Thursday, January 05, 2006


We went to Hampi on the new years' weekend. It was a very quiet new years, but great nevertheless. The city of Hampi was a part of the old Vijayanagar empire till the 15th century, when it was brought to ruins by invaders. This was the first time I saw preserved ruins of a whole city. Cities like Delhi, Udaipur, Mysore, Hyderabad have their own (and even longer) history, but there are layers of cultures that have hidden, or completely erased what existed centuries ago. In most of these cities you can still see the more magnificient pieces of architecture -- the palaces, the forts -- but in Hampi you can look over what used to be an entire city, complete with markets, temples, festival grounds, drainage and drinking water aqua ducts and more.

The city has boundary walls that have gates to come in and go out -- large enough that elephants used to come in years ago, and buses make it through easily now. The moment you enter Hampi, you immediately feel as though you've been transported to a different time. On barren rocks you see beauty in the form of architecture of old everywhere. I found it fascinating to see what seemed like resting places for trekkers in several places -- in the middle of what seemed like nowhere.

The most majestic and impressive of the temples was defintiely the Vithala temple. This temple has "musical" pillars. It is difficult to describe but there are actually different instruments that you can hear when you play on different pillars. Besides this, the Queen's bath was interesting -- one of the times when the good old phrase comes to mind: "It's good to be King!"

We stayed across the river, and getting there by car was quite an adventure. The village across the river from Hampi is now just a row of guest houses and garden restaurants, all catering to mostly foreigners and hippies. Nevertheless, it was not very expensive. I recommend though that you stay in Hampi, preferrably in a guest house or in the Hotel Mayur Bhuvaneshvari that's run by the Karnataka government. You have to take a boat to go across the river, and it stops running at 8pm, and doesn't start till 6am. We were planning to leave Hampi very early morning on Monday, to get back to work in Bangalore, and had to drive some 40 km on very bad roads to get across.

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