Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hyderabad to HAMPI vacation [Car Drive]

Our ride at the stone bridge in Anegundi
Date: 16-19 Sept, 2011
Route: Hyderabad-> Hampi-> Hyderabad
Total Distance Covered: 945 Kms
Time for a Hyd-Hampi or Hampi-Hyd trip of 400 Kms including a break: 7 Hours
Vehicle: Ford Figo TDCi (Diesel)
Fuel Economy: 16.6 Kmpl with 100% AC on

Route Map via Raichur-Koppal Road

{Click on photos to view full size.}

Trip Background
Monolithic statue of Laxmi Narasimha at Hampi

This is my first travelogue. I currently live in Hyderabad with my better half. We wanted to take a break from work and also take a vacation on my birthday to some place in South India. We took 2 days off from work and got a total of 4 days including the weekend to plan a road trip. We kept aside 2 days for exploring and 2 days for driving to and fro to our destination. 

We thought of Goa or Gokarna but these places are a good 14 hours drive from Hyderabad and we didn't want to be fatigued after the vacation. The obvious choice was Hampi. 

About Hampi

Hampi is a small village in Karnataka, India. It is a place of historical and religious importance and has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hampi was the capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar (City of Victory) which ruled over entire South India and Orissa state. Hampi was as vast as the Roman empire and had a population of half a million. Hampi was one of the most admired kingdoms of the medieval times. It had a flourishing trade with Portugal, China, Persia. In its time, diamonds were sold on the streets in many of its bazaars outside the temples.

But Hampi fell to the Deccan Sultanates at the battle of Talikota in 1565. The sultans who were Vijayanagar's arch enemies razed the city to the ground and looted it for 6 months before abandoning it. Hampi was also ruined by nature over time and treasure hunters in the recent past. Present day Hampi is mostly in ruins.

Magical landscape. A view from Anjanadri Hill

The peculiar landscape adds to the magic of Hampi. The Tungabhadra river flows between Hampi and Anegundi (mythological kingdom of Kishkinda and 1st capital of Vijayanagar). The land is strewn with granite boulders acting as a natural fortress. There are numerous monuments like temples, palaces, bazaars and quarters in an area of 25 sq. kilometers. 

Noblemen Quarter ruins

Exquisite carvings in Haza Rachandra Temple

Hampi ruins take you to back to the medieval ages. One feels to be a part of King Krishnadevaraya's kingdom. The boulder laden landscape gives a feel of the prehistoric age. The blend of both is magical.

The craftsmanship seen on the temple walls is mind boggling. The technique to cut boulders is superb. As you explore more you realise that the Vijayanagara people carved a paradise out of stone.   


A perfectly sliced boulder!

 A pathway found under farmland in a Bazaar
The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) wants to relocate the locals from Hampi to protect the site. They have unearthed many basements/pathways under farmland.

The Trip

Day 1 16th Sept. 2011

We left home at 7:30AM. I had gathered data for the route using Google maps and internet forums. The route we took was:



Ganagitti Jain Temple
As we inched closer to Hampi the crazy rock formations and some old structures began to show up. We were very excited to see them. A kilometer before Kamalapur, we saw the first monument, The Ganagitti Jain Temple. This temple was commissioned by Irugua, the commander in chief of emperor Harihara II in AD 1386. The deity was Kunthunathji the 17th Jain Tirthankara. The garden outside the temple complex is beautifully maintained. We took off our shoes and went inside to see that the temple is abandoned. There is no idol inside and it was pitch dark. We said to ourselves, "Welcome to Hampi!" A stone inscription is present inside the temple stating who built the temple and when. There is a tall pillar (stambha) outside the temple complex. The idols on the facade have their heads destroyed by the invaders.

We reached Hospet at 2:30PM. I had made a booking at Hotel Malligi in Hospet. Hampi is 12 kms away from the hotel. A standard AC double room costs Rs.1500 + taxes with 24Hrs checkout and complimentary buffet breakfast. The services at the Hotel are good and the rooms are comfortable. The restaurant serves delicious food. Advance booking is recommended during peak season.

