Friday, April 22, 2011

Hampi - Vijayanagara Marvel ! Part I

A trip to Hampi had been going around in my mind for quiet a long time but i missed it by a whisker two years back due to unforeseen instances.This time around when the trip plan came up, i just wanted to make it though the duration planned was just a day and a half. Any informed tourist would dread to do Hampi in the summer but we four were game for it....

DAY - 1 :

We started off on Saturday at around 3:15 AM from Bangalore and took the NH4 towards Chitradurga. Hampi is about 364 Kms from Bangalore and is slightly off the NH13. The 200 Km run on the NH4 is a breeze provided you start early as the 25 Km stretch till Nelamangala is prone to traffic bottlenecks throught the day. Reached Chitradurga by about 7:00 AM, settled for an early breakfast at Aishwarya fort restaurant. At Chitradurga you need to take a right a diversion from NH4 taking a right towards NH13 which will leads to Hospet. This road to our astonishment was not in that good shape and good amount commercial vehicle traffic was taking this road to the northern states. Beware of the Humps on this road as they are too many and usually catch you unaware. We managed to reach Hospet by 10 AM. Hospet town resembles any busy and messy Indian town of its stature. Hampi is around 10 km from there and we reached there by about 10:15 AM.

Boulders precariously heaped – ready to fall any time, this is what greets you when you enter the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire – Hampi. The temperature was around 40C and humidity was too high. At the entrance of the town few guides swarmed around us but we had decided to check out the KSTDC office. Being a lean season, tourist crowd was very less with just very few foreigners on the streets of Hampi. Just to give you an idea, in the peak season about 1000 foreigners pour in every day and during the lean season it trickles down to 100 and below.

The KSTDC office at Hampi is least equipped to handle a visitor to a world heritage monument. People out there fortunately at least helped us in hiring a guide one Mr.Narayana Swami .. conversant with Five languages and in the profession for the last 16 years.

Before jumping into our guided trip, a brief history of hampi:
Two chieftsman who were banished from the present Andhra region migrated to the present Hampi region starting a reformed life. Vidyaranya a guru of Sringeri wanted the creation of a strong kingdom to safeguard the hindu interests in the subcontinent which were often threatened by the invading armies of the Mohamediens from the lands across the Indus. Under the guidance of the Guru, Hakka and Bukka established their capital at Hampi and it was called Vidyaranya Nagara. The seed of an empire was sown . Over the next 200 plus years (1336 AD – 1565 AD) four dynasties ruled Vijayanagara.

King Krishnadeva Raya (1509-1529 AD) of the Tuluva Dynasty stands tall among the rest. The name and fame of the kingdom reached its zenith during his period. The kingdom was extended from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and from the Deccan Plateau to the tip of the southern peninsula.The warring Deccan Sultanates finally join together to defeat the Vijayanagara army at Talikota, a place north of Hampi. Vijayanagar army suffered heavy losses. The capital city was plundered, its population massacred. Treasure hunters ransacked its palaces and temples for months.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Site was conferred to Hampi in 1986 and the ruins of Hampi are spread over an area of 30 Sq. Km resembling a open air museum. Topography of Hampi is flanked by the Mountains, the Tungabhadra calmly cutting across the rocky terrain and the lush green plantain and sugarcane fields dotting the valley. The area of Hampi is broadly classified into the Sacred center and the Royal Center.

Virupaksha Temple

We started off with the Sacred Center first …first place to visit was the Virupaksha temple, which is one of few functioning temples in Hampi and doesn’t come under the control of ASI. This temple is believed to have been functioning from the 7th century AD and is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha (Shiva) and his concert Pampapati. The temple complex expanded over the years and a major renovation was performed by Krishnadevaraya in the 16th Century.

Virupaksha Temple

Emblem of Vijayanagar Empire

Inside the temple complex

The one big highlight of this temple is the usage of Pin hole camera technique to enable the shadow of the temple tower to fall upside down. 16 holes are available on the temple tower and between morning and noon when sun’s rays falling on the tower are redirected to fall on a beam which inverts it…a marvel !

