Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hampi - Part 1




LotusMahal doorways
 
Door Way at the Lotus Mahal


At barely 350 Km from Bangalore, Hampi is a world heritage site that is just waiting to be explored. However, the majestic ruins of the erstwhile capital of the Vijayanagar empire are for those who appreciate the vision and the skill of the city planners and architects. It is a site to be lingered upon and savored slowly like a fine wine. It would not do to be herded through it like cattle.




ElephantStables
Elephant looking on at the stables


A year ago, on the 1st of April we were there. It had taken me 2 months of planning an itinerary - a task that K wisely left to me. Within 2 weeks, after going over a hundred odd blogs, trip reports, wikipedia, archaeological survey of India sites, I had given up. To do Hampi the way it deserves to be done, one would need 3-4 weeks. We had 3 days.



LotusMahal Emblem
The famous emblem



Who should go to Hampi ?

You should really like historical sites or photography or both. Period. There is little else to do there. Much of it is best done in your own car. Or hired bikes or on foot. Be prepared to walk for long distances without shade. It helps to know your history, do your research before you get there.




LotusMahal_Full
The Lotus Mahal

When to go?


We went in April - why you ask? It can get incredibly hot, and is considered off season. So you have fewer tourists (good for photography) and the hotels give you discounts that you will not believe. These are the advantages. The only disadvantage is the heat. The best time to go ofcourse is in Winter.




Elephant Stables
Another angle of the stables

Where to stay?


The "proper" hotels are in Hospet. Which is 30min drive on bad roads from Hampi. All the Hotels are pretty much next to each other, there are a lot of nice looking places, so options are many. The most famous and oldest is the Hotel Malligi. Dont go by the name, its apparently the place of choice for firangs but not very swank or clean and it looks slightly seedy to me. The pan walla there is very good though.




Hoopoe @ lotus mahal
Hoopoe among the ruins
WatchTower_RoyalEnc
The Watch Tower - Zenana Enclosure


We stayed at the brand new Royal Orchid Central Keerti at Hospet. Which is situated 1 km from the railway station at Hospet. I give it full marks. Good food, great service, super comfy beds, swank rooms and the techno-philes will love their touch screen controlled lights :) Nice pool too. And you'll need all these creature comforts because you can only do Hampi 6am to 10am and 3pm to 6:30pm. Its too hot at other times.

How to Reach?


We drove from Bangalore to Anantpur (NH7/NH44) which is a road you can fly on. From Anantpur head toward Bellary taking the state highway which is not too bad and join NH67 to Hospet. Do not think of trying NH13. It is in horrible condition. We left before dawn and reached before lunch. We could find no suitable places for breakfast, so just had emergency rations which we had packed from home.
The other way of getting to Hospet is by train or by KSTDC bus.




LotusMahal_DoorWays
The Lotus Mahal's Doorways

Day 1



After a lovely lunch and some much needed snoozing and relaxation, we set out after a refreshing cup of tea. We headed out to the Lotus Mahal in the Zenana enclosure and the Elephant Stables. Buy a 50Rs guide book which people will anyway shove at you where ever you go. It has the map showing the important places so that you can plan your trip along a route and avoid driving to and fro.



RamSLH_ElephantStables
Found this on a wall - Ram and Sita - I think


Hampi is deeply steeped in history and mythology. Its supposed to be Kishkinda from the Ramayan, which explains the Ram,Sita carving with the monkeys.
I'm not going to explain the history of these places here, I wouldn't be able to do it much justice. Where ever possible we avoided the guides like the plague so that we can explore on our own and try and figure things out for ourselves.

Tips


Birders should watch out for Spotted owlets, Parakeets and Hoopoes in large numbers during dusk.
Carry hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
Wear very comfortable shoes and light cotton clothing
Wear soaks. Some temples require you to leave your shoes outside. You dont want to hop around on the hot stones.
Keep plenty of refreshments in the car.
Keep sun shade open in the car when parked or the steering may melt. :)
Carry plenty of change to buy tickets, pay parking charges.
Hampi is a dry town and also has no meat available ( we never tried any eating places here, but the guide books say so )
Hospet - where you will be staying has no such restrictions.




TinyPavilion lotus mahal
Behind the Lotus Mahal

Research and Further Reading


For the Tourist and a brief history - http://hampi.in/
Research - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi
Research - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijayanagara_Empire
Archelogical Survey of India - http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_whs_hampi.asp
World Heritage Site - http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/241/

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2 comments:

Vetrimagal Vetrimagal said...

Humpi! No mater how many times one view the photographs, one wants to enjoy them in a different angle from another traveller!

Thanks a lot for the wonderful pictures. Superb!

Trails of a Traveler said...

Nice information

Ram

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