The City of Victory or Vijayanagar as it is locally called lies in ruins today. Its days of glory are long gone when it stood proud as the centre of prosperity, when its famous bazaars overflowed with merchants selling gold rubies and diamonds, of the time when it controlled all the trade in Southern India. Yes, those were the days - two centuries of prosperity that spawned the magnificent architecture, the ruins of which stand silent today. If only they could talk, what a story they would unfold. They would tell of the wealthy king who weighed himself against gold to be distributed amongst the poor, the story about the queen who would only bathe in a pool full of scented oils and finally they would tell about the devastation brought about by the invading Muslim armies that caused the empire’s decline. Spread across a 29 sq km area along the southern bank of the Tungabadhra river, the ancient city of Hampi is a passage into time. You can easily lose yourself in the ruins and sit entranced for hours basking in the aura of serenity they afford. Badami, a three-hour drive from Hampi, has ancient Buddhist and Jain cave architecture to mesmerise the visitor. Albeit not so popular with tourists, the caves and ancient temples here can be explored at leisure. Twenty kilometres away lies the stupendous architectural marvel of the Pattadakal temples. Buckle up and drive back into history.
Planning for Hampi and Badami
The ideal time to visit the towns of Hampi and Badami is between November and March. The climate is pleasant and humidity low. The summer months see the mercury rise to 45 degrees and even the locals stay indoors from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. The monsoon brings in swarms of mosquitoes which even in winter months are quite a harassment, so do not forget to pack your mosquito repellent cream.
It’s possible to see all the sights in Hampi and Badami in a day each. But the ideal way to spend two days here is to take a guided tour on the first day and just roam the ruins on the second. Let them get into your system so that you can close your eyes and feel them come alive. The same goes for Badami.
The drive from Bangalore to Hampi
The drive from Bangalore to Hampi is a pleasant one. You start off on NH 4 and continue driving on it till Chitradurga. A right turn just after Chitradurga gets you onto NH 13 that runs from there to Sholapur. NH 13 is very sparsely populated with an odd truck or tempo, the road surfaces though aren’t as good as NH 4 but are pretty okay. Watch out for farmers spreading their crops across the roads though. From Hospet to Badami the route gets onto state highways after Hungund. Driving on these roads needs caution, as they are very narrow. The road surfaces though are exceptionally good. In Badami the streets are very narrow and a large SUV may have trouble getting through.
Caution - if you’re sightseeing alone
Hampi is known to have seen a few muggings recently. The ruins are very secluded and lonely after sunset and it is not advisable to move around alone, especially with valuables like an expensive camera. Tourists are required to register themselves with the tourism police in main Hampi bazaar but it’s not strictly enforced.
Just keep alert - make a racket at the slightest notice of anything amiss and you’ll be alright.
Across the river lies Hippie Island where there is plenty of budget accommodation available. The place, however, rocks on full moon nights as the westerners have night-long rave parties. So if you are looking for a romantic peaceful time steer clear — at least on full moon nights!
Issue: 165 | May 2013
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