I’ve probably written about three or four posts up until now on Hampi! A lot of these contain the historical relevance and the places that one can see and visit as travellers. A lot of times whenever I’ve been to Hampi, I’ve travelled alone and come back to write my experiences and my journey in the historical and archaeological realm of the empire. Some things that I always have cherished and realized about my relationship with this magnificent place was my Kannada roots and of course more recently my understanding of ancestral connections to this place through Late. Shri N.S Rajpurohit, my great grandfather who was part of excavations of the Talikota battlefield, the place where the Vijayanagara empire marked its death.
This time around, during Diwali, with a couple of old friends and a few new ones, we decided to set foot in the Vijayanagara Kingdom… It was quite a bunch of us friends. Some writers, thinkers, some travelers like me, some who were just like me fascinated with Hindu mythology and its symbolical association with historic cultures especially here. So this blog will be more about the journey and some photographs which embellished quite a memory on this entire trip, making it truly special for reminiscing old friendship while building new ones and some very special ones too.
Our first day began when we left Mumbai in a bus to Hospet. We had decided to stay at Hampi Gowri guest house this time around. This is across the Tungabhadra river on the Anjaneya mountain side. From the minute I had started speaking to Mr. Srinivas, my namesake, I had decided to go and stay there. The very helpful and polite manner that he spoke on the phone sounding very helpful and accomodating was something that made me pick this venue in not more than a few minutes of speaking with him. He also offered to pick us up from a destination enroute Hospet, which is towards his side of the town. When we reached there we mostly freshened up and took a walk to the Sanapur Lake, which was nearby and pretty much chilled out. waiting for the day to get over, finish our wonderful home cooked dinner made by Mr. Srinivas’s wife and crash…
Second day began when we set off in our mini van to take the tour of the city. It was very well spent with a guided tour, by me of course visiting the ancient ruins of Hampi and the various places that we ended up taking great pictures and spending some good time talking about their historical and archaeological significance from the standpoint of ancient India. Our day mostly touring and grabbing a quick bite of Chitranna and some mirchi bhaji was very fruitful especially after witnessing the Stone Chariot, our last and the most infamous and quite enchanting monument in this UNESCO World Heritage site. After we returned, thanks to the wonderful arrangement of a camp fire and a barbequeue! A fitting day to a tiring and yet very fun day!
Third day was mostly chilled out. It began with a late rising in the morning and eating our breakfasts, finely cooked Idlis, very tasty and certainly ones that you could gulp down as many as you could and yet feel the craving for more. We had decided to relax a bit since the second day was quite tiring and hectic and probably start slowly to end the day by climbing the famous birthplace of Hanuman, the Anjaneya temple on top of the mountain. We started off by heading to boating point, to cross the river in the famous round small boat of sorts, the coracle or putti as it’s called in Kannada. This was something one of our friends, Rahul wanted to experience and I had to ensure it was done! And quite an experience it was, for me for the second time, but all the more fun especially with good friends around. We also recorded a video, which I’ll upload later! So after which, we visited the Virupaksha temple and returned to the other side to have our lunch and head towards the Laxmi temple and Anjaneya mountain. Climbing the mountain just about the time the sun was setting, was a great experience. Once out there, witnessing entire Hampi, filled with boulders and mountains as if God himself had thrown mountains from the skies was quite overwhelming. Sitting with close friends seeing the sun set, added a perspective to this. On our way back at the foothill of the mountains, we stopped by to drink some coconut water, which I’d say was one of the best out here in the entire trip. We also happened to meet some really down to earth, humble and truly loving family who ran that shop, Govindappa Cold drinks house. Govindappa, his wife and his daughter ran the place. They were very hospitable, friendly, in fact really good people who offered us some bananas also for free. They were decorating the place as the next day was Diwali and we helped them out in some ideas. They really enjoyed it and thanked us as well. It was quite fun hanging out there as it gave us another perspective of how life is. How people like them still exist and how life is more than the materialistic living that most of us pursue out in big cities like Mumbai… Such was the ending to our 3rd day at Hampi. Surreal but true.
With all this amazing experience over a period of 3 days of staying in Hampi, gave us a lot of time as well. A lot of time to talk amongst each other and get to know each other more. A time to share stories of their own, anecdotes from their lives or the books that they read, was certainly an experience that we all enjoyed thoroughly. Some special moments, some fun, a lot of PJs being cracked, and some profound wisdom and knowledge shared amongst all of us friends. It was something that made the trip even more memorable. It gave us time to introspect on our own life and share some of those with each other to learn something remarkable about each other. Our final day was going to be the one where we explored some of the Anjaneya side of Hampi. We decided to rent mopeds, from Mr. Srinivas. They were reasonably priced as well! We set forth towards Anegundi, the old capital of Hampi. On our way back we stopped by at a place nearby the road. There were open fields staring across the horizon for acres and acres of land. Deepika my friend, had suggested that we go walk in the fields. Quite a good idea, I wondered to myself and decided to stop by. We asked a guy who was sitting near the field, he said it wasn’t his, but he told us to go ahead and take a look and that no one would mind. He had a smile on his face and was very happy that we wanted to explore these beautiful fields within his lands. And so we went, played around with the crops in the field, took some good DP worthy pics and went back on our bikes to go towards the other side of the river to explore the Monolithic bull area and probably do some last minute shopping. While the last minute shopping didn’t happen, we had quite a time in yeilding our mopeds on to a motorboat and taking it to and fro. But we managed to catch some really stumptous meal at Geeta River View…
With heavy hearts we bid goodbye to the Kingdom of Vijayanagara as the first day of Diwali came to an end with the brigh orange sun which we could see on our drive back to Hospet. It was an end to this trip, but a beginning of an alliance of a group that is going for some more travels of this sort and of course raring to come back to this beautiful ruins of Hampi…
Thanks to Mr. Srinivas for his hospitality and kindness. His wife for the awesome food, and to Harsha his son who served us and helped us out very diligently. I’d reccomend this place as a must stay and next time I’m down there, it’s going to be the place to stay
Contact details: www.hampigowri.com
Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:
I’m in love with this city and this is going to be my pilgrimage destination forever! I have a love for it’s ancient archaeological structures and it’s association with the mythological references of Ramayana. That apart, there is this beautiful aura about the place that mesmerizes you to the core. That is why I make it a point that I visit this place every year. Also, my great grandfather from my mother’s side was a great Late Shri. N.S Rajpurohit, was a famous historian who has a lot to do with the excavations of certain parts which marked significance to Hampi / the Kingdom of Vijayanagara.
