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Published: February 26th 2012
The stunning city of Vijayanager is the capital of the destroyed Vijayanagara Empire is a showcase of fine medieval Indian architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was around 26 square kilometres and was encircled by seven levels of defensive walls many of which can still be seen.
Our guest house is located within metres of the older temples on Hemakuta Hill, which we visited immediately after Virupaksha Temple, which dominates the small village and traveller enclave of Hampi Bazarre. I particularly like the older temples dating from the 9th century strewn amongst the boulder dominated terrain.
We visited a number of smaller temples many of these were dominated by large effigies of various gods including Ganesh, before striking of down a dirt track with the plan of looping back around to some of the other major sites. The scenery was extremely attractive as we followed the course of a canal identifying and photographing temples standing starkly on hill sides or buried in the undergrowth. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the path that lead to the river and the sun was setting so we had to turn around and walk all the way back. From here we grabbed
a rickshaw and went to a village four kilometres away where we had a few beers before returning to Hampi for dinner (no booze in Hampi).
Saturday dawned hot and cloudless (when is it anything else) so we headed out to the Royal Enclosure visiting major sites such as the Queens Bath and Zenana Enclosure and the beautiful Lotus Mahal. We then checked out the brilliant Elephant Stables, The Barracks and many more ruins. There were few people about so we wandered at will for several hours, it is a shame Indians don’t value these monuments as they scrawl graffiti on everything and throw rubbish all over the place, still we saw some fantastic architectural sites in that morning.
Around 10.30am we arrived at Shiva’s Underground Temple where the driver was waiting and he showed us an ancient military dining area where a long line of plates had been carved into some rocks near an aqueduct. Before taking us to the museum where there was a large model of Vijayananagar, we were able to see how close we had come the night before to a major road. The museum was surprisingly good, we then headed to the fabulous
Vittala Temple where we the left the driver and set off on foot.
This temple was built in the 15th century and looks fantastic sandwiched between rocky ridges and the river. The highlight of this complex was the magnificent carved chariot in the courtyard. We ate a couple of ice creams to try and combat the heat before followed the beautiful Tungabadhra River back towards Hampi Bizarre. We could see many of the Anegondi Temples across the river as we stopped at a restaurant for a meal and a cold drink.
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