Saturday, March 26, 2011

Anegundi Part 1 - Navabrindavanam

Hampi is associated with the rise and fall of the Vijayanagar Empire but the town of Anegundi on the opposite bank of the Tungabhadra has seen not just the rise and fall of dynasties, but even the evolution of mankind! In scientifically documented terms, Anegundi is said to have the oldest plateaus on the planet, estimated to be about 3000 million years old – according to Wikipedia.  In terms of Indian mythology, this is translated to be the home of Bhudevi, the goddess of Earth! Home to our ancestors from the Neolithic Era (Stone Age), Anegundi has their imprints in the form of cave paintings; which lie among the rocks, which mythology tells us were homes of the vanaras – the monkey-men – who aided Lord Rama on his quest for his wife. Anegundi is a blend of history and mythology, making it in some ways even more interesting than Hampi itself!

Our first sight of Anegundi

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mumbadevi Temple

It’s one of the most crowded areas in Mumbai, and even in the afternoon heat, the road is filled with people shopping. The place attracts all – from middle class housewives stocking up on household necessities to shopkeepers buying stuff at wholesale rates. The area between Masjid and Metro cinema is a mass of lanes and by-lanes, with names such as Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar, Zaveri Bazaar and Lohar Chawl. The names themselves seem to take us back in time, and indeed, in some ways, it feels as if time has indeed stopped here. There is no trace here of the huge showrooms which now make up our colossal shopping malls. Instead, there are tiny shops filled with goods bursting from every nook and cranny, articles piled up against every wall.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hampi Part 12 - Assorted memories

There are just too many things to see in Hampi, and a day is too short to take it in. I knew, even when I planned the trip that I would barely skim the surface if I gave it just one full day, but chose to go ahead simply because I wanted Samhith to get an idea about the greatness of our heritage. Besides, roaming around ruins with a frisky and hyperactive seven year old can get rather tiring, especially if he is not interested, and at that point of time, I didn’t know how he would take it. From that point of view, my trip has certainly worked. On the down side, we now have a thirst for more, (and from experience, I know that the thirst will never be appeased). Further exploration will have to wait till he grows older and can understand things in much more depth than he does now. I am happy that I have at least sparked an interest! So, we did miss out on quite a bit… the two Ganeshas, for instance, the riverside path from the Virupaksha temple to the Vitthala temple, which is filled with shrines….. all the hills, and so much more… I am done with writing about the major sites we did see, so I thought of rounding off the series of posts with some memorable experiences during the trip.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hampi Part 11 - Zenana Enclosure and Elephant Stables

I have almost come to the end of my Hampi trip reports. Here are the last two enclosures we visited..

The Zenana Enclosure

The zenana enclosure is a large walled area, thought to be the royal women’s quarters, so named, because it was built in the Indo-Islamic style of architecture.

Hampi Part 10 - The Royal Enclosure

The royal enclosure is the nucleus of Hampi. Spread over an area of 59,000 square metres, it is believed to have once housed over 45 buildings, all used by the royal family.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hampi Part 9 - Hazara Rama Temple

The name ‘Hazara Rama Temple’ makes you wonder – a thousand Ramas? Would there have been a thousand idols of Rama here? Or just a thousand carvings depicting Rama? And why the word ‘Hazara’, which has its origins in Urdu, and not ‘Sahasra’ – which is the Sanskrit equivalent? Or is it simply a corruption of the word? As it turns out, though there are a thousand (or more) depictions of Lord Rama on the walls of this small, but beautiful temple, the name might have something to do more with its location than the Lord it was built for. ‘Hazaramu’ is the Telugu word for audience hall or the entrance hall of a palace, which is where this temple is located. This might have been the private temple of the Vijayanagara kings, which is probably why it is not as huge as the other temples in the city.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hampi Part 8 - Narasimha and Badavalinga

A short walk from the Krishna temple leads us to one of the most impressive figures in all of Hampi – the monolithic sculpture of Narasimha – the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. To read the story of Narasimha, click here.

This figure is usually mistakenly referred to as ‘Ugra Narasimha’, which is the angry form in which he killed Hiranyakashipu. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hampi Part 7 - Vitthala Temple

The Vitthala temple is probably the most beautiful structure in Hampi. The gopuram is practically all gone, but inside, its another story altogether!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Something new for a change......

There are days when I just can't write, and this turned out to be one of them. I caught up on my reading, and whiled away my time in front of the screen, and then I saw this post by Aarti. I knew she had been trying out Origami, but this rose was simply too stunning!  I immediately looked for instructions, and found them too, but decided that it was just too difficult to begin with! There were lots of pics though, and I tried out a couple..... and you can see the result above!

All Origami instruction sheets advise using Origami paper for best results, but I had none, and didnt have the patience to wait till I went to the market and got some. I debated using some good paper I had, and then remembered shouting at Samhith for wasting paper, making aeroplanes with new paper. Trying to practice what I preached, I decided to use the pamphlets which come unbidden with our newspaper everyday...... The results dont look too bad, do they? 

