Hampi – Boulders and Ruins have a tale to tell

12
1073
IMG  e
First Views of Hampi - Mountains of Boulders Everywhere
Reading Time: 12 minutes

Hampi a Legend of Human Will Power in Struggle and Survival

THE KISHKINDHA MOMENTS

Mountainous gigantic boulders scattered everywhere form the landscape and contours of Hampi as I look around from the top of Anjanadri Hill. Nature’s beauty and balance give a mix of spiritual and mesmerizing experiences. This hillock is the Kishkindha of Ramayana mythology. Starting my climb of 575 steps towards the Anjanadri hilltop, the one thought on my mind was, what if I catch cramps, but this time though, I had none of that and made it to the top huffing and puffing in one go. I was there to witness the sunrise, but menacing dark clouds started encircling, forcing a quick retreat back to the base.

ARRIVING AT HAMPI

I was contemplating another trip to the north, and this time Mcleodganj was on the radar, but with the weather playing truant there, my southern journey to Hampi, a short bus ride from Hospet, materialized. Hampi, I find, has a lot to say, both in history and character, a swing from one rich, the colorful city it once was to one of complete obliteration as a forgotten, lost city, ravaged by Muslim invaders. Once the Vijayanagara Empire’s capital city from 1336 to 1565 is now preserved as a UNESCO world heritage site. Hampi today is a mixture of opposites, with ruins and boulders being in sight almost everywhere.

The dilemma I found myself in was whether to focus on the ruins or the boulders. Tungabhadra River splits the city into two, with the ruins on one and farmlands on the other. Culturally, the Hampi Island on the other side of Tungabhadra presents the tourists’ Goan lifestyle and has more locals living. At the same time, the main Hampi is devoid of any significant lifestyle besides temples. I finally decided to explore both ends of the spectrum.

STONE RUINS – THE PRIDE OF HAMPI

The undulating terrain and heat were sucking out all my energy. Cycling wasn’t the easiest way for me to explore the ruins. But I realized that the real charm of exploring Hampi ruins is in going slow. You understand the soul of the place better. Giving voice to the soul of Hampi was Parashuram, my guide. Vendors for refreshments all along kept egging me to move around. What made my day yet was the simple vegetarian lunch served by an adorable couple under the trees’ shade near the underground Shiva temple.

Also read: Kanchipuram – Carved in Stone and Woven in Silk

Breathtaking is the multitude of rock-carved pillars at what was once the marketplace, the recently discovered symmetrical stepwell, the single rock sculptures of Gods like Shiva, Narasimha, and Ganesha, all on a colossal scale. The highlight of the ruins is, without doubt, the Vitthal Temple complex, which got a fillip with the recently issued Rs.50 notes carrying the image of the Stone Chariot located here. Curiously I found that the pillars at the 100 pillar Sabha Mandapa to be of single granite blocks, were making some vibratory sounds when tapped. These pillars were musical instruments in that age and time.

THE LUCKY CHARM THAT SPARED THE TEMPLE

Cycling with all my might, I became desperate to complete the day’s journey before my legs give way. Steep downhill roads are an incredible joy to ride on, the uphill lanes are the exact opposite, and I had my fair share of comical and embarrassing moments. I made it to Virupaksha temple somehow, which is, by the way, the only one in Hampi teeming with pilgrims.

I observed the temple elephant bathing at the Tungabhadra River in the morning, giving blessings and collecting alms. It was a hair-raising moment for me to feel the elephant’s skin, which itself was sharp and hairy on the trunk. Legend has it that the boar symbol on the temple’s gates (a royal symbol of the ruling family) clashed with Muslim invaders’ ideologies and principles of faith, forcing them to abandon the idea of destroying this temple. I’m glad they did that, for the ruins’ end of Hampi has some life today.

THE HARA GOLU TEPPA MOMENTS

With the wind blowing stiff, a wave of water splashes all over me as it crashed on the embankment wall. That’s a showering welcome to Sanapur Lake as I drive down on a motorcycle from Virupapur Gadde to the Tungabhadra reservoir. From here, I am awestruck by the sight of crystal clear waters on one hand and lush green rolling paddy fields on the other. It is a sight to die for anyone.

At the lake, David makes sure that he has his coracle (Hara Golu Teppa) balanced for my ride. As the lake waters were choppy, this wasn’t one of those times I would not have been mindful of a ride. A fear lurked at the back of my mind, what if coracle sinks, as I had no way to swim ashore. The warning board on crocodiles’ presence added to the churn in my stomach as the coracle goes around in circles as it moves forward during my long ride around the lake. It was fun. It set the tone for more encounters and experiences for me with nature.

