history that bear testimony to an era bygone which would have been so maginificent in its splendour that even today after thousands of years each monument, temple and sculpture is as real as life itself.

We reached the town of Hampi around 4 in the evening and checked in at Hotel Clarks Inn in Kamlanagar.

A Walk through Hampi

We did have a rough itineray planned out and then at the reception of the hotel we met Lokesh who is a certified guide from Karnataka Tourism who helped us chalk out the plan for the day.

Hampi is not a page of history, it is a book that has many chapters so you need to plan your visit and definitely take a guide for the tour.

We had Lokesh with us for the entire day and as we had our car so we could cover almost all the iconic sites in a day.

Mustard Ganesha
Sasivekalu Ganesha or Mustard Ganesha
Sasivekalu as seen from the back. Look at how he can be seen sitting in his mother’s lap

Sasivekalu or Mustard Ganesha  We start our day with the blessings of Ganesha. This monolithic Ganesha statue is about 8 feet high and our guide tells us that the commoners used to worship this idol and the royals had Kadalekalu or Peanut Ganesha.  If you look at the statue from behind you would notice Parvati holding Ganesha (our guide pointed it out to us otherwise we would have definitely missed it). What really strikes us about this staute is its sheer size and more than that it is the setting of the it which is so divine. It’s huge and out in the open for anyone and everyone to see.

All of us in front of Peanut Ganesha
O Ganesha! We seek your blessings. That’s us in front of Kadalekalu (Peanut) Ganesha
Mudra of Peanut Ganesha
Look at the hast mudra (hand) of Ganesha

Kadalekalu or Peanut Ganesha – This is one of the largest idols of Ganesha in south India and this was for the royal family to visit and worship. Standing tall at about 15 feet this is also a monolithic statute of Lord Ganesha. Both these temples are on Hemakuta Hills where you can find ruins of more temples. Just take a walk around the hills and you will feel the grandeur of the era and beauty of Hampi. From here you can also see Virupaksha Temple.

Virupaksha temple complex
Virupaksha temple complex
Sitting on the boulders in front of Virupaksha Temple
Sitting on the boulders in front of Virupaksha Temple
Entrance of Virupaksha temple

Virupaksha Temple – Dedicated to Lord Shiva this temple is perhaps the most iconic structure in Hampi along with Vithala Temple. It is a live temple till date and worship and rituals are performed daily. The towering gopuram with such intricate sculptures make for a beautiful sight. The paintings on the ceiling of the Ranga Mandapa which depict scenes from Hindu epics and Puranas are a delight to watch.

Inverted image of Virupaksha temple
Inverted image of Virupaksha temple

The most surprising is the inverted shadow of the gopuram which falls in one corner of the temple.  Our guide told us that during the reign of Raja Krishnadevaraya it was considered that whoever could touch  the top of the gopuram of the temple would attain salvation or moksha; young people could climb up and touch the top but there was no way old and sick people could climb and reach the top hence a pinhole camera was built which cast an inverted image of the temple and the old and the sick would easily touch the top in the shadow and gaze at the top of the gopuram from the pin hole camera. In Hindu culture liberation or mukti has forever been the goal and this is evident from this piece of history too.

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
Lakshmi Narasimha etched on one of the pillars in Vithala Temple
Lakshmi Narasimha etched on one of the pillars in Vithala Temple

LakshmiNarasimha Temple– This temple depicts Vishnu in the Narasimha avatar and though originally Goddess Laksmi is sitting in his lap but now all you find is the statue of Lord Narasimha that too has been broken by the invaders.

Badavi Linga
Badavi Linga

Badavi Linga – Right next to the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is the huge Shiva Linga. Supposed to be the largest monolithic linga in Hampi the Linga’s inner sanctum is always filled with water. The Shiva Linga is majestic and one can only wonder at the magnificence of life and the connection a living being had with the divine here in Hampi. It is like walking through a land of various temples.

Lotus Mahal
Lotus Mahal
Lotus Mahal - Such intricate work on the arches
Lotus Mahal – Such intricate work on the arches

Lotus Mahal – This iconic structure represents a lotus flower hence the name. It was built by the king so that both his queens could meet at a common point. Set close to both the queen’s mahals this structure’s architecture is such that whatever the temperature outside you would feel cool once inside the Lotus Mahal.