For those who are interested, here are links to the sites which helped me out.....

These are really easy to make...try them out! And, Thanks Aarti for the inspiration!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hampi Part 6 - Krishna Temple

The Krishna temple at Hampi was built by Krishnadevaraya to commemorate the success of his Orissa campaign. It is believed that he brought back with him, an idol of Bala Krishna – Krishna, the child – which was enshrined in this temple.

Hampi Part 5 - The Hampi Bazaar

Hampi was well known for its bazaars in the days gone by, when merchants from all over the world collected here to show off their wares. From gold and diamonds to horses and cows, the markets boasted of a variety which impressed even visitors from foreign shores! These marketplaces weren’t like our roadside shops, but well planned and well laid out areas, paved with stones, with residences for the merchants as well stables for their mounts! Nothing much remains of these bazaars except the  pathways and the water tanks which mark their boundaries. Today, the name ‘Hampi Bazaar’ signifies a row of shops outside the Virupaksha temple, selling the sort of stuff which appeals to tourists…..

Like these dolls made of clay…..

Musical instruments….

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hampi Part 4 - The Virupaksha Temple

Amongst all the huge boulders and the crumbling ruins of ancient structures at Hampi rises a single tower which seems almost unscathed. This is the gopuram (tower) of the Virupaksha temple. Virupaksha or Pampa-pati as Lord Shiva is known here, was the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers, and it is perhaps fitting that this is among the few temples where prayers have continued, uninterrupted by the centuries. According to the ASI guidebook, the tower and the temple date back to the early 15th century, but repairs and extensions were carried out in 1510, during the reign of Krishnadevaraya, probably the most famous among the Vijayanagara kings! Further renovations have been carried out over the years, but the basic structure has remained!

The 52 m high gopuram of the Virupaksha temple

While the guidebook gives no explanations for the temple escaping the havoc wreaked by the invaders, we heard a number of interesting reasons from people.

Hampi Part 3 - A Short History of the Vijayanagara Empire

When we set out on our tour of Hampi, all I wanted to see was the place – I had heard so much about it, and was excited, in spite of knowing the fact that most structures were in ruins. My knowledge of history however was sketchy (never having paid much attention to it in school, of course!) and didn’t do much reading up before I went. That turned out to be a mistake, since I was bombarded by questions from Samhith ! Questions I had no answers to – the right ones at least! Of course, he was more interested in learning which king killed whom and who broke the temples, and what treasures he took away from there – all, the sort of questions I wanted to distract him from. And the only way to do that was to read up on history and answer his questions correctly. Of course, considering that Hampi is a world heritage site, books were easy to come by. The ASI guidebook alone was enough to begin with, and we both read it through, learning a lot of interesting things we hadn’t known before. I know that many of you wouldn’t really be interested in history, but I still would encourage you to at least skim through it – who knows, like us, you might find something of interest. In any case, the reason I am writing this down is because I realized when I began writing about Hampi that there is so much more to it than just ruins, and the beauty and the importance of the place lies in its history, and its journey from being a stretch of uninhabited land to the capital of one of the richest kingdoms in India, to once again becoming a neglected area forgotten for generations.

Map of Hampi at the Virupaksha Temple

The story of Hampi began with the rise of the Kings of Kampili, in the early 14th century, when they ruled over parts of modern Anantapur, Chitradurga, Shimoga, Raichur, Dharwar and Bellary districts. The kingdom was attacked repeatedly and finally captured in 1326/27 by Muhammad-bin-Tughluq, who had captured the neighbouring kingdom of Devgiri, which he had renamed ‘Daulatabad’. Among the scores taken as prisoners were two brothers, Harihara and Bukka, who had been officers in the treasury of the Kampila regime. They swore allegiance to the sultan, and were sent back to their kingdom to subdue some rebels. The brothers happily returned to Kampili, threw off their allegiance to Delhi, and set up a kingdom of their own!

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Interesting Sight

Have you heard of Deballasting? I certainly hadn’t, until we happened to see the process in action……………..

We saw this sight while returning from Elephanta, and were curious about what they were doing.

Sky Watch Friday - Feather in the sky

I took this pic from the train while returning from Aurangabad. Samhith and I always try to imagine what the clouds look like, but this time it was real easy!

For more interesting skies from around the world, visit the SkyWatch Page.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Long Overdue visit to the Elephanta Caves

The last time I visited the Elephanta Caves was when I was in school. It was such a messy place that I was least interested in visiting again. Then we went on a trip to Ajanta and Ellora, and Samhith read the name ‘Elephanta’ on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Once he learnt that the Elephanta caves were so near, he wanted to go, and I realized that I couldn’t put it off any longer. Once we decided to make the trip, things sort of just fell into place. We chose a Saturday when Shankar was free, and off we went to explore the caves.


The Elephanta caves are situated on an island, about 11 Km from Apollo Bunder (that’s where the Gateway of India is located). Technically, the island is part of Uran in Raigad district, but it is most easily accessible from the Gateway of India, from where it is about an hour and a half away by boat.