Hampi is called Hampi cause of the river Pampa now the Tungabhadra. Pampa was an ancient name for Hampi. According to legends, Pampa the daughter of Bramha did penance to please Lord Shiva. Impressed with her devotion Shiva married her and took the name Pampapati. On the banks of the river (Tungabhadra) there are numerous shrines of Shiva being worshipped.
History of Hampi
History of Hampi dates back to the chalcolithic and the Neolithic era… Could be proven from the ceramic and handmade pottery found from those ages. Also from the 2nd and the 3rd century there are rock edicts of the asokan empire found here…
Rulers of Hampi
Pre-Vijayanagara era it was ruled by many rulers primarily Chalukyas of Badami, Hoysalas, Yadavas and others. But the main founders of this empire are primarily two kings Harihara and Bukka raya. Also known as Hakka and Bukka who were disciples of Swami Vidyaranya…
Around the 14th century when Mughals made inroads to South India, they captured most part of Hampi and the Kampili chiefs Hakka and Bukka were prisoners… But soon they overthrew the Mughal empire after they were assigned to govern under Mughal Sultanates and retook Hampi… They then gave the name Vijayanagara (Land of Victory) also dedicated to Swami Vidyaranya so it’s also referred to as Vidyanagara.
That was mostly during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya under whose rule this empire saw its peak! He was abig fan of architecture and also was open to various styles of architecture Indian and Islamic… He also was a good ruler and had diplomatic relationship with the Spanish across the east coast and hence Hampi was quite open to trade with Europeans and usually gems and stones were traded for cotton and spices which were abundantly available here.
However after his death and during the reign of Ramraya Hampi faced a gruesome destruction. His son in law Ramraya was captured and killed during the battle of Rakkasatangdi after which the empire was left undefended when the Mughals ransacked this place, destroyed many buildings and later it was left abandoned for a long while for it to become a jungle and ruins remained. It was later on because of the curiosity of many western archaeologists and authors to great books namely Robert Sewell and A.H Longhurst that this place gained significant interest across the world. UNESCO’s World Heritage Site was conferred to Hampi in 1986.
Mythological Association of Hampi
There’s also a mythological association with Hampi. Locals and folklore has it that this area was the mythical Kishkinda Vanara kingdom from the Ramayana and this is where Rama and Lakshmana stayed before they headed off to Lanka in search of Sita. There are a couple of mountains and places which are believed to be the places where Sugreeva, Vali, Hanuman and Ram stayed back then…
Hazara Rama Temple
Which brings me to the Hazara Rama Temple. Hazara Rama… 1000 Rama? Cause of the 1000 inscriptions / sculptures of Rama on the walls of the temple? Well no… actually Hazara Rama comes from the word Hazarumu which in telegu means Entrance Hall This place has one of the most beautiful and intricate carvings lot of them describing what happened back in Ramayana and some of them depicting various Vishnu avatar. It was also a private temple of the royal family.
Stone Chariot in The Vittala Temple
The stone chariot is one of the most amazing structures in Hampi… If you get around clicking photographs of this monument, you wouldn’t just stop… its so beautiful. It’s made of big granite blocks and even though we may think it’s a monolithic structure it actually isn’t. The big granite blocks get covered cause of the intricate carvings on the chariot.
Musical Pillars of Hampi
Another very interesting thing in the vittala temple are the musical pillars in the photo shown above… Check out this video… to see what I mean
Well now if you go there this may not be possible as it has been restricted as there were incidents of damage to the structure in the past.
Just outside the vittala temple, you’ll find the Kings Balance… I belive this custom still exists and it existed back then of course. The kings were kept in the balance which was put on this structure. Weighed against gold and jewellery which was then given away to the priests and the needy.
Lotus Mahal Complex
The lotus mahal and the elephant stables are one of the most intact pieces of architecture in Hampi… This temple was in a Zenana enclosure was believed to be a recreational area for the women folks of the royal family. There are hooks to tie up curtains and you’ll also find these terracotta pipes which are on the ceiling of this structure. They were filled with water from the well besides it and they acted as ventiatory ducts which provided cooling due to the breeze. Ancient air conditioning so to speak. The elephant stables are symmetrical set of stables with central one them being the biggest. These are unlike any other pieces of architecture as they are a mixture of Indo Islamic architecture.
Octagonal public baths are something you’ll find. These are probably one of the oldest bathing structures which are still properly maintained… They weren’t just made out there. The stepped stones were assembled block by block after being made somewhere else. Very beautiful sight to your eyes.
Underground Shiva Temple
The underground shiva temple is in shambles… The most you can do is go and visit it from the outside. It’s completely dilapatated inside a cave filled with stench and loads of black water. There were a 1000 lingas inside, but since I’vent gone I wouldn’t know… After a point it becomes very eerie. The queens bath is a small structure, much like a swimming pool of the ancient times… or a humongous jacquzi if I may say…
This is the first ruined structure you would see when you enter into the Royal center from the Kamalapura (hampi.in)-Hampi main road. For some mysterious reasons this was called as the queen’s bath. But in all probability this was a royal pleasure complex for the king and his wives. It’s a bit an assuming plane rectangular building from out side. But when you get inside, the story is different.The whole building is made with a veranda around facing a big open pond at the middle. Projecting into the pond are many balconies. An aqueduct terminates in the pond.The balconies are decorated with tiny windows and supported by lotus bud tipped brackets. The whole pool is open to the sky. This brick lined pool is now empty. But it’s believed once fragrant flowers and perfumed water filled this bathing pool. At one end of the veranda you can see a flight of steps giving access to the pool. The domical roof of veranda is a spectacle itself.
