Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hampi-The forgotten empire of India

Hampi - isn't the name very exotic? And so is the place. 

Doesn't matter how beautiful place is where you live now or how many exotic places you have traveled, I bet you will find it special in Hampi- used to be the capital of great kingdom of 'Vijayanagara'. Hampi is also mentioned in Hindu mythologies of Ramayana.

I wanted to visit this place since long and the dream came true few months ago. But this fulfillment just created a lingering 'returning back and staying there more kind of a feeling.' I went with great determination to soak the beauty of the place and turn them into words. I planned to write experiences of each day. I absorbed myself into every bit of it, and ignored the previous plan completely, thinking I will do it better after finishing the trip. On return I tried to write about the place on each passing night. But then I kept faltering.

I finally decided not to trap the place with my incapable words.
And after all a lot is written on this place in several books, articles and book chapters.
Hampi - the forgotten empire of King Krishna Dev Rao has been visited by several European and Chinese travellers in several hundreds of years ago.

The place was a melting point of trade through sea, culture and politics. It was a protected kingdom. It is still. It is like a open air museum which has come out from earth. Thanks to UNESCO, this place is kept with lots of care. 
We Indians don't really care for our heritage but for Hampi this does not hold true.

Just like several historical places you will notice Hampi is also well guarded by natural hill ranges, magnificent gateways, boundary walls and nature, still now. While writing about this place I am loosing my words. I am experiencing that thousands of words which I will need to paint this place may well be produced by just a few shots...

The exceptional color match between the tree barks and the stone carved magnificent structures

The chariot structures with detailed wheels and the closeness of a built structure in south of India to that of famous Konark sun temple in East (Orissa) of India. Showing nothing but good ties and evidence of huge kingdoms of past in India


The musical pillars in Vithala temple and also in groups. Pillars are very common architectural art from Indian past. In spite of so many temples residing there, there are only few where worshiping is still carried out. According to Hindu belief, a place where the idols are broken or damaged could not be prayed. So rush of devotional tourists are observed only in few places leaving lot more silent corners for your spiritual calmness. Virupekha (another name of lord Shiva) temple is one of the temples where every day people come for worshipping. 

The decorated and detailed 'Gopurams', functioned as gateways for temple and is often observed in Dravidian styles, Pallava kings made them famous and who knows these were like the gates of gated communities we have in today's very fast changing Indian cities.

Can you see the horses and people? They are actually representing the Arabic, Chinese and European traders with horses to sell in Indian market. India is not a big market just now, it has always been actually.

This yard in front of the 'Vithala temple' use to be market for selling horses, you can find many Yallis-mythical beasts (related to mythological stories of Narsimha) in the pillars  and how beautifully they are carved.

The queens bath and other bath. Our tour guide defined it as spa from those era, where sandalwood logs were immersed in the water to give scented baths to the royal people. Life has been always very good for rich people in India.
Lotus palace (left) and elephant stables (right). This quarter of the kingdom was strictly reserved for women of royal families. Specially when the men went for wars. Lotus palace had options of water circulating all around it to get air conditioning effect in strong summer days of Hampi.

Ceiling work explaining incidents from several mythologies of 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharatha' in several temples, palaces and quarters, natural  earthen colors were used which stayed through so many hundreds of years of weathering.

The mornings and evenings in a hidden village of Karnataka, near the Tungabhdra river (earlier may be it was known as Pampa). Did you notice the Coracle boats? Oh it was wonderful to have a boat trip  and getting immersed in the ambience, just at the dusk.

Then there were market places, cosy and laid back restaurants and so many more.

A very calm and well kept place of India. If you love history, architecture, vegetation, nature, calm places, small town character and art then go visit it.

And as you stay there please don't litter and be a responsible eco traveller.

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