Our first trip to Hampi
happened just in a whiff. I think it was in 2007. It was some time in late November and I was reading the morning newspaper. I chanced upon the Hampi Utsav
programme and Hariharan
was to sing Gazals
. That was enough for us to pack the bags and head towards Hampi
. We - Brinda and I - like gazals
and we never miss Hariharan
Ali or Jagjit Singh's
concerts in Bangalore. We started in the afternoon straight from the office in our faithful Fiesta. The journey from Bangalore to Chitradurga
was a blast. We could cover the distance in three hours from our start point on NICE road at Kanakapura
Road. The patch near Tumkur
was bad and slowed us down but nevertheless the road was a revelation. (Now this patch has been done nicely and we could reach Chitradurga
in 2.30 hours last week). We were able to drive at consistent
at night on this stretch
up to Chitradurga
. After quick coffee break at Durga
- the short name for Chitradurga
refer the city - We started the second leg to Hampi
Durga and its surroundings dotted by small rolling hills is very picturesque after rains. As we approach durga we were greeted by the lovely sight of windmills located on these hills.
It was evening and we could savour the beautiful sunset between two windmills on the hills. Our misery started the moment we started on NH 13. There is no road here but craters. (The road is a misery even now as we experienced only last week) To rub salt on the wound are the huge trucks which continuously keep coming in the opposite. A distance of 120 KMs took us 3 hours!! Fiesta has low ground clearance and we had to be careful! It was tiring to the core. When we reached Maligi Hotel, it was 9 PM. Hampi was in festive mood with different activities at different places......We dropped the luggage and headed straight to the main venue - Krishna Devaraya Mantapa - the concert place.
The setting was stunning. With famed Hampi
boulders illuminated as the backdrop, the programs
were already on. There were local troupes who were singing different folk tunes. To our luck, Hariharan
was to start only at 9.30PM. He was bang on time. Hariharan's
concerts are always enthralling. The guy does not disappoint you and does full justice. A mix of his popular gazal
numbers - new and old - mixed with the famous film songs made the evening memorable. The concert ended at 1 AM!!
Got up late next day.....naturally after going to bed at 1 AM! After breakfast we planned to visit the sights of Hampi. We were to cover the place in four hours as we had to head back to Bangalore by 4 PM. We hired a guide - A young boy studying Diploma in Tourism in local college. The instructions to him was clear. To show us the most important sights in Hampi! He asked us how much time we have and was shocked to hear that we had only four hours.
requires minimum two days to do justice. There are so many places to see not only in Hampi
but also in neighbouring Anegondi
. But we had to cover it in four hours!! so our itinerary was to visit Lotus Mahal
, Elephant stables, Mahanavami Dibba
Rama temple. Every place is so nice we felt guilty that we had to rush through. Vittala
Temple is the Jewel in the crown of Hampi
. The vastness of the temple makes you dumb struck - a similar experience you have when you visit the Brihadeswara
temple in Tanjavur
and Sun temple in Konark
- as one enters......the magnificent stone chariot, carved music pillars......Vittala
temple is just awesome. (See picture alongside)
I feel the best way to explore Hampi
is leisurely on a bicycle or a Scooter/motorcycle which you can hire locally. Winters - October to January - are best as weather will be bearable. Summers are bloody hot and don't
venture on Bike lest you suffer a sunstroke!! One can enjoy peddling through the lush green paddy and sugarcane fields. The distances are not much which helps. You need minimum two days to see all the places
if using car and add another day if doing on Bicycle. Staying back will also help savour the enchanting sunset amidst boulders ( we missed it as we had rush back). Apart form ruins it is also worthwhile to visit the Tungabhadra
dam in the evening for a memorable sunset. Also make it a point to visit any of the "Aale
Mane" - jaggery
making units - dotted amids fields and drink fresh sugar cane juice to your satisfaction and also to taste hot jaggery
Distance from Bangalore - 330 Kms by road via Chitradurga. The route is Bangalore - Tumkur - Hiriyur - Chitradurga - Kudligi - Hospet
Hampi express from Bangalore is an excellent option if you are not inclined to drive. Hire a taxi while you are in Hampi.
The State government owned Karnataka State Transport Corporation runs many buses from major cities in the state to Hampi. Check it out on their website
We stayed in Hotel Malligi which has decent acco and good food. New hotels have now come up including one from Royal Orchid group. Krishna Palace is another decent hotel.
Another good option is to try the rural tourism project by Kishkinda Trust in Anegondi. Other options are "Boulders resort" and "Vijayashree heritage village"
a) Make Hospet as base. Hampi is a small village.
b) Get a good guide. Hotel staff can help.
c) Good to read something on Hampi before you go. To begin with Wikipaedia helps! Another excellent website is www.hampi.in
d) Savour the village atmosphere. People are generally friendly. Hence no worries.
e) Nothing much to shop. You will see Kashmiri shops selling antiques etc. Not worth it.
f) Always plan to ensure you reserve a day for day trip to UNESCO heritage sites of BADAMI - AIHOLE - PATTADAKAL. They are just magnificent! - Will cover these in next entry.......
g) Dont miss visiting Daroji Sloth bear sanctuary which is 15 KMs form Hampi. Only sanctuary for bears in the country. The best time to visit is between 4 PM and 6PM.
Postscript - This blog entry does not cover the historical and archaeological details of the ruins. They are available in Wikipaedia and other sites.