December 13, 2010

The Hampi Escapade

 Yet another back to back trip.... not that I cannot take the fatigue, but the only complaint is that I have to rush up my blogs to avoid forgetting stuff (overlapping memories :P ) and in normal scenarios I take all the time in the world to write. This time it was different and so where the destinations which were worlds apart. One was focused more on the nature which is so far untouched by man while the other was how a creation by one man is destroyed by other.

The ruins of Hampi are truly magical. Usually whenever we visit a structure of the yore it will be with all probability a standalone one with few structures of the same period giving it company. But in this case nearly the entire city of half a million people is preserved and totally transports into a different world altogether, a time when King Krishnadevaraya ruled this truly flourishing city.

Day 1 (4/12/2010)
Bangalore-Anantapur-Gooty-Adoni-Mantralayam (420 kms)

This day was dedicated for travelling and a stopover at Mantralaya, the holy place of Raghavendra Swami's samadhi. Actually it was mom's wish to visit this place and a search of tourist places nearby resulted in narrowing down and deciding our final destination to be Hampi. Left early in the morning at 6 am and travelled along the airport road/Hyderabad road. This road is a part of the North-South Corridor (Kashmir-Kanyakumari) corridor, hence as expected the roads were superb and had very little traffic after the airport detour.We had more or less the entire 4 lanes all to ourselves :).

Had our breakfast at Kamat Upachar, some 5-10 mins after Chikkaballapur bypass. Food was decent. This was probably the only decent restaurant we came across along the highway for the entire ride. Just after Anantapur we bought some Guava's.... 20 bucks for nearly 10 of these huge fruits ... and they were the best I had in a really long time.... Juicy , crisp and delicious.... After we reached Gooty took a diversion towards Adoni and from here to Mantralaya. Roads are good except for the few patches enroute on this 2 lane highway. Initially we had expected a good 10 hr journey but due to the good road conditions we reached within 7 hrs.... Reached at around 1 pm, directly went for darshan and reached just in time for the prasada lunch (11 am  to 2 pm ). This annadhana done in various temples across South India is a commendable and selfless act of kindness. So many people's livelihood depends upon these kind of programs (Superlike :P).

Went to the nearest lodging facility (Pankaja Paradise) and got rooms for decent rates (400 + 2*50 for extra beds, pretty much off season). In the evening went again for darshana and having dinner in one of the numerous vegetarian hotels and we retired quite early for the day.

Day 2 (5/12/2010)
Mantralayam-Adoni-Bellary-Hampi (200 kms)

The internet was not helpful regarding this stretch of route between Mantralayam and Hampi. Had checked various blogs , but I guess people do not normally take this circuit of Hampi and Mantralyam in a single trip. So we were in complete darkness regarding which route to take. Enquired with the hotel manager and he told the best route (lesser among the evils :P) was via Adoni-Bellary-Hampi. Hence we set of early in the morning again (6.30am). As with the previous day the road till Adoni was good , had a stopper here for our breakfast. After Adoni the quality of the road goes downhill, but manageable. At various sections there will just a single lane road with huge drops on either side (nearly 1 feet), so if caught behind a bullock cart or any other slower beings you literally have to go at their pace :(.... until you come across the overtaking section, where the road briefly widens to 2 lanes but just for some 100 metres or so where you got to do all the overtakings :P.
Virupaksha Temple Complex
But this route was dotted with so many of Sunflower fields, and they looked pretty in the morning sun. Had stopovers at various points for photo sessions. As we entered Karnataka the size of the potholes seemed to double up in sizes.. No surprises here :P. Reached Bellary and took the NH-63 to Hospet. The condition of this national Highway was also below average, with many bad stretches enroute. This route is dotted by a number of  really huge industries.... Steel particularly... and due to lots of mining truck activity in this route it more or less feels like travelling in a desert.

Just about 10 kms from Hospet, there is shortcut to Hampi via Kamalapura. This route is marked by a mantapa at the entrance. In fact this village road is much-much better than NH-63 and saves nearly 20 kms of going via Hospet... Reached Kamalapura and directly went to the main centre of Hampi.  Reached around noon.. Nearly 5.5 hours to traverse through 200 kms... seems pretty odd when compared to statistics of the previous day :P.