FITNESS CHALLENGE AND MUSICAL EVENING

Bouldering is the real challenge here in Hampi, and the slippery giant boulders make the jump and climb challenging yet stimulating. The Anjanhalli Hillock is where the hippie crowds gather at sunset, is one of the favorite spots in Virupapur Gadde. I finally made it to the top, and it was a good half hour wait before I witness the glory of the skies at sunset, even as I sip in the chai served by enterprising young kids who’ve made the hillocks of Hampi their home and for whom bouldering is second nature.

As the sun goes down, I am amazed as Gali and his troupe of kids singing songs in emotional tones that it’s hard to miss this gem of an event. Of course, it was time for me to leave before it gets too dark, as finding the way down without bruises is on top of my mind. The hippies by then joined the party and brought out their guitar, didgeridoo, and djembe to create a mesmerizing electric evening adding to my dilemma of how much more I should hear to have satisfaction.

A PEEP INTO THE LIFE AT HAMPI

Hungry for food, I head to Mango Tree Restaurant to have a sumptuous meal that’s as authentic and Kannadiga as it can get. The vast restaurant has much vegetarian food to choose from, but I settled for a simple lunch, not wanting to experiment much on travels. As I observe, this restaurant is one of the most sought after, located in the bylanes next to Virupaksha temple. Without a doubt, I recommend it.

The temple side of Hampi, as I discovered, does not encourage non-vegetarian food or liquor, but that is not so at the Hippie Island side, where lifestyle is more Goan and Western. Less said on their lifestyles, the better. Shopkeepers tend to fleece anybody on who the tourist label is written large all over his face, and I was one of the samples they chose to test their skills. Even so, I had a great time shopping assorted wares like stone artifacts, Lambani crafts, leather crafts, banana crafts, musical instruments, and clothing being on offer here.

Hampi Mountains and Boulders - A sweeping view
Hampi Mountains and Boulders – A sweeping view

FINAL THOUGHTS

People are friendly to you, simple, and approachable. Their families work on farms by sowing, plowing, weeding, and fencing, along with cattle and sheep rearing. I noticed that people here are deeply rooted in their faith, wear traditional clothes, humble in nature, and speak Kannada, Hindi, and English. The Lambani womenfolk are nomads who come from Belgaum and move in here from season to season.

A rural place, Hampi is at best a tiny village. The air was pure and refreshing, with a gentle breeze blowing as I made it to different town parts. Motorboats are the option for crossing Tungabhadra, while coracle is also available for kicks. I had a comfortable laid back chill-out experience during my stay on Hampi Island, but the mobile connection in Hampi is next to nothing except for BSNL. I count myself lucky to have had the connectivity Brahmastra.

I would call Hampi an ideal scenic beauty with medieval ruins, architectural marvels, imposing boulders, and gently flowing rivers. Also, Hampi has hidden caves, hills, waterfalls, lakes, and riverbeds.

It is also a place with green valleys, farming lands, coconut trees, sunrise and sunset points, stunning landscapes, and more if you can afford to go slow and spend more time discovering this heaven.

October to March is the best season to visit, and there are many guesthouses and hotels available for every traveler’s budget. Hampi is the place for every age as the experiences give a new outlook to life.

I went with tlow.in for the trip to Hampi. They are quite organized and sorted out in conducting backpacking trips.

*************************************************************************************************
LET’S CONNECT 🙂
Does this trigger memories of similar experiences? Please share with us.

Like something in particular or curious to know more? Please express freely.

I would love to connect with an engaged audience. It helps me bring more to you.

Request you to subscribe / social share / comment below.

Together we can change the world and make it a better place to live in!!!

 

THE KISHKINDHA MOMENTS

Mountainous gigantic boulders scattered everywhere form the landscape and contours of Hampi as I look around from the top of Anjanadri Hill. Nature’s beauty and balance give a mix of spiritual and mesmerizing experiences. This hillock is the Kishkindha of Ramayana mythology. Starting my climb of 575 steps towards the Anjanadri hilltop, the one thought on my mind was, what if I catch cramps, but this time though, I had none of that and made it to the top huffing and puffing in one go. I was there to witness the sunrise, but menacing dark clouds started encircling, forcing a quick retreat back to the base.

ARRIVING AT HAMPI
I was contemplating another trip to the north. This time, Mcleodganj was on the radar, but with the weather playing truant there, my southern journey to Hampi, a short bus ride from Hospet, materialized. Hampi, I find, has a lot to say, both in history and character, a swing from one rich, the colorful city it once was to one of complete obliteration as a forgotten, lost city, ravaged by Muslim invaders. Once the Vijayanagara Empire’s capital city from 1336 to 1565 is now preserved as a UNESCO world heritage site. Hampi today is a mixture of opposites, with ruins and boulders being in sight almost everywhere.

