Lord Rama is always seen standing, but Hampi hosts a unique temple where Rama and Laxmana are in sitting posture. This is the Malayavanta Raghunatha Temple, a little far from the heart of the city which is the reason why it was not destroyed by the Muslim invaders at the fall of the empire. Pooja's continue to happen here, the complex itself is beautiful and do not miss going to the back of the temple for some panaromic views. We also met a very interesting saint who had come all the way from Ayodhya here. There are some interesting rock sculptures of Shiv Ling also here.
Further form the pushkarni is a public swimming pool- it can only be described as a huge pool!! By the time we got here it had started raining...so we took a quick round and started back towards the palace...when the downpour started the guide suddenly took us thru an underground passage where we took shelter form the rain for a few minutes.
Pushkaranis are sacred tanks attached to temples- most of the large temples in Hampi have a pushkarni attached to it. These tanks are fed in thru rain water harvesting but from a ritualistic perspective they are treated with great respect. Please don't throw garbage or put your slippers in the water. Most people spray a little of this water on their head as an offering of obeisance to the temple in the vicinity. In active temples the gods may be brought here for an immersion too.
The stepped tank pushkarni is Hampi's most popular pushkarni and this is just walking distance from the king's palace.
The King's palace is said to have been a resplendent structure, unfortunately they were built of wood based on a sprawling stone foundation. Today only the foundation remains, the palaces fell prey to the arsenal that followed the fall of this mighty empire. However interestingly enough some secret underground passageways remain and our guide skillfully guided us thru them to avert the rains that we were stuck in during our visit of the King's Palace Complex.
Merely climbing the foundation itself provides us with a 360 degree view of the city. Sprawlying in size, surely the King's palace plays on one's imagination as we try to conjure up what could have been!
At the entrance to the palace we can see a huge stone door- what strength it must have taken to operate them- one can only imagine!!
What looks like an unassuming building from outside is in fact a royal bath enclosure. A walkway surrounds what was the 'pool' and it hosts some balconies. Also the pool has a water harvesting capability to ensure adequate water supply in the pool for the queens to bathe in. The walkway around has beautiful carvings on the roof, in what is believed to be the lotus at various stages of bloom. The canal outside is the source of water and it had a means of auto adjusting the height of the water to ideal height as desired by the queens.
We took turns posing in and outside this structure :)
Once the rain let up a little we walked ahead from the Lotus Mahal to see the elephant stables behind. The structure itself was beautiful, every stable had some carvings inside. Again it started raining and as we stood in the stable we got a view of what the elephants would see on an October day :) The sunlight played beautifully against the trees and very soon we had both the sun and the rains in all their glory. we fooled around a bit with the play of light on our shadows and sure enough when we got out the stables were flanked by a dream like double rainbow! :-D An unforgettable moment was captured on camera...!
Just as we were rushing in Shyam and AJ had decided to leave their DSLR's behind since they didn't want to risk a wet camera in the rains...however when this beautiful rainbow formed a backdrop tot he stables they both regretted their decision severely...for once an I Phone took a pic that the DSLR missed.!
It started raining on our second day tour of the city, it is then that we ran to the Lotus Mahal for shelter. Basically this is a two storied structure with an open base floor there is an upper floor with balconies and arched windows, however the access to this is now closed. This is believed to be a social area for the queens of the empire and this structure is guarded by 3 sentinel posts.
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi, the goddess of learning. We came here on the very first day of our arrival and found it almost deserted excepting for a few local by passers. We spent a good couple of hours taking pictures in and around the temple. It was very dark inside so we didn't get to see the idol. It is located right at the entrance of the road to the King's palace. A brief flight of steps leads to the temple, against the fading sun we got some great silhouettes of this temple. I couldn't help feel the plants growing on the Gopuram looked like scarce hair on a balding man's head! =))
The name Hazarama literally translated means a thousand Ramas, the name is believed to be derived from the fact that the walls are carriers of thousands of carvings narrating the entire story of Ramayana- an Indian epic.
The temple is not very vast and is located within the royal enclosure very close to the King's Palace. However the exquisite carvings are mesmerizing and the details in the sculptures (bangles women are wearing to nose rings) are indeed a work of art!
As you walk around the temple complex you will notice mantapas behind the temple and simple rain water harvesting constructs. Once inside you will see the 10 avatars of Vishnu etched on sandstone pillars that are breathtakingly detailed.
Do not ruch away from the temple, we witnessed 2 gorgeous sunsets at this temple...the manicured lawns outside also make for a good picnic spot. Behind the temple is the erstwile elephant mounting station and the mint.
Having come to Hampi you must not miss visiting the Purandaradasa Mantapa situated right on the river Tungabhadra. The walk to the river itself from the Vittala Complex is a short 5 minutes. The currents are very strong and you will see the mantap only if you are lucky- more often than not it could be submerged under the river in the monsoon months :)
The Purandaradasa Mantapa is an elevated pavilion found near the Vijaya Vittala temple. According to a popular folklore, the great saint poet Purandaradasa who is known to have composed about 75,000 songs once upon a time, sat here and sang songs in praise of his favourite god, Vittala. Sadly none of his songs were documented, most of them have been lost and only about a thousand odd are known to exist. But consider his greatness at having composed 75,000 hymns in a single lifetime. The mantapa also has a small statue of Purandaradasa with the tambura. We sat here for hours in conversation with our feet in the running tungabhadra waters. Finally when it was time to leave we paid obeisance to the statue and reluctantly left. On the way back we stopped for a glass of sugarcane juice at the entrance of the pathway to the mantap. All in all a morning very well spent :)
Matanga Hills is right at the heart of Hampi and it has the exclusive advantage of being the highest point in Hampi offering 360 degree aerial views of this city that can be any photographer's dream :) The minute our guide mentioned this to us we were eager to climb the hills. So on the second day the 6 of us set off on this 2 hour trek. We started from our hotel at 5:45 and reached the Virupakasha Parking lot by 6 AM. From here we set off on the climb. Every 5 minutes we were ascending at a decent pace and when we turned around we had a new sight accost us. What is beautiful about Hampi is its seemingly barren rocks interspersed with some dense foliage in the form of palm groves and paddy fields juxtapose the beauty of brown and green canvas all around you. No place is a better place than the Matanga Hills to view this!!