Getting There

There are more than a hundred launches which ply between the Gateway and the island, and on weekends, every single one of them is pressed into service! The first boat starts from the Gateway at 9AM, when the caves open, and the last one starts back at 5PM from the island, when the caves close for the day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lavasa Trip Part 6 - Information

For the last one week, ever since I began writing my Lavasa posts, I have been inundated with queries about the place. Now that I am done with all the major posts, and have just a few assorted photos left, I am dedicating this post to give some relevant details about the place.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lavasa Trip Part 5 - Bamboosa

There are many interesting things to see and do at Lavasa, such as enjoy watersports on the lakeshore, a modern games arcade,  adventure sports at Xthrill and a visit to one of India’s best nurseries. However, we were able to do none of these, and instead decided to visit Bamboosa, the bamboo craft factory and shop, which provides employment to local villagers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lavasa Trip Part 4 - Food memories

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I am by no means a foodie….. I hate to experiment with food, and prefer to stick with my good old thayir saadam,(curd rice) any day. Usually, when I travel, it is Shankar who tries out different things on the menu and I order what Samhith wants, and then fill my stomach from what I like among the selections. Thrown along with a bunch of foodies at Lavasa – all of them non-vegetarians – was therefore a really interesting experience.

The Waterfront Promenade

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lavasa Trip Part 3 -The Nature Trail

The nature trail at Ekaant is one of the big attractions at Lavasa, and is open for all visitors to Lavasa. The trail takes over 2 hours to cover, which is why we planned to start early, so that we could be back in time for breakfast. Unfortunately, due to matters beyond our control, we were delayed and had to give the trail a skip. However, the trail exit was where we rushed to take photographs of the rising sun (see my earlier post), and couldn’t resisit taking a sneak peek into the trail itself. While all of us ventured in a little bit to indulge in a photo shoot, Nisha and I, being enthusiastic travel bloggers, took a short detour inside to take even more photographs!

The trail itself has been created in a very interesting manner, taming the wild topography of the mountainside and the foliage into a semblance of order by means of well paved pathways. This makes the whole walk quite an easy affair for the tourists, instead of the brisk trek it would have been otherwise. Instead of wasting more words, let me take you along with me through my photographs…..

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lavasa Trip Part 2 - Ekaant - Beauty in Solitude

This is a continuation of my earlier post on Lavasa. Please read Part 1 before reading further.

Waking up early is always a chore, unless one has something to really look forward to. This is especially true when we are on a holiday, but we bloggers were up and about before 5:45 in the morning of our day at Lavasa, eagerly looking forward to the nature trail we were supposed to go on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hampi Part 2 - Stones do Speak - A Photo feature

This post was originally published on the Club Mahindra Blog. I am re-posting it here on the request of some of my regular readers.

The first thing that strikes you in Hampi is these huge boulders all over the place. They were everywhere, and we started recognizing the distinctive ones over the two days we spent wandering around, looking at what was left of the erstwhile Vijayanagar Empire. While I listened to our guide and stared at the ruins with awe, all I could think of was the story that these huge boulders could tell, if only they could speak…. But then again, maybe they do speak…

They speak of an age long gone by….

Path leading to the Vitthala temple, once part of a huge bazaar

How they came to be there, no one knows for certain. Mythology says they were thrown there by a mischievous god. Science tells us that they are the last remnants of a volcanic eruption…

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lavasa Trip Part 1 - The Lavasa Women's Drive

The Lavasa Women’s Drive was eventful in more ways than one. For one thing, this was the first time I left Samhith behind at home with his dad and grandparents. While he has been on picnics and camps without me, and even stayed over at my mom’s place without even thinking of calling me up to wish me goodnight, the idea of me going away leaving him alone was apparently unpalatable! He vacillated between yes and no until I told him that if I couldn’t go on my holiday, he couldn’t go for his overnight camp from school either! That set the seal on my trip, and I rushed out from home even before the sun rose, to reach Bandra Reclamation on time! The ground was filled with people and cars. The cars were all decorated, screaming out their support for varied causes – from cancer to the environment – while the people were either high on excitement or sleepy from waking up too early!

My sister was the one I thought of, as I stood watching one celebrity after another flag off the cars. Firstly, she is tall, which would give her a much better view of the happenings, while I had to stand on my toes to just get a glimpse of Arjun Rampal sleepily waving off one car after the other.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Back from Lavasa and back to Blogging!

For a travel addict like me, journeys are always memorable - Some for the sights, some for the experiences, some for the destination itself, and some simply for the co-travellers. I just returned from a trip to Lavasa, which had a bit of all these and more! To begin with, this was the first trip to which I was invited as a blogger, which gives and ego boost like no otherJ! Add to that, a location with a huge and picturesque lake nested amidst the hills, a view to vie with heaven, a room facing the waterfront promenade, and the company of like-minded women who never ran out of things to talk or laugh about, and you have the perfect trip, wouldn’t you agree?


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