Hampi Bazaar and Viruspaksha temple in background
 We got a Hampi guide book which is highly recommended if u planning to explore the ruins... also has a map attached and which is also dirt cheap. Went to the main temple complex, Virupaksha Temple which is pretty much well preserved .This is one of the few temples in Hampi where pooja is still performed and it being a sunday was buzzing with tourists. Both the westerners and the natives alike were mesmerized with this 6 centuries old structure. The entrance is a huge gopura and inside it there are various sections until reaching the main gudi. Another interesting fact is that the entire city which remains is made from stones, the stones which are easily available in this area... Complete utilization of one's surroundings. In the main temple temple there are various nook's and corner's to be explored. Also there is one section where the shadow of the main gopuram appears inverted based on the principles of pin hole camera... smooth... If at all these guys knew how to produce photographic plates :D.

Achutaraya Temple Complex

After this we took a stroll along the Hampi Bazaar which is pretty much commercialized to modern times. This is supposedly the place where they used to trade rubies, gems and other precious items, but now it has Dhaba kind of hotels and memorabilia shops. In fact this centre of Hampi is where majority of the  tourists are... and visit to other sites reveals very few visitors and we can explore to our hearts content.From Hampi bazaar we climbed a mountain just opposite it. There is Nandi statue. Our parents decided to rest here and me and my brother continued until we reached the Achutaraya temple complex... the first ruin we have laid our eyes upon. Very few tourists were at this place and we explored to our hearts content... one unique architecture of the temples of hampi are that there is dark passage created around the main gudi for pradakshina and illuminated badly by few holes in the wall. These passages are inhabited by bats and the fumes of their excreta is pretty much nauseating.

The Inner Gudi

Courtesans Street
In front of the temple complex is the Sule bazaar or Courtesans court...... this street is really huge both in length and breadth. Returned back to the Hampi bazaar, joined with our parents and where thinking of searching for a good hotel and lodging nearby. Just then we encountered a minor hiccup.. had our first flat since using our car for the last 9 years :P. So changed the tyre which we had in half an hour flat... it would have been quicker if not trying to loosen the screws by rotating in opposite direction :D.

Vitthala Temple
But to be frank there is no such decent restaurents or even lodges in this ruins... so we referred to the Lonely Planet and it took us to KSTDC Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari, Kamlapur which is a good 3 kms from the Hampi bazaar. This Govt establishment is a bit pricey with a 3-bedroom AC room + 1 extra bed costing us nearly 2K/day. But on the other hand the entire hotel was quite spacious and we were allotted cottage type of rooms which is pretty much isolated from others. Had a buffet lunch , which was average and after some relaxation decided to go towards Vittala temple complex, home to the world famous stone chariot.

Stone Chariot

Kings Balance

There is a mud road right upto this temple complex and as we were parking our vehicle was witnessing some awesome silver lining from the sun hiding behind the clouds. We entered the complex and the first thing which captivates your eyes is the stone chariot... A masonry marvel... It had various inscriptions on it.. including Portuguese.  The sun was making its way quickly to the horizon and the mute stones simply started to glow in the evening sun. Visited the Kings Balance (where the king used to weigh gold equivalent to his weight and donate them) and further down Purandhara Dasa Mantapa on the banks of River Tungabhadra where he used to write. Was treated with a beautiful sun-set among the boulder filled mountains. By nightfall returned back to our hotel and played UNO. My parents played it for the first time and superliked it :P.

Mirror For the Sun

Day 3 (6/12/2010)
Hampi-Bellary-Chellakere-Hiriyur-Tumkur-Bangalore (360 kms)

Queens Bath

 Today we were to complete the remaining sites of interest which was left off the previous day. First we visited some unknown temple early in the morning followed by an octagonal bath. After this we returned back to our hotel and had our breakfast. Returned back and went to Queens bath.....This Royal Splurge was beyond any of our common mans imagination. A huge tank in the centre and a great structure around it. This huge tank filled and drained just for one bath by the queen. And we thought bath tubs were waste of water. One of the caretaker showed us the various plumbing features. The water inlet where water was drawn from a stream nearly 2 km away and the point where it was drained out.

Water Inlet: In Short Tap

Doors Made Of Stone

 From here we moved to Mahanavami Dibba, which were a group of monuments which was built by King Krishnadevarya in celebration of his victory in Orissa. On top of a platfrom we get a eagles eye view of the Hampi town. Nearby was the puskarani i.e. the water tank and the entire aqueduct system which has been restored. These aqueduct or in short pipes were made of solid stone and the first impression one gets after laying their eyes on them is that they are for beautification. Also there is one underground chamber nearby where the king used to hold secret meetings (Chamber of secrets :D), but alas the roof of this room has collapsed. Nevertheless the tunnel which leads to this room is in perfect condition and it was pretty exciting travelling along these pitch dark pathways.

