Hampi - Day 2
The day started at 5 am, and we proceeded to Matanga Hill to watch the sunrise, reaching the foot after a 15 min walk. Matanga Hill has special significance in Hindu mythology, this was the place where Hanuman and Sugreeva took shelter after being chased by Vali, who was ultimately killed by Rama.
As we started climbing the hill, a Naga Yogi waiting at the bottom of the hill asked us to register with the police station before going up the hill. We told him the station was closed, so he guided us up the hill. Along the way he told us that he had converted to a Naga Yogi after a stint at a multinational bank and now lived in a cave up the hill (wow), performing his sadhu duties in the temple town (which blew us away). The climb turned out to be pretty trecherous, with steep cliffs and a very narrow path leading uphill. He guided us to the rooftop of the Veerbhadra Temple present at the top of Matanga Hill, where the sunrise can be experienced best, and set off on his own after inviting us to his cave for tea once we we were done seeing the sunrise.
After seeing the sunrise and having some great black tea in our guide’s cave, we started our descent, which took around 40 mins, mainly because of the jagged structure of the rocks. A fantastic breakfast of idli and tea awaited us at the bottom. Breakfast food carts are spread thorughout Hampi and serve cheap, tasty and filling food.
We then proceeded to our cycle tour, which would take us through the outer parts of Hampi; first stopping at the Kadalekalu Ganesha (Kadalekalu because the statue’s belly resembles a Bengal Gram) temple, which houses a massive statue of Ganpati, the Hindu god of wisdom. The statue is now in ruins, after being destroyed by the Deccan Muslim rulers, who thought there was a hidden treasure inside the stomach of the statue, because of its size.
Then we proceeded to the statue of Narsimha and Laxmi. This was a huge monolith of a statue once upon a time, but it was destroyed by the invading army. A lot of it has been restored but it appears nowhere near its former glory. Right next to this is the partially submerged Shivalinga, which happens to be the 2nd largest in the country.
We then cycled towards the underground Shiva temple, which was pretty mind-blowing. The temple’s roof is on ground level and the rest of the structure underground, the inner mantapas are kept full of water. Then cycling towards the Lotus Palace we came across the Mohammedan Watch Tower, which was a structure made for the Muslim troops in King Krishnadevaraya’s army. This structure sports typical Persian architecture, the only structure of its kind in Hampi.
The Lotus Palace is where the two Queens of King Krishnadevaraya stayed. The main palace has a state-of-the-art water cooling system, with pipes of water circulating around the entire palace to keep the occupants cool during the summer.
Behind this was a massive stable for the royal elephants, which housed all 11 of them. The Lotus Mahal (palace) consisted of two palaces, called Water Palace and the Queen’s Palace, both of which are now in ruins.
We cycled to the King’s enclosure, which had a whole lot of podiums and open spaces for conducting festivities. Dusshera was celebrated with great pomp here. There was an especially large podium for the King to be seated on so that he could watch all the proceedings from a vantage point.
The Queen’s bath was just a few minutes cycle ride from here and that is where we went next. This was a huge tank for the Queen to take a bath in, made in Indo-Arabic architecture.
The cycle ride back to the center of Hampi (and our hotel) was long but extremely plesant. The route was lush green with many streams and small waterfalls.
Upon returning we had some late lunch at a South Indian restaurant (Venkateshwara Restaurant), and left for Hospet to catch our bus to Bangalore, which left from there at night.
The bus stop at Hospet is pretty horrible and since we were forced to book our tickets through some petty shop in Hampi, the bus came 3 hours late and the driver stopped at the particular bus stop only because we were calling him repeatedly and telling him and that we’re waiting. Go for government transport whenever possible!
Stay tuned for day 3!