The weather in mid-September is pleasant. The temperature is 22-25 degrees Celsius but humidity is high. Also the cloudy weather blocks sunset/sunrise views. Winters and summers are very hot in daytime at 40-45 degrees Celsius but one can view the sunsets.
Tungabhadra Dam Reservoir

I had driven 400Kms without any break so we headed to the Waves restaurant at Hotel Malligi for lunch. We later took a nap and felt energised. We had to catch the sunset so drove up to the Tungabhadra Dam. The rain water swelled the reservoir and we saw waves splashing on the walls of the dam due to wind. This water body is huge! The downside was the clouds which blocked the sunset. The weather was very pleasant. We later saw the beautiful gardens at TB Dam. There are fountains with lights, a deer park and an aquarium. We spent an hour and a half at TB Dam and headed back to the hotel. We had dinner at the hotel's Temptations restaurant and called it a day.

Day 2 17th Sept. 2011

Virupaksha Temple Eastern Tower

This was the day to explore the Hampi ruins! The day before we had booked a guide for a full day at the hotel's travel desk. We were charged Rs.900 and believe me it is worth it. Without the guide we would have seen just rocks and ruins in Hampi. With a guide, we came to know about the history of Hampi and it's monuments. The icing on the cake was all the photos the guide clicked for us His name was Hussain. We left the hotel at 9:15AM with Hussain. We drove to Hampi Bazaar. The local bazaar has been dismantled by the authorities to reconstruct the original Hampi bazaar. All the famous eating joints are now gone. We walked down to the Virupaksha Temple. Entry fee is Rs.2 (for Indian nationals) and camera fee is Rs.50. It is the oldest temple in Hampi and is fully intact. The presiding deity here is Virupaksheshwara (Lord Shiva with the third oblique eye). This temple has an imposing 160 feet tower which is nine tiered. There is a temple elephant who blesses you with her trunk if you give her a coin. She is considered as the goddess Laxmi. Hussain explained the purpose of various structures built inside the temple compound. He showed us a map of Hampi painted on a wall and gave us the itinerary for the day. Hussain kept all the major sites in Hampi for the day's itinerary. 

 A couple of days in Hampi is not enough and a week or more would be good to see all the major monuments at a leisurely pace. Hampi can be divided in two sections, The Sacred Centre and The Royal Centre. Hampi comprises of 7 hills.The recommended mode of transport in Hampi is walking and a bicycle. The reason is that some sites are only accessible by trekking and a bicycle can be carried along the trekking paths. Also two wheelers can be rented to cover the places quickly and make the slightly hilly ride easier. All the major sites are accessible by car and one can hire a Taxi and the driver can be the guide. 

Inverted Image of Temple Tower
The darshan was good. Hussain showed us the inverted shadow of the main tower cast on the back of the temple wall through a pinhole opening in a wall. This effect happened by chance and was not engineered by the builders. Hussain was honest to tell us facts from tales. 

Kadlekalu Ganesha on Hemakunta hill

Our next stop was the Hemakunta Hill. One can see the 7 hills comprising Hampi from here. The panoramic view of Virupraksha Temple is nice. There is a temple built at the base of this hill with a massive 5m statue of Ganesha called the Kadlekalu Ganesha. Kadlekalu translates to gram seed. The Ganesha's belly looks like a gram seed so the locals named the idol Kadle Kalu Ganesha. The fact is that this idol was destroyed and is no longer worshiped. There is another Ganesha idol on this hill called Sasive kalu Ganesha (Sesame seed Ganesha)! 

Krishna Temple
Tale behind the Lunar Eclipse
Krishna Temple was the next stop. This temple was built by King Krishnadevaraya in AD 1513 to celebrate his conquest of Udyagiri in Orrisa. He brought back a Balakrishana idol from Orissa and placed it in this temple. Now this idol is kept in the Chennai museum. The temple was built in pure Dravidian style and has sculptures of war scenes on its walls. There is an image of the tale behind the lunar eclipse at the entrance roof. It translates to two big serpents gobbling up the rabbit (moon). The weather was hot and humid with a gentle breeze. Hussain kept up the good work of clicking our photos.

