Ironic that my first ever contribution to a blog begins with a story of so many more firsts. They say, 'There's always a first time’ and I'm so glad I've had so many of them.
In totally random order... this was indeed...
The first planned vacation with my family after marriage!
The first time I drove miles to a temple and didn't step in!
The first time it hit me how my only little brother was not little anymore!
My first memorable brush with my roots, where we really come from!
The first vacation without hubby dear after marriage!
My first road trip ever!
I could go on. At the risk of contradicting myself, besides all these firsts, it still seemed just like before - The four of us, Mom, Dad, Brother & me on a holiday during the summer vacations. Without getting into more details, the point is we discovered different aspects of a place deeply etched into the history of India. The richest Indian Empire - Vijaynagar Kingdom. Just for you to map this one right, Goa was a part of this Empire, more than 400 years ago. It is a part of the Incredible India campaign, a world heritage site, more popularly known as Hampi! I'm not going to touch upon the history or the famous stories related to the place. Wikipedia & Google will keep you reading about those for days! Yes this was the richest empire India ever saw aptly called The Golden Age. The bazaars sold rubies & diamonds in kilos and similar measures all in the open. What we see today, Hampi, is just the remnants, the mere foundation of what was buried for ever centuries. In the early 1980’s, the Karnataka Government took the initiative & as a result of excavations over the years, these huge stone structures rose up giving India & the world a Heritage site – Hampi.
To put it very simply, all there is to see here is the ruins of temples and palaces. All these looted & sadly destroyed within a mere 6 months of the Mughal invasion. What hit me and for a very personal reason was, how they had stolen or shattered the idols in all the temples. I am not a person who religiously visits temples but I share a strong spiritual connect with Lord Ganesh! It hurt me to see how all the trunks were missing almost everywhere. We know the Mughals did not believe in idol worship. But here you can see how much they might have detested it. A broken or cracked idol is not worshipped by Hindus and hence all these temples lie deserted today. Only four walls, devastated idols, in most places, no idols and merely stone over stone is what remains. To me, the very reason they are all so clean and well maintained and more so a big attraction to the foreigners is the fact that they are not worshipped anymore.
The more obvious reason for attacking and rampaging the temples was the wealth it housed. Most of the kingdom’s treasures were stored in temples those days. Besides the idols were made of rich sandalwood, gold and adorned with all precious stones and jewellery.
Without being biased, just with an intention to share what I took back from this was another shocking fact. All the structures which were built in the Islamic style still remain beautiful and untouched. They’re only eroded naturally but not destroyed or attacked at all. A perfect example being the Lotus Mahal or Hawa Mahal, a place for the recreation of the Queens.
When you reach Hampi, you can take a guided tour of around 3 hours which we did on Day 1. I’ll leave that for you to discover. A silent wish for anyone who reads this to be able to visit this magical kingdom once in their lifetime! The next day we took all the routes opposite the guided ones. Quoting my little brother, ‘Sometimes you get the best things when you take the wrong path.’ Make what you have to of this, but we all agreed in this case. All we found was rocks, boulders, quarries, lush greens... pure, untouched art of some Supreme Force that exists, somewhere, everywhere you go! To me it felt like I was looking at His ‘Lagori’ (a local game played by arranging a tower of seven stones and aiming to knock them all off with one stone’s throw).
These stones have been arranged like they would rumble and tumble down any moment but that’s exactly what they don’t do. Man has slit them apart and used them for several purposes. That’s what I took home from the wrong path – ‘The power of the Supreme Force & the power of Man... how we co-exist peacefully in nature. Every second that we experience this is a miracle indeed!’
Where? How to get there? What’s the best time? What are the places to see? Find all answers at www.hampi.in