Wall of Hazara Rama Temple
Wall of Hazara Rama Temple
Pillar inside Hazara Rama Temple
Pillar inside Hazara Rama Temple

HazaraRama Temple – Hazara literally means a thousand and the temple depicts various stories from the Ramayana. Though there are no statues of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman now but the visit to the complex is must for its grandeur and scale.

Vithala Temple
Vithala Temple
Inside the Vithala Temple complex
Musical pillars
Musical Hall - a work of art
Musical Hall – a work of art
From the entrance of the Vithala Temple you can travel in these carts to the main temple complex
From the entrance of the Vithala Temple you can travel in these carts to the main temple complex

Vithala Temple – This temple by far remains the most iconic and ornate structures of Hampi. The stone chariot in the temple complex is dedicated to Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu to whom the temple is dedicated. The Ranga Mantapa has 56 musical pillars (which are now out of bounds for tourists) which emanated musical notes when they were tapped gently; signify how rich culturally and how grand architecturally India was.

Tungabhadra Reservoir

Tungabhadra dam
Tungabhadra dam
Tungabhadra reservoir
Tungabhadra reservoir – it’s a picnic spot for the locals

This was the end of the tour of Hampi but now we wanted to see the Tungabahdra river about which we had read so much in Geography and now after seeing Hampi which is on the banks of this river we wanted to see it all the more. So we drove towards the Tungabhadra reservoir which was full to its brim and in fact there were waves on the banks and it made us feel as if we were beside an ocean or sea and not a river. We could see localites enjoy themselves; there were big groups of family and friends who enjoyed the munchies being sold at the banks of the river. We sat there for quite some time as the views were totally spectacular and with the setting sun’s gleaming rays falling on water we could not help but feel mesmerised by the play of Nature. We also saw all the crest gates of the dam open and the water gushing out; no wonder there were no coracles (round boats) spotted as the water was high beyond the danger mark.

Anjanadri Hills – The birth place of Hanuman

About to begin our climb to Hanuman's birth place
About to begin our climb to Hanuman’s birth place
On our way to Anjanadari Hill
On our way to Anjanadari Hill
Hampi as viewed from the top of Anjanadari hill
Hampi as viewed from the top of Anjanadari hill

We checked out from the hotel and headed straight to Anjanadari Hills which is known to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman. It is a steep trek of about 575 steps but real challenge is walking through the path which is hugely populated by monkeys. These monkeys jump criss cross these steps as this pathway is through the boulders; if you can manage that then it will reward you with breathtaking view of Hampi and the Tungabhadra river from the top which will leave you spell bound and perhaps you will get an idea why Vijayanagar was called so.

Our Room at Clarks Inn in Hampi
Our Room at Clarks Inn in Hampi
Clean and tidy bathrooms
Clean and tidy bathrooms
Swimming pool
Swimming pool at the hotel
Food was really good at Clarks Inn
Food was really good at Clarks Inn

Tips to travel with kids:

  1. A cab is a better option for travelling in and around Hampi with kids.
  2. Pack your snacks and juices, water etc because once inside the complex you won’t get anything to eat.
  3. It would be long walks hence carry your sunglasses, caps, hats etc and wear comfortable shoes.
  4. Also on the highway from Hyderabad there are no markers and no decent places to eat so it is advisable to download the map offline and pack your food.
  5. It is always advisable to hire a guide.
  6. Hotel Clarks Inn in Kamlanagar just opposite the museum is a good option to stay with family. The rooms are neat and clean and the food is really good.

Telangana highway offers some good views with boulders and trees on either side of the road which is quite a ride considering the roads are also good but as soon as you enter Karnataka roads are quite bad and the highway simply can be termed as boring so you might want to download a good playlist or just pick up an interesting book for the highway, for views are practically none.

And the food scene on the highway is equally bad if not more. With not a single decent eatery on the highway we had a hard time looking for a place to stop with kids. We did find a place in Sindhaur called Hotel Satkar and though the food was fresh and tasty but the overall ambiance was quite debatable. We however, had no choice.

 

 

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