Laxmi Narsimha
Badava Linga
Next we saw the iconic statue of Laxmi Narsimha. The statue is monolithic and the largest statue in Hampi. Its is intimidating if you think of the legend. Parts of the statue have been restored by ASI. The original statue had Laxmi sitting in Narsimha's lap which was destroyed by the invaders. Next to this statue is a small temple with a massive monolithic Shiva linga called Badava Linga. Local legend has it that this temple was commissioned by a peasant woman so the name Badava Linga. A water channel flows through the temple so water is always present inside the temple. The depth is shallow and the priest steps in the water to perform puja and place flowers.

This finished our tour of The Sacred Centre but we could not cover some important sites like Achyuta Rayas Temple which is a few kilometers trek from the Hampi Bazaar. We also missed the Hemakunta group of Jain temples and the sunset from top of Hemakunta hill.

We drove down to the Royal Centre 3 Kms away. This site has the palaces and residential complexes. We first stopped at the underground Shiva temple. The garden is nicely maintained outside the temple complex. The sancto santorum is full of tiny bats and water.

Panoramic view of ruins from observation point
Bats living in the Ungerground Shiva Temple
Next we climbed the steps made on a huge boulder which was an observation point. We could view the main palace ruins and the noblemen quarters from here. The 360 degree panoramic views were amazing. You can access this point by going 200m further up from the underground Shiva temple and taking a left turn.

The Lotus Mahal
The Elephant Stables
Our next stop was the Zenana enclosure or the Lady's enclosure. This houses the Lotus Mahal (made of bricks and lime stone), The Queen's Palace (only the stone basement survived), the elephant stables (11 domes), three watchtowers made in different shapes and all these are enclosed in stone walls. You have to buy an entrance ticket (Rs. 10 for Indian nationals). The same ticket can be used to visit the Vittala temple on the same day, so preserve the ticket. There are beautiful lawns inside this enclosure. A lot of photography can be done here. The place was said to be guarded by eunuchs.

Temple Ruins behind the Elephant Stables
There are some temples located behind the elephant stables which are are being restored by the ASI. One of them is the Parashwanatha Jain Temple.

There is an ASI museum just opposite to the Zenana enclosure parking lot. It has an open display of statues recovered from various sites in Hampi. Not to miss the photography museum which has photos of all major monuments of Hampi taken over the years in 1856, 1983 and 2008. These photos are very important and give a comparison of the state of monuments over a century. It is a small room and hardly takes 15-20 minutes to visit.

Ramayana depicted on Temple walls
The next stop was the Hazara Ramachandra temple. This temple has the entire Ramanaya depicted on its walls. The outer walls are filled with carvings of Dussera scenes. A very beautiful temple built only for the king's use.

It was time for a lunch break. We drove down to the Mango Tree restaurant. It is situated in a banana plantation on the banks of Tungabhadra river. The place serves good food and is a place for tourists to socialise. You can sit on the mats on the floor and eat your grub. They serve local food and continental food. The ambiance is very relaxing and peaceful. We sat under the big mango tree and ordered fresh lime soda and grub. We spent some time relaxing there. We saw a lot of cats and dogs in the restaurant compound. The Mango Tree restaurant lives up to the hype.

Mahanavami Dibba in the background
Stepped Tank with Aquaducts
Next stop was the Royal Enclosures. This houses the palace of the Vijayanagar King (basements survive),  the administrative block, Mahanavami Dibba, aquaducts, The Stepped Tank, King’s Audience Hall and relics of other buildings. The water and sewage system in Hampi was very good. A striking water reservoir called the Stepped Tank was unearthed in 1980 which looks like an inverted pyramid. Each step is marked with some symbol or name. The architecture is truly amazing. The largest standing structure is this area is Mahanavami Dibba or the ‘House of Victory’. It was used as a platform by the royalty to watch the Dussera processions and parades. One look at the structure may give a feel of being in Machu Picchu. There are intricate carvings of Dussera processions, hunting and war scenes on the steps.Next we went to the Queen's Bath. It is a plain looking structure from the outside but has beautiful interiors. It was probably used by the royalty for recreation in perfumed water. 

