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Hampi diaries

Friday, November 23, 2018
Pics: Makarand Chothe

Seen here are the huge stones and boulders in Hampi

Visit the Land of Temples for its breath-taking scenery and jaw-dropping architecture. Makarand Chothe has more

Hampi, the Land of Temples... Wherever you look, you can see some temple or the other  in Hampi.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, a small ancient village in Karnataka, is just 17kms from Hospet.

The first thing you will notice as soon as you enter the boundaries of this village are the huge stones, or ‘boulders’. This destination has recently gained popularity, mainly because of the photogenic temples and beautiful views.

The best part about exploring Hampi is that you can very easily plan your own itinerary. You will require a minimum two or three days to explore all of Hampi.

The first temple you will see once you arrive in Hampi is the Virupaksha Temple, the largest one here. It was recently renovated; a majority of the tourists visit this temple and locals celebrate Dusshera and Diwali by decorating it. Inside the Virupaksha Temple area is a female elephant named Lakshmi. She is four years old and they give her a bath every morning at 7:30 at the lake adjacent to the temple. Many tourists wake up early in the morning to watch the sunrise and bathe Lakshmi. The lake is beautiful and this is one of the best things one can do in Hampi. I would definitely recommend it to anyone travelling here!

At the back, there is a small window from where the shadow of the temple falls. The interesting thing is that this shadow is upside down. It is still to be proven how this happens.

After moving ahead you can see the largest single stone Ganesh statue in the world. It was carved in the third century AD, and no earthquake or other natural calamities harmed the statue in any way.

The view of Hampi from Monkey Hill

The architecture of the temples is mesmerising. Almost all the structures are single stone. We can still see huge uncut rocks in Hampi.

Every temple and structure has a different story. So it is advisable to hire a guide at some spots. The local guides are very good, and have government identity cards . There is a rate chart approved by Indian tourism board.

Another main attraction of Hampi is the Vitthal Temple. Not many people know this but the Vitthal Statue in Pandharpur, Maharashtra, was actually from the Vitthal Temple in Hampi. During the war when foreigners were looting India, people took the Vitthal Statue from the main Temple, covered in cloth and passed it on to the the nearest village. This went on until they all felt that it was safe. They  built a new temple for the Vitthal statue in Pandharpur. 

The Vitthal Temple in Hampi is huge. One will need at least six to seven hours to explore all of the temple. I would suggest that you spend the maximum time here. Touch and feel how every design is different and how difficult and skillful is the work they have done—and moreover, how such beautiful work is still alive.

In the Vitthal Temple itself there are pillars from which sounds of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Da Ni Sa can be heard. It is still unclear how they have built it. Many great archeologists and scientists have checked them, but no one yet knows how they have been designed.  To preserve these, the government does not allow anyone to touch them.

Just outside the temple is a single stone carved chariot, the same chariot that is on the `50 note. Visit this temple early morning when there are not too many people around.

Left gate of Vitthal Temple

When we see these structures just close your eyes and imagine how they would look before the war or before the foreigners destroyed them. Also how skillful and interesting our forefathers were to build such huge structures in a single rock.

Hampi is divided into two parts—Hampi and Hippie Island. There are motor boats to travel, and you can also see cane boats. Making a cane boat is a lost art now, so try these. A few years from now, we will not be able to see them.

On the Hippie Island the most visited place is Monkey Hill. As the name suggests, it is a hill and involves climbing—exactly 575 steps. On an average it takes around half an hour to climb. They say, however, that the best view comes after a long climb.

Monkey Hill is famous for the sunset. You can see all of Hampi from the top and the best sunset view in Hampi. Many people sit here for a long time. On the top is the temple of Lord Hanuman. Inside is a huge Hanuman statue.

There is also the floating stone, believed to be the same stone when Lord Hunaman and his monkeys built the road to Lanka for Lord Ram to rescue Sita Devi. One stone is still here and it’s surprising to see such a huge, 25kg stone floating on water.

Stone chariot in front of the Vitthal Temple, and the `50 note that features it

The best season to visit Hampi is in winter as it becomes really hot during summer. The people here are very helpful. There are no hotels; one has to opt for homestays. The owners are also very helpful and very friendly.

There are many restaurants, and you will find German and Italian food, mainly on Hippie Island. In Hampit, there is only vegetarian food. There are German bakeries for the best breakfast.

Makarand Chothe is an avid traveller and also organises treks

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