This was my 2nd visit to Hampi – the land where once the prosperous Vijayanagar empire flourished, but exists today in the form of ruins, an Archaeological Survey of India heritage site and a UNESCO World heritage site group of monuments. The ruins are 500 years old and still new relics and artifacts are being discovered.
After spending a comfortable night in the Hampi Express train from Bangalore, me and my colleagues from work got off at Hospet and caught auto rickshaws that led us to our Karnataka state government run accommodation.
After freshening up, we boarded the auto rickshaws and headed towards the main Hampi bazaar. Upon reaching the bazaar, some of the folks stopped by the Virupaksha temple to offer their prayers and to admire the carvings and craft, while the others explored the shopping opportunities.
We hired our government recognized tourist guide and off we made way to the various places of interest – the Queen’s palace, the aqueducts and canals, the zenana enclosure, the lotus temple, Badava Linga (monolith) and Ugra Narasimha (another monolith).
While, our guide provided us with historical information, we were busy admiring the carvings and the stories they told. Such was the beauty of some of these ruin sites, that we forgot that we were standing in 40 plus degree Celsius of heat.
The rocks of Hampi always seem to amaze me with their omnipresence. Slowly, the heat was getting to us! To beat the heat, we would either get on top of our antics, get into a dark chamber to meditate or just find some shade.
After our first half day session, we decided to head to the Mango Tree restaurant for our lunch. Mango Tree restaurant is a lovely setting under Mango trees by the banks of the Tungabhadra river and is located near the Virupaksha temple.
The meal at Mango Tree was sumptuous and the butter milk was a treat for our over heated souls. Lunch was a very relaxed affair and heads started dropping after a hearty lunch. Most of the group set themselves up for a power nap.
After a long lunch session, we slowly, but finally got back to our tourist ways. We got back into our auto rickshaws and this time, we got into the driver’s seat. It is really fun and somewhat different to drive a three wheeler.
The next hour was spent visiting a couple more not so popular temple spots. Then, we decided to go on a short hike to the top of a hillock from where we got lovely views of Hampi, the Vittala temple complex and the Tungabhadra river.
The next day was spent visiting more areas of the ruins under the guidance of out tourist guide. More of Mango Tree. Then, we spent the entire post afternoon session at the Vittala Temple, its chariots and its musical pillars.
In the evening, me and my friend, decided to beat the heat and clean ourselves of the sweat and dust by taking a dip in the fast flowing Tungabhadra river. The dip in the Tunga was the icing on the cake for what had been a weekend baked in history!