This article is a snippet from ‘Hampi – Memoirs of the Relics!’
In Hampi, each temple has unique history and requires its own mini adventure. Some temples are greater in size, and more historically and mythologically recognised than others, but under no circumstances, should you disregard the smaller and less outwardly decorated ones! These are the ones that are the most quiet, peaceful ones. The temples that I took time to explore, and perhaps are my favourite, even to this date, are the Hanuman temple, the Achyutaraya temple and the Virupaksha temple.
The Achyutaraya temple is one such place where the traveler can sit in serenity, breath, take it all in, and soak oneself with the solitude, the nonchalance of the rubble.
Built somewhere in 1500s, this is perhaps one of the most splendid, raw and awe-inspiring places in all of Hampi, hosting the deity ‘Lord Tiruvengalanatha’, which is another form of Lord Vishnu. However, in the later times of the Vijayanagara empire, it came to be called after the king in whose reign it was built. Hence, it became widely known as the ‘Achyuta Raya’ temple. Mostly less crowded for better part of the day, thanks to all crowd being pulled towards the Virupaksha temple, this is one such place where the wayfarer can sit in serenity, breath, take it all in, and soak oneself with the solitude, the nonchalance of the rubble, and the sight of magnificent ruins, situated alongside the Matanga Hill.
Despite the innumerable renovations done in recent times, the Virupaksha temple retains its raw beauty, still encompasses an aura of dexterity and the archaic architecture.
This temple is perhaps the oldest and the most known symbol of Hampi. Situated on the embankment of River Tungabhadra, this is the predominant centre of pilgrimage in Hampi, the holiest and the most sacred retreat of all. This temple has survived through the centuries and never ceases to prosper, still being a pristine spot amidst the ruins that surround it. One is greeted by hoards of pilgrims from the moment one steps inside this temple. Despite the innumerable renovations done in recent times, this temple still retains its raw beauty, still encompasses an aura of dexterity and the archaic architecture. This temple is visible from most of the high points in Hampi, and is just a couple hundred metres from the town centre.
About 10 minutes of a moderate trek from the town centre takes you to the Achyutaraya temple (a part of the reason why many family vacationers and tourists avoid this temple due to lack of direct road connectivity, and hence, a favourite place among many backpackers!). At the end of the mini-trek, a left exit leads to the Achyutaraya temple and the right one leads to Matanga Hill, a hummock that is responsible for scintillating views of Hampi, especially during the sunset! The ascent to the top takes about thirty minutes, total step count is around 600 and trust me, it’s a rather surreal climb with some fantastic views. On the way up as you near the peak, there is a cave formed between two ginormous boulders. Passing through this cave eventually leads you to the shrine atop this hillock.
It’s a beautiful sight up at from hill, indeed one of the best places to see Hampi. As you explore this hill , there is always something of interest pretty much everywhere you look. At one corner, one can see the Turthu Canal serenely making its way through banana plantations. While on the other end, there’s the Tungabhadra River that flows through the town. In the distance, the Virupaksha Temple looms. And you can also look down to see the Achyutaraya temple complex as well as abandoned bazaars and Hampi’s rock-studded landscape.
In Hampi, temples dedicated to Shiva, Hanuman, Vishnu and Ganesh all reside in a single borough, and that is what makes them so magnificent. It is the fact that rubble, rice fields, plains and hills all dwell in a single burg, is what makes Hampi the place it is!
Read more about Hampi at ‘Hampi: Memoirs of the Relics!’