Tunnel To The Secret Chamber


Further we moved to the Royal enclosure where the Royals actually resided. First was the Hazara Rama Temple which was one of the most preserved temples among the ruins. There was various depictions of Ramayan and Mahabharatha on the walls.Also the inner sanctum had 4 pillars made from stone unlike any temples in these regions. From here the royal enclosure is just a stones throw away. As we enter the Royal enclosure protected by nearly 20 foot walls the first thing which catches your attention is the Lotus Mahal which is the palace for the both the Queens of Krishnadevaraya. Also he had built 2 separate residential Mahals from Sandalwood which was completely burned down by the raid of the Deccan Sultanates and only the stone foundations remain. It is observed that the royal enclosure buildings have a lot of islamic architectural influences.

Lotus Mahal

Elephant Stables: Check Out The Domes

 Behind the palaces are the elephant and horse stables. The latter being completely destroyed. The elephant stables are huge structures keeping in the mind the original inhabitants of the place. Also there are 9 cubicles and each one has a dome at the top... the domes represent hinduism, Jainism and Islam respectively . Talk about  religious tolerance. There are also 2 small museums within the Royal Enclosure which pretty much shows before and after restoration images.

Watch Tower
From here moved along the road to underground shiva temple.. This was bit of a disappointment since it was not as I expected. It was just below the ground level and hence underground.. what logic :P... also the main sanctum area is filled with water due to it being built upon a water stream. Also we visited the Ugranarasimha statue and the huge Shiva Lingam adjacent to that. Continueing on the same road we reached the Krishna Temple and we were pretty much saturated with our interest for the inscriptions and other stuff. Also visited the Sasivekaalu Ganesh and decided to return back since we had covered most of the important places. In fact there are so many not so popular buildings which can be explored for even a week as done by some westerners. And the best means of transportation are bicycles if not too hot. Otherwise most of the important places are accessible by car if not much bigger vehicles.

Underground Shiva Temple

Before leaving we decided to pay a visit to the ASI Museum at Kamalapura. It had stuff like coins, weapons, pots ,photo's of excavation during the British Era,  statues and other stuff which are deemed unsafe to be kept in the ruins. Also there is a miniature replica of the entire Hampi city. The entire museum can be checked out in about one hour and is pretty decent with their collections.


Finally it was time to leave for Bangalore. It was nearly noon so we decided to have our lunch in Bellary. We took the Hampi-Bellary-Hiriyur-Tumkur-Blore route since online forums said this was way better than the much popular NH-13 which is supposed to have huge craters thanks to mining trucks. So we moved back to Bellary and after Bellary the roads were really awesome. This 2 lane road was potholeless, smooth, had very less traffic and we were averaging  100+ constantly. Reached Hiriyur and joined the Golden Quadrilateral all the way to Bangalore. Had a stopover for Dinner at Kamat Upachar just after Tumkur. Reached Bangalore and awesome Flyover started from Nelamangala. Took the Nice ring road till Mysore road and right to our home avoiding any traffic bottlenecks even on a Monday evening. Took nearly 8.5 hrs from Hampi which includes lunch and dinner.

Krishna Temple

Overall a great getaway place for a family. And if anyone is an architectural freak then you have got yourself a gold mine. Immensely popular among the westerners and now I see the reason.. It was really enchanting even spending just 2 days in the ancient city. Also it is the only ancient city of such magnitude preserved in southern india , which makes it all so special.

Snaps Link:

Trip 'O' Meter ------> 1080 kms

Route Map


  1. Nice dude!! I dint know so much was there to see in Hampi n surroundings

  2. U have any tie up with Kamat ?!

  3. :P... Illa macha... But Kamat Hotels wherever u find u can be sure of their quality :)

  4. good post, A general comment: your blog tagline is good, bad and the ugly...I haven't seen any bad and ugly parts till now, please enlighten me on this issue :)

  5. he he.. thanks.. and also there are "bad and ugly" posts too.... most of them hidden within "The Good" posts :)

  6. This post is very informative. Awesome photography!!!

  7. Its a very beautifully explained blog with amazing pictures of the weekend getaway Hampi. The name Hampi also means "champion". With various places to visit in Hampi, Hampi continues to be an important religious centre. Thank you for sharing it.

  8. Good blog, got a lot of info. Pls tell me about KSTDC cottage rooms? How was it? Clean????


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