The Krishna Temple
The Krishna temple is one temple that was commissioned by Krishnadeva Raya and the architecture is significantly his. Interesting and very beautifu carvings such as that of the Mythical lion called the Yallis and the beautiful Gopis can be found here…You can also see carvings of 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu and as soon as you enter the temple you’ll find a tortoise there… Like in temples of Halebeid and Belur.
Lakshmi Narsimha Statue
The Lakshmi Narsimha statue is probably one of the most damaged yet magnificient and huge creations. It’s the largest statue of Hampi. Narsimha is seen sitting on a coil of giant seven headed Snake. Shesa. It originally had Goddess Lakshmi sitting in his lap. However when the mughals raided Hampi they hugely damaged it thinking there would be gold and jewellery hidden inside the statue.
Badava Linga Temple
Right next to it is badava linga temple. A monolithic Shiva Linga believed to be carved by a poor woman (badava) in order to praise shiva
Sasvekalu Ganesha & Kadalekalu Ganesha
The Ganeshas of Hampi are well revered. Sasvekalu and Kadalekalu Ganesha. They are named because of the resemblance of their tummies to Mustard Seed and Bengal gram respectively. There’s a story behind the Sasivekalu ganesha. Once Ganpati was very hungry and he ate so much that his tummy burst.. He immediately found a snake nearby and tied it across his tummy and that is what is depicted in the sculpture. Both are monolithic statues.
At he foothills of the great Matanga parvat / Matanga hill near the Hampi bazaar you’ll find this Monolithic bull, much similar to the one in a temple in Halebeidu. You trek for an hour or so you get on top of the Matanga hill from which you can get the most spectacular view of the city and it’s beautiful just before Sunset! A must visit.
Coracle Ride to Other side of the River
One of the best experiences is a ride in the coracle / boat to the Anjaneya hills The place revered to be the birth place of Hanumana. There’s also a cave where Sugreeva hid before he fought Vali to get him killed.
Last but not least the most famous Virupaksha temple of Hampi which also is the only functioning temple in Hampi since the 14th Century which also makes it the only functioning temple in India. Among all temples this is the only one which the Mughals never attacked. Why? Cause of the insignia or the emblem of a pig on the door of the temple. During the Hampi Festival, this is quite the place to go, in fact during Diwali as well this place has a lot of festivities and is totally decorated. One thing to look out for is the Local Elephant inside the temple… He’s always there been there for many years now…
These have been places that were on my itinerary from the time I’d been researching on Ancient Indian Technology, for my BarCampMumbai talk. Certainly fascinating, this & Hampi… Hampi was last on the agenda, but this place equally fascinating, for it’s wonderful and truly magnificient architecture that it shares with us from the ancient times of the 11th Century… Remarkable in it’s own stature, this has to be a place that is not so pompous and done to death by a lot of tourists, at the same time the places have a significant relevance in Karnataka tourism. Many tourism buses take tours and get people from all over the world to visit this fascinating place of art, history and significant culture. Why has it been so fascinating? Well, this relatively long but enchanting blog post that I’d like to write now, will probably tell you all about it.
Beautiful Belur, the quaint little town set elegantly on the banks of river Yagachi, amidst lush surroundings was earlier known as Velapuri. It was chosen as the capital of the Hoysalas, after the ascking and destruction of their capital at Dwarasamudra (Halebeedu) by delhi Sultans. The Hoysalas ruled the reigon between 44th and 13th Centuries. They were great patrons of art and architecture and built a number of magnificient shrines during their 300 years reign. The temples and monuments at Belur are amazing with their sculptures and architecture. Belur was revered for its magnificent shrines and came to be known as Modern Vaikuntha. Heaven on earth.
The Hoysala temples are characterised by Typical star shaped ground plan and are usually set on a platform. They are compact structures. Ornately careved shrines indicate the musica and dance were highly regarded by the Hoysalas and used to express religious fervor. The temples of Belur are carved out of soap stone.
Hoysala dynasty is believed to be named after the words ‘hoy Sala’ meaning ‘Strike Sala’, which were called out to Sala, the legendary head of this dynasty. When he was combating a tiger single handedly. Sala killed the tiger and this act of bravery was immortalised in the royal emblem of the dynasty. The Hoysalas ruled the Deccan and parts of Tamil Nadu between the 11th and 13th centuries. They had their origins in the hill tribes of the Western Ghats converted to Jainism in 10th century.
How To Reach:
By Rail: Hassan around 37 kms. And then take a local bus.
By Bus : It’s easy to take a bus to Hassan from Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore. From there take a local bus.
Chenna Keshava Temple:
The magnificent shrine dedicated to Lord Vijayanarayana, one of the twenty four incarnations of Vishnu was built to commemorate the Victory of Hoysalas over Cholas in the great battle of Talakkad. Some believe that it was constructed when Vishnyvardhana adopted Vaishnavism under the influence of the great guru Sri Ramanujacharya.
The construction of the temple commenced in 1116 A.D. at the instance of King Vishnuvardhana, his son and later on his grandson actually completed the construction of the temple. As per historical records, around 103 years to complete this beautifully sculpted temple complex. It is definitely the masterpiece in Hoysala Architecture.
This is another important shrine in the temple complex, it is towards the south west of Keshava temple and is adorned with an elegant Viman a, said to be resembling the vimana atop the Keshava temple, which was dismantled in 1879
Godess Andal Shrine
The sacred shrine in the temple complex is associated with poet saint Alwar. Its outer walls are also decoreated with rows of large image. Other smaller shrines in the complex are of Ramanujacharya, Krishna, Narsimha, Anjaneya, Ramchandra.
This unique 42 feet high pillar carved out of a single rock and stands on its own weight. The paved compound of the temple complex has a pavilion near the bathing tank. Sculptures of Vishnuvardhan and Krishnaraja Wodeyar can be seen here. Other statues of note are Garudagambha and Garuda, the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu.