Lakshmi Narasimha

Lakshmi Narasimha

Next monument of our visit was the Lakshmi Narasimha statue which is the largest one in Hampi. Being warriors they
revered Lord Narasimha and this monolith big statue is the testimony to it. Original statue had his consort Lakshmi sitting on his lap, if you closely observe you can still see the hand of the Godess lakshmi on the left side of the statue.

Badavi Linga

Badavi Linga

Badavi linga is a single monolith structure surrounded by water. Myth goes that it was built by an old women with contributions from the people. Badavi means “Poor women” in Kannada. Water is always filled in the sanctum with the help of water ways that run through.

Vittala Temple

Next monument was the Vittala Temple … The showpiece of Vijayanagara architecture. As you approach the temple you are greeted by the remnants of what was a huge-bustling bazaar on either side till you reach the entrance of the temple. We were told by our guide that rubies and emaralds were traded in these bazaars surrounding Hampi. In total there were four Bazaars in the landscape of Hampi. They were the Virupaksha Bazaar opposite Virupaksha temple, Courtesan Bazaar opposite Tikruvengalanatha Temple, Krishna Bazaar opposite Krishna Temple and the Vittala Bazaar opposite the Vittala Temple.
Krishnadevaraya was not only an efficient King but a shrewd business man as well. He used to trade the spices and gems available in India for the Horses from Arabia which were the best bet in any war. His army had 1 million soldiers, 800 elephants and 8000 horses.

Gopura of the Vittala temple

The Iconic Stone Charriot

After the win over the Kingdom of Orrisa, Krishnadevaraya was impressed with the stone charriot at the temple of Konark. On his way back to hampi he visited Panadaripuram and was mesmerised with the beauty of Pandurangaswamy and made one “statue” to be installed at the Vittala temple. The temple chariot was also his contribution to the temple and Vishnu’s vimana Garuda was housed in the Chariot. On close observation one can find the leg of a horse which used to adore the front portion of the chariot, presently two elephants are placed in the front of the Chariot.
Once you cross the Chariot comes the Maha Mantap which has richly carved monolithic pillars and outer most pillars 56 in number produce musical tones when tapped.The roof of the mantap has provisions for velvet cloth to be draped around the hall for better acoustics during performances. The next Maha mantapa is the kalayana manatapa for mahotsavams. Being a Vittala temple there is a Bhajan mantap as well.

Musical Pillars at the entrance of the temple

Inside of the temple complex

Maha Mantapa

Inside the temple complex

Vittala Bazaar 250m long on either side

Arabian traders bringing horses

King’s Balance

King's Balance

Outside the temple is seen a huge weighing structure, on the birthday of Krishna Deva Raya the kingdoms under his protection used to offer gold coins equal to his weight. Another version of history is that King used to give Gold and valuables to his weight to the priests and the nobles.

Extreme summer heat had taken its and it was time for refuelling…. Guide suggested the Mango tree restaurant by the banks of Tugabadhra. The approach to this place is via a plantain farm and the atmosphere is very soothing and the food excellent at nominal price !.

Way to Mango Tree Restaurant

Yummy food along the Tungabadhra

After the sumptuous lunch our next monument was the Prasanna Virupaksha temple also known as the Underground shiva temple. A small water canals runs around the sanctum which the devotees used to wash their feet before entering. As this temple is below the ground level, it has five entrances. Due to fields nearby the there is high seepage of water in to temple because of which Garbhagraha is surrounded by water and not accesible.Efforts are on by the ASI to acquire the fields surrounding the temple to avoid the flooding of this temple.

Underground Shiva temple

Filled with water due to sorrounding fields

The wonder that Hampi is evident when you can't stop words pouring in when you start writing a blog ....let us continue our jounrey in Part II of this blog. Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Shiva underground temple is most of the times filled with water. seems strange but true