Hampi – The Lost Kingdom of Vijayanagara Empire

After hopping for 8 days from Bidar, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Badami, Pattadakal to Aihole, I finally arrived in Hospet on 22nd December 2017. The final destination of my Karnataka trip was Hampi and Anegundi, located in East-Central Karnataka, India. Since I was accompanied by three of my friends, we had booked a Toyota Etios AC with Ganga Tours & Travels. The total rental (Rs. 7,700) included transport from Badami to Hospet (via Banashankari and Mahakoota temples) and sightseeing at Hampi and Anegundi on 23rd and 24th December. On 22nd December, we left Badami in the morning and reached Hospet late evening as we visited Aihole as well, on the way.

HISTORY OF HAMPI

Also known as Pampa Kshetra, Kishkindha Kshetra or Bhaskara Kshetra, Hampi was the center of Hindu Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century. Hampi became world’s second-largest medieval-era city after Beijing by 1500 CE. It was the richest city then and hence attracted traders from countries like Portugal and Persia. The Vijayanagara Empire was defeated and Hampi was destroyed by Muslim Sultanates in 1565.

  • Hampi map
    Hampi map

Hampi has been in ruins since then. Spread over 4,100 hectares (16 sq.mi.), this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to remains of forts, riverside features, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas/ mantapas, royal and sacred complexes, memorial structures, water structures, etc.

HISTORY OF ANEGUNDI

Anegundi holds a significant place Indian mythology due to its association with the epic of Ramayana. It is believed to be the kingdom of Kishkindha, ruled by the monkey Prince Sugriva. The village has a link with Ramayana due to Anjanadri Hill (the birthplace of monkey-God Hanuman) and Rishimukh Hill (where Sugriva lived with Hanuman, during his exile). Anegundi is also home to one of the oldest plateaus in the world – about 3,000 million years old.

DAY 1 (23RD DECEMBER 2017): HAMPI SIGHTSEEING

A typical visitor to Hampi would cover the entire complex in 2-3 days. Since we had to cover it in a single day, we decided to skip few places/ tourist attractions.

PLACES TO SEE IN HAMPI 

  • Vijaya Vitthala Temple / The Stone Chariot / The Musical Pillars
  • Sri Virupaksha Temple
  • Hemkoota Hill Temple Complex
  • Lakshmi Narasimha Temple/ Ugra Narasimha Statue
  • Achyutaraya Temple
  • Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple
  • Sri Krishna Temple
  • Yeduru Basavanna/ Monolithic Bull
  • Krishna Pushkarni
  • Mahanavami Dibba/ Dasara Dibba/ Royal Enclosure
  • Hazara Rama Temple
  • Pattabhirama Temple
  • Hampi Bazaar
  • Lotus Mahal
  • Matanga Hill/ Veerabhadra Temple
  • Archaeological Museum/ Elephant Stable
  • Queen’s Bath
  • Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary (21 kms away from Hampi)
  • Riverside Ruins
  • Sri Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
    Sri Virupaksha Temple

We were staying at Hotel Mega Inn at Hospet, some 13 km away from Hampi. We reached Hampi complex at around 10.30 am and headed towards Sri Virupaksha temple, few meters away from the parking lot. Dedicated to Lord Shiva (locally called Virupaksha), the temple is intact among the surrounding ruins. To the left of the temple is the Hemkoota Hill Temple Complex.

  • Tungabhadra River, Hampi
    Tungabhadra River

We bought a map of Hampi and chose to explore all the places on our own (big mistake). We lost our way eventually while finding the Vijaya Vittala temple and took almost 2 long hours to reach the temple. Vittala Temple complex was extremely crowded, all thanks to the popularity of The Stone Chariot. Another major attraction of Vittala Temple is “The Musical Pillars” or “Sangeetha Mandapa”. It consists of 56 pillars that produce musical tones when struck with a thumb. The phenomena is attributed to the presence of metallic ore as well as silica in the pillars.

  • Vijayanagara Empire Rulers
    Vijayanagara Empire Rulers

Now that we had lost on a lot of time, we just decided to skip the lunch and see as many places as we could till evening. Honestly speaking, we were so frustrated by then that we simply hopped from one place to another. But in the process, we did manage to cover almost all the major attractions across the complex. I do not wish to describe each and every place here. I would rather let the pictures do the talking.

DAY 2 (24TH DECEMBER 2017): ANEGUNDI SIGHTSEEING

Often overshadowed by the popularity of Hampi, Anegundi does have its share of beautiful places. Some of them are:

PLACES TO SEE IN ANEGUNDI

  • Hanuman Temple/ Anjanadri Hill/ Anjana Parvath/ Anjaneya Parvat
  • Durga Temple
  • Ranganatha Temple
  • Srikrishnadevaraya Samadhi
  • Anegundi Fort
  • Gagan Mahal
  • Nava Brindavana
  • Pampa Sarovara
  • Hippie Island

We started our day with a visit to Navabrindavanam/ Nava Brindavana, which is located on an island on the outskirts of Anegundi. A lovely hour long drive on the excellent roads with coconut trees along the roadside brought us to the endpoint for vehicles. From there, it was a walk for some 15-20 minutes. We had to wade through couple of streams and walk on an unusually formed rock bed. We even got to experience the coracle ride while crossing one of the streams. Nava Brindavan is basically a small complex containing the tombs of nine Madhva saints. The premises also has shrines of Lord Ranganatha and Lord Hanuman. Note that men are required to remove their top-wear to be able to make the Parikrama or Pradakshina around the Brindavanams.

