Kishkindha - Vijayanagara - Hampi



The mention of Hampi is enough to evoke many images at once. Students of history would recall the great Vijayanagara empire, the illustrious King Krishnadevraya and South India’s answer to Birbal - the wise Tenali Rama. Fans and believers of the great Indian epic Ramayana will recount the Vanara Kingdom of Kishkindha where, Hanuman met Lord Rama and Lakshmana for the first time, where the great battle between the two Vanara kings Sugreeva and Bali was fought and several such stories that abound in this region. Hampi for me was a combination of the two versions. Having grown up on a healthy dose of Amar Chitra Katha, stories from the Ramayana continue to fascinate me even though I might not be a staunch believer. The medieval period in the history of India holds mixed emotions for me. The continuous invasions, the Hindu-Muslim rivalry and the bloody wars fought between several local and foreign rulers and the eventual end of this period with the discovery of the new trade route between Europe and India. This period also signifies the extent of wealth in the country, which attracted several invaders to plunder her riches.

One such centre of that speaks greatly of her glorious past is the kingdom of Vijayanagara. Hampi or Vijayanagara was it’s capital and was a famous trade centre with sprawling bazaars. Inscriptions and sculptures speak of the time when horse traders from Mongolia and China would visit and trade horses in exchange of jewels. The state budget was divided between maintaining the army and developmental work of the villages. The Kings were known to be kind and just to their subjects. The army was formidable and several conquests including one to Orissa were successful. This prosperous city lying on the banks of Tungabhadra witnessed major destruction after it’s last strong ruler Rama Raya was captured by the Sultan of Ahmednagar. Inevitable doom followed and the city was reduced to ashes. Buried and forgotten, it was only in 1984 when the ASI started excavating did they rediscover this magnificent city. With over 500 monuments and counting, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most beautiful ruins I have visited in a long time.

It was a chilly evening when I boarded the second last bus out of Gokarna to Ankola. The travel agent had told me that the bus to Hampi leaves from Goa (Paulo Travels, 600, non ac-semi sleeper, 8 hours) and would pick us up from Hotel Vardaraj, 4km away from Ankola Bus stand. Typically, any bus plying to Karwar or Hubli should stop there but due to a lack of an ‘official’ stop, most bus conductor will tell you that it doesn’t fall on the route. However, after convincing one Hubli bound bus to stop on its way, I was dropped off at Hotel Vardaraj. The bus is usually an hour late and arrives only at 2345. A non-AC semi sleeper worked well for me because it was cheap and the cold weather more than made up for the lack of air conditioning. The journey was uneventful but a few tourists from Belarus reeking of Old Monk kept us entertained for a bit. When I woke up, the bus had stopped at Hospet for a chai-coffee-toilet break. Hampi wasn’t too far now, just about 12 km away. And soon enough, slopes dotted with boulders started rolling in and the ruins appeared in sight. I had arrived in Kishkindha.


Anonymous said…
Kishkinda & Vijayanagar from the myths & stories...another place added to my to-do list :) thanks for sharing your experience in such wonderful words.

We grew up listening to Tenali Raman stories.

b/w the pic of the rickshaw is awesome.
Hey DJ, sorry for the late reply. Thanks for dropping by man. Hope you visit this beautiful town very soon!

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