Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Destination Hampi - II

Virupaksha Temple tower, Hampi
For reading first part visit Hampi-I

Finally we were at the gates of the Hampi, one of the majestic cities in medieval India. According to History Malik-kafur - in 1309 - was the first foreigner to attack South India. He sacked the capital of Hoysalas and it didn't take much time for Warangal to end up with the same fate. Later it was Muhammed Bin Tughluk's turn. Around this time (1336) Harihara I and Bhukka Raya I of Anegudi (Elephant Hole) Kingdom started the creation of what later become Vijayanagara Empire. Within a short time span Vijayanagar rose in to prominence and ruled almost all of South India.

Stepped tank of Hampi
Overseas trade and efficient administration bought wealth and new technologies to the empire. They also patronized fine arts; literature; Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit languages; Carnatic music etc. Purandaradasa, the founder and one of the most important composers of Carnatic music was a contemporary of Krishnadevaraya. You can still see Purundaradasa mandapa in the sides of Tungabhadra river - he composed and sang many of his famous compositions in this mandapa.

According to History, Vijayanagar had a robust trading relationship with then major countries, starting from China in the east to Venice in the West. Their goods were also sold at Aden and many red sea ports too.

But the sudden capture and killing of "Aliya" Rama Raya (Son in law of Krishna Deva Raya) in Talikota Battle against the combined force of Deccan Sultanates changed the seemingly easy victory for Vijayanagar to a decisive lose, from which they never able to come back. Capital - Hampi - was plundered to such an extent that it never reoccupied. But the sultanates too didn't able to consolidate their power as they soon started fighting against each other. Later Aurangzeb came and tried to annex these areas to Mughal empire, which never happened and resulted in considerable financial strains on Mughal treasury- marked the beginning of the end of Mughal Empire.

Various figures on the temple wall
We can see the remains of empire in both sides of the road. Hampi is located in one side of Tungabhadra river, the other side is widely believed as the famous Kishkinda of Ramayana. Mathunga hills - where Bali can't enter because of the curse from saint Matunga - and Anjaneya temple also located in this side of the river.

By the time our bus reached Hampi stand, dozens of people approached us; some want to sell their map, some want to take us in their auto and show all the places. After hearing no they warned us that "It is 24 kilometers and you can’t visit all the places on your own". As we already decided to try on our own we firmly said no and started searching for a room. But, if you want to buy a map this is the good place.

Finally we got a normal room for 200Rs/day. After unpacking, resting for some time, we took a cycle for rent (40/head -Unfortunately geared cycle was not there) and started our exploration. Its almost one year since I last touched my cycle. Suddenly we were in Hampi Bazaar, one end of the Bazaar is a small hill and other side ends in front of Virupaksha temple - one of the few monuments escaped from the systematic destruction.

Virupaksha temple precedes Vijayanagar Empire and worshipped continuously for the past 1400 years. According to the story, during the period of systematic destruction of Hampi in 1565 looters didn't enter in to the temple because of the statue of a huge boar (Varaha - Krishna Deva Raya's logo) in the temple arch. Invaders mistook the boar for pig and refused to enter!!! Just imagine if the symbol was there in the entrance of all the buildings in least we may be able to see the city properly!!!

Entrance of Queen's Bath
In the other end of Hampi Bazaar, you can see the statue of a Monolithic Bull. We climbed the small hill near to it and reached the other side.Here the remains of an old temple -Achutaraya Temple- will welcome you. Thanks to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI); they reconstructed the portions of old temple and added protective coverings. In Hampi most of the temples are abandoned and without idols. ASI did a good job in protecting these historical monuments; you will be more appreciative of their work after seeing the before and after exploration photos of Hampi in Kamalapura  archaeological museum.

After spending some time in the temple we went back to Hampi Bazaar. This old structure now hosts numerous homes, Police Station, Canara bank etc!!! From here we went to Hemakunda Hills which is located in the sides of Virupaksha temple. There are so many temples in this hill along with two big Ganesh idols - first one is Kadlekalu (Bengal Gram) Ganesha and the second one is Sasivekalu (Mustard Seed) Ganesha. This idol has a female figure in the back - mother Parvathi holding son Ganesha. After viewing the sunset point we headed towards Krishna Temple.

