We had a comfortable sleep in the hotel room, and rose fresh to start the day. We had breakfast in hotel and left for Hampi at 8:00 AM. Hampi is not very far from Hospet although the road is narrow and just average. It took us 45 minutes to reach Hampi where we were greeted by a person Rangnath. He introduced himself as tour guide and offered four hours tour guidance at Rs 600. It appeared reasonable to us and we took Rangnath along with us to guide us about Hampi.
Hampi, situated on banks of river Tungabhadra, has been capital of Vijaynagar Empire which was spread over parts of current Karnataka and Andhra. Four dynasties ruled over it during period of 1336-1570 AD. The most illustrious king of Vijayanagar was Krishna Dev Raya who ruled over Hampi during 1509-1529 AD. Hampi reached to its zenith during his period being an epicenter of art and trade. The erstwhile Hampi was spread over 200 square miles. Many important monuments were built during his time.
During the rule of Aliya Rama Raya in 1565, the combined forces of Deccan sultanates defeated Vijaynagar army at battle of Talikota. The Deccan sultanates later plundered the city of Hampi and reduced to ruins in which the city remains till date. Therefore prepare yourself to see only destructed ruins while visiting Hampi.
Rangnath first took us to Laxmi Narasimha (popularly called Ugra-Narasimha) statue. This 22 feet long statue is made of monolithic stone. The statue was partly damaged by sultanates army. Beside this status lies second largest Shivlinga which remains 3feet dipped in water.
Then we drove towards Vittal temple which lies some 6 km away. While going to Vittal temple, we passed by ruins of Hampi bazaar where once a rich trade grew. Car parking is 1 km away from the main temple, and we boarded an electric cart to reach the temple. The Vittal temple is a beautiful stone work complex having a stone chariot, main temple, kalyan mantap, dancing hall and prayer hall. The stone chariot wheels are also made of stone and are beautifully carved. It’s actually a small temple in shape of chariot. The main temple has stone pillars which produce musical sound. Our guide Rangnath tapped them for us and the sound is truly comparable to musical instruments. It is said that when the temple was in its full glory, 52 pillars were used to be tapped together and the echo sound could have been heard as far as 1 km! The temple is fully decorated by carving from top to bottom. Many carvings are actually two/three in one, which gives different views from different angle. The temple although de-sacred by Deccan sultanates army was lucky to survive complete destruction.
Having spent more than an hour at Vittal temple, we returned back and stopped at some monuments which included queen’s bath, Hazar-Rama temple, queen’s palace (only ruins), queen’s anthpur and nearby elephant stable. Some of these monuments are believed to survive Deccan sultanate wrath because their architecture is a mixed one having some Islamic tinge.
The next place we visited was King’s administrative place. This place is completely in ruins except King’s bath pond. Still, looking at the ruins the splendor of the ancient time can be visualized.
The next place we visited was Virupaksh temple. The temple lies in the heart of Hampi town and can be seen from a distance due to the big Gopur at the entrance. Although the temple is believed to be much older, it was more decorated during Vijayanagara rulers. The sanctum sanctorum has beautiful ornate pillars on each side. Some 10m right of the sanctum sanctorum, there is a small dark place which has a small opening for light. The opening is designed in such a way that Gopur’s shadow falls upside down through this opening to opposite wall simulating a pinhole camera. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the only one which was not de-sacred by Deccan sultanate army. Rangnath told me that the temple has some Varah statues (Varah is Lord Vishnu’s incarnation in form of boar) which are considered pious in Islam.
Although Hampi has much more to explore, we finished our tour here. It was being 1:00PM and there was no good place to have food in Hampi, so we decided to have lunch in Hospet. We bid farewell to Rangnath and returned to our hotel and had lunch there.
We took rest for 2 hours and then we drove towards Tungabhadra dam. The dam is located in Hospet town itself and has a big garden attached. By the time we reached Tungabhadra dam, it was somewhat drizzling. We roamed around for some time, watched Tungabhadra dam and the garden beneath and then returned back to hotel.