3 Day Hampi – Trip Expert Award 2017
3 days in magnificent Hampi ! My post for Trip Expert Awards – 2017
If you are as much a history buff as me, this should be on your must – visit list. Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Karnataka. Dating back to the Ramayana with the mythical monkey kingdom Kishkinda and to the famed Vijayanagar empire, it can only evoke desire in anyone keen to walk down the history lane. With 500+ monuments, it has been accurately compared to an open museum. So you can understand my dilemma when challenged to create a 3-day itinerary for it, when nominated by Shivani Shourie for ‘Travel Expert Awards-2017’. Thank you Shivani, I am honored with this nomination.
So, here is my 3-day itinerary to one of the places that was on my bucket list for 4 years, which I finally ticked off. Follow my itinerary and you will have seen Hampi reasonably well , completely enamored by it, probably a little tired but already planning a return visit ! And if you think this might be too hectic for kids, banish that thought. The kids will surprise you, as mine did !
First and foremost, enlist services of a guide with permit from the Karnataka Tourism department. The hotel can give you references or internet can come to your rescue ! Try and meet the guide in-person before you enlist his services, so you are able to set expectations on pace and places to cover.
You can hire a bike or use your car for the exploration. Be prepared to park your vehicle on the road for some places as they can only be accessed by foot.
After a hearty breakfast, start with the Sacred Center. Begin with Badavilinga Temple and Lakshmi Narasimha temple, which are in a narrow pathway leading away from the main road (vehicle can be parked on the road).
Badavilinga Temple – Almost 10 feet tall Shivalinga carved out of a single rock, it is the largest Linga in Hampi. The sanctum of the temple is always filled with water.
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple – Adjacent to Badavilinga Temple, this statue of Narasimha (Vishnu’s incarnation) is the largest in Hampi at 22 feet. The protruding eyes and facial expression indicate Narasimha in his ‘Ugra’ form but a closer look will show his consort, Goddess Lakshmi’s hand in an embracing posture.
Next, drive down to Virupaksha temple as this will take some time to explore. You can park your vehicle near the entrance.
Virupaksha Temple : This 7th century temple is the oldest temple in Hampi and is one of the oldest functioning temple in India ! The inner courtyard has a beautifully carved pillared corridor. Ranga Mandapa, was added in the 16th century by Krishadeva Raya and his wife, Chinnadevi, used to perform on this platform. The rows of pillars have mythical creatures carved on it and the mural panel have used vegetable paints which is still quite striking.
Do not miss the pinhole camera effect on stone which shows the technology know-how of those days. The sun’s ray passing through a slit and forms an inverted shadow of the main tower on the wall !
Next explore the Hampi Bazaar also known as Virupaksha Bazaar. Located in front of the Virupaksha temple, this 1 kilometer long route ends at the foothill of the Matanga Hill . Both sides of the street are lined with series of old pavilions which were once part of a thriving market and residence of the nobles.
At the end of the street is the Monolithic Bull. This statue of Nandi is housed in a twin storied pavilion on an elevated platform. Even though the carving is not fine, it attracts visitor owing to its huge size.
This whirlwind exploration will surely make you hungry. Proceed for lunch at Mango Tree near the Virupaksha temple. You will love the experience and escape the harsh midday sun. After a sumptuous lunch, you can drive down towards Hemakuta hills. Start with
Kadalekalu Ganesha – On the slope of the Hemakuta hill, this giant statue of Ganesha is carved out of a huge boulder. The pillared hall before the sanctum is quite ornate and provides a vantage view of the Hampi Bazaar and Virupaksha temple structure.
Krishna Temple and Krishna Bazaar – This 16th century temple’s main idol was Balakrishna (Lord Krishna as infant). The temple has some spectacular carvings of Yalis (the mythical lion) on the pillars and the entrances to the temple hall has impressive carved elephant balustrades. Krishna Bazaar, opposite the temple across the road, is where grains were sold during Hampi’s hey days.
