India, India 2017

Hampi, Karnataka (1st part)

Hampi is probably one of the most fascinating places of India. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is somewhat hidden away in the state of Karnataka. Getting there is itself and adventure.

I traveled to Hampi with two friends during Easter. We took a two hour and 45 minute flight from Delhi to Bangalore and arrived around 7:15 pm. From Bangalore we had to take a train to Hospet, the nearest train station to Hampi. Our train was scheduled to leave at 10:00 pm, so we thought that we had plenty of time to reach the station, which is 35 km far away from the airport. We were not counting on Bangalore’s heavy traffic. At 9:40 pm we were still in the taxi, 1.5 km from the station. According to Google maps, it would take us at least another 20 minutes to reach it. We panicked!

We decided to get out of the taxi and run! We arrived at the station around 9:55 pm and we got scared because we couldn’t find our train. Luckily for us, it was delayed and it wasn’t on the platform yet. We finally departed around 10:40 pm.  It would take us nine more hours to get to Hospet, and once there, we took a 30 minute ride in a tuk-tuk. We arrived in Hampi around 8:30 am, more than 20 hours after we had left our home in Delhi!

Once in the hotel, we had breakfast and decided that, after a 20 hour journey, we needed a little rest before going out to explore. When we were ready, we hired a tuk-tuk driver to take us around for the whole day.

The long journey was certainly worth it. Despite its beauty, Hampi is not overcrowded with tourists. That allowed us to enjoy the temples and ruins at our own pace, without having to deal with hundreds of people.

Hampi was the capital of one of the biggest empires of India, the Hindu Kingdom of Vijanagara, from 1343 until it was conquered by a confederacy of Deccan sultanates in 1565. Today, the Group of Monuments of Hampi are spread over 32 square kilometers. They include the remains of forts, sacred complexes, temples, shrines, memorials, pillars, and even an elephant stable!

We started with Vittala Temple, dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is one of the main sights of Hampi. The architecture is remarkable, but the most prominent feature is the stone chariot placed in the courtyard. It is said that its wheels were once capable of turning!

Our next stop was Zanana Enclosure. There you can find the impressive Elephant Stable, which was used to provide shelter for the royal elephants of the empire. Other interesting monuments in the area are the Lotus Mahal, the Watch Tower, the Guard’s House and the Madhava Temple.

After Zanana Enclosure, we went to the Queen’s bath. Despite its name, it is believed that this building was used as the private bathing chamber of the king, and probably, as a royal pleasure complex. The exterior of the building is quite simple but the interior is richly decorated.

After a whole day of walking around ancient buildings and temples, our tuk-tuk driver took us to Hemakuta Hill Temple, where we enjoyed the sunset and an amazing view of the landscape.

Set amid thousands of boulder heaps, Hampi’s landscape is a wonder. The boulders were once part of gigantic granite monoliths. Erosion made the monoliths take their present form. It is fascinating what nature can do if you give it a few million years!

After sunset, we went back to the hotel. There was still a lot to see the next day!


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