As it happens with me every time, plans changed paving way to exciting surprises. I decided to start the day with sunrise instead of temple visit. Woke up at 4.30 am, I quickly got ready for the hike. Mathanga hill was the new destination in mind while stepping out of the guest house. Walking ahead a little, I realized it was too early for the sunrise. In absolute darkness with no human beings around, I took the slowest pace possible. Suddenly an auto rickshaw came. The driver slowed down and asked me where I was going. He told me that he has seen another woman traveler near the bazaar area going to see the sunrise. I was very glad to know that there was at least one more human being interested to witness the cracking of dawn. I met her at the bazaar area and we waited for few minutes to join with a couple of other people who had the same destination.
We hurried to the foothills and started climbing. By 6.15 am we reached on top of Mathanga hills, it was all set to see the sun up. The crest of the hill welcomed me with the bird’s eye view of Vijayanagara Empire. I spend few minutes sitting on a rock just breathing in the freshness. Finally, the sun surfaced out of the veils. Over the green patches and brown boulders, the tangerine sky with a bright little spot looked like a painting to me.
I talked with a couple of other travelers there and suddenly two kids captured my attention. One was about 12 and other about 10 years old; they were selling tea to the people around. Ordering a cup of tea for myself, I asked them where they stay. Their house is in the foothills and they climb the hill every morning to sell tea. Then they go to school and come again in the evening during sunset. Quite impressed by the way they were, I spent few more minutes talking to them and then rushed down to my guesthouse.
After a quick shower, I reached the Virupaksha temple by 8.30 am. The Virupaksha temple is the oldest temple in Hampi believed to be built in 7th century. At the gate, I met a person who conducts group cycling trips across the town. He told me that they have the day’s team of foreign tourists ready for the trip and they have vacancy for one more person, I can join if interested. I was glad to join them. He asked me to meet at the same place after the temple visit.
Taking a round in the temple I rushed back dreaming of the cycling tour. The person was still there, but he informed me that it will take minimum an hour more for the team to start the trip as some of the people confirmed the trip backed out and he need to find more individuals to replace them. Having just a day in hand, I didn’t find it agreeable to waste time waiting for people who are unsure of joining and by when. I badly wanted to see the maximum places possible and decided to cover the places by foot only.
I walked towards the Hemakuta hill, which was close by. The hilltop provides a splendid overall view of the Virupaksha temple, is home to a lot of Jain as well as Hindu temples. Roamed around visiting all of them, I descended towards the other side of the hill. Krishna bazaar was where I wanted to go.
Pushkarani, the pond inside Krishna bazaar was dried up contrary to my expectation. The place was deserted, literally no human souls around. Sitting on the steps, I imagined myself to be the princess from the 15th century 😉 Spending some time there, I decided to visit the Badavilinga and Lakshmi Narasimha, two marvellously carved monolithic structures. The sanctum with Badavilinga is always filled with water, which depicts the holy river Ganges always being present at the base of the Sivalinga. Lakshmi Narasimha, as the name says, has the face of a fierce lion and the body of a human being. I was very hungry in a while and walked back to room to fill my stomach.
Post lunch plan was to head towards the Zenana enclosure. It was the other side of the city and my ‘To do’ list was quite long. Being unsure of whether I will get time to come back again, I decided to carry my backpack. As the distance was more than 3 kilometers, the bus from the Hampi bazaar to Zenana enclosure seemed a better option. On the way, the underground Siva temple compound was spotted and I dropped down there.
The next three and half hours were amazing. Walking ahead visiting each site provided a visual extravaganza of culture and architecture. The walls of the Hazara Rama temple portrayed multitude of scenes from the epic Ramayana. Mahanavami Dibba was so striking that it actually triggered the dancer in me. From top of the Mahanavami Dibba, the area looked like the one I have seen in the pictures of Harappan sites.
There was a perfect blend of Islamic style in many of the monuments. The elephant stable is one of the finest examples of Indo Islamic style.
By 5.30 pm, I covered all those places I wanted to go. I took the bus to railway station hoping to catch some train to Bangalore. It was a long walk, arduous and exhausting. But the place and the experiences were exceptional and really worth taking such effort. This time, I didn’t bid adieu to the place, as I could feel my heart still wandering somewhere in the ruins..