Halebid, the ancient acpital of Hoysala’s was founded in the early 11th century and was known as Dwarasamudra, after a huge artificial lake of the same name, dating back to the 19th century. The flourishing capital city had a small fortress with a magnificent palace. It was fortified with the lake of Enormous boulders and a moat that was connected with the lake. Halebid attained glorious height during the reign of Ballala – II. the grandson of Vishnuvardhan. The Hoysala Empire extended from river Kaveri in the west to Krishna in the east and was enriched by the fertile deltas of the rivers. It’s prosperity attracted the forces of Delhi Sultanate, who invaded and annexed the town in 1311. Malik Kafur, is said to have taken away camel-loads of jewellery, gold and silver from here. In 1326, it was again attacked by Mohammad bin Tughlak.
After repeated attacks and the killing of king Ballala II, in the battle against the Sultan of Madura in 1342, the Hoysala were forced to relinquish their beautiful capital. The town was then nostalgically referred to as ‘Halebeid’ or old capital. It was never reoccupied again and the Hoysalas shifted capital to Belur. The Hoysala built over 150 exquisite temples in southern Karnataka, but the temples here are considered to be the most outstanding. The most important temple is Hoysalesvara and Kedareshvara, which are considered to be masterpieces of traditional Indian art forms. The figure carving at these temples are larger than any other temples nearby.
Karnataka and it’s beauty… always is amazing. I love every bit of it. This was another huge sculpture / statue that I had in mind and wanted to visit this for a long time… From Bangalore, I took a bus to Hassan. There are direct buses to Charannayapatna from Majestic bus stop in Bangalore, but very few and the one at 8:00 AM had already left. From Charannayapatna, there are local buses which take 15 bucks to Shravanbelagola. Nonetheless, I decided to go to Hassan. It takes about 4 hours to reach Hassan and from there you get a lot of buses to Charannayapatna, Haleibedu, & Belur as well.
Once I reached Shravanbelagola, I decided to check in to a local restaurant at the foothills of the Gomateshwara statue… Really dirt cheap room for Rs. 200 bucks a night. Awesome!!! I had enough time to climb the top of the hill and hang out till sunset to experience the beauty of Shravanbelagola & Gomateshwara!
Then began my exploration of Sravanabelegola & the beautiful statues and here’s what it had to say:
Shravanbelagola is a well known place of pilgrimage which gets tourists from all the world. People from allover the country visit this place. The world famous image of Gommateshwara is here. ZVery ancient and beautiful Jaina temples are here. This is a sacred place especially for Jains. Also very famoys is the occasion of ”Mahamastakabhisheka” (great head ablution ceremony), it’s every twelve years.
The first thing which meets our eyes as we enter Shravanbelagola is a big lake. Beautiful steps have been constructed around it. A fort and also “Kala Mantapas” surround it. This lake is called ‘Sveta Sarovara’ or white lake. It’s Kannada equivalent is ‘Biliya Kola’ or Belagola’. the place connected with Shravana or Jain ascetics. Hence the name Shravana – Belagola.
We see the beautiful and artistic statue of Sri Gommateshwara Swamy on the summit of Indragiri. Gommateshwara is also called Bahubali.
According to Jainism theology, there was a period in the world when happiness and peace reign supreme. Truth and dharma flourished during that period. It was called Utsarpini. There was another time when justice, truth and goodness decline everywhere. This period is termed Avasarpini. During this time of deterioration, twenty four Thirthankaras (realized souls) incarnate this world and guide people in the right path, by teaching them canons of truth and dharma.
Among the twenty four Thirthankaras, the first one is Purudeva. He is also known as Vrishabhadeva or Adinatha. Vrishabhadeva had two wives. The elder queen was Yashaswathi who gave birth to Bharatha and other hundered suns and a daughter by name Bramha. The younger queen
Sunanda gave birth to a son by name Bahubali and a daughter by name Saundari.
Vrishabha ruled over his Kingdom with pomp and pleasures for many years. After a while he renounced the world. While he did so, he made his elder son Bharata the King. Bahubali was crowned as the Yuvaraja (Heir apparent). Bharata conquered the whole world and in his conquest of the world he also waged war against his brother as he was told by the priests that there were enemies within the city and they were not submissive to Bharata. They were none other than his brothers. All of his brothers were disgusted by Bharatha, and renounced their kingdom to join their father, except Bahubali. He came to fight Bharatha.
Battke was about to take place between the armies of Bharatha and Bahubali. At that moment the ministers fearing that both armies would suffer heavy losses in the battle suggested that only the two Bharatha and Bahubali – might fight other. The winner would be the emperor.
The last battle was to be fought by hitting heads with fists. Bharat had the first shot, because he was older than Bahubali, which knocked Bahubali nearly to the ground. Then, it was Bahubali’s turn. Bahubali’s name means ‘Bahu’ – Arm, and ‘Bali’ – Strength, he was known for the immense strength of his arm. Everybody knew and worried, that if Bahubali’s blows struck Bharat, Bharat would probably die. This contest could have been easily won by Bahubali striking Bharat. But as Bahubali raised his arm to land a blow, he paused, realizing that fighting his elder brother for land, wealth, and power was neither sane nor righteous. Indeed, it would have been a grievous moral failure for a son of a Tirthankara.
As a rule for a Kshatriya, once he has taken action, it is not possible for him to withdraw or retreat. So, instead of landing a blow on his older brother with his raised arm, he simply changed direction, pulling out his own hair with the same hand, thus avoiding striking Bharat. With this, he put aside all of his possessions, and became a solitary renunciant. Learning from this example, Bharat came to understand the folly of his greed for land, money, and power forgiving his younger brother. Bharat continued to ruled for some time, until eventually joining Lord Rishabdev as a solitary renunciant.
The fight with his brother troubled Bahubali, so after much contemplation, he decided to give up his kingdom and take up the ascetic life. He took to meditation with a thirst for truth, but – it was for ego that he took to meditation on his own.
