This was our final day at Hampi and probably the longest circuit in terms of the bike ride. This time, we were smart enough to hire bikes on the other side of the river at Hampi Bazaar. We started out this temple above was our first stop. It’s called Sasive Kaalu (mustard seed) Ganesha. I still can’t figure out why though because there is nothing mustard seed like about this structure – it’s huge. Anyway the story behind this idol goes like this : In Hindu mythology Lord Ganesha has always been famous for his massive appetite. One day he apparently ate so much of food that his tummy almost burst. He caught a snake just in time and tied it around as a belt to save his belly from bursting. :) If you zoom into the picture, you’ll see the snake belt around the idol.
Next stop was the Krishna Temple. This temple was built by the Krishnadevaraya in 1513 AD (it feels amazing to be in a space that can be dated back to 15th century) to celebrate the conquest of the eastern kingdom of Utkala (present day Orissa). The main idol installed in the temple was a figure of Balakrishna. This idol is now at the state museum in Chennai.
We cycled forward to reach the largest statue in Hampi. Narasimha, I’m told, is one of the ten avataars/forms of Lord Vishnu (I learnt so much about mythology on this trip!). This statue rests on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake. The God in this form is referred to as Ugra-Narasimha (i.e. angered version of Narasimha). This statue has been damaged seriously during the invasion that ultimately led to the fall of the Vijaynagara Kingdom.
The last leg of this Hampi circuit were three most amazing monuments – the Lotus Temple, Elephant’s Stable and the Hazara Rama Temple.
The Hazarama Temple apparently had been functioning as a private temple for the king and members of the royal family. The temple gets its name Hazara Rama (a thousand Rama’s) because of the multitude of panels depicting the Ramayana on its walls. This temple is locally popular for these comic strips of Ramayana carved in long arrays onto the walls. A lot of the structures in the temple have been destroyed during the invasion.
As I mentioned, this was the longest cycle ride of the trip so far and it was almost 2 PM by the we finished everything. We’d started out at 8 AM after a nice breakfast but by this time we were starving. The locals and some backpackers had recommended “The Mango Tree” restaurant to us and we’d been lazy about actually tracking it down. We were super content with our in-house restaurant at Shanthi Guest House. But since we were out on this side of the river and absolutely famished, we decided to find that place. And it was so worth it! :) After almost 3 full days in Hampi, Karnataka, I tasted actually kannada banana leaf food. Mango Tree is one of those must-visit places in Hampi. It’s built like a small convex amphitheater facing the river, so the view as you eat is just so soothing.
And so our four-day trip to Hampi came to an end. We waited near the river banks for our trusted auto driver friend to come pick us and drop us to Hospet.
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
For me one of the highlights of this trip was the time we chose to visit Hampi (not that we had a choice really :)). But this time of the year is really hot and the weather is just not suited for getting around. Because of this reason precisely, it was completely devoid of the usual crowd of tourists. All temples and the surrounding ruins were mostly deserted and it was really amazing being in these old structures sitting around thinking, talking and having real conversations – all things that usually get lost in the everyday buzz.