I have been pretty lazy from many days. Haven’t been reading many blogs. Haven’t commented on many that I read. I was so lazy that my mom had to give death threats to make me download pics from the camera. My friend after pestering me for pics for more than 2 weeks, forgot that I had been on a trip when I gave her a link to the pics finally. One question that I keep hearing is “What is there to see in Karnataka? Any interesting places?”. These places were on my must-visit list from quite sometime now.
I had been to Hampi and Bijapur when I was a small kid and hence remembered nothing about them, other than what I saw in old photos where I am posing in front of every nice looking building with a pant and a new boy cut looking exactly like a boy (courtesy: my granddad). So finally I saw those places in this order : Hampi, Kudalasangama, Bijapur, Aihole, Pattadakal, Badami and Chitradurga.
Our first destination was Hampi which we reached pretty late evening. Thanks to the Hampi Utsav which was supposed to start the next day, there was lighting everywhere. The lighting glorified the monuments and temples. Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagara empire, founded by two people named Hakka and Bukka. The most famous emperor in that empire was Krishnadevaraya. This year marked 500th year of the coronation of Krishnadevaraya. It seems it was one of the richest kingdoms in the world, next only to Rome. They would sell gold, the way they sell groundnuts on the footpath today. It seems a rose costed 2 gold coins. So you can imagine how rich the dynasty was. I never knew that Krishnadevaraya ruled so many Indian states – from Orissa to Kanyakumari. It seems they had some 10,000 elephants in their kingdom and even the elephants have such beautiful stables constructed for them. Unfortunately, most of the kingdom is in ruins; thanks to the many invaders that India had – especially Muslim rulers who made it a point to break every deity present in almost 2000 temples which still exist in bits and pieces today.
One most interesting place is Vijaya Vittala temple, where dancers would perform sometimes. And for such occasions, they never used separate instruments. They have pillars which when hit produce sounds of various instruments. Unfortunately, one was allowed to hit them in the past but now since most part of the temple has been falling into pieces, government has banned public from hitting the pillars. The most famous ones are the stone chariot that you can find outside this temple and a huge statue of Ugra Narasimha. Apart from the stone chariot in Konark, this is the only stone chariot existing in India. The other places to visit there are Jalakanteshwara, Saasevekalu Ganesha, Virupaksha temple, Market, Hazara Rama temple, Dasara Dhibba, Queen’s bath, Lotus Mahal (where queens rested and is built in Muslim style and hence remains untouched) and Elephant stable. It seems they had their own air conditioning system in Lotus Mahal for summers. A water pipe with small holes sprayed water drops on to the walls and somehow kept the building cool.
Mysore Dasara is just a custom which Mysore maharaja continued after Vijayanagara empire fell. Dasara originated in Vijayanagara empire. It had 11 elephants in the dasara, while the mysore one just has one elephant.
The second place we visited was Kudalasangama. This happens to be the birth place of Basavanna and also a place where three rivers meet – Krishna, Gataprabha and Malaprabha. Basavanna was a philosopher and a social reformer. His “vachanas” are very famous. His samadhi along with Linga and a shiva temple are there.
And then we headed to Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami, which are famous for Chalukya style architecture but unfortunately even these are in ruins today. Aihole was supposed to be the place of learning for students of architecture in those days. It has 100s of temples, each of which are different in terms of architecture and carvings. These temples were built by architecture students as part of their project to earn a degree in architecture. Pattadakal is again famous for architecture and beautiful temples. It has a combination of North Indian style (e.g Orissa) and South Indian style temples. The carvings and writings are simply too beautiful. Badami has cave temples. Not even a single pillar was brought from outside and assembled into the temple. The entire temple including the pillars were carved out of rocks. There are 4 main temples here – 2 of them being Vishnu’s, one being Shiva’s and 1 being that of Mahaveera (since they belonged to Jainism but later became devotees of Vishnu). There are too many monkeys in Badami and that made taking out my camera impossible.
Another place to visit in Badami is Banashankari Temple. The temple in Banashankari, Bangalore got deity from this original temple in Badami. It was a friday and was so crowded that we hardly got a glimpse of the Goddess.
Enroute to all these places, you see plenty of maize fields. I have never seen one before or atleast dont remember seeing one. Beautiful huge fields with only maize growing in them were so pleasant to look at.
One thing we must not have seen was “Animal Sacrifice“. I assumed that government had banned it, but enroute to Hampi we saw it in some village. In front of a Durga temple, they were mercilessly chopping the heads of goats, sheep, buffaloes and carrying their head and torso separately. It was so gory to look at that I could not sleep that night. Until those sacrifices were over, they did not let our vehicle pass. I felt so bad for those poor animals.
Adil Shahi among the Bahamani Sultans, who apparently invaded Vijayanagara empire and destroyed Hampi, built Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur. It was built mainly for holding darbar it seems. It is supposed to be the second largest dome in the world, next only to the one in Vatican City. The uniqueness about this dome is the “whisper gallery”. You can whisper from any corner and your whisper can be heard from anywhere inside the dome. There is no need for shouting or using a mic/speaker. I wonder how they made this possible. Also everything you say gets echoed 7 times now (initially when built, it was 14 times). Hats off to those engineers who designed it that way! We can see tombs of Muhammad Adil Shah II in the building below the whispering gallery.
But you get to see Vandalism everywhere. Look at this expression of love inside the building. Is this the best way to express one’s love towards another? By spoiling a monument which is unique in the world?
Our last place of visit was Chitradurga, which is famous for Madakari Nayaka‘s 7-walled fort. The fort has been built in a snake-like fashion. This was done to prevent invaders from bringing elephants and then using them to break the gate of the fort. It was a long and tiring walk and we had to climb uphill at many places. This was the first fort I had ever been to and it was just amazing how they came up with such a well-protected fort, which looks so strong and unbreakable. It seems Hyder Ali’s army tried thrice to enter this fort and got defeated. Finally they came in through a trick. They followed a shortcut into the fort used by a lady who delivered curd. But they were spotted in time by “Vonake Vobavva” whose husband was a guard. She killed them one by one but one of the soldiers who had already entered before she could spot him, killed her from behind. You can see the exact “kindi” or hole from where soldiers entered. It was really interesting to see a cave, which was her house. Also we got a chance to see “Monkey man” in action, who is known for climbing walls within seconds.