Once you climb up to the peak there is a narrow trail on the opposite side that connects you to the Achyutaraya Complex. So we descended from there to walk all the way to the Tungabhadra. Thsi is where we got some yum freshly prepared idli and chilli bhajji for breakfast amid some flutter caused by a blind cat that kept meowing at us under our seats by the river. Once done with breakfast we made a quick visit to the rama temple there and walked by the river back to the hampi bazaar.
All in all the trip was a good 5 hours but we enjoyed every second of it!! :-) Do not miss this trail if you are in Hampi
Completed in AD 1534, this temple is a fine example of Vijayanagara style temple architecture in its most advanced form - being the last of the grandiose projects of this empire- it stands tall in all its glory between the hills of Mathanga and Gangamadana.The temple dedicated to Lord Tiruvengalanatha, a form of Vishnu , was constructed by a high officer in Achyuta Raya’s court and hence the name. This complex is a little secluded from the rest of the Hampi ruins, making this a bit secluded and deserted. Sadly this also makes it a hot spot for smoking pot as well as some untoward incidents. You are well advised to go here only with a local guide and in larger groups.
The main shrine is located at the centre of two rectangular concentric courtyards- the inner sides of both the courtyard walls are lined with a pillared verandah (see pics for a better understanding). The outer cloisters are mostly in ruins with the pillars scattered randomly along the wall base. Two huge ruined towers (gopuras), one behind the other, give access to the temple courtyards.
If you are daring enough do venture to the small shakti temple v=behind this complex- makes for a lovely quiet prayer place.
Virupaksha temple is the oldest and the principal temple in Hampi and it almost feels as if all roads in Hampi lead to the Virupaksha. This temple is located on the south bank of the river Tungabadra, just next to where the local bus drops you. It is also in the midst of the Hampi Bazaar making it the most visited landmark in Hampi. This area in general has been an important pilgrimage centre for the worshipers of lord Shiva- hence you see both tourists and pilgrims at this temple.The very origin of Hampis 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 which makes it one of the oldest functioning temples in India.
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 temples main entrance tower through the chariot street in front now popularly called the Hampi Bazaar.
This east facing giant tower (Gopura) leads you the first courtyard of the temple complex. This pastel painted 9 storied tower with a pair of cow horn like projections on top is the most prominent landmark in Hampi. The lower two tiers of the tower is made of decorated stone work. We can see this tower from almost anywhere in Hampi.
The main temple is east facing and has two large courtyards, one leading to the other. You directly enter into the first courtyard through the tower mentioned above. This courtyard mainly houses a pillared hall called 100-column hall at the far left corner, Kalyanamantapa at the far right corner, administrative offices, the ticket counter, a police outpost and even an old well.
Just next to your left immediately after you have entered, you can see the unusual triple headed Nandi (bull statue). Behind this the wall is painted with a large map of Hampi with the main attractions marked. Also the temple hosts an Elephant, so do pay a visit if you are interested. This is probably the only complex open until 8 PM. So you can also visit it at the end of your day if you are in Hampi for only a short period of time.
When we visited Hampi in Oct 2013 the Krishna Temple was under restoration having been excavated only in the last decade. This temple was built by king Krishnadevaraya to celebrate the conquest of Utkala (present day Orissa). The main idol installed was that of Bala Krishna (Young Krishna) and you can also see the carvings of the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. (This is nothing but the Hindu mythology version of the evolution of life on Earth)
Since we did not go into this temple complex I don't have too many photos to upload, however even viewed from the Mathanga hills it was a beautiful complex.
This the epicenter of Hampi’s attractions- Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi!! Words fail to express the beauty of this architectural marvel! The stone chariot located inside the campus is almost an iconic structure of Hampi. Vittala, after whom the temple is known, is a form of lord Vishnu - more popular in the story of Panduranga Vittala, but let me get to that another day.
Back to this temple complex- the temple is built like all others in Hampi, within a sprawling campus with compound wall and gateway towers. There are many halls, pavilions and temples located inside this campus.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. The highlight of Vittala temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot- it is probably the most photographed structure in Hampi! The halls are carved with an overwhelming array of sculptures on the giant granite pillars.
The stone chariot is not a chariot really, but one of the five mantapas's that adorn the entrance of this complex. It houses a Garuda (Brahmini Kite)- popularly believed to be Lord Vishnu's vehicle of transport. In front of the chariot are two elephants seemingly pulling the chariot.
Once you cross the chariot you see the central main hall in this complex. This hall ahs intricate sculpting and is most popular for its musical pillars- the slender stone pillars emit sound whn tapped on lightly. But excessive tapping by tourists has caused it damage and hence access to the pillars is now cordoned off.
The other notable attractions within this temple complex are the Goddess’s shrine, the hundred-pillared hall, and the Kalyan Mantapa or marriage hall. The Kalyana mantapa is used to celebrate the marriage festival of the mobile Utsavamurthi. This celebration is called Kalyana Utsava.
Close to this temple, is a unique weighing balance called King’s balance and it is made completely of stone. Records reveal that the ruling kings were weighed using gold and food. The equivalent weight was distributed to the poor. This ritual is called Thulabhara or weighing on a scale.