The dilemma I found myself in was whether to focus on the ruins or the boulders. Tungabhadra River splits the city into two, with the ruins on one and farmlands on the other. Culturally, the Hampi Island on the other side of Tungabhadra presents the tourists’ Goan lifestyle and has more locals living. At the same time, the main Hampi is devoid of any significant lifestyle besides temples. I finally decided to explore both ends of the spectrum.

STONE RUINS – THE PRIDE OF HAMPI
The undulating terrain and heat were sucking out all my energy. Cycling wasn’t the easiest way for me to explore the ruins. But I realized that the real charm of exploring Hampi ruins is in going slow. You understand the soul of the place better. Giving voice to the soul of Hampi was Parashuram, my guide. Vendors for refreshments all along kept egging me to move around. What made my day yet was the simple vegetarian lunch served by an adorable couple under the trees’ shade near the underground Shiva temple.

Also read: Kanchipuram – Carved in Stone and Woven in Silk

Breathtaking is the multitude of rock-carved pillars at what was once the marketplace, the recently discovered symmetrical stepwell, the single rock sculptures of Gods like Shiva, Narasimha, and Ganesha, all on a colossal scale. The highlight of the ruins is, without doubt, the Vitthal Temple complex, which got a fillip with the recently issued Rs.50 notes carrying the image of the Stone Chariot located here. Curiously I found that the pillars at the 100 pillar Sabha Mandapa to be of single granite blocks, were making some vibratory sounds when tapped. These pillars were musical instruments in that age and time.

THE LUCKY CHARM THAT SPARED THE TEMPLE
Cycling with all my might, I became desperate to complete the day’s journey before my legs give way. Steep downhill roads are an incredible joy to ride on, the uphill lanes are the exact opposite, and I had my fair share of comical and embarrassing moments. I made it to Virupaksha temple somehow, which is, by the way, the only one in Hampi teeming with pilgrims.

I observed the temple elephant bathing at the Tungabhadra River in the morning, giving blessings and collecting alms. It was a hair-raising moment for me to feel the elephant’s skin, which itself was sharp and hairy on the trunk. Legend has it that the boar symbol on the temple’s gates (a royal symbol of the ruling family) clashed with Muslim invaders’ ideologies and principles of faith, forcing them to abandon the idea of destroying this temple. I’m glad they did that, for the ruins’ end of Hampi has some life today.

THE HARA GOLU TEPPA MOMENTS
With the wind blowing stiff, a wave of water splashes all over me as it crashed on the embankment wall. That’s a showering welcome to Sanapur Lake as I drive down on a motorcycle from Virupapur Gadde to the Tungabhadra reservoir. From here, I am awestruck by the sight of crystal clear waters on one hand and lush green rolling paddy fields on the other. It is a sight to die for anyone.

At the lake, David makes sure that he has his coracle (Hara Golu Teppa) balanced for my ride. As the lake waters were choppy, this wasn’t one of those times I would not have been mindful of a ride. A fear lurked at the back of my mind, what if coracle sinks, as I had no way to swim ashore. The warning board on crocodiles’ presence added to the churn in my stomach as the coracle goes around in circles as it moves forward during my long ride around the lake. It was fun. It set the tone for more encounters and experiences for me with nature.

FITNESS CHALLENGE AND MUSICAL EVENING
Bouldering is the real challenge here in Hampi, and the slippery giant boulders make the jump and climb challenging yet stimulating. The Anjanhalli Hillock is where the hippie crowds gather at sunset, is one of the favorite spots in Virupapur Gadde. I finally made it to the top, and it was a good half hour wait before I witness the glory of the skies at sunset, even as I sip in the chai served by enterprising young kids who’ve made the hillocks of Hampi their home and for whom bouldering is second nature.

As the sun goes down, I am amazed as Gali and his troupe of kids singing songs in emotional tones that it’s hard to miss this gem of an event. Of course, it was time for me to leave before it gets too dark, as finding the way down without bruises is on top of my mind. The hippies by then joined the party and brought out their guitar, didgeridoo, and djembe to create a mesmerizing electric evening adding to my dilemma of how much more I should hear to have satisfaction.

A PEEP INTO THE LIFE AT HAMPI
Hungry for food, I head to Mango Tree Restaurant to have a sumptuous meal that’s as authentic and Kannadiga as it can get. The vast restaurant has much vegetarian food to choose from, but I settled for a simple lunch, not wanting to experiment much on travels. As I observe, this restaurant is one of the most sought after, located in the bylanes next to Virupaksha temple. Without a doubt, I recommend it.

The temple side of Hampi, as I discovered, does not encourage non-vegetarian food or liquor, but that is not so at the Hippie Island side, where lifestyle is more Goan and Western. Less said on their lifestyles, the better. Shopkeepers tend to fleece anybody on who the tourist label is written large all over his face, and I was one of the samples they chose to test their skills. Even so, I had a great time shopping assorted wares like stone artifacts, Lambani crafts, leather crafts, banana crafts, musical instruments, and clothing being on offer here.

