Saturday, 13 December 2014

Hampi, beauty admist ruins ~ Part I

If you have just thought that Rome was not built in a day let me assure you that Hampi was also not built in a day. I have seen both Rome and Hampi, and to be honest, I was more amazed by the latter.

Vittala Temple Stone Chariot
  Hampi is more like an open museum. You will see history in each of the numerous stones scattered everywhere.Though now everything is in ruins but still one can feel the vast magnitude of an once prosperous city of Vijaynagara.

  One thing we realised while seeing Hampi was that it is IMPOSSIBLE TO SEE HAMPI IN A DAY. Please keep aside atleast 3 days if you are planning for a Hampi visit. We kept 2 days for Hampi and at the end we still felt that we should have kept 2 more days.

  From Dandeli we drove till Hampi. The road is good and its roughly 250 km. Once we reached Hampi, it was almost 4:30 in the afternoon. There are quite a good number of lodges (people rent a few rooms in their own house to tourists) in Hampi. We checked in one such lodge that was just outside the Virupaksha Temple. It was a no fuss and pretty okay lodge. From the lodge we could get a clear temple view whenever we used to go to its roof top restaurant.

Virupaksha Temple

Lodges near Virupaksha Temple
  A lot of tourists stay at Hospet which is just 12 km from Hampi. The reason for staying there is that there are lots of hotels in terms of choice and budget. Moreover in Hampi both liquor and non-veg food is not allowed. Tourists can enjoy those luxuries in Hospet.

  Since the day was almost nearing to an end, we decided to check the Virupaksha Temple and the adjoining Hampi Baazar. The Virupaksha temple is kept open till 8:30 PM and buses ply between Hospet and Virupaksha temple. It is a huge temple complex and house temples of Pataleshwara, Muktinarashimha, Suryanarayana, Laxminarasimha and Mahishasura Mardini. The main deity is Lord Virupaksha, after whose name the temple is, also referred to as Pampapati (husband of Pampa).

  Since it was already dark, we did not go to the back of the temple where there is a dark chamber. There is a hole in the eastern side through which sunlight enters and an inverted image of the temple tower is formed on the western wall.

  Next we went to the adjacent Hampi Baazar. The Bazaar is now a lot more slimer than what it was even a few years back. There are shops mostly selling souvenir and jewellery. It makes a lot of sense to hire a guide for a day and also get equipped with one of those numerous ASI guide books. You will find them almost at all important sites in Hampi.

From the next day we will start our actual Hampi exploration.
Please read the next part here Hampi,beauty admist ruins~Part II

Hampi moment: At the gates of Prasanna Narasimha Statue

Hampi Moment: Early Morning; Krishna Temple overlooking Krishna Bazar

Hampi Moment: Ready to move towards Vittala Temple

Hampi Moment: Hazara(one thousand) Rama Temple; Sun Down.

Hampi Moment: Just above Krishna Bazar, Early morning.

Important Pointers:
Hotels: There are plenty of hotels in Hospet which is 12 km from Hampi
             In case if you want to stay in hampi you can opt for the lodges near Virupaksha Temple.

Guide: It makes a lot sense to hire a guide. There is so much of interesting history in each and every corner of the ruins that if you actually roam aimlessly it actually does not make much sense.

  Hampi is an UNESCO World Heritage site and a no plastic zone, so please be a responsible tourist. Most of the places and monuments do not take any charges for entry and photography.

  Best time to visit Hampi is during the winter months, it really really gets hot in Hampi during Summer.    

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Dandeli,Hornbill's heaven

 A trip to Dandeli was long due. We had planned a 4 day trip,one night at Dandeli and 2 nights at Hampi. After we confirmed our stay at Pansoli guest house,we were good to go.

We started really early from Bangalore at 3 AM and this time also as usual the three of, Ankur and our Sparky :)

The route we took was Bangalore-->Tumkur-->Sira-->Hiriyur-->Chitradurga-->Ranebennur-->Haliyal-->Dandeli.

The road is good but be prepared to pay around 400 bucks as toll tax on this route. Also a long stretch of the road do not have any food joints or petrol bunks.

We reached our guest house around 11:30 am.We were greeted by our host Mr Krishna who showed us our cottage.The facilities are minimalist yet satisfactory but to us that's okay. Another good option to stay at Dandeli is at Kulgi Nature Camp which is government owned. For booking one need to confirm over phone and then fax them the DD.

Wooly Necked Stork

Our first bird for the day was a wooly necked stork perched high on a tree at our guest house. By the way check in time at Pansoli guest house is 12 noon till 10 AM next day and there is no mobile signal in Kulgi except for BSNL. So be prepared to be cut off from the hectic world and enjoy your stay in Dandeli.

There are quite some places to see in and around Dandeli. There is white water rafting in Kali river,the Anshi-Dandeli tiger reserve,the Syntheli rocks,Supa dam,Kavala caves. If you are planning for a jungle safari then its a good idea to stay at Kulgi because the safari start point is very near to the Kulgi Nature camp.

Malabar Grey Hornbill

Malabar Pied Hornbill

Malabar Pied Hornbill and Malabar Grey Hornbill

Malabar Grey Hornbill

Since our plan was to see hornbill so after a quick lunch we headed straight to the Dandeli timber depot which is quite famous for hornbill spotting.There we spotted  12 hornbills, 3 malabar grey hornbill, 9 malabar spotted hornbill all just in one evening.

We previously had planned for a coracle ride on Kali river whose banks are also hot beds for hornbill sighting, but because of time constraints we did not went for the coracle ride. Incase if you are a bird enthusiast don't miss out this one. Apart from hornbill a lot other birds can be sighted on the banks. You can book for coracle ride at the Kulgi reception centre.

It was a little dark when we were returning to our homestay. Suddenly we noticed a slight movement in the bush ahead.First I thought of deer or something, then we realised it was a small black panther. It vanished quickly, all I could capture was its tail.

Next day morning we took a bird watching walk through the forest. There are several treks available like timber walk,Kavala trek, bird and nature walk. These have to be booked from the reception at Kulgi camp. The bird watching walk is a 1.5 km walk inside the jungle accompanied by a guide where you get to see various birds some endemic to the region. The cost is Rs 100 per head and Rs 100 for your guide.

During Bird Trail

Bee eater

                                                               scarlet minivet


Serpent eagle

Spotted Woodpecker



The best time for bird watching is September-October and for animals its March-April.We saw a lot of birds though we could not take all the photos.Below are some that I managed to click.

From Dandeli next we headed to the historical city Hampi.

Some vital info:
 For booking
 Kulgi Nature Camp : Dy. Conservator of Forests (08284 231585)
 Pansoli guest house : K.M Madadolkar (9448893691/9448318376/9449912439)

Buffalo, having a good time

Lone Tusker 

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