Mantralaya – Hampi (2 days) – June 2012 – Day II
Here is the account of Day II.. with a slight delay! 😉
The day started early, with someone knocking on the door at 6am to tell us breakfast was ready! 🙂 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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, 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.
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.
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 next stop was the Palace complex of the Vijayanagara Kings.