Monthly Archives: June 2012

Mantralayam & Hampi – Day II – Part 1

Mantralaya โ€“ Hampi (2 days) โ€“ June 2012 โ€“ Day II

Here is the account of Day II.. with a slight delay! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The day started early, with someone knocking on the door at 6am to tell us breakfast was ready! ๐Ÿ™‚ We eventually got ready by 8am. Afterall we had to be at the bus by 8.30am :D. After a quick breakfast of idlis and wadas, we handed over our room back to the hotel, and got into the bus. By 8.30 we were off through Hospet and Hampi to reach our first view of the day.

Tourist Map of Hampi

Hampi was the Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. The name was derived from Pampa, which was the original name of the Tungabhadra river. The Vijayanagara Empire started around 1336 till 1565. It was started by 2 brothers: Bukka Raya and Harihara of the Sangama Dynasty. It reached its pinnacle under the rule of Krishnadevaraya of the Tuluva Dynasty, and reached its end under the reign of Tirumala Raya of the Araveedu Dynasty. It was one of the best examples of wealth, and religious tolerance (reflected in its architecture and in the history of its armies).The final defeat and subsequent plunder by the Deccan Sultanates left the city utterly devastated and left un-occupied in a ruinous state.

Hampi is also associated mythologically with Kishkinda, the birthplace of Lord Hanuman from The Ramayana.

After driving through scenic views of fields and rocks, we reached the Hemakuta group of temples. This location also features Kadalekalu Ganesha, Virupaksha Temple, and various Ganesh Temples.ย  We started with the Kadalekalu Ganesha temple.

This beautiful monolithic idol of Ganesha a beautiful to look at. It didn’t matter that the idol had been damaged, which made the temple a ruin rather than a living temple. At first glance one just can’t focus on the flaws. It was only when the guide pointed them out, could we focus on them. After a few photos, we were all directed out of the sanctum sanctorum to allow other visitors clear viewing. Outside Shivraj then explained the history of Vijayanagara Empire, its founders, builders and finally the reasons for disintegration.

KadaleKalu Ganesha

From here, we made our way to the Hemakuta Hill temples. After a brief history about the temples that were built on this hill. The largest, and only living temple here is the Virupaksha temple dedicated to Lord Siva. It is said that he came to this hill to do penance. But Kama, the God of love, distracted him and made him fall in love with Pampa, a local girl (and an avatar of Goddess Parvathi). Siva was angered by Kama’s actions and opened his Third Eye and destroyed Kama. Hence the name Virupaksha, or Angry Eye. Kama was eventually restored in spirit not form after his wife Goddess Rathi pleaded with Siva.

View of the Hemakuta Hill Complex

The remaining temples on the hill are smaller and were supposedly built by Brahmins or rich merchants to appease the Gods after mixing the ashes of their departed relatives in the Tungabhadra (or Pampa) River below. There are also mandapas built intermittently to help travellers rest under their shade. None of these temples survived after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire.

After walking through some of these temples, we made our way to the Virupaksha Temple.ย  Situated on the northern bank of the Tungabhadra, the temple lies within the Hampi Bazaar. This bazaar was famous for the fact that diamonds, precious stones and other valuables were sold along the street like flowers and vegetables in today’s time.

We entered the temple through the eastern Gopuram, which is also the tallest. Walking straight up to the main mandapa or hall of the temple, we were explained the frescoes that featured on the ceiling. It was simply too beautiful to describe. The frescoes featured both Siva and Vishnu, showing the religious tolerance between sects of the time. To enter for darshan, we had to step out of this hall, and re-enter through the Southern entrance.

The Eastern Gate

faded frescos on the ceiling at Virupaksha temple

Tungabhadra River

The Virupaksha temple complex

After a quick darshan of the Sivalinga, as well of Ammavaru, we were directed to the back of the temple to see an “inverted temple”. Here, there is a beautiful feature of ancient science and architecture. In a small room primarily meant for the temple brahmins to stay, a small window was built into the wall for ventilation. The size of the window was such that it created an inverted shadow of the Eastern Gopuram on the far wall using the “pinhole camera” theory. after everyone finished jostling around for a photo-op of this beautiful feature, we all trooped out.