Musical pillars

Traders from China, Persia and Portugal shown on temple wall

Yali - Hindu mythical creature
We drove 6.5 Kms to the last place for the day, The Vittala (Lord Krishna) Temple. It is the masterpiece of Vijayanagar architecture. It is a big compound with many structures. The famous Stone
Chariot and the Musical Pillars are present here. The market outside the temple was nearly 1 kilometer long where gems, diamonds, rubies, pearls were traded. Traders came from Persia, China and Portugal. Horses were also sold in this market. The temple has carvings showing foreign trade. Even pagoda like structures can be seen in some temples inside the complex. This shows how cosmopolitan the Vijayanagar kingdom was. The musical pillars are another masterpiece. These are monolithic pillars with smaller pillars which sound of musical instruments like damru, mridangam etc. There are monolithic pillars with eight smaller pillars which sound the musical notes Sa-Re-Ga-Ma-Pa-Da-Ni-Sa. Truly amazing temple this is. The carvings are awesome. The mythical creature Yali can be seen outside temples and is considered as the protector of the temples. Yali is more powerful than a lion or an elephant. We saw the Anjanadri Hill in the distance from the temple.

We called it a day at 6PM. We thanked Hussain for his guide services and the photos and dropped him off at Hemakunta Hill. On our way back from to the hotel, we went to the Kamalapur lake for a few moments. The view is good from the lake. In all it was an awesome day discovering the Vijayanagar empire. We had dinner at the hotel and took rest for Anegundi the next day.

Day 3 18th Sept. 2011  

Hospet to Anegundi Road Map
Today was my birthday and I got Mom's and Dad's blessings at midnight. We left The hotel at 10AM without the guide. This was going to be an unusual birthday as we were going to explore Anegundi. This place is said to be the mythological monkey kingdom of Kishkinda in the Ramanaya. Anegundi was the first capital of Vijayanagar empire before the capital was moved to Hampi. At the present day, this place is a small and sleepy village with farming as the chief occupation. One can see green-lands of paddy fields with hills full of rocks in the background. This is the ideal place for those who enjoy the village life and want to spend time with nature. The easiest way to reach Anegundi from Hampi is to take the coracles from the river bank behind the Virupraksha Temple. You will be dropped off on Virapura Gadde Island. This island is the hot-spot for Hippies as law and order is non-existent here. One can trek to Anegundi from here. The authorities are planning to remove all the guesthouses and shops from this island. Coracles are not the safest way to cross the river as river water increases whenever TB Dam gates are open. This method of transport is not advisable during monsoons when the river is overflowing. There was a bridge between Hampi and Anegundi which broke. The construction of the bridge is on hold to protect Hampi. There is a motor-able route of 30Kms to Anegundi from Hospet (See the Map). The drive is scenic and the main attractions en-route are the Anjanadri Hill, The Durga Temple/Bali Cave and Anegundi village. There are a few more attractions we could not cover. This is also an alternate route to reach Hospet from Gangawati. Another route is shown from Gangawati to Hospet via Badugumpa X roads. These two routes have better roads as compared to Gangawati->Kampli->Hampi route. 

