Exploring Hampi in two days (on a weekend)
Hampi is one of the places I have visited many times since childhood. My relatives stay in a nearby town (Hospet), and whenever I go there, they used to take me to Hampi and have darshan at Virupaksha Temple and Yantrodharaka Hanuman Temple.
In 2020, just before the Covid hit, one of my friends (Sri Charan) went on a solo trip to Hampi and posted pictures on Instagram. I got excited while he narrated his experience of travelling solo to Hampi and exploring places there. I added Hampi to the bucket list, and since my relatives stay there, I need not worry about the plan of places to visit, food and accommodation.
After a successful trip to Varanasi last December, I thought of visiting Hampi during the New Year vacation, but it didn’t fall into place. Nevertheless, I was expecting to be there and explore places before summer came in.
January and February went by, and still, I didn’t go there. On 28th February, while overcoming Monday blues, I picked up the phone and called my brother who stays there, informing him that I’ll be there on Friday, 4th March and visit Hampi the following weekend. He was happy and advised me to carry a cap and stay hydrated throughout the two days since the heat in Hampi is high and scorching.
I reached Hospet on Friday and sat with my brother to plan my two days trip to Hampi (thankfully, I asked for his suggestion. Else, it’d have been worse). He reserved a bike for me in Hampi. Took a bus the following morning to Hampi and reached there by 10 am.
Day-1: Temples & Lotus Mahal
Visited the Virupaksha Temple, one of the significant places with awe-inspiring architecture inside. There are deities of other gods apart from Lord Shiva. Since it was Saturday, there were a lot of tourists at the place (and monkeys, irrespective of the days). I had been to this Temple before and hence, didn’t spend much time now. Next, I went to the bike rental place and took my bike. There are bicycles and TVS XL 100s. I took a TVS and started roaming places.
I resumed my exploration with Chandikeshwara Temple, where you can observe the unique sound produced by two pillars. Opposite that Temple, there is Uddana Veerabhadra Temple, where the idol is large. You can find lesser people and much peace in both of these temples.
Continuing my exploration, I went to Hazara Rama Temple, where the incidents of Ramayana are inscribed on the walls of the Temple. I was surprised by the clarity of those inscriptions. It’s like reading a comic book. Imagine the effort those people put in storytelling at temples those days _/\_. There were many visitors and foreigners too, who appreciated the work.
I then went to Dasara(Mahanavami) Dibba, a stone platform inside the Royal Enclosure. The view from the top of it was magnificent. You can see an excellent panoramic view of the significant activities that used to take place during the reign of the Tuluva dynasty. There are secret chambers, stone doors, a small pool, and a common bath. If you would like to learn the story of all of the places at Dasara Dibba, better to look out for Tourist guides. They will be available there, and you can join a group if you are eager to hear the stories.
Then I headed to Lotus Mahal, an aesthetically appealing place that reflects the architectural taste of the Vijayanagara Kings. I was told that a couple of old movies were shot here owing to the beauty that can enhance scenes. This place is currently under ASI, and we need to pay Rs.40 (includes Lotus Mahal and Vijaya Vittala Temple) to enter the site.
In the surroundings of Lotus Mahal, we can find the Elephant stable. It used to provide shelter to the Royal elephants. Also visited the Queen’s bath and Octagonal bath, the chambers used for bathing back then.
While I was about to return to the place where I could have lunch, I went to the Prasanna Virupaksha Temple, where the Shiva Linga is underground. The time was ~2:45 pm, and a few people were near the Temple.
I left the slippers at the entrance, and I heard the song “Om Shivoham” played on a mobile of the only devotee inside the temple at that time. A pool of water surrounds the temple, and it was entirely dark. I was about to set foot in the water when I heard a sound emerging from the movement of something in the water. Fearing it was a snake, I didn’t dare go into the temple.
Okay, I covered too many places in one go! As the sun was draining my energy, I took a short break after lunch. Resumed the exploration at 4 pm.
Now, I went to the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple and Badavilinga Temple, side-by-side. The Lakshmi Narasimha Temple has a giant Narasimha statue that gives you goosebumps. I’ve seen it many times and every time I am amazed by the brilliance of the people who did that and the statue in front of our eyes. It was destroyed, but even the ruins are mighty.
And then, the Badavilinga Temple has a Shiva Linga surrounded by a pool of water. I remember visiting it earlier (~3 years ago), and there were no barricades that restricted us. Owing to the protection of these monuments, the GoI added barriers at all monuments that ensure those are not damaged anymore.
While I was in front of the Narasimha, it was all fire. The view was intense and fierce. But soon after coming in front of Badavilinga, the atmosphere is calm, maybe due to the water surrounding the idol.