This temple was constructed after Krishnadevaraya's successful Odisha (earlier known Orissa) campaign. In the end of his campaigns Krishna Deva Raya married Jaganmohini - daughter of famous Gajapati ruler Prataparudra Deva. This bring peace between two powerful empires. Krishna Bazaar is located in front of Krishna Temple. Now abandoned bazaar was once an epicentre of trade, people from very distant places came here to sell their items and buy something else. You can see one pushkarini and an old water tank near to the temple.

We followed the road and reached the temples of Ugra Narasimha and Shiva. Ugra Narasimha temple was originally called Lakshmi Narasimha - Lakshmi was sitting in the lap of Narasimha. After the destruction of Lakshmi‘s figure the idol came to known as UgraNarasimha. You can also see a Shiva temple next to Lakshmi Narasimha.

We continued our cycling from here and visited some old temples along the road. Cycling was one of my favorite hobby. Apart from some steep up and downs here and there you can easily use cycle in other places. After some time we saw the sister stones of Hampi, now a portion of of it detached from the mother stone came down to earth. As we went on more and more old structures came in to vicinity. Our next stop was at Queens’s bath. The holes in the supporting stones of Queen's bath were designed to act like showers, unfortunately I came to knew about the existence of holes only after reaching Bangalore. Next destination was Dannayaka's Enclosure.

Inside Queen's Bath
A raised platform will welcome you after entering to this area. This platform, known as Mahanavami Dibba (Hill) was used by King and his family used to view the Mahanavami celebrations. You can climb and reach the top of Mahanavami Dibba, from here you can saw the whole area - Royal mint, Commander in Chief's home, various other palaces (all are destroyed after the war and ASI reconstructed the foundations). One thing I forget to say was about the wind, when you reach the top of Mahanavami Dibba, close your eyes and forget about everything, just think you are standing at the same place were kings of Vijayanagar once stood. Now, only thing you can hear is the sound of wind, a wonderful experience.

After getting down from here we reached the famous stepped tank of Hampi. This is one of the beautiful structures located in this area. Water channels are there to bring water from the river to fill this tank. When ASI first explored the site they saw the water channels only, they followed on that lead and uncovered the stepped tank. All the stones used in the construction of stepped tank is numbered, this will enable you to disassemble the whole tank and assemble it somewhere else.  Here we met the ASI guard Uttham Kumar; when we asked about the area he was so interested and exited about the whole exploration and started explaining it. According to him this one of the biggest stepped wells in India, second only to the one in Rajastan. After saying good bye to him we continued our journey towards public bath - a large pool like area probably used for bath.

Hampi Bazaar one end
Underground Secret Chamber was the another interesting construction here. You have to go down through steps to reach the bottom, we hesitated in the beginning and then decided to go, after some steps it was completely dark. This pillars and walls may witnessed so many secret and important decisions in the first hand. After spending some moments here we went in to Hazararama Temple. Walls of Hazararama temple is beautifully decorated with characters from Ramayana, you can recognize various incidents and Lava-Kusha stories in these walls. We went inside, here too you can saw the decorated pillars. Carvings in the temple walls are so vivd that it effectively conveys the story of Ramayana.

It was slowly becoming dark and we started our return journey to Hampi Bazaar. Went to room, took a bath and reached Virupaksha Temple. This is a working temple so you have to remove your shoes before It was our good luck to reach there before closing. After praying in front of Virupaksha (Shiva) we moved towards other idols. According to the legend, the name Hampi came from Pampa Devi (Parvathi). In the temple complex there is a temple for Pampa Devi too. we simply sat there in front of the temple, few metres away - but inside - from the famous temple tower of Virupaksha.

Mahanavami Dibba
Finally We call it as a day and went for dinner and then to sleep, dreaming about Vijayanagara at its peak. How magnificent it was!!!


Checkout the Photos of Hampi

For reading other parts - Hampi IHampi IIIHampi IV

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