First Trip to Hampi – a UN Heritage Site


This was, no doubt, the costliest cigarette they ever had…. While waiting to board our train to Hospet (the nearest railhead to Hampi) at the Majestic or City Station, Bangalore, I was with Animesh and Sriram, who were smoking inside the railway premises (not on the platform), standing just in front of the notice which said “No Smoking” in Kannada, which neither knew how to read….. Unfortunately, they got caught and had to pay a fine of Rs.200/-

Phew!!!!!

The journey has just begun……….. this was my 1st trip to Hampi.

Hampi, is the capital city of Vijaynagar Empire and flourished during Krishna Dev Raya (associated with the legendary Tenali Ram). The capital was one major trading center. Anything from horses to gems were traded in Hampi. Art and architecture found its special place in Hampi. The rulers were great patrons of art and religion. Most of the kings associated names of their favorite gods with their names. Some of the kings were renowned for their ambitious projects.

King Krishnadeva Raya (1509-1529 AD) of the Tuluva Dyhnasty stands tall among the rest. During his regime the empire saw its peak.

For more details, you may visit http://www.karnataka.com/tourism/hampi/, www.karnataka.com/tourism/hampi/

Travel Info: You can travel to Hampi via train, air, or bus. The nearest train station is Hospet, while Bellary is the nearest domestic airport. Hampi is connected via bus service with all nearby cities. The train fare differs with the class you select. We traveled in sleeper class, and the fare was Rs.203 with Rs.75 extra for tatkal ticket.

At the station the train arrived and we, the 18 travelers, who met through an online global site called couchsurfing.com, boarded our respective coach and have just settled ourselves when one of our co-passenger informed the train IS NOT going to Hospet :-O

“This is not our train guys get down…..” Akshat shouted to the rest of the gang in the same compartment but different seat.  We were all very confused as it was S8 and that what our tickets says. Then why is the other passenger telling us this train is not going to Hospet?

Seeing our excitement he asked us to calm down and said, what he meant is that the train going to be split into 2, of which, one half will go to Hospet and the other to Nanded (Guru Gobind Singh). We need to change to the other half at a station called Guntakal at 5 in the morning…Oh man!!!

So we all settled in our seats once again till we reached the change over station. Some of us started playing poker while the rest watched.

Somehow, we did spend the night and at Guntakal, as the train came to a halt we jumped out of our compartment with our luggage’s and ran to the one where Mayank and our other co-travelers were berthed and which is supposed to be the other half going towards Hospet.

From then onwards no one got to sleep. Indu and I sat at the door and had an awesome experience of watching the beauty of the changing sceneries…..

At Toranagallu station we got down to straighten ourselves. Indu and me planned to catch the train the “Jab we met” style….but Indu hopped onto it the moment it moved and I ran a little but did hop on while the speed wasn’t much high.

6:30am and we finally reached Hospet. Milton traveled by bus from Bangalore till Hospet and joined us to Hampi. We got onto the auto-rickshaws in a group of four after bargaining the rate as Rs.100/- for each auto. We reached the Tungabadhra river side. We had planned to stay on the other side of the river instead of at Hampi, as we heard it has got better home stays, and drinking & smoking is allowed only on that side.There was just one boat ferrying people across the river. They charged us Rs.15/- each as we had luggage with us otherwise it would have been Rs.10/-

A trip to Hampi, Karnataka

We reached the other side and went on to look for Manju’s home stay as that’s the place our friends suggested. We did find it but we saw the Goan Corner and decided to take a look at it….well that’s where we ended up staying. The rooms were pretty cool. Being an off season we got rooms with 2 beds at Rs.250/- which would otherwise cost you Rs.400/- to Rs.600/-.

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Goan Corner

We dumped our luggage’s in the room’s, had tea and then freshened-up to start our tour of Hampi. We again had to cross the river which we did at 12:30’ish. We went to a shop to hire scooty or bicycle, as one would prefer. The best way to explore the ruins at Hampi is to hire a bicycle, moped or scooty. Most of the hiring shops are located at Hampi Bazar or Kamalapara area, which would be a convenient place for one staying at Hampi.

We negotiated the price down to Rs.80 a day. Four among us preferred to travel on bicycles. So they traveled separately. The scooty gang got the vehicles filled at a nearby petrol pump.

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So from the petrol bunk we started our site seeing and went to see the Stone Chariot at the Vittala Temple. A great majority of the trails in Hampi are unpaved. Stick to the trodden trails as much as possible. Straying too much out of the trails can land you with flat-tyre, as the open expanse is strewn with thorny shrubs.