So before you entere the place there is an amazing architectural fascination called Tyagada Khamba…
Tyaga Kamba at the entrance of Gomateshwara. Erected by the minister Chavundarya in the 10th century. Its believed that this is the place he distributed gifts to the needy. Some theories also believe he choose this place to renounce all material things including his life. It’s a pillar that seemingly is hanging from the center. A handkerchief can easily be passed from one side to the other under this hanging pillar. This spot was being used by the people for giving away things as gifts. Hence it’s called by the name Pillar of Sacrifice or Tyagadha Khamba. (Tyaga – Sacrifice)
Overall this is a place where you will feel totally amazed, amazed by the serenity and peace that it has to offer. The magnificence and silence at which the Bahubali statue stands… You’ll feel really amazed by the amazing carved black stone statues of 24th Thirthankaras inside. After visiting the temple I decided to explore the cliff at the back of the temple… The sun was about to set and what better place than to sit at the edge of the cliff and ponder into the horizon, reflect upon life thoughts and beauty of everything around me… Just don’t need anything else in the world… than this beautiful memory.
So I leave you guys with this amazing snap of the entire town that could be seen. A view from the edge of the cliff… The view of the city and the sound of the town in the backdrop. Cattle making noise, birds chirping, kids playing, autos. Still very Peaceful… Serenity at it’s best…
So it had been my desire to visit this place for quite a while now. The last time I was near Murudeshwara was when I had stopped by over a long weekend, a ride taken to visit Gokarna. Too bad, I didn’t realize back then that it was hardly 70 kms from Gokarna. So I had made it a point to ensure that this visit happened this year. And thankfully, it did happen. I had planned a trip in Karnataka, specifically off the locations that had interesting stories with regards to it’s grand mythological and historical references. A seed had been planted in my head, after reading Dr. Devdutt Patnaik’s books on mythology. I was all the more fascinated and had read two books of his on Lord Shiva. A belief doesn’t become stronger unless you have corroborated stories or beautiful understanding about any subject. That’s when I realized that this trip was going to be even better.
Night Train to Murudeshwara
A night’s journey in the Matsyagandha Express was smooth as I traveled sleeping like a log and woke up to realize Murdeshwar had already arrived at 4.30 in the morning. I had anticipated that I’d reach there early in the morning, but had not thought about what I’d do after reaching there so early. Having said that, as always, I tried my luck in the Railway quarters, only to realized there was one room available and there were a middle aged couple along with me who had to visit someone in the town and I decided to go into the waiting room and sleep some more before I headed to the temple.
Fresh early morning cold with beautiful breeze certainly enchanted my mind and made me realize that my week long tour of Karnataka had already begun. After taking a short nap for an hour, I decided to stroll near the station and see what’s around. Silent as a grave, yet serene, the railway station was quite a beauty. I decided to click some snaps of the sunrise which certainly gave solace to the mind.
After freshening up, the best thing I could do is get a cup of tea and head towards the temple. But since I didn’t want to carry my backpack, I decided to keep it in the cloak room and come back in the afternoon and collect it. The problem was, my backpack, didn’t have a lock and they wouldn’t accept it. But thankfully, the railway employee suggested that I can keep the bag safe with the canteen guys and collect it later. I picked up my DSLR and my mobile phone with me, after which I didn’t have any valuables and I felt free to keep the bag with him. Nonetheless, the best part about travelling across South India, is that more often than none, you will encounter really amazing people who would help you out at each step of the way.
So there I began towards the temple, it was hardly 3 kms from the railway station and I decided to walk it up enjoying the early morning breath of fresh air…
Amazingly, Murdeshwar is quite unknown and secluded and hadn’t it been for the second largest statue of Lord Shiva constructed by the R.N Shetty trust, it’d not be as fascinating as it is or attract so much crowd. Yes there is historical significance of this place connected with the Atma Linga story of Ravana and Lord Shiva. Which is probably why it’s more significant and hence someone took the initiative of building something here. Also, just across the Murdeshwar beach are the Nettrani Islands where you can Scuba Dive, which I’d had to save for later as this was a shoestring budget trip
While I approached the village and I could see the Lord Shiva statue’s head in the distant horizon, I saw a crowd that had gathered nearby. Just near a small tank near another temple, there was a group of onlookers to this interesting game of fetching the bananas. To begin with, there was a pulley on which a bunch of bananas were attached. On the edge of the tank on top of the wall, a group of young boys, decked with flower crowns waited their turn to jump in the air and try to bring down that bunch. While they tried their best to do so, the person who controlled the pulley tried his best to not let them have it. Enjoying this activity with a playful spirit others were cheering for these boys. While I’m sure there must be some significance, symbolic, religious or historic, when I asked around, very few knew what it was. All I got to know was it was a sacred activity performed by boys of the landlord’s family. My best guess is that these boys were entering into adulthood and this is a significant symbol of them trying to fight for the price catch (Metaphorical: A wife, materialistic life, food for themselves, responsibilities) well that was my best guess.
As I walked past the village, and reached closer to the Temple, I could see the Murdeshwar beach in the vicinity and it was truly beautiful. Something that gave joy to my sight and peace of mind to my soul. The next thing was to of course, visit the temple itself and then behind it the Lord Shiva’s Statue…
There is a lift that will take you to the top most floor. All you have to do is pay 10 rupees and wait a bit with other people. But once you go on top, you’ll realize that the wait is worth it… From the top, you can see the Lord Shiva’s Statue, which will give you the top view and that is also very enchanting, with the sea in the backdrop.
Inside, the temple is very serene and there’s ample space for you to just sit and meditate. It’s a blissful experience. But, one of the fascinating things you’ll notice is the Temple’s smaller gopuram has enchanting encryption and engraving which is also gold plated. It contains the entire story of Ravana being tricked by Ganesha with the help of Lord Vishnu in order to protect Lord Shiva’s Atma Linga. (The source of power to immortality.)
After that, to get an up-close and personal view of Lord Shiva himself, I headed to the base of the statue, which has the cave, in which a description of the entire story of how Murudeshwara became a significant place in the context of Ravana, Lord Shiva and the Atma Lingam. They also play an audio clip inside the cave, which tells you the story in Kannada and English if I remember correctly.
