Despite being in Bangalore for nearly 2 years, we haven’t really explored the state of Karnataka, so I decided on short notice to take a little weekend trip to the ruins of Hampi. I had heard lots of good things about this place from friends and from Google, of course!
Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 6 hours drive north of Bangalore. In around 1500 it was one of the largest cities in India, with approximately 500,000 inhabitants.
We left around 6am on Saturday morning, in a car laden with sweets, cookies and crisps for the road, finally reaching our hotel at 12.30! Seeing as we only had a short weekend we decided to go sightseeing straight away. Just a short drive from our hotel were amazing ruins of temples, baths and military buildings. Some of the temples charge for entry – Rs.30 for a local vs Rs.500 for a foreigner!
We went into the Vittala Temple complex (dedicated to Vishnu), which is probably the most famous in Hampi. The road up to the temple has ruins on both sides, apparently this used to be a famous market where horses were traded. A guide that we had inside the temple complex explained the history and what all the carvings into the walls meant. There are famous musical pillars that produce different sounds and pitches depending on where you hit it. It was pretty cool!
Next on our list was the Virupaksha Temple (dedicated to Shiva), which has a huge 160ft tower at its entrance. Next to the temple was Hampi bazaar….I got really excited as I love markets and bazaars, but I have to say it really was a let down – there were just a few shacks selling hats and sunglasses!
There were so many ruins, all from around the 16th century, some kept in immaculate condition! We saw the Queen’s baths, the Lotus Mahal, the elephant stables – which were used to house 11 elephants, and a Ganesha Temple. Unlike in the UK, where you can’t go anywhere near historic ruins (I’m thinking of Stonehenge, where you can’t get anywhere near the stones) you could go right into the temples and touch the walls and monuments. I do hope that changes though, otherwise there won’t be much left of these beautiful ruins soon!
The ruins were amazing, but the food was super spicy, I can’t even explain how spicy it was! Apparently our driver said that as Hampi is near the border with Andhra Pradesh, a lot of people have migrated over and have influenced the cooking and food.i.e. now it’s super super super spicy! We left early morning Sunday for Bangalore, and I do have to admit it wasn’t a particularly comfortable 7 hour drive!
To be continued with more adventures…