Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hampi - Forgotton EMPIRE of Vijaynagar kingdom

Hampi was not on our radar, while traveling to Chitradurga Fort, we planned for just a weekend getaway from Bangalore by car. After finishing the trip to Kalline Kote, we instinctively decided why not rush to Hampi? It is just 150 kms away, from Chitradurga with small stretch of 18 kms of bad road. The total distance from Bangalore to Hampi is 360 kms, via NH4. The major town near Hampi happens to be Hospet, wherein plenty of Lodging and boarding arrangements are available. We stayed @ Shanbag towers in Hospet. There is a government guest house at TB dam location and KSTDC Mayura hotel at Kamalapur too. I heard there is a Shanti guest house across the tungabhadra river one has to travel by coracle. There are plenty of residents providing homestay arrangement too.

I happened to visit Hampi during 1978 along with my parents. In those time it was typical village with a rustic atmosphere. There was not much interest among localites nor tourist to visit this place, which was known as ruined city, without any guide we wandered clueless. Moreover we visited in the peak of summer to add to our discomfort. The only distinct memory was that of Inverted Image Gopuram of Virupakasha temple.

After a gap of nearly 30 years I find that a new civilization has emerged. Perhaps after Hampi being declared a world heritage site in 1987, a mind blowing transformation has taken place at Hampi. It is as if history is being re-written, with guides, autorikshaw doing round trip, bike guides, and professional tour operators unleashing knowledge on the FORGOTTON EMPIRE to the tourists.

There are exists lot of similarities between POMPEII & HAMPI.
The common features are :
1. Road Network 2. Water Management 3. Temple construction 4. Public functions 5. Common Bath 6. Cultural Festivity 7 Art & Architecture 8. Well defined markets 9. Brothel Areas. 10. Diamond Bazaar.

The world’s best diamonds were from India and it was openly traded in the bazaars along with other household articles. The royalty kept the best of the diamonds as their share for leasing the mines. Please refer to separate post on Hampi diamonds.

Trading activities were carried out between various parts of the world during both the periods. We find gems & jewellery being traded in the bazaars. All household articles such as pottery, grains, vegetables, fruits, beetlenut, flowers etc were being traded. Finest Arabian horses were sold to the nobles in exchange for Diamonds. Further brothel lanes were located in the bazaar for the visitors and artisans from outstation.

Our first point of visit was Virupaksha temple which was guided by a foreigner, because we ignored the offer to be guided @ Rs 400/- for a trip, which we thought was exhorbitant. We entered the Virupaksha temple without any entrance fee ( between 6.30 to 8 am it is free entry) The sheer grandeur started unraveling. At the entrance the temple tower is overpowering. On the left there is a sanctum which is occupied by tourists for changeover, which is really surprising. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is supposed to have been captivated by the dedication of Pampadevi. Lord Shiva consented to marry Pampa in his avatar as Virupaksha, the presiding deity.

Behind the Virupaksha temple lies a room wherein we can view the inverted image of the main tower through a pin hole. It is application of Periscope principle.

The bazaar in front of the Virupakasha temple is proposed to be shifted to another place to maintain the heritage look. The proposed shopping centre will be the main reporting centre for Hampi excursion. An organized trip with eco friendly mode of transport will be arranged. Further a fixed guide charges would also be ideal depending on no of spots toured or time spent concept.

After Virupaksha temple visit we walked across a lane adjacent to the right, just on a blinder, towards Hemkunta hill. Here one is astounded by the skills of rock carving work station. It is like a canvas on which artist exhibits his painting. The granite was the main raw material for most types of monumental construction at the site – which was abundant in and around Hampi for over 200 kms. Traditionally, granite blocks were split by first cutting rows of closely spaced cubical holes into which wooden wedges were pounded. When wetted, the wedges expanded, thereby propagating deep cracks through the stone which split as per dimension required by the artisans.

We found almost four temples, one was literally filled with water on the entrance, and other not so prominent temples, maybe created for low strata people of the times, even the poojary of the temple just gave us some insight, for which he was suitably tipped. The overnight heavy rain had made the rocky surface quite slippery, it was an adventure to climb Hemkunta hillock. The entire Hampi area, is visible in all its panoramic beauty and serenity. There is an acropolis type of two storey edifice, maybe for the royalty to view. There is no description on this monument to my utter surprise. Probably because it is incomplete monument.

Once you start descending down the steps which is neatly chiseled on the rocks it is adventurers delight, a neat landscaped garden leads to Sasvikalu Ganesha. It is a monolithic exposure of Lord Ganesha which is barricaded to prevent vandalism. Hampi literally rocks .......the story is not complete friends


Rajesh said...

This is one place, I will never have enough. Every time I discover new things here.

magiceye said...

amazing account of a superb place!