“Travelling – it leaves you speechless and turns into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta (Moroccan Scholar)
Travelling temporarily disconnects us from our normal routine and connects us with different people and different cultures, thus ensures peace of mind and creates memories for lifetime and a tale which has something special to share.
|| Pooja Hazarika (Pai)
The travel bug had been biting us for so many days and finally we (my husband Dinesh and I) got 4 days off our busy schedule at work. It had been many days that we had planned to visit Hampi – a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state of Karnataka.
Beginning of a soulful journey to Hampi :
Dinesh and I always love to go for long drives and most of the times, we prefer to travel by our own car because travelling by car has many advantages :
- We are free to decide when and where to go.
- The travel needs less planning.
- We can spend less money for food (if we carry some)
- We can take much more things with us.
- We can visit more places of interest.
Before coming to Mumbai, we were in Hyderabad. It was a lucid, breezy early morning of 21st January, 2019 that we set off in our little car to explore the beautiful Hampi. Hampi has been described by UNESCO as ‘austere grandiose site’ (severe magnificent site) of more than 1600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu Kingdom in South India. We would have missed a lot had we not paid a visit to this ‘Lost City’ which is 385 kilometers (approx. 8 hours) from The City of Pearls, Hyderabad.
Note: The best time to visit Hampi is from October to February.
On the Go:
We were driving with Google Map as our ongoing guide. Driving for about 1 hour, we suddenly noticed that the grey morning was turning into a bright golden and we enjoyed a soft sunrise on the go.
After rolling into the state of Karnataka, the far away windmills on both sides of the road soothed our eyes. At times, we saw people on sides of the road drying up chillies on the field. Those faces are still alive on my eyes. The people appeared to be simple and contended with a happy-go- lucky attitude. We also crossed many villages on our way, of which mud houses were located in the shadows of big trees. People on the sides of the roads were selling us fresh coconuts and watermelon.
We went far inside the village in the place called Narayanpet to find ourselves in a street which leads to the woods. And before the woods began, the tyres rolled down to the beautiful Leo Wooden Resort on the bank of the Tungabhadra River. A beautiful wooden cottage had been booked from before which has a view to cherish for lifetime. It was really a serene place, very picturesque, far from the humdrum of the society and was ideal to spend some relaxing time.
It was almost evening when we reached the resort, so we thought of taking rest and not going out anywhere, as Dinesh was little tired of driving all the way. The beautiful Tungabhadra was flowing by our cottage and we sat by its side during the sunset hours to enjoy the calm environment in nature’s lap.
Note: Leo Wooden Resort. Address : Narayanpet, Hampi.
Important amenities provided: Free car parking, open-air swimming pool, space to play cricket, badminton etc, restaurant, A.C., bathroom amenities.
Exploring Hampi : Day 1:
The restaurant of Leo Wooden which was built above the river, already soothed my eyes. I was in a hurry to have breakfast in that amazing ambience. We ordered coffee and Omlet. I was carrying Assamese traditional breakfast items and some cookies and fresh fruits as well. After the breakfast, we finally set off to explore Hampi.
Visit the group of Monuments :
The Vijaya Vithala Temple (Temple timing- 8:30 AM to 5
PM on all days) is 29 kms away from the resort which took almost an hour to reach. This partially ruined 15th century’s Temple is considered to be the most famous structure in Hampi. One can walk or hire a rickshaw from the main gate to go to the Temple. Inside the vast area, one can see Pushkarani (the sacred water tank), King’s Balance (an annual rare balance scale), Kuduregombe Mandapa, the big stone chariot and musical pillars of the Temple. Coming out of the Temple, my eyes caught sight of the beautiful shops outside selling local crafts and jewellery. Bought a beautiful anklet and had some slices of freshly cut watermelon to beat the heat of the sun.
