My Escape to the Magnificent Hampi Ruins!

On any average day, my to-do list would read as:
1. 6 am- Wake Up
2. 7 am- Pilates
3. 9 am- Breakfast review meeting
4. 11 am- Sales Meeting
5. 1 pm- Sort e-mails, have lunch and make reports
6. 7 pm-Pick up Laundry
7. 9 pm-Heat ready to eat meal
8. 11 pm- Go to bed exhausted

On a boring Friday at work, the phone rings incessantly. It’s Shilpa, my childhood friend. I admire her free spirit and easy-going nature.
Shilpa- “Hi, What’s up?”
Me- “Umm, just finishing a report.”
Shilpa- “Don’t lie, I know you are making a list of things to be done over weekend (like the Oracle, Shilpa can telepathically read me). Pack your bags, we leave tomorrow morning. Have made the bookings for our trip to Hampi.”
Me- “But...”
Shilpa-“It’s my Birthday & you haven’t taken a break in ages.”

Grudgingly, I agree that both her reasons are impenetrable and I rush home to pack & prepare for the trip. After an uneventful bus journey from Mumbai we arrive at Hampi, just as the sun is beginning to cast shadows. Our guide, Sukumar meets us at our humble but comfortable resort and we start the exploration of boulder-strewn landscape along the banks of the Tungabhadra river. The past comes alive, as we magically get transported to a world of kings, battles and long forgotten marvels.

Hampi was one of the glittering showpieces of India's might in the 15th century. There were opulent palaces, marvelous temples, massive forts, baths, markets, pavilions and stables for royal elephants. Set in a surreal and beautiful boulder-strewn landscape, Vijayanagara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and although the city was destroyed by marauding Mogul invaders in the 16th century, much of it remains today.

We started by visiting the 16th century Vittala Temple, the undisputed highlight of the ruins. Awestruck, we explored the stone chariot standing tall on a base platform decorated with mythical battle scenes, musical columns and intricately carved monolith pillars.

The Stone Chariot at Vithala temple
The Stone Chariot at Vithala temple

Intricate carvings at monuments across Hampi
Intricate carvings at monuments across Hampi

Our next stop was the Zenena enclosure, a secluded area reserved for the royal women. This walled harem houses many interesting highlights including the Lotus Mahal, a two-storied arched pavilion. The golden hue to these architectural marvels was given by mixing yolk, honey and Indian jaggery during the construction.

Lotus Mahal
Lotus Mahal

We also explored Pushkarni–the Stepped Tank, is a 22m wide and 7m deep square tank made of finely finished black schist stone blocks assumed to be used during royal ceremonies.

Next day, we stumbled across the beautiful Sanapur Lake where we spend a quiet afternoon swimming in its cold waters and chatting. The sun was a bit harsh but the cool waters offered respite. In the evening we went to Matanga Hill and watched the sun set over Hampi. Do not miss this magnificent sight!

The third day we went to the Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, and Elephant Stables and stopped to have lunch at Mango Tree, a very popular restaurant at Hampi. The dining area is essentially a terraced slop overlooking the river Tungabhadra, and you sit cross legged to enjoy to savor simple meals.

Elephant Stables
Elephant Stables

After lunch we explored the old capital called Anegundi, across the river from Hampi which has many attractions of its own. We saw Pampa Sarovar, Laxmi temple, Anegundi fort and stumbled across a craft shop offering a range of items made locally using banana fiber.

Three days are not enough to do justice to the sights of Hampi, but I came back refreshed from a destination which surprised me with whispering winds, magnificent ruins and lingering traces and scents of a bygone era.

Architectural Wonders of Hampi
Architectural Wonders of Hampi

History maybe first here, but we re-discovered friendship amongst the ruins without the latest technology wonders. Do visit Hampi, where every guide is a storyteller and each carving on the monuments is his twists & turns in the story.

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