Then I went to Krishna Temple, which is one of the architectural marvels. Most of the temples here don’t have deities owing to the risk of getting damaged, and they are present in the ASI Museum, Kamalapura, near Hampi. On the Hemakuta hill, I went to see the two giant Ganeshas: Sasivekalu Ganesha and Kadalekalu Ganesha.
Now, it’s time to visit where Hanuman is placed inside an amulet, Yantrodharaka Hanuman Temple, at the banks of the Tungabhadra river, near Kodanda Rama Temple. Every time I have been to Hampi, I visit this place.
This is not like what you imagine Hanuman to be. Go to this temple and listen to the story the locals tell you about this temple. This area has many temples like Kodanda Rama Temple, Surya Narayana Temple, and Ranganatha Swamy temple (the deity is in the form of Anantha Padmanabha).
Sun is about to rest for the day, and my family suggested that I witness the sunset from Matanga Hill, near the Yantrodharaka Temple, as the view is good. I was talking to the people there, and by the time I started from there to Matanga Hill, it was already late.
The Sun laughed at my failure in meeting the deadline and gave a beautiful view of the evening while he was about to shine in another part of the world. Though at the initial steps, I was able to take a picture of the shrine of Virupaksha Temple and the setting Sun.
End of day one, I was satisfied with the places I visited and explored. Tired and tanned, I had a glass of lemon soda and returned to Hospet. Prerana (my brother’s daughter) was happy that I returned earlier than I promised, and we talked for some time.
Day-2: Stone Chariot and Sugreeva’s Cave
As I mentioned earlier, even though I’ve been to Hampi many times, I have not been to the Vijaya Vittala Temple, where the iconic monument, the Stone Chariot, is present. Even though I explored many places on Day-1, most were re-visits, and only a few were new to me. The main reason that I was there for two days is to leisurely explore the places I didn’t go to earlier, and this is one of them.
I woke up a little early and excited to resume my tour, starting with the Stone Chariot. Prerana asked, “Chikappa, come early. We will have lunch together.”
Took a bus and alighted at the stop (Vijaya Vittala Cross) next to Kamalapura (if you wish to go to Virupaksha Temple, you can take a bus to Hampi from Hospet or get down at Kamalapura). Got down at Vijaya Vittala Cross and started walking to Vijaya Vittala Temple (or Talarigatta). I didn’t rent a bike since the plan was to cover places on foot for half a day and return before lunchtime.
I had no idea that the journey to Stone Chariot is 4 km from the bus stop, and a local gave me a lift for 3 km. He gave me directions to go to Vijaya Vittala Temple, and as I mentioned earlier, if you have a ticket (of ASI), you can visit this place for free. As it was Sunday, there was the crowd, and I walked around the stone chariot to view it entirely and waited for some time to take this picture:
There are pillars in Vittala Temple that sound like musical instruments. I didn’t try it firsthand due to the restrictions in place, but my relatives mentioned the speciality of these pillars. Inside the temple, you can walk around a small temple inside, in a dark chamber-like path where the light source is only the Sun.
Yantrodharaka Temple is about 1.5 km from this place, and you need to walk on the hills (hills area and Tungabhadra by your side). I saw the King’s Balance, where they used to weigh gold and jewels offered by the King. There are two giant pillars and hooks to hang the weights.
Walked along the hills and visited Achyutaraya Temple, Varahaswamy Temple, Narasimha Temple, and Sugreeva Cave. Sugreeva Cave was where Sugreeva hid to avoid death in the hands of his brother, Vaali.
Returned to Yantrodharaka Temple, sat there for a couple of minutes, and headed towards the bus station to board the bus to Hospet. Hey, wait, I didn’t cover a temple on Hemakuta hill called Moola Virupaksha Temple, which is said to be the temple where people used to worship Shiva before the famous Virupaksha Temple was established. My brother reiterated that I visit this Temple, and any tourist guide can help you find that place on the hill. It is slightly difficult to find, but if you can follow their instructions, you can easily locate that.
Though I covered many places in these two days (okay, 1.5 to be precise), there are places at the other side of the river, like Anjanadri Hill where the views of SunRise and SunSet are fantastic is, often recommended. Most of these Temples that I visited on Day-2 have no idols inside the temple owing to the threat from conquering kings and people like us who won’t leave something untouched until it’s damaged.
Even though I had been there at the beginning of Summer, it was difficult to walk without repeatedly taking shelter for a while. I’d recommend visiting the place in Winter as the Sun won’t be fierce at that time.
Okay, that’s it about my experience of visiting Hampi alone, exploring the places that I’ve not been to before. It was an enriching experience that I learned this during the tour: “The ruins of this place, after several plunderings have the glory and beauty now, imagine the glory it had during the reign of Vijayanagara Empire.”
One lesson that I took home from this experience is this:
“When even the ruins can have the majestic history and stories to tell, we, no matter what happens, how low we can go in life, can add value to humanity with the stories we can tell.”
Meet you soon with a blog post on the movies/content I liked recently.