The North Entrance on our left led to the Tungabhadra river. We were directed to see this for ourselves, and return to the bus which would be in the Hampi Bazaar within the next 30 mins. Were were also warned not to go down to the river, and simply see it from up and return. However, I think my family was the only one that followed that particular directive and stayed up on the embankment.

After a nice photo session in the temple courtyard, we slowly made our way back to the bus. Obviously we were the first to reach there. The Bazaar road was going through a lot of renovations and road-widening building demolitions. SO there wasn’t anything to see there. Instead we spied a lemon soda stall. The lemon soda, mixed with additional lemon and salt,ย  was a welcome respite from the heat.

Once everyone got back to the bus, the remaining locations were pointed out while driving through. These were the Sasive Kalu Ganesha and Ganesh group temples, the Krishna Temple complex and the market area facing it. The next stop was the Lakshmi Narasimha temple and the Badavi Linga.

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple

The Idol of Lakshmi Narasimha is probably of the more famous images of Hampi. It was sculpted out of a single stone, but was broken up either by invaders or weather erosion. However, the Lakshmi statue is missing, and the only thing to show that the idol was there, is the hand encircling the statue’s waist. In fact for some time people thought it was a statue of Ugra Narasimha, or Angry Narasimha. Now slowly the Archeological Department is restoring the Idol.

Next to this statue is an ancient Sivalinga. During the Vijayanagar time, Siva and Vishnu temples were built near each other, to appease each of the sects. So if the Vishnu temple was grand, the Siva temple would be simple, and vise versa. This Sivalinga is called the Badavi Linga. It is the largest monolithic Linga in Hampi, and is within and open-to-sky chamber, and is surrounded with water. A canal is directed through this temple to ensure there is water all through the year. The main highlight of the Linga is an etching on the front depicting the 3 eyes of Siva.

Badavi Linga

From here we made our way to the Palace complex. Along the way we saw the Sister Stones. Legend goes that 2 sisters came to visit Hampi, and were sitting along the road and ridiculing the place. The goddess of the city was angered, and punished them by turning them into huge boulders formed like an archway. Recently one of the stones broke due to natural weather erosion.

The Sister Stones. The Right side stone broke recently.

The next stop was the Palace complex of the Vijayanagara Kings.

Categories: Andhra Pradesh, Hampi, Karnataka, Mantralayam | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mantralayam & Hampi – Day I

Mantralaya – Hampi (2 days) – June 2012 – Day I

Normally when my-in-laws visit, we try to incorporate a holiday during their stay. It the past it has always been a religious place. This time, we wanted a holiday. Not a religious place masquerading as a holiday, but an outright holiday of having fun.

Well, we didn’t really get that wish. What we got was a package tour from Karnataka Tourismย  (www.karnatakaholidays.net) which covered Mantralayam (Mantralaya) and Hampi. We wavered a bit, wondering if we should just plan a Hampi trip by ourselves. But we finally figured that the details of the tourist spot was already covered by the package tour. If we went by ourselves, we would have to look at making arrangement after reaching Hampi. Also none of us were overly keen on going to Mantralayam.ย  But we finally justified it, saying we could treat it as just another place to visit, rather than a theerth yatra (which it wasn’t for us). So we finally booked the package tour.

We reached Badami House on Friday evening. The tour bus was a non-AC deluxe bus. The seats weren’t the most comfortable, but weren’t anything to complain about either. The bus left on time, 8pm. After a brief introduction by our tour guide, Shivraj, we settled down for the night. The driver started to play some Kannada movie. Since we didn’t really know the language, we just about managed to follow it through the actors’ histrionics. ๐Ÿ™‚

KSRTC tour bus

At 9.30pm there was a stop at Kamat Upachar on NH-4 for dinner. It turned out that we were the only passengers who’d brought our dinner from hom. We completed it on the bus, before reaching the hotel. So we would up the night with hot cups of tea and coffee. ๐Ÿ™‚

