Riding into Vijayanagara Empire- Hampi : Day 2 & 3

Day 2 : 2nd October 2016

Hampi is believed to be ancient “Kishkinda” of Ramayana times where the monkey kingdom existed. By the end of 13th century, the Islamic invasion seriously affected south India and attempts of southern powers to resist their inroads finally culminated in the rise of Vijayanagara Empire. The Sangama brothers Harihara and Bukka carved a kingdom of their own between 1336-1342 AD, and founded splendid city of Vijayanagara with Hampi as the capital. Hampi proved to be perfect location for capital on the bank of River Tungabhadra and surrounded by hillocks on remaining 3 sides. This developed into formidable empire with successful able rulers. Its political boundaries during hey days extended from River Krishna in north to Indian Ocean in south. Numerous kings belonging to sangama, Saluva and Tuluva dynasty ruled Vijayanagara for more than two and quarter century till its dramatic fall and destruction in 1565 AD. Harihara II (1377-1404 AD), Praudha Devaraya (1430-1460 AD), Krishnadevaraya’s (1509-1529 AD) and Achyutaraya (1530-1542 AD) were the most celebrated rulers of this empire.

Boat ferrying people across River Tungababhra

Since it was early into tourist season, tourists were far and few. We crossed the river from Anegundi side to Hampi Village side where most ruins of erstwhile royal city existed. We hired guide and Indian rickshaw and set out to get a peep into history. Our first stop was Vittala Temple complex that has famous Musical pillars Mandapa and Stone chariot which was supposed to have been inspired by Konark Stone chariot. Musical pillars depict the sound of instruments like Mridangam, ghattam and jal tarang. One wonders at the depth of knowledge possessed during 14th century to bring out such work with precision.  Visualizing those times when these pillars were played as accompaniments to dancers just blows our mind away. Intricate artistry work on Mandapa’s in the complex is sight to behold. It depicted the life in those times, be it foreign traders namely Portuguese & Chinese or promotion of local art forms. Presiding deity is assumed to have been moved to Pandharpur Vittala Temple after the fall of Vijayanagara Empire in 15th century. One of the 5 bazaars of the empire stretches up to 800 meters in front of Vittala temple. Portuguese traded Horses for precious metals.

Historical Sites in Hampi

Royal City complex which housed homes of royal family, noblemen, military leaders, secret chambers, public Swimming pool, and Stepped water tank gave glimpse of golden times. Magnitude and scale of city was supposed to be 3 times that of Paris. One can only imagine why King Krishnadevaraya’s reign was termed Golden Period. During his tenure the kingdom flourished in trade and commerce, implementing canal systems that are being used to date.  High Stone Pedestal stands majestically amidst the complex; from this point Royal leaders viewed Dasara processions. This site was unearthed in 1980’s by archaeological department. It’s assumed that palaces and homes were built using timber wood with stones forming the base.

Other places of interest among the 100 ruin sites which we covered was Lotus Mahal , an indo Islamic two storied architecture–Summer palace for queen which has cooling system in form of piping system through which water passes to keep chambers cool. Elephant Stable- housing Royal elephants, Hazare Rama temple –story of Ramayana depicted through sculpture work from left to right on the walls in three levels. Hemakuta Hill near Virupaksha temple is testimony to times that predates Vijayanagara reign with ruins of Jain temples. Queen’s bath as the name suggests an exclusive pool complex for Royal women and visiting queens. Hampi Bazaar opp to Virupaksha temple complex- where in precious stones like diamonds, ruby ,gold was supposed to have been traded. Ugra Narasimha Vigraha, Kadale Kalu Ganesha – 4.5 meters monolithic Ganesha carved out of huge boulder.

Lotus Mahal
Hazare rama Temple
Virupaksha Temple view from Hemakuta Hill

Our Final stop of tour was at Virupaksha temple, which as Lord Shiva- Virupaksha as main deity. The temple originally a small shrine was expanded into vast complex during first half of 16th century. The inner eastern smaller entrance gopura and painted pillar ranga Mandapa were built by Krishnadevaraya in 1510 AD on the occasion of his coronation. Ceiling paintings in ranga Mandapa is most outstanding, it has depictions of 10 incarnations of Vishnu, Girija Kalyana, Kalyana Sundara, Arjun piercing the matsyayantra and Shiva as Tripurari.

L to R:Myself, Sriram, Arun, Sujay, Venky, Shaji , Arjun
Posing with our guide -Ravi

We headed back to our resort crossing over the river, mesmerized and smitten by travel back to Vijayanagara times. Any number of visits wouldn’t do justice to explore this historic city….. But it surely draws you back time and again for sure.

Day 3 – 3rd October 5, 2016

German Bakery turned out to be our place for Tea/Coffee, and 3rd day morning of our trip was no different.  There was sense of contentment about the Hampi sojourn for it was an unexplored place for everyone and it had offered surprises all the way through in a positive way. On that note we packed and geared up for ride back to Bangalore.

Bellary Thermal powet plant

We took the SH67 road via Kamalapur – Toranagallu towards Bellary. Land around Bellary is rich in mining deposits such as Manganese, iron-ore and hence it wasn’t surprise to spot Steel plants, Thermal Power plants as we headed to Bellary. Huge boulders and stones on rocky terrains formed landscape as we zipped through small towns switching from SH 67 to SH 150 towards Hiriyur via Challakere.

At Hiriyur junction SH150 connects to NH50, 150kms from Bangalore. True to our Riding group Name- Night Riders, we rode for an hour and half in night sky into Bangalore by 8 pm. Chill Breeze hitting on face brings cheer to face as you know Bengaluru is welcoming us back with its signature weather. Yet another rocking ride trip drew to close and of course with hints of next ride dates and probable destinations in mind.

Adios !!!


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