A tour of Anegundi – the mother kingdom of Hampi !
One of the reasons I wanted to visit Hampi was also the mythical Kishkinda of Ramayan. Having grown up reading “Amar Chitra Katha” stories, which inevitably included the Ramayan, I was intrigued by the opportunity that a visit to Hampi brought. A visit to the land of Sugreev, Bali, Hanuman and the Vaanar Sena (Monkey army) which assisted Ram in getting his Sita back from Lanka. So with this post, I conclude my 5 series Hampi post.
Our guide Lokesh told us that Anegundi is older than Hampi. An offbeat heritage destination near Hampi, it’s history dates back to 3rd century ! Is there any wonder then that it is considered the mother kingdom to Hampi ?
Given that we had a car, and we had our fill of the coracle ride, we decided to drive to Anegundi – a distance of about 20kms which we covered in 45 minutes. The first impression was of a quaint, charming village. We drove straight to Gagan Mahal.
1) Gagan Mahal
Gagan Mahal was built in the 16th century, for the women of royalty to watch festivities in the village square. The bejeweled windows of this yellow palace overlooks the ancient Ranganathswamy Temple and the village square.
The old palace has a vivid imprint of Islamic architecture and is encircled by a fort, which is now in ruins. The preserved part of the palace is now part of office premises and remaining portions are completely ruined. The palace today is a mere shadow of the original grandeur and charm it probably exuded in its hey days.
2) Chintamani temple
Driving away from Gagan Mahal, we passed small colorful houses which appeared to be a Muslim area, very close to the temple. Our guide told us that Hindus and Muslims have lived here side by side for centuries, celebrate each other’s festivals ! The approach to this is quite narrow and we had some trouble taking the car to this point.
This temple is located on the edge of the river in Anegundi. It has the ancient feel to it with the white façade and architecture. Know what I mean ?
It was extremely interesting due to so much of Ramayan context here. According to beliefs, Ram met Sugriva along with Hanuman in this cave, to ask for support in getting Sita back from Lanka.
Near the cave, there are footprint impressions of Lakhsman and Ram on the rock. It is believed that from this very spot Ram had aimed and shot the arrow at Bali (fighting Sugreev) that killed him.
The bigger hillock you see in the distance is supposed to be Bali’s ashes ! You can understand why these places were so exciting for me.
Another legend goes that at this exact location, Ram gave Hanuman a precious jewel, Chintamani, for Sita identify him as Ram’s messenger. The temple derives its name from this stone.
There were a few temples in the complex including a Shiva temple
They say, in Rome do as the Romans. In the monkey kingdom ?
3) Durga Temple and Vali Qila (Bali’s fort)
This 14th century Durga Temple is situated on a small hillock which we drove up to.
The temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga, a beloved deity of the Vijayanagar kings. They worshiped the Goddess before any important event or before proceeding for war. However, given its location at the base of a fort the name could have been derived from the local word for fort, ‘durg’. Probably the kings installed the deity to protect the fort. !
The temple can be accessed after a short climb up a flight of steps.
The temple has awesome vibe and I found a peace and calm in the temple surroundings- which is only to be experienced. In front of the Durga shrine there is an enormous tree which has many coconuts, tied in colorful cloths, as offering to the Goddess for wish fulfillment. The priest informed me that when a monkey opens the tied cloth and makes the coconut fall, it is indicative of that wish being fulfilled !
Further ahead is the Vali Qila, which is believed to be Vali’s (Bali’s) old fort.
You will see the tombs of many of the Vijayanagar kings inside.
Unfortunately, the fort is in dilapidated condition. The massive entrance which at one time would have welcomed famous kings, lies forgotten and in a state of ruin.
4) Pampa Sarovar
‘Pampa Sarovar’ in Sanskrit means ‘lotus pond’ and this is one of the five sacred sarovars (lakes/ponds) in India. As per Hindu mythology, this the place where the Goddess in the form of Pampa Devi, prayed to Lord Shiva. Normally the sarovar is filled with lotus plants but when we visited it was bereft of it.
Pampa Sarovar also has a reference in Ramayan as the place where Shabari, a devotee of Ram, awaited his arrival, with a bowl of ber (berries) – after tasting each one and saving only the sweet berries ! The small, clean and cool Shabari cave is located near the lake and is maintained by tribal families living outside it. Footprints of Lord Ram can still be seen at the place where Shabari washed his feet with water from the sarovar ! This hermit beckoned and gave ber as prasad to us 🙂
There are temples dedicated to Goddess Vijayalakshmi, Lord Shiva and Pampa Devi. The Vijayalakshmi Temple has an idol of the goddess with several Salagramas placed before her. These stones are holy because it is considered that gods leave their mark on them and are found only in Nepal 🙂
Just adjacent to the Vijayalakshmi Temple is a Shiva Temple, where both Lord Shiva and his consort Pampa (Parvati) Devi are worshiped.
5) Anjaneyadri Hill
Anjaneyadri Hill is believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman, the monkey god. This hill can be seen from Hampi’s Vittala temple and the riverside path. On top of the hill, a whitewashed temple is dedicated to Hanuman.
You need to ascend the 600 odd winding steps to reach this temple. We did not climb due to paucity of time but from top of the hill, you get a great view of the bouldered landscape and the vegetation.
This is also a great sunset point. Apparently, the Ramayan (the story of Ram) recited inside this temple is in Hindi and not the local language , Kannada !
Link to other Hampi article in the series (in case you missed these)
Route 1 – Exploring Sacred Center
Route 2 – Exploring the riverside at Hampi
Route 3 – Exploring the Royal Center
Things you may want to know before the travel (Travel tips)
- Getting here and other tips from my first blog
- You have an option of crossing the river, in a cost effectively manner, on a coracle at the jetty near Vittala temple
- It is advisable to hire a local transport (if you don’t have your own) for sightseeing in Anegundi as the sites are some distance apart
- Durga Temple opens at 4am closes at only 10.00pm with no break in between, making for an any time visit
- Time permitting, do visit the prehistoric settlement called Onake Kindi at Chikka Rampur for the fascinating pre-historic rock paintings
- If you are looking for local handicraft, buy Banana fiber handicrafts or cloth. You can pick it up here or the emporium in Hampi near the Archeological Museum
- Huchappayana Math temple (with black-stone pillars and dance sculptures and Navabrindavan (island housing tombs of nine Madhva saints) are other major attractions