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Elephants, yoga and smiles of Hampi

Elephants, yoga and smiles of Hampi

India, Karnataka, South

Hampi is a surreal mix of nature’s jaw dropping beauty and magnificent architectural ruins. It is impossible to separate the 2 and I had often wondered how Hampi must have looked before the Vijaynagar kings had scattered the region with their wealth. Their relics are found all over the place and over the years, they have seamlessly and integrally woven into the area’s natural tapestry. After my initial 3 days of bouldering, floating down Tungabhadra on coracle boats and laughing over funniest “Danger” signs, I had finally started exploring Hampi’s ruins.

Site of the glorious Vijaynagar city, Hampi’s beautiful ruins which spread over 26 kilometers, can be divided into various categories. The old capital had been surrounded by several lines of fortifications, whose existence can still be seen today and apart from civil, religious and military monuments, the city had beautiful palaces and tanks. While most of Hampi’s ruins belong to the Vijaynagar period, a handful of them date back to earlier dynasties. Vijaynagar ruins had specialized in exquisite carvings and rock faces containing sensual motifs, floral wreaths, deities and symbols had dotted on both sides of the river. My guesthouse had been located right in front of the towering Virupaksha Temple and nearly everyday I had woken up to it’s elephant’s tinkling bells.

Still functioning and fairly large, Virupaksa is considered as one of India’s oldest active temples and is said to predate the Vijaynagar period. Its towering gopuram had been my personal favourite and I had loved watching it get silhouetted against Hampi’s twilight sky. Situated right on the bank of Tungabhadra river, Virupaksha is famous for an ancient temple wall pin hole camera, which projects an upturned silhouette of the main entrance. Erotic carvings weave along its walls and the temple is a beautiful sanctuary of spiritual seekers. The complex includes several shrines, monolithic statues and columned porticoes and pealing bells, chants, dance recitals and lively tourists fill the interiors.

I have spent a few rainy afternoons there, while returning from my morning yoga class and the glimpses of various faces and costumes from various parts of the country had always filled me with joy. The temple in my eyes had been most welcoming, almost like a mother, beautiful, complacent and soothing. Its oily coated smooth interiors had been comfortingly dark and the holy sanctum had given peace to everybody irrespective of region. Many hushed footsteps had softened out the ancient stone walkways and it had not been unusual to see brilliantly decked up Rajasthani ladies in anklets and petticoats, walking in groups behind men sporting rural Maharashtrian signature white caps.

Flower, incense and vermilion sellers had shops inside the temple and pious,peace loving south Indian men had bought flowers for their sedate wive’s braids. The inner sanctum had been a peaceful womb and temple elephant too, albeit for a few pennies, had blessed everybody. He had been another of my Hampi favourites and every dawn I had waited on my terrace every to see him fetch water from Tungabhadra for the residing deity. Tungabhadra river bank had been a cornucopia of colours, goods and smiles and everyday I had spent a substantial amount of time there. Lined with gnarly old trees, stone bathing ghats and colourful vendors, I had loved walking along the Tungabhadra banks.

The temple elephant evidently had loved it too and he had always ambled by past flower, coconut, banana and religious knickknack sellers in a majestic pace. He too, like me, had paused a few times on his route, visibly distracted either by aromatic steaming idlis or omnipresent pesky monkeys. Both had been found abundantly all over Hampi and while the monkeys had been a bit of a bother, the breakfast ready fresh idlis (steamed rice pancakes) had been a foodie’s joy. Coupled with crispy dosas (thin crepes made from lentil paste), creamy coconut chutney and piping hot coffee, Hampi morning meals had been refreshingly light on the pocket.

