Hampi: The name brings images of the famous Vittal Temple, ruins and mesmerizing stone architecture. The entire landscape is littered with ruins, monuments and stone structures against a backdrop of huge, rocky boulder mountains. Perfectly balanced and stacked on top of and across each other, these stones and boulders seem like pieces of art on display for the common man’s consumption.
The Vittal Temple is hypnotic from the word go. From its famed stone chariot to the fascinating musical pillars, the wall carvings and magnificent architecture, it’s obvious why the group of monuments at Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage site. One can easily imagine royal scions of 15thcentury clad in their best silks and ornaments gathered here for a royal wedding or simply to offer prayers to the deity housed at the time in the inner sanctum of the temple.
Next stop: The Royal Enclosure
The Mahanavami Dibba is housed within the Royal Enclosure. It is about 12ft tall and is essentially a square granite building split in 3 levels and broad steps that take you to the top of the Dibba. It was heartening to know that even the pet dogs a visitor got along could scale the top. The view from the top includes miles of ruins that lay scattered all around, stepwells with fascinating geometric patterns and what remains of the King’s Palace.
Further along (a short auto rickshaw ride away) are the Elephant stables and the popular Lotus Mahal. The Lotus Mahal is fascinating in itself with the engravings on the lotus like arches and the overall structure.
One could simply lie on the lawns around it and get lost in its grandeur. A short walk will take you to the Elephant Stables – and these are majestic. A lot may have to do with the fact that one wouldn’t expect much from the Elephant stables. This however, is quite another story.
The Elephant Stables has 11 unique domes that come together in seamless harmony. There are 11 large chambers each of which could house 2 elephants. The entire structure creates a magical sight for unsuspecting eyes and fills the heart with wonder and joy. You almost expect elephants in the stables, readied for the kings; with the mahouts and guards in the vermillion and white uniforms.
As you ride through Hampi, you have further proof of the beauty that lies in this Heritage Site. Stone pillars the support stone top, large idols of Lord Ganesha and Narasimha, beautiful stones stacked at gravity defying angles and phenomenal temple sensational structural design that have you gasping with wonder. You can pretty much gaze in any direction and be met with dazzling vistas. You will not have enough time to take in all that is thrown at you. You will want to stop and gape at every little structure you come across, only to realize that all the time in the World is not enough.
The last sight I witnessed in Hampi is for me, the most dramatic. The Hemakuta Hills lie between the Virupaksha Temple and the Krishna Temple (by the Tungabhadra river). It’s a fairly relaxed climb uphill on stony stabs. Peppered with multiple stone structures, temples, stacked stones, nirvana level trees and picturesque views, these hills are paradise on earth. The sunset here is pure magic with purple-orange and gray lacing the sky in semi tranquil and trance-like state. You can walk right up to the edge and look every which way and be transfixed by the exquisite beauty that is Hampi.