Hampi: A Journey To a Forgotten Empire

The best trips are always the ones that are unplanned.

This is one of those trips that totally happened out of the blue. The grihapravesh (house warming) of our new house was around the corner and I was in-charge of the full preparations, so going on a road trip to a place about 1300 kms from home was not even in any corner of my mind. One fine morning I was woken up at 5:00 am by dad and asked if we can drive to Bijapur, Karnataka and get my sister home for the function (she was at Bijapur then on an assignment and rail/air connectivity of that place is bad). Since I was woken up at an odd hour, I took about a minute to realize what was happening. I replied in the affirmative, as I am always game for a drive. Dad asked me to pack my stuff as we were to leave in an hour. Woha! that was real short notice. I nonchalantly went to the bathroom and took a bath, got ready, packed a few clothes and essentials and went downstairs, only to find that dad had not got ready and was sipping his tea with a calm demeanor. I stood on the staircase thinking if what happened 45 minutes ago was a dream. But then dad saw me and asked me if I was comfortable doing this drive alone? And I was like hell yeah! In the recent times I have started taking a liking to solo drives, so I was more than happy that I was going to have another solo drive. In the next 20 minutes I warmed myself up with a nice ginger tea and was behind the wheels of my trusted travel partner. As I stay very near to the highway that passes through my city, any road trip starts straightaway. When I zoomed past Bhopal in no time and was on the fog covered Bhopal – Indore highway that is when the real feel of the drive sunk in.

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My kind of Sunrise

I do a lot of Bhopal-Indore drives and I have one favorite place on this highway, which falls midway – Highway Treat at Dodi. I take stops here, always .

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Every south bound drive must begin with this breakfast

I did not take any breaks till Malegaon, Maharashtra where I reached around lunch time. Had a sumptuous marathi style lunch and continued with Bijapur as destination in my mind. Crossed Shirdi, bowing my head down to babaji from the road itself and reached Ahmednagar, Maharashtra by early evening. Called up sis to update about my location and got a surprise! She told me that she won’t be able to leave immediately as she has some pending work which she needs to complete before going on a leave. So now I was in no hurry to reach Bijapur as I had two days in hand before starting the return journey .

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Considering options!

Took a night halt at Karmala, Maharashtra not sure of what to do the next day. I called up  a friend at Bangalore and Hampi was finalized as a destination to explore for the next two days. He agreed to ride in to Hospet by the time I would reach there. Everything fell into place and hostel reservations were made. Slept peacefully as now I was sure of my plans and also in the excitement of exploring a new place. Started early next m0rning as I had planned to meet sis at Bijapur enroute Hampi .

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Another my kind of sunrises on the Pune-Solapur Highway

Dosa and wada for breakfast indicated that I was in the southern part of India, already. I was loving the way this unplanned drive was unfolding. Switched to my mallu (Malayalam) playlist to sink in more to the feeling of driving in the southern part of the country and maintained a steady pace till Bijapur, where I entered the city and spent some time with my sis and continued on to Hospet. As I had already explored bijapur on my last visit to this place I just stopped at the Gol Gumbaz for some photo-shots.

200 kms had to be covered in the next 4 hours as my friend was only scheduled to arrive by evening. I had plenty of time for a super relaxed paced drive. A few kilometers out of Bijapur, I saw a road signage that said Almatti Dam – 7 kms. A small detour was definitely possible as I had lot of time on hand. So I took the turn off the highway and headed to see this architectural marvel. I was amazed by the way the dam and its surroundings were maintained.

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Road leading to Almati Dam

I spent some time walking around the place and then started for my destination for the day – Hospet, Karnataka. I made it to Hospet by 4:30 PM and checked into the hotel which we had booked earlier. My friend arrived in 30 minutes from bangalore riding a CBR!

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Yours truly with another impulsive traveler who agreed for this trip in a minute. It wouldn’t had been possible without you. Thanx mate!

We freshened up, went to the restaurant, ordered a few beers and discussed our plans for the next day  Both of us had done our research and zeroed in on the list of must see places in Hampi. We had our dinner and retired for the night.

We had planned to leave early the next morning, but boys being boys, we managed to leave at around 10 AM and reached Hampi after 30 minutes of driving on a beautiful countryside road.

Hampi has several mythological references & gets its name from Pampa – the daughter of Bramha who married Lord Shiva. It is also believed that Kishkindha – the monkey kingdom of Vali & Sugriva was located in the surroundings of Hampi. Anjanadri hill is beleived to be the birth place of lord Hanuman.

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History of Hampi (PC to respective owners)
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We decided to start from the last monument and make our way to the entrance.

Disclaimer: I am no expert on hisory of this place or for that matter any place, but I just love to see the architecture, hire guides and hear the stories related to places and wonder about the outstanding lifestyles that people lead in that era .The source of history quoted is from various sources.

The remaining part of this post will be more focused on the photographs that I clicked around this place .

HAMPI, the seat of the famed Vijayanagar empire was the capital of the largest empire in pre-mogul India, covering several states. Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire and was an extremely important part of the Empire from 1343 to 1565. The small village became renowned because of its immense wealth, flourishing art, literature and trade at that time. But, the invading Moghul forces destroyed Vijayanagara and ruined Hampi and the other places of the empire.

This region was part of the Ashokan kingdom during the 3rd century BC. It was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple and several other monuments belonging to the old city. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first settlements in Hampi date back to 1 CE. The ruins of Hampi were discovered by Colonel Colin Mackenzie in 1800.

The site is significant historically and architecturally. The landscape abounds with large stones which have been used to make statues of Jaina deities.

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Virupaksha Temple.  The temple is still in use. It is dedicated to Virupaksha, an aspect of Shiva and his consort Pampa, a local deity

Hampi Bazar, situated outside the Virupaksha temple

The Lotus Mahal or Lotus Palace is a unique structure located among the rich architectural ruins of Hampi. This majestic structure is a part of the zenana enclosure, a secluded area reserved for the royal ladies of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Lotus Mahal is also known as the Chitragani Mahal and Kamal Mahal.

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Krishna Temple

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Elephant Stables: Used to house the eleven royal elephants in King Krishnadeva Raya’s army
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The stone chariot at Vittala complex
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A tree in the middle of Vittala complex

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The ruins of Krishna Bazaar

Since we were short of time and also drained out because of the scorching heat admist the stone structures we left Hampi around 3 in the afternoon and returned back to the comforts of our hotel room. Had a late lunch by the pool side and decided to watch the sunset at the Tungabhadra Dam, nearby .

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It was amazing to see the sun set into the vast waters

We returned back to the hotel feeling contended and started chalking out our return plans. We left Hospet the next morning after breakfast. I started driving towards Bijapur as my friend rode to Bangalore .

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I made it to Bijapur in the next 2 hours. Next day me and sis started for Bhopal at 4 in the morning and reached home by late evening covering 1000kms in 15 hours.

Unplanned drives are good. Very good. *sigh* 🙂

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One Comment Add yours

  1. UpwardSpiral says:

    What an exciting trip! Hampi is a real treasure! Although our travel was nowhere near as exciting (we just took the train to Hospet) , we had a really good time in Hampi and had many funny adventures and incidents. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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