One Hundred Temples and Counting...... Hampi Part One

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January 24th 2018
Published: January 26th 2018
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We arrived in Hampi after a good night’s sleep, although the train bunks were narrow and being suspended from the roof of the carriage was a little daunting the gentle rocking motion soothed us like babies.

Woolly says – Our first task was the usual business of haggling with the rickshaw drivers, now old hands at this it didn’t take long before we were flying down the road and our accommodation was found. The young driver asked if we wanted a guide for the next two days and the look of surprize on Zoe and my face must have said it all, we never have guides! Jo justified her instant response of yes to the driver by explaining that it was going to cost several paws and pistachios to get around the huge sight and at least having one person would mean we could stop wherever we wanted to, for once she had a point. Having dropped the bags off, grabbed quick showers for the ladies while I wiped myself over with an empty crisp packet I had found in our snack bag we were outside and ready to start our exploration.

Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in east-central Karnataka, India. It became the centre of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire capital in the 14th century and chronicles left by Persian and European travellers, particularly the Portuguese, state that Hampi was a prosperous, wealthy and grand city. By 1500 it was the world's second largest medieval city after Beijing and probably India's richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal. The Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by a coalition of Muslim sultanates and its capital conquered, pillaged and destroyed by sultanate armies in 1565, after which Hampi remained in ruins, which suited us well as we do like a good ruin.

It was a lovely journey to the historic site through arable fields being ploughed by oxen with goats, chickens and fat glossy cows wandering everywhere.

Woolly says – Our first stop was at what appeared at first sight, a monkey sanctuary, there were hundreds of them cleaning each other, jumping over each other and stealing each other bananas. Once we had regained our focus we realised that there home was a sweet little open sided room with stunning views across the river. Huge rocks dominated the skyline and as we watched the men bathing in the waters below, it seemed a lifetime away from the city life we had been living in. As we hopped back into our transport our driver, Winkie, hit the pedal and we bounced along the rugged roads and towards the Virupaksha Temple. The temple is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Shiva and was built by Lakkan Dandesha, a chieftain under the ruler Deva Raya II of the Vijayanagara Empire, it was the main centre of pilgrimage at Hampi, and had been considered the most sacred sanctuary over the centuries. It’s huge frontage of yellow towered above us as we entered the inner courtyard, the monkeys seemed to have followed us and were happily running over the roofs and clinging onto the columns that formed each building. Having left our shoes we wandered around the lovely enclave admiring the carvings and decorative work, the central building took us past a silver shrine that from the momentary view we had, looked wonderful before the people behind us pushed us to move on. Having seen everything possible we collected the shoes and as we were about to depart I heard the trumpeting of an elephant, looking around me I suddenly saw a rather fine female one in the corner of the yard happily crunching away on sugar cane, having taken a few shots and told her not to eat to much sugar because Jo tells me that all the timethat it’s bad for tusks, we returned outside.

A huge stone, and I mean huge was to our right, dotted with temples and shrines, although hot it wasn’t something we could miss.

Woolly says – Hematuka Hill is a granite slope with over thirty shrines dating back to the 9th century, being realistic we would only have a look at a couple. Cold water clutched in paw I led the way up, it was hot work, but the view was fantastic and the first temple we arrived at was small but had lovely carvings to look at, climbing any higher wasn’t going to happen so having rested in the shade and slugged a fair amount of liquid we descended and found our lovely guide ready to take us to the next destination. Up the hill the rickshaw chugged and just as I thought we might have to get out and push we hit the top and sped down the other side, pulling up outside a large frontage that was covered in scaffolding. Winkie told us that without it the building would collapse so taking great care I walked through to the centre of the Krishna Temple. Dating from 1513 it had two enclosures with the main shrine being in a sanctum within. As we looked around us we saw that the once beautiful tops to the building were crumbling and showing the bricks beneath, we hadn’t really considered how the shrines were erected but from the brick layer it appeared that plaster had been put on top and then instead of carving the stone as we had previously thought they had moulded the plaster, you learn something new every day.

It was blissfully quiet and as the three of us admired the columns noticing how each one was completely different.

Woolly says – Even the blackened ceilings were worth looking at, I sighed in happiness, this was much more what I had expected of India. Having taken another hundred or so pictures we leapt back into the transport and shot off to have a look at a huge Ganesh statue, sitting in his own area he was over two and a half metres in height our biggest elephant yet! With lunchtime well past we made a quick stop to have a look at another over sized God, that of Lord Vishnu in his forth incarnation (I get very confused by all the incarnations and Gods but do try to keep up), he was impressive although he reminded me more of a comic book character rather than a God.

We stopped for a late lunch under some trees and had a lovely thali to share, lots of different and new flavours filled our senses as the smells coming from the food was so tempting let alone the taste, full and ready for more we headed off again.

Woolly says – Next was the Queens Bath, built in the Islamic style and certainly fit for a Queen or a King, although if I was King baths would be outlawed! The pool was deep, and the covered walkway would have once looked incredible given the remains, I loved the windows that looked over the water area I could image the Queen sitting there watching her friends and family, throwing coins into the bottom and watching them dive for them. Having taken our fill, we proceeded to the Royal Enclosure, it was a deceiving building as we pulled up in front of blocks of stones, it looked like nothing at all, following the footpath through the blocks we found ourselves in a huge complex where over forty buildings would have once stood. A huge plinth with incredible decoration gave an amazing view across the landscape and the area, you could picture where all the buildings had been from the foundations and holes that still survived. As we strolled around we came to a large pool which would have once been a gleaming black with triangular steps leading down to the water and a huge open pipe that would have gushed clear refreshing water to the bathers below, given the heat it was almost tempting but I resisted the urge and instead glopped a few more drops from my bottle.

We were hot and getting tired, our lovely driver promised us only two more things to do and as we flopped back onto the back seat I hoped we would make it.

Woolly says – The Hazararama Temple was worth waiting for, dedicated to Rama, the 15th century temple had the best carvings I have seen yet, so clear even now it was amazing. The outside walls told stories of Rama and his life whilst inside the columns surpassed all belief in the intricate designs that remained. Each enclave was decorated with the inner sanctum having black columns with various poses of Rama which although dusty were still incredible. Almost unwilling to tear myself away, the sound of loud voices and that of a tour guide prompted me to move on. Our last stop of the day was to the Underground Shiva temple, although not really underground it was below ground level, the entrance led us into an area that seemed very plain after the Hazararama Temple, but it was cool and that added to it’s attraction, little decoration remained, and parts of the walls and floors were caving in, the only thing of note was the large cow statue in the inner sanctum who although in need of a good clean was quite sweet. Exhausted and dusty we travelled back to our room, thanking Winkie for our day whilst arranging our pick up time for the morning, so much more still to see, I can hardly wait!

Apologies for the number of photographs but how do you choose from so many wonderful things!

Additional photos below
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27th January 2018
Monkeying around

These guys are not to be trusted!
27th January 2018
Monkeying around

We leave them very much alone
One of them scared the pants of Zoe by racing up to her, Woolly refuses to go anywhere near them, the teeth aren't something I would like to be on the end off

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