From Vijaya Vithala Temple we set off towards the Lotus Mahal (Lotus Mahal timing – 8 AM to 6
PM on all days) which is a 20 minutes drive from there. The Mahal resembles the shape of the lotus and the surrounding area is covered with many shady trees providing a cool ambience to the palace. Lotus Mahal should be a sure set destination in the list while visiting Hampi. The Mahal is surrounded by some other monuments such as The Elephant Stable (domed structure with 11 chambers as houses of the King’s elephants), Queen’s Palace, Queen’s Bath (empty pond with numerous balconies which was once filled with fragrant water) and the Hazara Rama Temple.
By the time we felt that we should have our lunch then. Then we searched for the nice Tree Line
Restaurant which is 1.8 kms from the Lotus Mahal. We had some really delicious and clean food there.
We then started off towards The Shree Krishna Temple (Temple timing : 6 AM to 6PM) which is 6 minutes drive from there. By its side, there is the famous Lakshmi Narasimha Temple (Temple timing : 6 AM to 6 PM) in which the specialty of the sculpture is that it is the largest monolith statue in Hampi. We could see that the most unique feature of the statue is the bulging eyes of Narasimha.
Near the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, there located The Badavi Linga (timing : 5 AM to 9 PM) which is a shrine of Lord Shiva having a height of 3 metres. The Shiva Linga stands intact even today and is a fascinating place to visit. From here, we had a 4 minutes drive to see the ruins of Hampi Bazar (timing : 6 AM to 11 PM) which was once the centre of flourishing trade during Vijayanagara empire. Then we went ahead approximately 600 metres to enjoy the sunset at the sunset point of Hemakuta.
Day 2 was equally fascinating :
Next morning, on waking up, we could witness the beautiful sunrise on the bank of Tungabhadra from our cottage’s balcony and we after having our coffee walked down the river and sat on the stunning huge rocks to enjoy the peaceful majestic morning and had some really good time. There we planned to visit the Virupaksha Temple and then go to Hyatt Place Hampi for lunch. So we set off towards Virupaksha Temple ((Temple timing : 9 AM to 1 PM & 5 PM to 9 PM))a 14th century temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is worshipped even today. The temple has been considered as the most sacred sanctuary over the centuries.
A breezy day it was. We found ourselves meandering through a road which has rock mountains on both of its sides. I felt so pleasant all the way. After driving for about 1 and a half an hour, we reached a beautiful, green township (Vidyanagar Township) inside which we could see the Hyatt Place. We had a glimpse of the calm ambience and of course, enjoyed a delicious lunch.
A rejuvenating stroll in Hippie Island :
On our way back from Hyatt, we planned to go to Hippie Island which is famous for having a chilled out vibe across the Tungabhadra River and is also known for lodges and tourist huts which are offered at quite reasonable prices. This super relaxing retreat has shacks and cafes which serve awesome food. These shacks and cafes are a joint venture by Indians and foreigners. We parked the car aside and walked hand in hand smiling at the happy hippie faces and tasted some German cookies and croissants along with refreshing cups of coffee. Yes, they were delicious!
Things to be kept in mind while visiting Hippie Island :
- One can hire a moped or a bullet to roam about.
- Enough cash has to be carried as credit/debit cards are not accepted at all the places there.
- There are centres for yoga classes.
- Not all the places in Hippie Island have a good mobile network connection.
Straight from the Hippie Island, we drove towards the resort. Leo Wooden has a splendid open-air swimming pool and has enough space to exercise yourself with games and sports. Dinesh played cricket for a little while and then we had some refreshing quite time in the pool until late evening.
Bidding adieu to Hampi :
Now its time to leave! We woke up early, had coffee and drove out of the resort. Didn’t really want to get out of that peace, but life in Hyderabad was waiting. I was telling myself, “I will miss this place, the stunning rocks, the chirping birds, the silent river”.
Driving for about half an hour, Dinesh stopped the car in front of a small local tea stall in the village where we had some fresh & hot Talippattu and Wada (Karnataka’s tasty breakfast options) with some mouth watering chutneys and headed straight towards home.
Hampi left a sweet memory in us. We were returning with tranquil refreshment and retreating back towards the busy life again.