The sites of Hampi are spread over 36 sq km and there are apparently 3700 monuments scattered around. Hampi was once the Empire Vijayanagar which at its peak housed 500,000 people. As the site is so huge we had organized a rickshaw with Veejay the guy who picked us up yesterday and started in the cool morning air at 7.30am. We headed out of town towards one of the most beautiful temples in the area called Vittala Temple built in 16th century. It must be said that we passed several other temples and buildings that were also very impressive so were expecting great things if they didn’t make the list.
On arrival at the car park we were pretty much the first people and were told by Veejay to walk the 800 metres to the temple. Along the way there was a smaller temple and across the road a massive bathing structure. It just felt surreal again walking around such an amazing site without anyone else and we hadn’t even gotten to the major site.
The first of many temples for the day.
Our secluded walk to the temple.
Through the gates we walked into a impressive courtyard with a chariot in front of the temple. The detail beautiful and the stone wheels were capable of moving the giant chariot in years gone passed. Onto the main temple the highlight being the outer musical pillars which apparently replicate 81 different Indian instruments but unfortunately and for good reason they are out of bounds to play on so couldn’t test that out.
The temple entrance.
Some of the carved pillars.
The stone chariot.
We walked back to Veejay waiting in his rickshaw which we found out was a generous gift from an American lady called Susan. She met Veejay on a 3 day trip and at the time according to Veejay his family were very poor and he and his wife had just welcomed a baby boy into the word. So Susan offered to help and transferred enough money to Veejay for himself and his brother to buy rickshaws so they could start a taxi business. Talking to Veejay about it he was extremely grateful and said that she changed his family’s life. Pretty amazing lady by the sounds of it. Got us thinking you can individually make a difference, even if it is only for one family.
So we headed off to the next site which was the museum where there was information on some of the Hindu gods along with more stone statues. However as we were seeing the same quality out in the open in the temples we didn’t stay long.
Next stop was the Queen’s bath a very different structure to that of the others. More Persian than Hindu, a simple building in the outside but inside it was beautiful. The plumbing was pretty impressive as well with a stone canal bringing the water in to refill the 8ft deep bath everyday with the used water being emptied for watering crops.
The Queen’s bath. It would have been pretty amazing full!
The corridor around the bath.
We then drove around to the Royal Centre where there were a cluster of ruins and still standing temples. The palace no longer exists as it was made out of sandalwood and has long since been destroyed. The first building we came across was a massive platform covered in beautiful carvings and directly following this was a black granite pond that was stunningly beautiful. The steps around the inside were made into pyramids as you descended. The aqueduct that would have filled the pond is also still standing today. Again we had the place to ourselves and it was just surreal.
The platform which was covered in carvings on every block of stone.
The symmetry of the pond was mesmeric. Throughout the whole site black granite was used sparingly.
Tim walking the ruins.
Off across the road we entered another section with an amazing temple. The carvings on this one were some of the best, which included some amazing black granite pillars. We then entered the fort area where we ran into a few more people (like 10) and came across a beautiful pavilion with lotus like arches in a Muslim style. According to the guide book it stayed cool in the winter as water would flow on the top floor. How they made that happen I have no idea.
The entrance to the temple.
These black granite pillars were some of the most exquisite we have ever seen.
The lotus pavilion.
The arches were amazing. The symmetry and repetition of the curves so beautiful.
Next was the Elephant stable. Yep actually used back in the day to stable elephants. 11 of them. Again completed in a Muslim style with beautiful arches over the doors. Adjacent to the stables was the guard house which was again full of beautiful arches and symmetry.
Imagine 11 elephants picking their heads out.
The afternoon started with a giant Ganesha statue and followed by some more monuments clustered around some banana and coconut fields. What we found quite crazy was some of the fields were fenced off with granite slabs! It is just so readily available here that they use it for fences!
Another few temples visited. These ones not a patch on the others we had seen and then we were off for views of the sunset. Veejay stopped off for some biscuits which he informed us were for the monkeys at the next stop. We told him maybe monkeys would prefer fruit and he just laughed and said these are Indian monkeys they eat anything including chocolate and soft drink. (Sigh).
We drove up a hill and were soon greeted by music which Veejay informed us that at this particular temple there are men who play 24/7. Apparently they do four hour shifts. He couldn’t tell us for how many years this had happened but I think his phrase was “I don’t know as it was before I was born”. He was 27 so that’s a long time. Walking in we were greeted by the monkeys who continued to stuff the biscuits into their mouths to the point where they all had huge hamster cheeks. I assume they were saving some for later. The real highlight of this temple though was the musical pillars. These ones we were allowed to play. How they made them is a feat of stone carving as they seem to be one single price of stone. But they must be hollowed to make the sound. Very interesting.
The musical pillars.
After playing around with the pillars for a while, we walked out the back of the temple and were greeted with a wonderful site of the surrounding area while the sun went down. It’s just such a surreal landscape of undulating hills scattered with gravity defying boulders and if that not enough amazing temples all around. A very relaxing end to a pretty full on day of site seeing. S