Entry for Indians is Rs.10/-per head while for foreigners Rs.250/-. With a guide to tell us about the place, we went around to see the awesomeness of the architecture and sculpture that had flourished during those years.

Long lost those skills but their work stands still to prove their creator’s workmanship. The archeological department is trying to restore the broken parts but the sculpture cannot be restored.

From stone chariot, Vittala Temple we went to see the Zenana Enclosure.

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Zenana enclosure was a secluded area reserved for the royal women. This walled harem houses many interesting highlights. The major attraction is the Lotus Mahal located at the southeast corner. The whole area was the private enclosure for the royal women folks. The Queen’s Palace (visible only the basement) is located at the middle of this area, on the left side of your path. Measuring about 46 x 29 meters, this has been the largest palace base excavated in the Hampi ruins so far. Also the three-tired elaborate base structure speaks of its importance as a palace. The super structure was made of wooden or less durable materials compared to the stone base. Along with the other royal structures, a gut during the rival incursion could have destroyed the palace. A rectangular deep tank (now empty) just at east of this probably used as a water source to the palace. Three watchtowers can be seen at the corners of the enclosed area. You can spot these two storied towers close to the southeast, northeast and northwest corners. These again were built in the hybrid Indo-Islamic architecture style. Being the ladies quarters, it has been said that eunuch solders guarded the area. It’s possible to climb to the top floor of one of these towers (if very crowded, the guards may not allow this). It’s a vantage position to survey this area and the Elephant stables behind the Zenana Enclosure.

It was a breathtaking view…..I feel a tour in Karnataka is incomplete without a visit to Hampi. Quoting from a site “Hampi is charismatic even in its ruined state”.

After all the site visits, we went to the Mango Tree restaurant. To reach the Mango Tree restaurant, you have to keep walking straight ahead instead of taking the way down the steps to catch the ferry to cross the river (as far as I know, there’s only one ferry out there). Just remembered, if you plan to visit the city during the summer season or before the rains, you will find places where you can cross the river on foot, however since this time the water was high and it had undercurrents as well as whirlpools we were asked not to risk it. On the way to the restaurant we saw our upcoming contemporary sculptor.

Mango tree is a good eggatarian restaurant where we refueled ourselves. A really nice place to sit and chat.

The last ferry was at 6 and we had to rush to get it which we did. Reaching back to the other side we went to our rooms, refreshed ourselves, and had a long round of a chit chat session which included a stupid but very interesting game called the “Little Green Man”. Initiated by Animesh, he never said what the rule is, just started the game and different players understood the rule at different stages of the game. It took us almost 4-5 hours for all of us to realize what the game is all about.

Then a group of people started playing poker while some were chit chatting, some singing and it went till 3’o clock.

I woke up at 7 and woke Indu too, she was sharing the room with me. The city is surrounded by many rocky hills, so was our guest house. The 2 of us decided to climb the hill and check out the place as we knew that most of the gang members wouldn’t be waking up so early. Our trek started. We walked up the hill and went through the gaps between the rocks…just for fun …and then going round the hill we reached the place we needed to climb down from. We clicked whatever looked good to our eyes.

We took a break, lay on our back and watched the clouds fly away. We descended the hill and walked through the paddy fields towards our guest house. Back there it was only a few people who were up. Around 10’0 clock we started waking people up the rest of the gang and the gang decided to go to a lake.

Around 12’0 clock we were all ready to go to the lake. Some of us preferred walking to the lake while some of them took an auto. Anush drove one of the autos. It started drizzling and it felt good to walk with the light poring of the rains on you, however it didn’t last for long; The sun soon took over and it was hot again. We reached the spot but took a harder way down to the beach not knowing there’s an easier way too which the people who came in the auto have taken. Though the route was a bit rocky and climbing down was a bit of an issue, we did it and enjoyed it as well. At last we were in the water which was very cold but then once in the water everything was finwere

 

At around 3:30 we left for a restaurant called Laughing Buddha – whoever visits Hampi and on the other side of the river, is suggested to visit this restaurant atleast once. An awesome atmosphere with yummy food.

Once done with our food, we went back to the guest house to pack our things and settle the bills; in the process however we were getting late and would have missed the last ferry to the other side of the river. Luckily ofcourse we didn’t and we reached the station just in time to find the train was late. The moment the train arrived we hopped on, divided into 2 groups for being in 2 diff coaches. However that didn’t stop us from crossing through the coaches and sitting in one coach to play poker. 12 midnight, and we said good night to all and off to sleep and at 6am we reached our pavilion Bangalore.

What a trip it was!!! And it wasn’t the last one to Hampi.

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