Sasivekalu Ganesha – This 8 feet tall statue of Lord Ganesha is carved out of a single boulder in early 16th century and housed in an open pavilion of pillars. As you walk around the statue, do not miss exploring the statue from behind. The beauty of the sculpture shows Gowri, Ganesha’s mother, as if holding him!
Hemakuta Hills – This hill is sprinkled with a large number of temples, archways and pavilions. You can explore this before you settle to follow the big ball of fire across its trajectory from one the best places to watch sunrise / sunset from in Hampi
A fitting end of Day 1 , wouldn’t you agree ?
Start the day with an early breakfast and drive towards Vittala temple. Vittala temple opens at 8:30 AM, so try and be there by 8 AM to beat the crowd for great photo ops. This is one of the few monuments that has ticketed entry and this very ticket will be used in the Zenana enclosure for same day entry, so keep it safe. Explore the Gejjala Mantapa, Kudure Gombe Mantapa and Pushkarni as you walk towards the temple. Alternately, you can take the electric cart to take you to the temple and you can see these on the way.
Vittala Bazaar – The road leading to this temple, known as Vittala Bazaar, was once a thriving market place and famous for horse trading. Depiction of this can also be seen on the decorated base of the Maha Mantapa inside the temple
Vittala temple – This Vishnu temple was originally built in the 15th century AD. Be prepared to be blown away by the most famous artifact of Hampi – the Stone Chariot. Dedicated to Garuda, Lord Vishnu’s vehicle, the chariot is placed on a carved platform and the wheels have intricately carved floral motifs.
The Maha Mantapa (Main Hall) is an imposing structure. The steps of the Maha Mantapa are decorated with elephant balustrade. It stands on an ornate platform which also has bas relief of foreign horse trades. This most talked about part of the hall is called “Musicians Hall” and the main attraction are these pillars known as Musical pillars. When gently tapped, these pillars emit tones as depicted by the figure underneath each pillar.
You can explore other structures in the complex like the Goddess’s shrine, the 100-pillared hall and the Kalayana Mantapa (the ceremonial marriage hall).
Next drive towards the Royal Centre for a feel of how royalty lived 🙂
The Queen’s bath – Be enthralled by the big open pool with verandah all around and balconies projecting towards the pool. This was the place where the queen and her companions enjoyed swimming in the perfumed water that filled this pool.
Zenena Enclosure – This sprawling compound was a secluded area for the royal women. Lotus Mahal is the most prominent building in this enclosure and probably the most photographed and preserved. Meeting place for the queens, it was kept cool using aqua ducts with water from a well behind this building. Elephant Stables – Huge expanse of green grass contrast against this long row of 11 domed chambers to ‘park’ the royal elephants ! Guards Quarters – Located right next to the Elephant Stable, these were probably a ceremonial building.
Drive down to Hazara Rama Temple. Don’t miss the outer walls decorated with relics of Rama, Krishna and portrays Dushera festival procession of horses, elephants, attendants, soldiers and dancing women. Another characteristic feature is the long row of Ramayana carvings, the reason for this temple gets its name Hazara Rama (a thousand Rama)
Next stop will take you to Underground Siva Temple. Built many meters below the ground level, to reach the sanctum and the core parts of the temple one has to wade through water sometimes.
Royal Enclosure – This is the biggest excavation in Hampi. The most imposing and intact structure in this area is the ‘Dushera Platform’ from where the king would watch display of festivities. You can see the stepped tank and the overhead water canals around it. You can spot underground chamber and entrance to the same. The king had access to 6 such underground passage and it was a secret which one he would use at any point !
Sister’s stone – These two gigantic boulders leaning against each other, per folklore, are two sisters turned to boulders due to a curse !
With this intriguing story, we end Day 2.
Start with an early breakfast as it is going to be a very interesting day. We will explore the riverside ruins today which can be only explored on foot. Drive down towards the Hampi bazaar, park at the designated parking and a small walk along the Tungabhadra river will take you to the historic Kodandarama Temple.