View from Anjanadri Hill with Hampi across the river
A monkey after my sunglasses and cellphone
We reached the base of Anjanadri Hill at 11:00AM. This place is 2 Kms away from Anegundi village. The Hanumanji and Anjana Mata temple is on top of the hill. This is where Hanumanji was born in a cave according to the Ramayana. One has to climb 575 steps to reach the top. Its good to stock water and puja items at the base. The climb takes about 45 minutes. The panoramic views make the trek worthwhile. There are numerous monkeys living in this hill. After all it is their kingdom! Be cautious of the monkeys and hide all food items and secure your cameras as they might attempt to snatch them away. It is safer to ascend with a group of people. Once you reach the top, you see a small temple where The Ramayana is continuously read in Hindi language. Prasad is offered everyday between 12-2PM. It is a simple and wholesome offering of dal and rice. We had darshan and took prasad. Monkeys are always roaming around the top to get their hands on bananas. My sunglasses and cell-phone could have been stolen by a monkey had I not distracted it quickly with a banana! I had carelessly left them on a window. We met a group kids who clicked our photos and gave us a crash course in Kannada language. The sunset and sunrise views are not to be missed from Anjanadri hill. A German traveler has mentioned in his book that this is the best place in the world to watch the sun go down. Avoid the monsoon months to avoid cloudy skies. We were not so lucky so watch the sunset from either Hampi or TB Dam or Anjanadri Hill. I am so much smitten by the beauty of Hampi that I'm planning my itinerary for the next Hampi trip already.

View from Chitamani Temple Complex
We got down from Anjanadri hill and drove to Anegundi village. One can see the ruins of the fort wall along the road and an entrance gate to the village. As you enter the gate, to your right is the Ranganathaswamy Temple and you can see a map of Angegundi across the road. We drove around the village and got down at Kanakambari Riverside Community Space. It is a good spot for spending time near the Tungabhadra river. We spent a few moments there and met a local who told us about the main sites in Anegundi. He directed us to the Chintamani Temple Complex. These temples are older than Hampi temples and have Shiva idols. This is situated on the banks of the river. The view across the river is good from the temple. We spent half and hour at the temple and on our way out of Anegundi, visited the Ranganathaswamy Temple. It was afternoon so the main temple was closed but the priest came out of his house and opened the temple for darshan when he saw us. The people of Anegundi are simple and helpful. This place is recommended to get away from the din of city life and enjoy the simple living with a good dose of culture and history.

Rajasthani Folk Dance at Heritage Village
Between Anegundi and Anjanadri hill is the Durga Mata temple and Bali Cave. We drove up the hill and parked the car. It is a 10 min trek to the the Durga Temple to another 20 min trek to the cave where the monkey chief Bali was believed to live. I would recommend to wear footwear to trek to the Bali Cave due to thorny bushes. Even though you have to take off the footwear outside the Durga temple, try to carry it along with you for the trek to the Bali Cave. We did darshan after coming down from the Bali cave. This completed our day 3 tour. On our way back to Hospet, we refueled the car and filled air in the tires at a petrol station. We were thinking of getting some dinner at the Mango Tree restaurant in Hampi but came across Vijayshree Heritage Village. It is a Rajasthani themed village. They charge Rs.300 for snacks, dinner and village entertainment like folk music/dance, camel/horse ride and other antics like magic show etc. The food is a spread of Rajasthani food and is good. The place is ok and not a must see. We got back to the hotel and  celebrated my birthday. It was a great day.

Day 4 19th Sept. 2011  

A protected monument en-route Kampli
Mud road before Kampli

The day to leave Hampi was here and we felt that we had just touched the surface. There is so much to see and discover in Hampi that I could spend weeks here. Anyways we had to go so we packed our belongings and checked out of Malligi hotel. We started at 11:20AM and took a few photo breaks en-route Kampli. The views are just spectacular. We did not find a good place to have lunch till Mehbubnagar which is 300 Kms from Hampi! So it's better to arrange for food before leaving Hampi if you like. We reached Hyderabad at 7PM and plugged in the camera to the laptop to see the photos. What a trip it was!

End of Trip!
A big thanks to Google for the navigation

Sunset view from NH7 near Hyderabad


  1. Amazing. Truly breathtaking pics. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks Anonymous :-)
    I'm glad you liked the pictures.

  3. Nice review...Nice Pictures...Thanks for sharing..

  4. Thanks Anonymous :-)
    I'm glad you liked the travelogue.

  5. Wonderful write up and awesome pictures.


  6. Thanks Ramesh for liking it. :-)

  7. wow kage bro that was awesome ,btw this is jaigreat frm dd

  8. Thanks Jaigreat bro. :-) I'm glad you liked it.

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