  • Coracle ride to reach Nava Brindavana in Anegundi
    Coracle ride to reach Nava Brindavana in Anegundi

Our driver then drove us to Durga Temple, not far away from Nava Brindavanam. The temple had a long queue and we were running short of time. Therefore, we decided to give it a miss and moved to Anjanadri Hill. While on the way, we paid a quick visit to Pampa Sarovar, a beautiful lake said to be the place where Shabari, a devotee of Lord Rama, waited to meet him. It is also said that Pampa, or a form of Lord Shiva’s consort Parvati, performed penance at this place to show her devotion to Shiva. Locals told us that it becomes a very picturesque sight when the lotuses in the lake are in bloom. There are also temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Lakshmi, in the premises.

When we reached the base of Anjanadri Hill, it was well past 1 o’clock. The hill is right opposite Vijaya Vittala Temple across the other side of the river. One has to climb the neatly carved steps to reach the hilltop. It took us about 1 hour to reach the top. A temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman is situated on top of the hill. The highlight of Anjanadri Hill is the view you get to see from the top. The spectacular view of the paddy fields, coconut tree plantations, rocky mountains, Tungabhadra river and of Hampi is simply marvelous. Another attraction of the Hanuman Temple is the “floating stone” kept in a small tank filled with water. The stone is said to be one of the many used for construction of “Ram Sethu”, also known as Adam’s Bridge.

  • Anjana Parvath or Anjanadri Hill, Anegundi
    Anjana Parvath or Anjanadri Hill, Anegundi

We climbed down the hill by 3 pm and headed back to Hospet for a journey back to Mumbai same evening. There’s so much to see in Hampi and Anegundi. We were aware of the fact that we had not allocated enough days for these two beautiful places. Nevertheless, whatever places we got to see in these two days were enough to leave the fond memories of Hampi and Anegundi etched on our minds.

Watch my journey to these two beautiful destinations:

BEST TIME TO VISIT HAMPI

The weather is relatively pleasant (Read: bearable) during October to March. Not recommended in monsoon as the boulders become slippery and difficult to walk on.

HOW TO REACH HAMPI

Air: Although the nearest airport to Hampi is Bellary Airport (62 kms away), the frequency of flights is very low. The best option is Hubballi Airport (168 kms away)

Rail: Hospet or Hosapete Junction has a good rail connectivity to major cities across the country.

Bus: Regular AC/ Non-AC buses ply regularly to/ from Hospet by State transport and private bus operators.

ACCOMMODATION IN AND AROUND HAMPI

Since there are no accommodation facilities anywhere closer to Hampi complex, one can check out following options in Hospet:

  • Hotel Swathi
  • Mega Inn
  • Hotel Malligi
  • Pratap Residency
  • Hotel Hampi International
  • Pai Residency

One may even choose to stay in shacks/ huts at Hippie Island which is on the other side of the Tungabhadra river and closer to Anegundi.

RESTAURANTS IN AND AROUND HAMPI

There are not many options at Hampi complex and Anegundi for meals. However, one may get decent food at following restaurants in Hospet:

  • Naivedyam
  • Blue Mist Cafe
  • Temptations
  • Metro Resto Cafe
  • Athidhi Restaurant
  • Swathi Delicacy

THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • First of all, do not make the mistake of allocating only a single day each for Hampi and Anegundi. Two days for Hampi and another couple of days for Anegundi would be enough.
  • Negotiate with local tour guides at Hampi for a day long tour to important places to save on time. A guide gave us an offer of Rs. 1,750 for an entire day.
  • Likewise, negotiate with auto-rickshaw drivers for Hampi and Anegundi sightseeing, if you do not have your own car. I checked with an auto-rickshaw guy, Javed (Mobile: 94492 51678/ 94805 69391) at Hospet and he told me that he charges Rs. 1,500 for two days only for Hampi sightseeing.
  • Hospet is a good place for accommodation. Still try to get your accommodation as closer to Hampi as possible like Kamalapur. This would help you avoid crowd by reaching the complex early morning. You would also get ample time to watch sunrise and sunset.
  • There are total 3-4 Pushkaranis at different locations. Study the map very well or ask local people around to be able to see all of them.
  • Do not forget to enter the Hanuman Temple on Anjanadri Hill and check out the “floating stone”.
  • Be careful with your phones and cameras while getting into and sitting in the coracle.
  • Beware of monkeys at Pampa Sarovar and Anjanadri Hill.
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