Kodandarama Temple – This temple has deep religious significance. It stands at the place where Rama crowned Sugreeva king of Kishkinda. The ancient pavilion next to this temple have been used by the pilgrims as a place to rest for many centuries!
Yantrodharaka Anjaneya Temple – This is a functioning shrine located just behind the Kodandarama Temple. This Hanuman temple is only next in importance to the whitewashed shrine birthplace of Hanuman on top of the Anjeyanadri Hill. The image of Hanuman here in unique and he appears in a meditative or prayer position.
Riverside exploration – Take an enjoyable coracle ride (this should definitely be experienced) to the rocks along the river to reach the 108 Lingas and another fabulous array of 1008 lingas carved on a flat rock surface. This can be reached on foot too but the coracle ride was more attractive. Exploring the rocks will uncover very interesting treasures like these.
The coracle drops you at the banks where you can explore Purandaradasa Mantapa and see the Ancient Bridge. As you walk along the riverside, you will see Kings Balance – a 16 feet structure used by the king to weigh himself in precious stones like gold, gems, silver and distributed to the priests on special occasions. The road next takes you to Sugreeva’s Cave, the famous Courtesan’s Street, Achuta Raya temple and the Varaha temple (the only Shiva temple in this vicinity).
You are now back from where you started. After lunch you can proceed towards Anegundi – An offbeat destination near Hampi dating back to 3rd century ! This is the Kishkinda of the Ramanyana times. It is a 45 min drive from Hampi. Alternately you can take a coracle ride across the river to this place but will need to hire local transport on the other side.
Gagan Mahal – 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.
Chintamani temple – In this ancient looking temple complex, you will find a cave where Ram met Sugriva along with Hanuman to solicit 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 ! How historically exciting is this !
Durga Temple and Vali Qila (Bali’s fort) – This 14th century Durga Temple is situated on a small hillock which you can drive up to. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga, a beloved deity of the Vijayanagar kings. The temple has awesome vibe and you can find peace and calm in the temple surroundings.
Further ahead is the Vali Qila, which is believed to be Vali’s (Bali’s) old fort. You can find tombs of many of the Vijayanagar kings inside.
Pampa Sarovar – One of the five sacred sarovars (lakes/ponds) in India. As per Hindu mythology, this was the place where Goddess in the form of Pampa Devi, prayed to Lord Shiva. Pampa Sarovar also has a reference in Ramayan as the place where Shabari, a devotee of Ram, awaited his arrival, with a bowl of sweet ber (berries). Footprints of Lord Ram can still be seen at the place where Shabari washed his feet with water from the sarovar !
Anjaneyadri Hill – The birthplace of Lord Hanuman, 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. This is also a great sunset point.
Isn’t it a fitting end to Day 3 and to the 3 day trip to historical Hampi ?
- Getting here
- By road : Hampi is about 350 kms from Bangalore, a drive that can take about 7 hours. Road conditions are good. Tourist buses are also an option
- By rail : There is Hampi Express between Bangalore / Mysore and Hampi, which is an overnight journey
- By air : Nearest domestic airport is at Bellary, 60 kms from Hampi. Bangalore being the nearest international airport
- Where to Stay
- While there are many hotels in Hospet, I would suggest you choose a hotel in Kamalapur for ease of exploring the Hampi ruins
My nominations for Trip Expert 2017 Awards
Over to you guys 🙂
- Himanshu Agarwal of Delhi Nomad for a 3-day trip to Gangtok in monsoons
- Ami Bhat of Thrilling Travel for a 3-day trip to Meghalaya
- Vishu and Saumya of Road To Taste for a 3-day trip to Bhutan
Here is what you have to do:
Read the Rules for Trip Expert 2017 Award
Accept the nomination and publish a post on planning the trip.
P.S. In the unlikely (ahem) event of me not winning, one of you have to (no pressure !) win the first prize(25k) so I get the ‘King Maker Award’ for your nomination !