Lillian had introduced me to yoga at Hampi and while the classes had been held in most peaceful setting, I had not looked forward to them much. Hampi lanes had been lined with souvenir shops, quirky cafes, motorcycle rentals, tour operator’s offices and yoga institutes. Some had advertised ayurvedic massage and spa services, along with beauty works and after a session with a creepy masseuse, we had both given them amiss. The prospect of practicing yoga among the ruins had excited us and we had spent many peaceful (sleepy) starts of our days among broken mirror still stone pools, drooping banyan tangles and ancient rocky edifices. Our Hampi mornings with its early yoga starts had called for siestas and after 3 days of the routine, we had made up our minds to explore old Vijaynagar capital too. So thus had began our Vijaynagar exploration of an ancient city, so magnificent, that till today its glory overrides the presence of modern Hampi which continues to pale in its shadow.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE

Hampi mornings
Hampi mornings
Are always lovely
Are always lovely
And the Tungabhadra
And the Tungabhadra
River city had been glorious
River city had been glorious
Life had moved there
Life had moved there
At a relaxed pace
At a relaxed pace
With religion
With religion
Flowers
Flowers
Smiles
Smiles
Little joys
Little joys
And friends
And friends
Beautiful Virupaksha
Beautiful Virupaksha
Had been a cultural melting pot
Had been a cultural melting pot
And the peace found there
And the peace found there
Had been priceless
Had been priceless

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Hi! I am Svetlana, a cloud gypsy, a story teller and a Maverickbird. A mother, writer, entrepreneur, traveler, foodie and an animal lover, I am a Super girl from India.

32 Comments

  1. SAN_jeet
    February 7, 2015 at 10:41 am
    Reply

    Series of superb pictures

  2. Shruti gopinath
    February 7, 2015 at 10:41 am
    Reply

    I’m so jealous! 😉

  3. story teller
    February 7, 2015 at 11:19 am
    Reply

    Such rustic beauty! 🙂

    • maverickbird
      February 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      Yes it was beautifully rustic and simple.

  4. jamoroki
    February 7, 2015 at 12:13 pm
    Reply

    Lovely post and great pictures Svetlana. keep well. James

    • maverickbird
      February 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      Thank you very much James.

  5. urarachan
    February 7, 2015 at 1:39 pm
    Reply

    I love your pictures… 🙂

  6. Wendy Kate
    February 7, 2015 at 1:48 pm
    Reply

    What an amazing place! Thanks for sharing your photos. 🙂

    • maverickbird
      February 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you. Glad that you liked them.

  7. Barry E. Warren
    February 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm
    Reply

    Great read , a very interesting place. Nice photo’s too. Seems like a very relaxed place. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • maverickbird
      February 7, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      It’s a very beautiful place Barry and very relaxing too.

  8. Coolpams
    February 7, 2015 at 3:01 pm
    Reply

    Excellent captured…

  9. mumbaiiteanu
    February 10, 2015 at 4:01 pm
    Reply

    Beautiful post and photos.. For a while, I was lost in the lovely pictures of Hampi.
    I love the basket-like boat, only seen in a couple of regional movies.

  10. vishalgrover1
    February 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm
    Reply

    Very nice pictures described beautifully in content above..

  11. kokilagupta
    February 10, 2015 at 5:56 pm
    Reply

    I hope you know that your blog is a mini ‘Discovery of India’ in content, infotainment and …… what to say about the Marvellous PICS … (and I am really at loss while commenting as it seems pathetic to repeat praise after praise continuously !)
    How you click these ?

    • maverickbird
      February 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Kokila. Thank you for your kind words. I am touched by your encouragement. Hope you enjoy the upcoming maverickbird’s posts too.

  12. Vibhuti Bhandarkar
    February 10, 2015 at 11:17 pm
    Reply

    Hii Svetlana,
    I think Ive hopped over to your blog after ages. And I must say, its been a visual treat as before.
    Thankyou for promoting my post.
    Cheers

    • maverickbird
      February 10, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      Thank you and welcome back to maverickbird. I loved your post.

  13. yogi saraswat
    February 11, 2015 at 10:18 am
    Reply

    Very nice pictures described beautifully in content above.admirable work

  14. Team G Square
    February 11, 2015 at 10:16 pm
    Reply

    Every time I read a post about Hampi I always get to learn something new and beautiful about this place. Lovely pictures.

  15. hackernewbie
    February 13, 2015 at 12:16 am
    Reply

    Wonderful pictures !

  16. etdl2015
    November 27, 2015 at 6:27 pm
    Reply

    Really helpful post. Also got me excited for hampi (en route now). Who did you do yoga with please? Thanks d

    • maverickbird
      November 27, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      Thank you very much. I don’t remember the name of the yoga instructor, but we had hired his services from the massage shop in the village.

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