A trip to Hampi was always there on the top of my bucketlist. That’s why, though it was last-minute when I came to know that I have two days off, without thinking twice I booked my tatkal ticket from Bangalore to Hospet. Hospet is the nearest railway station to Hampi. I also tried calling some hotels to book a room but got a ‘no room available’ response. I decided to go ahead with my plan and figure out things after reaching Hospet. On 26th of March 2016, I boarded the Hampi Express from Bangalore Central at 10 pm. The journey took about 10 hours and I reached Hospet by morning 7.40 am. I walked down to the bus stop which is less than a kilometre and within another ten minutes, I was on a bus to Hampi. I sat beside an elderly couple who were in full spirit to explore the place, mainly the temples in and around Hampi. They excitedly explained that they are on a three-day trip and have already booked their place to stay. Talking to them, I didn’t realize time was passing and I reached my destination very soon. Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site was one of the largest cities in the world during its prime. The group of monuments are scattered across an area of more than 25 square kilometres.
The bus stopped at Hampi bazaar, the marketplace quite close to the Virupaksha temple. I stepped out the bazaar and started walking. The town was just waking up, not many people were around. In ten steps, I saw the tower of Virupaksha temple on my left. I decided to explore the temple after a while. Walking ahead, I saw the sign board showing the route to Vittala temple. Being not sure how long I would be in Hampi and knowing that the Stone chariot I always wanted to see is in Vittala temple, I made a choice to walk in that direction. In 200 metres, I could see river Tungabhadra on my left.
The river and the boulders across made a beautiful scenery. I paused for a moment to enjoy the splendid view. Towards the point where Thungabhadra takes a diversion, I saw a couple rowing a coracle. I wished I too had a coracle and could paddle across the river till my hands freeze. Gazed at them for a while, I walked ahead to visit few more temples.
Soon after, I met with two more wanderers. I enquired about the route to the stone chariot, but they too were unaware of how to go there. Talking more, I realized that they also met each other just a few minutes ago. One was from Kerala who came a day earlier, visited these places the previous day and still was not able to recollect the route because he travelled in the government service bus. Other was from UP and had landed in Hampi half an hour back. They told me lets figure out the stone chariot location together and I was more than happy to join them. As we headed, on one side of the road we could see many small stone towers similar to what I have seen in some pictures of Himalayas. I quickly captured one or two pictures and we walked ahead.
After walking for some 15-20 minutes taking snaps and talking to each other, we started seeing the remnants of the Vittala bazaar. The entry ticket cost was Rs.10 and valid for the whole day to visit all major points like Zenana enclosure. With great excitement, we moved inside the Vittala temple complex. The magnificent stone chariot was right there in front of the temple with all its grandeur. A masterpiece in stone, the chariot is one of the finest examples of 15th century Vijayanagara architecture.
The temple and the mandapas in the complex had marvellous carvings on them. We immersed ourselves in enjoying the charm of the place. I had read somewhere that the pillars of Vittala temple emit musical tunes when tapped. But because many curious souls have already tried the same in a reckless way resulting in damaging them, tapping on the pillars is currently banned.
While taking photos of the stone chariot, we saw the Anjaneya temple across the river. We walked ahead, quenched thirst with the freshly made sugarcane juice from a local vendor and relaxed for sometime in the Purandaradasa Mandapa.
From the mandapa, we saw the Anjaneya temple again. My fellow traveller from UP expressed the wish to go there and the other person said he will be leaving Hampi in a while. The room he was staying was luckily a single room and I decided to take that place if it was available.
We headed back to the Virupaksha temple area which was where the guest house also was located. I was excited to know that I would get a chance to explore the place for another day. I happily waved at the kids who were posing for my cam with a greater hope..