We reached Mantralayam at 5am. We were given rooms at Punnami Guest House (Ap Tourism Guest House). Since it was a temporary room, we shared a single room (1 room for 2 couples), and were told to be ready by 8am. The problem with the place was that it wasn’t maintained. Which meant everything was either stained, torn or simply stinky :(.ย  We slept for an hour, and then spent the remaining hour getting ready. AT 8am we all gathered outside the Guest house. Once the guide joined us, we slowly made our way to the temple. Along the way Annapurna Dining Hall was pointed out. Free meals are provided at the hall from 11am to 3pm.

The AP Tourism Guest House

Annapurna Dining Hall

Once we left our footwear at the proper stand, we first took darshan of Manchalamma, the grama devata (village deity) of Mantralayam. After paying obeisance, we made our way for darshan of Guru Raghavendra Swami. The Guru is said to be inside the Vrindavan here. Vrindavan is basically a tomb of a Hindu Spiritual Guru or Saint. Guru Raghavendra Swami, a Madhva saint, was the head of the Sri Mutt at Kumbakonam and a great exponent of Madhvacharya’s Dvaita philosophy.

Statue of Raghavendra Swami in the front courtyard

Manchalamma Temple

We took the VIP darshan. There are 3 types of darshan: free, VIP and VVIP. Free meant you stood at a distance of 10 ft from the Vrindavan; VIP was 5ft away; VVIP allowed you to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Vrindavan temple. I do not know how much the tickets cost to enter, as it was a part of the package, and the tour guide simple led us to the entrance and told us to go in! While there is no dress code for women, men have to take off their shirts before entering for darshan.

By the time we came out, and took the requisite photos of the (very dry) Tungabhadra river, it was around 9am. We were told that MTR restaurant serves good coffee, so we slowly made our way there. It turned out that this MTR was in fact Mantralaya Tiffin Room, and not the original MTR restaurants. So we walked along and found another small restaurant that served us good hot coffee and breakfast. We slowly walked back to our room, and slept off our breakfast :). At around 11, we walked back for lunch. THis time we decided to try another restaurant, which was a very bad idea. The food was not up to par, and we regretted not having gone back to our previous choice. We hadn’t opted for Annapurna dining hall as we were going to be on road for the next few hours, and wanted just a light snack to keep us going.

Once we got back to the guest house, it was nearing 12. We packed up our bags and sat in the bus, and made our way towards Hampi. The one thing that stood out most about the trip was how dry the land way, and the sheer number of rocks!

dry fields with a backdrop of rocks

When i saw these clouds, i wondered if the rain wud fall along the same neat lines?!

Along the way we stopped at Bellary for evening snacks. Here the Bellary fort was pointed out for photos. The place we stopped was Pola Palms. We had coffee/tea and cutlets. The cutlets were nice to taste, even though they looked a bit burnt. After filling out our water bottles at the water cooler, we were back on the road.

Pola Palms

the (burnt) cutlets @ Pola Palms

The next stop was directly at Hampi. Along the way we saw spotted deer in the distance, drove over non-existent roads, and worse still, pot-holes along the highway. But the moment we neared Hampi we knew we’d reached. Just a few minutes back we were looking at dry land and stones, and then we were suddenly looking at lush greenery. In fact the crops that grew were cash crops: sugar cane, paddy and banana plantations were dominant.

Lush sugarcane fields at Hampi

Hotel Mayura Vijayanagar

We passed through Hampi and drove on towards Tungabhadra Dam (TB Dam). We were staying at Karnataka Holidays Mayura Vijayanagar Guest House at TB Dam. The rooms were really nice. Not glamorous, but very clean and comfortable. What more can one ask for a peaceful night? Dinner was a simple fare of aloo parathas for hubby and me, and parotas and dal fry for the in-laws. We completed the dinner with a nice glass of buttermilk, and settled down for the night.

Categories: Andhra Pradesh, Hampi, Karnataka, Mantralayam | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments