HAMPI – of what remains of the ancient Vijayanagara is hauntingly beautiful.
Part IV : Morning Tea by the Tungabhadra
The alarm set off at 5:00 am. By 5:30 am we got ready – ready for the day’s adventure. We kept our car at the Hampi Bazaar at around 5:50 am and headed towards the Achyutaraya Temple Complex. Once you reach the Hampi Bazaar, you will be approached by multiple boys and men selling Hampi post cards, maps and guidebooks, guides offering their service, auto drivers offering you to show around. There was one particular auto which was not leaving us and kept coming after us as we walked towards the Achyutaraya complex through the abandoned pavilions of Virupaksha Bazaar to the east of the Virupaksha temple. Finally, we struck a deal with him to take us around all the major sites in Hampi after we come back from the Achyutaraya temple side. We told him it is going to take time, probably 2 hours or more, for us to come back and start off with him. He agreed to that and offered his phone number so that we can call him up when we are done in the Achyutaraya complex, Krishna Bazaar, and group of temples by the Tungabhadra.
A giant monolithic carving of Yeduru Basavanna or Nandi(Shiva’s Bull) is seated at the base of the flight of stairs towards the Achyutaraya complex. The Nandi faces the Virupaksha Temple standing at a distance of around 1 Km down the Virupaksha Bazaar. As we climbed the stairs, dawn greeted us through a gateway built on the stairs. While climbing the stairs, all we could hear were birds chirping and light sound of the breeze and the sound of our own breath. There was not even a single sound connected to the human civilization. And yes, you loss signal in your phone once you enter this area. At a point, there is a small Hanuman temple and some small pavilions on the sides of the path after which the path goes downwards. The Hanuman Temple is said to mark the point where Hanuman first met Ram and Lakshman. We stopped briefly sometimes to appreciate the unique, serene and beautiful environmental setting we were in and click pictures. Here are some for you.
We continued downwards as per the trail, when we caught a glimpse of the Achyutaraya complex, nested amidst Hilly terrain.
The Achyutaraya complex had a number of tourists including quite a few foreigners inside. However, we decided to explore the Achyutaraya Complex later and proceeded to the left towards the Krishna Bazaar alternatively called the Courtesan’s street.
The Krishna Bazaar consists of a wide chariot street flanked by rows of pavilions on both sides. The pillared shaded pavilions served as shops and establishments where merchants sold their merchandise to the citizens of Vijayanagara. We could not help but wonder, how bustling the place would have been in ancient times. The path through Krishna Bazaar led us to a beautiful Pushkarini(pond), where water had dried up. I took a plunge(only because it was dry .. otherwise, I would drown .. I don’t know how to swim) in the Pushkarini and arrived at the central structure to pose for some pics.
We continued exploring further down and came across Tungabhadra. The river here has meandered its course through the hilly terrain. Tungabhadra has taken a bend around a hill deemed as the famous Rishimukh or Rishyamukh of Ramayana.
The water level was low. But, we could make out the might of the river in the monsoon from the water marks on the rocks and the huge expanse of the river basin. There was a lone coracle floating on the river.
We took left and arrived at the KodandaRama temple, where Rama is said to had coronated Sugreeva after killing Bali. The temple structure is of modern construction and looks unimposing but the site is ancient and is of great religious significance. It is said that the idol of Ram Sita and Lakshman carved out of one side of a single granite boulder was originally worshiped by Sugreeva. The Ghats of Tungabhadra in front of the Kodandarama Temple known as the Chakrateertha is said to be one of the holiest for the Hindus. Ram along with Lakshman is said to have bathed here regularly during their stay with Sugreeva.
We proceeded further down the banks of the river. The terrain is an uneven one. At places you have to climb up and down. We found a cave like formation. The path made out of stones , had serrations on the surface of it as it came closer to the river to prevent one from slipping down. The path through the cave reached a point where we found no other way to proceed and so we returned back.
The morning walk on the banks of Tungabhadra is a ‘walk to remember’ for us. The beauty and serenity of the place simply cannot be described in words.
We both were feeling a little hungry by this time and had tea and biscuits from the one and only shop in the entire area , opposite to Kondandarama Temple.
It seemed to me like a beautiful dream in which we were adrift, the Tungabhadra flowing by without haste without rest, bird chirping, a gentle breeze soothing our souls, as we sipped away tea with ParleG biscuits sitting on a wooden bench beneath the trees. We could have sat there for some more time to relish the enigma called life, but there were more sites to visit and we were just at the beginning of our day’s itinerary. Savoring the last sip of tea, we got up and continued on our exploration.
We came across a few more temples many of which presently have no deities inside. The views from the top of the temples are mind blowing. There is a small cave called the Sugreeva’s cave with idol of Ram Sita and Lakshman within. The exterior of the cave is marked in white to differentiate from other boulders. It is said that Sugreeva had used this cave to hide the jewels of Sita, which she threw from the Pushpak Rath(the airborne chariot of Ravana) while being abducted by Ravana to Lanka.
After exploring the area to our heart’s content, we decided to return. We came back across the Pushkarini, Krishna Bazaar, touched upon the Achyutaraya complex and made our way towards the monolithic Nandi. We did not explore Achyutaraya Temple at this time because we had plans to come back in the late afternoon and climb Matanga. Google had given us information that there is a trek path that starts from the Achyutaraya Temple. So we decided to explore the complex at that time itself.
We called our auto driver’s number. He came within 5 minutes and off we went to see the different sites in Hampi.
Continued in HAMPI – Part V of VII – Ruins that inspire Awe