The Story of Murudeshwara
Ravana’s mom just like Ravana, was a stout devotee of Shiva. Also, she knew about the Atma-Linga of Lord Shiva and the powers it could give his son. The Hindu gods attained immortality and invincibility by worshipping a divine Lingam called the Atma-Linga. She convinced his son Ravana, to pray to Lord Shiva and attain the Atma Linga.
Ravana promised his mother that he’ll seek out Lord Shiva, pray to him and conduct penance but at whatever cost, he’ll get the Atma-Linga
By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. As a result of this plot, Ravana asks for Goddess Parvati, and Lord Shiva offers her to him.
On his way back to Lanka Narada tells Ravana that Lord had not given him the real Parvathi and that the real Parvathi was in Pathala who was a King’s daughter in the world below the earth.
So Ravana frees his companion,goes to Pathala and marries a king’s daughter ,assuming her to be the real Parvathi.
He then returns to Lanka, where his mother asks him for the Linga. Ravana then comes to know of the tricks played on him by Lord Vishnu.
He therefore prays to Lord Shiva again, begging for his forgiveness. This time, it’s even more difficult to get Lord Shiva’s attention. He then decides to offer sacrifice by cutting his heads.
Lord Shiva is moved by this dedication and restores his heads. Also when he appears, Ravana requests the AtmaLinga as his boon. Lord Shiva agrees to give him the boon with the condition that it should never be placed on the ground. If the AtmaLinga was ever placed on the ground, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva again.
Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka. Sage Narada, who came to know of this incident, realised that with the AtmaLinga, Ravana may obtain immortality and create havoc on earth. He approached the Lord Ganesh and requested him to prevent the AtmaLinga from reaching Lanka.
Lord Ganesh knew that Ravana was a very devoted person who used to perform prayer ritual in the evening every day without fail. He decided to make use of this fact and came up with a plan to confiscate the AtmaLinga from Ravana.
As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals but was worried because with the AtmaLinga in his hands, he would not be able to do his rituals. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him. Ravana requested him to hold the AtmaLinga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the AtmaLinga on the ground.
As predicted, before Ravana could return after completing his rituals, Ganesh had already placed the AtmaLinga on the ground. Ravana got angry and in an enraged state, he hit Ganesha.
Vishnu then removed his illusion and it was daylight again. Ravana, realising that he had been tricked, tried to uproot and destroy it.
Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. One such piece from the head of the linga is said to have fallen in present day Surathkal. The famous Sadashiva temple is said to be built around that piece of linga. Then he decided to destroy the covering of the AtmaLinga, and threw the case covering it to a place called Sajjeshwara, 23 miles away. Then he threw the lid of the case to a placed called Guneshwara (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwara, 10–12 miles away. Finally, he threw the cloth covering the AtmaLinga to a placed called Mrideshwara in Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill). Mrideshwara has been renamed to Murudeshwara.
Quite enchanting and after having spent more than an entire day in this enchanting place, I returned to collect my backpack and take a bus to Bangalore… From there, my next stop was Sravanabelegola! Another ancient and yet very enchanting place full of beauty and history.
Gokarna, truly a land of beauty and serenity… It was quite a ride for me to get here and I’m sure as hell that it was worth it. At certain points I felt that it couldn’t get worse and might as well think of better alternatives or simpler solutions… But no, it wasn’t meant to be… I had to be here… Well, it had to be it!!! I had to make this one a road trip… What better than having my own set of wheels! I had made up my mind that I’d go biking it across about 150 Kms from Goa to Gokarna! Eventually that’s what I did and boy, am I glad that I did it that way… But before I reached Gokarna, Om Beach to be precise, I wanted to take a short detour to Cotiago WildLife Sanctuary and check the beautiful place out. Beautiful that it was I couldn’t find many animals as I ended up going there in the afternoon… Yet, after spending a few hours looking for animals, I enjoyed the nature trail and certainly made my Journey to Gokarna in the evening, much more pleasant. Riding on the fast lane with the sun setting by my side, I couldn’t have asked for anything more…
Besides that there were a couple of interesting things and an interesting bunch of people I met down here… But I’ll save that story for the next blog post. Meanwhile, here are a few pictures of my journey from Goa to Gokarna.. Truly a roadtrip of eccentric proportion, catching up with my solitude yet again..
So this is how it shaped up, I began my journey after a heavy lunch from Margaon, Goa. Eating the traditional Thali as I always do before I head out for long journeys, it was certainly going to last me for quite a while. Seeking out a new destination on my own set of wheels meant a lot more adventure and fun, besides of course having the independence to just stop anywhere I wanted to… So I had made up my mind that it was going to be a motorbike journey to Gokarna across the border of Goa into Karnataka. An eccentric ride filled with some panoramic views of the sun setting across the mountains. It was not just the ride but the adrenaline that pushed me into going on the biking trip. Suggested by a friend of mine on twitter, it was a really good recommendation.
This was it… This was my roadster.. One that was going to take me all the way to Gokarna.. Was quite a new bike and certainly riding smooth. Was fun riding with this baby!
Since I had my own set of wheels, on my way to Gokarna… I decided to take a little detour. Between, Goa and Karwar happens to be this amazing Wildlife Sanctuary, which claims to have Panthers, Cobras, Babboons and other wild animals… I did go there in the afternoon…Didn’t know what to expect, but I took my bike deep into the forest till there was a road to ride it on. After that I did a bit of hiking and went on a nature trail inside the dense forest. Maybe not so scary, but it was quite thrilling entering their territory.
