Visiting ruins of an old empire

On Wed Nov 8 (before we knew anything about US election results) we left Bangalore by car to Hampi, a place hosting the ruins of an empire that collapsed 500 years ago.  This place is about 260 miles from here.

Hiring a car and a driver is a common practice particularly when visitng from abroad.  because it can fit our schedule and is relativel cheap.  It cost us $ 35.00 per day for driver, car and gas.

We took off at 8 am and traveled on India’s national highway 4.  It is a nice 4 lane toll road.  The toll was Rs. 21 ($0.50).

Just like you find on US highways whenever there is construction going on, no workers are found.  They must all be hiding somewhere or are out to lunch.  That practice has migrated here as well.

Once we left the national highway, sections of the road were quite bad.  Whatever we ate would be thoroughly agitated the food in our stomachs.

As we were driving, we passed through a town where I was born.  I did not have any knowledge of how to find that house owned by my mother’s parents.  So we skipped that adventure and continued.

We arrived at our destination, a very dusty town called Hospet that was established over 500 years ago by a king of the empire I will describe later to enable commerce for the citizens while his palace focused on commerce for the wealthy.

My sister, bless her heart, anticipated that getting breakfast on the road would be difficult and she she packed some food for us.  (This was the practice wen I was growing up because there were very few tourist facilities. 

We took a brief peak at our destination, and called it a day.  That is when I logged onto the internet and heard about the US elections.  It received some coverage on the TV news stations something like the Indian version of CNN.  There is no Fox news here.

We hired a private guide for the day and started out the next morning at 9:30 am. 

From about 10th to 16th century this area was ruled by Hindu kings except for a brief period when muslims ruled here.  The place of our visit is a designated as a World heritage site by the UN.  It covers an area of 25 sq.kms (about 10 sq. miles).  The area is at the southern bank  of a river called Tungabhadra.  A dam was constructed in the area 60 years ago, and the agriculture is very lush (sugar cane, peanuts, rice, millet).  The area has huge boulders some of them 20-40 meteres in diameter.  The rocks come in all shapes and it is a spectacular site to behold.

We entered a valley that gave us a first glance of what we were about to behold.  What a site indeed.  The area was named Vijayanagar (Victory town) in 1500’s by a dynasty that made this area the capital.  A key emperor in 1510-30, was a patron of the arts, and also a warrior.  many of the temples built here were done during this period.  This was a major hindu stronghold while the northern part of India was under muslim rule.  In the last decades of the 16th century, the muslims defeated the empire and destroyed most of the idols in the hindu temples.

 The key emperor I mention here also welcomed other faiths – muslims, christians, buddhists, jains had their impact here as well.  They were all in the royal court.

Except for one temple that is active today, all other temples here are hindu gods that were damaged and thus no worship takes place here.  They are all accessible.  They are still digging more stuff in the area.

There are many things I can tell you about these ruins.  A spectacular part of it is an ancient temple that has in front of it a chariott carved in stone.  It is a classic sight.  The chariott was a show piece and was never used.  Another facinating part of this temple was “singing columns”.  You would not believe it unless you saw it and even then it is very difficult to believe.  These columns are roughly 2′ high, 4-5 inches in diameter nesting in another column.  They said this all one piece of rock.  Our guid tapped gently on the column and you could hear musical note “do re me ..” in one set of columns, one column had the sound of a drum, a metal noise.  we heard it all.  We were told that in the days of the golden age of the empire, the sound could be heard in the court yard as the emperor held his audience called durbar.

The archeology department is trying to fix some problems.  They have not figured out how to raise some very heavy stones to the roof.  Makes you wonder how it was done before.

We saw a Lotus palace for the queens of the day to relax, a Queen’s bath with a massage area, an elephant stable, a large staue of the elephant God (7 meters high), and a smaller version of the same.  Everywhere we went we saw a shopping row for the royalty and their guests of jewlery, animals etc.

We ended up an exhausting day.  I will post the pictures after I have labelled them all possibly tomorrow.

We will try to go to the birthday of Baha’u’llah today.

That was our adevnture to Hampi.

Megha 

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