By 8 I was at the river banks of Anegudi to cross River Tunga on a steamer to explore Hampi. Baswaraj was my sole organizer for the day. He gave me two options for breakfast, a continental one available in a resort close by or some Dosa-Vada, hot and served directly from the tawa (hotplate). For obvious reasons, I opted for the second option available across the Tunga. We got the motorcycle aboard the steamer and crossed the river, drove straight to the tiny outlet. It was yummy and had a lot of it and finished the breakfast with a hot Bru coffee. Baswa was telling me about how he came up as a guide in Hampi. He was mentioned about John and George who have been doing research on Hampi for the past 20 years! And a lot more characters who have been part of Hampi and Anegundi. Today there are more than a 1000 preserved monuments in Hampi pertaining to the Vijayanagara Kingdom. Briefly, Hampi is an open museum of History, Art, Architecture and History.
The prime deities of the temples of Hampi are Shiva and Vishnu in his different forms. It was during the Vijayanagara era that there was a split within the people about who was the supreme God. It was then a race to build temples for Siva and Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology, Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the protector and Shiva is the destroyer. Anything born in this world has to be destroyed one day, it goes by the concept that the whole universe itself is on a temporary mode. Of which the main Vishnu temple is the Vithala temple and the prime Siva temple is the Virupaksha temple. Another important temple is the Hazara Rama temple, which means 1000 carvings temple – the whole Ramayana story is carved within the temple. There are a few big statues of the Elephant God, Ganesh and Narasimha, the avatar of Lord Vishnu..
After breakfast we paid Rupee 20 and got into a battery buggy to the Vithala temple, the temple of lord Vishnu, supposed to be one of the finest monuments in Hampi. The buggy was operated by uniformed ladies. Enroute was a lot of stone frames of cubicles which were supposed to be trader’s shops of the olden days. We reached the place, it was marvelous to see the temple wide spread with a lot of other structures within the temple complex.
The rock Chariot, pillars of tunes (musical pillars) which gives different sounds when you keep your ears close to the pillar, the carvings in white granite, and different Mandapas could be seen in the complex. Lot of art and sculpture work has gone into the temple construction. For very fast completion of construction, most of the mandapas of the temples were made with mud bricks and had external carvings on granite stones, hence the destruction and the ruining by time is very fast.
The Vitthala is a master piece in Hampi which still exists without much destruction. Behind the temple you could see partial ancient fortification of the Royal area, a Thulabara pillar – where the king was weighed against some offering to the temple.
Later we went to the Hajara Rama temple, then the Narasimha statue i.e. half human and half lion faced avatar of lord Vishnu. The statue is considerably large in size, now protected with gates. The large Linga, The largest Ganesh statue carved out of a single boulder are all in Hampi. The Queens bath where queens used to come for their royal bath, the Lotus Mahal where the queen spent her time when the King went for war, and the elephant’s stable – where elephants were tamed and maintained. This is just the tip of the iceberg, you can take up to a weeks time with the plan “Exploring Hampi”
Written by Benjamin John