Hampi Mountains and Boulders - A sweeping view
Hampi Mountains and Boulders – A sweeping view

FINAL THOUGHTS
People are friendly to you, simple, and approachable. Their families work on farms by sowing, plowing, weeding, and fencing, along with cattle and sheep rearing. I noticed that people here are deeply rooted in their faith, wear traditional clothes, humble in nature, and speak Kannada, Hindi, and English. The Lambani womenfolk are nomads who come from Belgaum and move in here from season to season.

A rural place, Hampi is at best a tiny village. The air was pure and refreshing, with a gentle breeze blowing as I made it to different town parts. Motorboats are the option for crossing Tungabhadra, while coracle is also available for kicks. I had a comfortable laid back chill-out experience during my stay on Hampi Island, but the mobile connection in Hampi is next to nothing except for BSNL. I count myself lucky to have had the connectivity Brahmastra.

I would call Hampi an ideal scenic beauty with medieval ruins, architectural marvels, imposing boulders, and gently flowing rivers. Also, Hampi has hidden caves, hills, waterfalls, lakes, and riverbeds. It is also a place with green valleys, farming lands, coconut trees, sunrise and sunset points, stunning landscapes, and more if you can afford to go slow and spend more time discovering this heaven.

October to March is the best season to visit, and there are many guesthouses and hotels available for every traveler’s budget. Hampi is the place for every age as the experiences give a new outlook to life.

I went with tlow.in for the trip to Hampi. They are quite organized and sorted out in conducting backpacking trips.

*************************************************************************************************
LET’S CONNECT 🙂
Does this trigger memories of similar experiences? Please share with us.

Like something in particular or curious to know more? Please express freely.

I would love to connect with an engaged audience. It helps me bring more to you.

Request you to subscribe / social share / comment below.

Together we can change the world and make it a better place to live in!!!

 

12 COMMENTS

  1. My first observation is, it gives a realistic picture of the present day Hampi.

    A place so deep rooted in history where many of the boulders shown in the picture has a piece of history to tell, you kept it very simple and poignant. The reason why poignant is that one gets to really sink in to the reality of a capital city with it’s rich heritage and past glory, but now laid to ruins. Still it is one of the most preserved sites goes on to tell, how deep rooted the history of the place is. For almost 300 years the Vijayanagara empire ruled over the entire south india with their capital at Hampi and kept at bay, the sulthans from Deccan and north, as per history.

    The fact that the insignia of the Vijayanagara empire carrying the image of a boar could have conflicted with the muslim ideologies and that could have been one of the reasons why the sulthans did not demolish the entire structure but left it to ruins was interesting reading.

    My appreciation for you for purposefully withholding yourself from dwelling deep into the history of this place, but at the same time touching upon the present state of Hampi and the must see visits nearby.

    The hotel, stay & accommodation along with other recreational facilities too added to the reading and gives a fair enough understanding for anyone planning to visit Hampi.

    All in all a good write up and many congratulations, Kumar for coming up with such an exciting blog. Wish, you come up with more such blogs in future as well.

  2. Visit to any historic site that was once bustling with activity and riches and now in a shambles and ruins, always brings forth indescribable anguish. The comparison of things then and now is an inevitable fallout and, then, when you find yourself incapable of coming to terms with the instant, you give up. Reluctantly. The ruins do not, thereafter, just tell a tale. They describe reality – enshrined in ruins, amidst death and devastation. Hampi, is no exception. It evokes awe that is encapsulated in pain and destruction.

    Your account is inspiring, Kumar. It enables one who hasn’t been to that place to have a fair idea about it. And that is precisely the objective of an effective travelogue – to induce people visit such places. The write-up as also the photographs and the graphic account of people who made it memorable for you, truly deserves a thumbs up. On my to do list straight away. Thanks for sharing.

  3. A picturesque description, of a place steeped in history and traditions, at once sends out an invitation to go and spend quality time there. The rocky terrain, the old richly carved temples and the flowing river all make for an enriching experience. A visit is definitely on the cards now.

    • Thanks Swanalatha. This place reminds us of both the architectural brilliance during Vijayanagara times, and the ruthlessness in the destruction by the Deccan Sultanates.

  4. ^ Hampi ‘s history, ruins and temples made it an early site for offbeat tourism in the 19 and after. Tourists would gather on its hills and midst its ruins, to hold parties and spiritual retreats, and these have been called “Hampi Hippies” and Hampi as the “lost city” in some publications.

    • Hampi keeps haunting you with its lovely memories long after you have returned home. Hope to make another trip there soon to rediscover the place.
      Glad you found the article a good read.

Leave a Reply to Swarnalatha Padmanabhan Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.