Since I went there in the afternoon, all I saw there was a few deer, a couple of snakes and a few birds… Maybe next time I’d go early in the morning…
There was something about this Deer… I was trying to get photographs of most of the Deer inside the enclosure… But they all kept running away, probably scared… But this one stood it’s ground… It stood next to the cage as I clicked it a multiple times. It was as if this one had something special to tell me. In fact, it shared a kind of connection with me that I can’t really express or explain in words. It was truly amazing and at the same time a bit depressing to see them so out of tune from their own self…
As soon as you enter Karwar town, you’ll see this Majestic ship standing across the ocean out there telling it’s tale of glory. Karwar is a coastal city and a majority of their occupation is to do with fishing, especially since Karwar beach is quite a catch for most of the fishermen. Also Indian Navy has a huge base in Karwar… So that’s something that this place boasts of. It was quite something to catch hold of these pictures on my way to Gokarna.
Since I took such a huge detour, by the time I was about to reach Gokarna, the sun was about to set… So just as usual, without wasting much time, I stopped by and took a few shots of the sunset and a few great views that followed me across the journey on this beautiful stretch of NH17….
If I had come by the bridge, say about 10 minutes earlier, I could have most certainly caught the Sun actually set in those mountains and the view from this bridge would’ve been even more ecstatic… Well, nonetheless, it was a glimpse that caught my eye instantaneously and I had to stop by for a great capture…
That was also a sign for me to just speed up and make sure I reach Gokarna before it’s way too dark… So I decided to up the anti and turbo boost my wheels into Gokarna… On my way, this is a sneak preview I got… What I did in Gokarna and how interesting the stay was would have to wait for another blog.. Yes, folks, it certainly was interesting so I’m going to have to continue it in the next post… But I’ll tell you, you guys won’t be dissapointed… So stay tuned, and until then do tell me how you like this journey so far. What say guys?
Wondering as always where I came from…
A place of the unknown, a land of the unconquered…
The beauty of this town always echoes in my face…
With my true roots I belong to this place…
On this day, something about my life changed… Well, a significant change, in fact more so, in my parents lives… I finally arrived in this world, this universe… Right at this place.. A place that has been in my memories and always will be… They say when you are about to die, your entire life flashes in front of you and the best memories really hit you as visuals that you always cherished… If that is true and if it were to happen to me when I do eventually go back to nothingness, then there would certainly be a lot of images from this town…
There is always beauty and joy to talk about a place where you have come to life at… Most of the times, people live in places long enough to make it their own. Some enjoy going back to their roots to find out who they truly are… and some after being to places like this, still don’t know the true beauty of what your birthplace really has to give you… I think I’m one of them… But I’m going to change that soon.
The irony of it, I’ve traveled across so many places and as a matter of fact, I’ve been here many times, yet I’ve not written a single travelogue about a place that is so important to my life… Strange isn’t it?? Well, that ends here, right now… A couple of months down the line I am going to get an opportunity to visit that place… My birth place a small town in Karnataka called Bijapur!
So I’m probably going to do a short #SriniOnTour of this beautiful and enchanting place…sometime soon… But before I do that, I thought of introducing the majestic place to all you folks and give you some insights on what is really amazing for me about this place…
One interesting fact I need to tell you about this place and my family… While I’m the only son, I do have a lot of relatives and close family members from my mom’s side… who all have been born here, but are living across different parts of the country… My two uncles, one aunt, at least my 10 cousins… all of them have been born in the same town… My mom’s aunt (My grandmom) owns really amazing place here and that is where I remember spending a lot of my vacations as a child.. Fighting with most of my cousins over small things such as what we are to eat, what game to play and who gets to sleep on the terrace and a lot of ther silly issues. When I look back at all the pranks we played, the fights we have had, the wrestling matches we indulged in… it truly brings back memories… Memories that I will cherish forever in my life…
I still remember some times being alone during my vacation, of the most recent trips having gone there, enjoying listening to Guns & Roses tracks sitting on a cannon across a fort that is right across our house at Sunset… Enjoying the wide horizon and the rock music sinking into my head… Wandering sometimes on bicycles in the city… Yes, this is the place where I actually learnt riding a bicycle during summer vacations as a kid.. This is the same place where I fell, I rose and I fell again… This is the place where I learnt to fight, this is the place where I learnt to use a catapult and pelt down some really delicious mangoes, thankfully in our own backyard and not someone else’s. This is the place where we used to spend hours and hours on the terrace playing board games, winning, losing fighting, playing ‘Rummy’ and other card games… This incidentally is also a place where I had my first crush on a girl who was my neighbor’s cousin and just like us, visiting them during summer vacations… These are strong memories that will refuse to fade away of course…
But apart from that, I also cherish the beauty of this amazing small town also very famous for its monument ‘Gol Gumbaz’ built by one of the Mughal Emperrors Adil Shah… I always remember telling my school friends that this is my birthplace… when we used to learn about it in History… Feeling proud and having a sense of heightened achievement for a simple fact that I’m born here and have been to the monument like a million times… What’s so special about this monument?? Well it’s really beautiful for one, secondly the unique element to this is that architectural significance it holds in Mughal history… A place so magnificently built, it has a unique feature about it… Once you go inside and climb up to the dome… You can go inside and shout at the top of your voice… You’ll hear the echo seven times!!! And another interesting thing about this place is, if you even tear a piece of paper on the wall at one end of the dome, you can hear it in the wall exactly parallel to it… Talk about telephony back then
Besides this one superb attraction Bijapur has a lot of other Mughal forts and historical places of interest that you would enjoy visiting. One thing we always enjoyed was going in the ‘Tonga’ (horsecart) yes, that was a routine or a ritual I must say as soon as we arrive at the bus stop… In fact, there have been so many tours of the city our parents and I took in the tonga itself. As a kid I also remember my eagerness to sit next to the horse cart driver and get my hands on the reigns sometimes to just feel the power of driving the cart… Well, men will be men
Image Courtesy: Jorge Reveter
Be it the Upali Burz… A huge tower fort with bunch of heavy Canons to protect the town from invaders, or the amazing Jama Masjid… This town still has a great aura for its beauty and historic significance is still retained. The museums in the Gol Gumbaz still retains heavy armours that the Mughals used to fight in battles and the sharp swords they used to slay their enemies…
Another beautiful place in this is the Barakaman.. It has a legend to it… A mausoleum of Ali Roza built in 1672. It was previously named as Ali Roza, but Shah Nawab Khan changed its name to Bara Kaman as this was the 12th monument during his reign. It has now seven arches and the tomb containing the graves of Ali, his queens and eleven other ladies possibly belonging to the Zenana of the queens.
