Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Destination Hampi - I

KSRTC Busstand Majestic, Bangalore
There may not be much people in India, who didn't hear about the famous Krishna Deva Raya - Tennali Raman stories. Just like Akbar - Birbal stories these stories were also famous for humour and moral lessons.

Tennali Raman's country - Vijayanagar Empire - and her capital Hampi too were unparalleled in History. Considered as the richest capital of its time Hampi was compared to Rome itself. Just like in the rise, Hampi was unique in its fall too. Not many capitals suffered the same fate of Hampi. Victors of the decisive Talikota war took six full months to completely erase the memories of Hampi from the pages of history. The destruction was so complete that the city never populated again, from the world of splendor and magnificence it ended up as a spot in the map.

I was thinking of visiting Hampi for quite some time. It was a Mathrubhumi article, which introduced the city to me in the school days. More than anything it was the description about the destruction which touched my heart. So, when the journey was about to begin it was like an old dream come true. We - me and Milon (my friend and room mate) - planned a two days journey to this majestic capital city of Vijayanagara during one of our weekend. How to go was never a tough question for me, if you want to experience the real world you have to select the popular transportation modes. So first we tried our luck in train, there was two trains going to Hampi - Hampi Express and a passenger train. The first one was already full and the second one (passenger train) was too slow to use. So we settled for state run KSRTC bus - 'Sarige Express' in the end. But who know what is waiting for in the future?
TungaBhadra Dam

On that eventful Friday we reached majestic well before the time - one hour ahead of the scheduled time. After walking here and there for sometime we went in to the bus stand and located our platform - its 3rd. So far good, but how to know in which bus we have to travel? In fact we had a reservation ticket - which is at least 15 times bigger than a normal bus ticket and contained more numbers than a bank pass book.  Unfortunately it did't give any indication about the bus we have to go. We were told that our bus will come to the platform after 9 pm (Scheduled time was 9.31pm) but its already 9.15 and a lot of buses are coming in and going out of 3rd platform - all are bound to Hospet. Clock turns 9.30, and then slowly the minute hand touched 7 but there was little improvement in our position.

Within this short period of time I talked unsuccessfully to as many conductors and drivers, probably more than last 10 years combined. The problem was with KSRTC, many people, even the ones working for KSRTC don't know about the facility of reserving tickets in normal buses. For many - including KSRTC officials - reservation means Rajahamsa. Another problem was with the ticket itself, it may have all the details, but little information about the bus in which we have to travel. Why don't they put the bus number in tickets - just like railways are printing the train number?
TungaBhadra Dam and KC canal from the front
I can't say all of them are not helpful - in fact many of earlier journeys in KSRTC created a good impression about them in my mind, but this time its difficult to get exact information. Even after consulting with a two dozen drivers and conductors including the traffic controller himself we got little information about the bus we have to go. Everyone was saying the same thing, Hospet bus will come in 3rd platform, but the question is which bus? Slowly the clock ticked 9.40, still we were searching...!!! Finally we approached another driver and showed the ticket - explaining the situation by inserting as much local sounds I know, he asked me to check with conductor and finally we are in!!! Even now I am not sure whether we traveled in the right bus or not!!! When the bus finally started moving, people were frantically coming in like bees are coming to hive.

We saw the next sunrise in Hospet. Just like sun rays are slowly creeping in to the bus we are slowly creeping in to the sleepy Hospet town. The multipurpose Tungabhadra dam is just kilometers away from Hospet bus stand. Without seeing Tungabhadra in her magnanimous style Hampi journey is incomplete. Even though state run buses are available in the dam route the frequency is low. Its better to use autos (10 Rs per head), don't worry we are around 350 km from Bangalore. After wasting 30 minutes, waiting for a state run bus, we finally went in a Tata Magic - this crowded vehicle also give us more than enough exercise in the morning. They drop us in front of dam's gate.
Reservoir, Tungabadra Project 

TungaBhadra Dam have an attached garden, musical fountain and according descriptions a deer park too. As we didn't have enough time we dropped musical fountain and deer park from the list. Unfortunately security officials didn't allow us to walk across the dam. May be its a regular policy or the after effects of Mumbai triple blasts. But the reservoir didn't disappoint us even though we were not able to watch it from the middle. Water body is so big that with naked eye one can hardly see the other end. TB dam, as it is popularly known here is the mother of famous KC Canal.

After spending some time by looking in to the magnanimous water body we retraced our steps and reached Hampi bus stand. Finished the breakfast and sat in a state run bus to reach Hampi, which according to the Italian visitor Nicolo Conti,
"The great city of Bizenegalia is situated near very steep mountains. The circumference of the city is sixty miles; its walls are carried up to the mountains and enclose the valleys at their foot, so that its extent is thereby increased. In this city there are estimated to be ninety thousand men fit to bear arms."

Checkout the photos of Tungabhadra Dam

For reading other parts - Hampi II, Hampi III, Hampi IV

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