Besides the Mughal attractions, one of my favorites and something which is really close to my home here is the Lord Shiva Statue. The 85-foot tall statue of Lord Shiva installed by the T.K. Patil Banakatti Charitable Trust in Bijapur at Shivapur on Sindagi Road is gradually developing as a pilgrimage place.1,500 tonnes statue considered as the second biggest statue of Lord Shiva in the country was prepared by sculptors from Shimoga for more than 13 months and the civilian design was provided by Bangalore-based architects. The statue weighs around 1,500 tonnes.
Well there are many more places that I would want to talk about… but I’d do that when I do another short blogumentary a #SriniOnTour to the land of my origin… Pretty soon… That is when I would love to give you the dough on this mysterious yet enchanting and beautiful place… Till then, you guys do stay tuned to my blog Happy Reading!!
Truly my visit was entirely worth it. One of the most amazing experience so far of all the trips I’ve taken. Not in the sense of just plain travel. Since I did this journey in just two days. Took a Bus to Hospet from Mumbai and then to Hampi. It was quite a journey, but what was most amazing was that this entire city is mostly on the outskirts. All the adventure and all the beautiful structural displays that take your breath away are really something you shouldn’t miss. Every little temple, and a ruin had a story to tell. Not just a story but an entire epic saga of the Kingdom of Vijaynagar to narrate. What is the most amazing fact is that these ruins have been archealogically excavated and they are still finding some more. An entire civilization of the Emperror. Hope you liked the photos.
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Now that is a place that I wanted to visit all this time. One of my very good friends… A friend with vested interests in ‘Archaeology’ would kill me for going alone here. But hey, the travel spree that I’m on. No one can blame me. This spot was the spot I chose for this weekend’s travel on the spur of the moment low budget trip.
Why? For all these reasons… But before that a bit about Hampi.
Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. Located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, Hampi is the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious centre, housing theVirupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city.
As the village is at the original centre of Vijayanagara, it is sometimes confused with the ruined city itself. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi.
So anyways why is this place famous? It’s because of the famous ruins of the old Vijaynagar believed to be a very religious place and one of the best archealogical escapades that our country has to offer. If you study Arts and want to do Archeaology, a place must see.
Places that are really worth Visiting and I’m gonna visit:
Vittala Temple: As the epicenter of Hampi’s attractions, Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. No amount of words can explain this spectacle. The temple is built in the form of a sprawling campus with compound wall and gateway towers. There are many halls, pavilions and temples located inside this campus. Vittala, after whom the temple is known, is a form of lord Vishnu. This aspect of Vishnu was worshiped in this part of the country as their cult deity by the cattle herds.
The temple was originally built in the 15th century AD. Many successive kings have enhanced the temple campus during their regimes to the present form. Yon can even see the remains of a township called Vittalapura that existed around this temple complex. The highlight of Vittala temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot. The halls are carved with an overwhelming array of sculptures on the giant granite pillars. The stone chariot located inside the campus is almost an iconic structure of Hampi.
One typically accesses the campus through the eastern entrance tower, next to which the ticket counter is located. On entering through this massive tower, the first thing draws your attention would be a series of compact platforms along the central axis of the campus. At the end of these platforms stands the Stone Chariot. This is in fact a shrine built in the form of a temple chariot. An image of Garuda (the eagle god) was originally enshrined within its sanctum. Garuda, according to the Hindu mythology, is the vehicle of lord Vishnu. Thus the Garuda shrine facing the temple’s sanctum is symbolic.
Virupaksha Temple: Virupaksha temple is the oldest and the principal temple in Hampi. This temple is located on the south bank of the river Tungabadra, just next to where the local bus drops you. This area in general has been an important pilgrimage centre for the worshipers of lord Shiva. Virupaksha temple is equally sort after by the tourists and pilgrims. The annual festivals attract huge crowds of both the types.
The very origin of Hampi’s history as a sacred place revolves around the myths associated with this temple. It believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since its inception in the 7th century AD. That makes this one of the oldest functioning temples in India.
Main entrance tower of Virupaksha Temple, view from inside the temple campus
The original worship place was only a few separate humble shrines (believed to be as old as 7th century) housing the image of the god and the goddesses. Over the centuries the temple gradually expanded into a sprawling complex with many sub shrines, pillared halls, flag posts, lamp posts, towered gateways and even a large temple kitchen. You access the temple’s main entrance tower through the chariot street in front now popularly called the Hampi Bazaar.
Bouldering In Hampi: Whether you are amateur boulderer or a veteran looking for new problems off the beaten routes, Hampi will not fail to satisfy your hunch. In Hampi you can spend a lifetime do bouldering and still left with many problems yet to be attempted. I’m no bouldering expert, but I could see at Hampi enthusiastic folks attempting problems like there is no tomorrow.
For long Hampi has been in the list of those places secretly shared among the old hand boulderers. Not anymore, especially after the 2003 sensational climbing movie “Pilgrimage” featuring Chris Sharma with his friends Katie Brown and Nate Gold.
This movie shot by the renowned climbing movie maker Josh Lowell generated special interest among the bouldering fans across the world.
Along with some serious bouldering actions, the movie succeeded in capturing the very essence of the holy nature of Hampi. Therefore the name Pilgrimage! A beeline of climbers lugging their crash pad to the boulder-strewn Hampi was the result.
The purists among the boulderers may not to like to see it, but Hampi has a large number of giant boulders that is split apart vertically. As a boulderer sometimes these create campus board like problems for you. Overall these are the places of Interest!
- Vittala Temple
- Anjenyadri Hill
- Hemakunta Complex
- Lotus Mahal at Zenana Enclosure
- Stone Chariot at Vitalla
- Underground temple – Dharani Prakash
- Virupaksha Temple Tower
For Mobile while you are on the go : m.hampi.in