With this post, I conclude my three- series of Hampi trails. For those who have missed the important tourist attractions in Hampi, you can click on part one and part two for my earlier posts on Hampi. The Route Three trail can be accessed through this link. While I have tried to cover all the major attractions in Hampi, one cannot really do justice to the describing the entire place – for Hampi is a treasure trove – with innumerable attractions – each piece of history better than the other.
Here are the key attractions along this route 3 –
1) Underground Shiva Temple in Hampi
Built a few meters below the ground, this temple is quite unique from the others like the Virupaksha templeand the Vittala templein Hampi. It does not have any of those grand structures but the uniqueness lies in the fact that the temple is generally submerged in water and one needs to wade through the same to reach the inner sanctums.
The fun lies in being able to wade through the water and navigate to see the rest of the place. Besides the temple, the place also, served as a Gurukul or a school for the Royal princes. You can even visit the beautiful Kalyana Mantappa that served as a venue for Royal weddings and holy ceremonies.
The place as a beautiful lawn around it and some lovely photographic points. Since it is a little away from the main road, it is not crowded as well.
2) Royal Enclosure
This is quite an interesting area – some bits still under excavation. As you enter the area, you will climb the King’s pavilion. It is said that the same was a viewing platform for the King to see his army’s parade. Festivals like Dusshera were also, celebrated with a lot of pomp and glory around here. A little ahead of the same is a lovely step well.
The precise cuts of the steps of this well is the main beauty of this Step well. One can walk down to the first two levels but beyond the same, is not really allowed. Around the Step well, you can see the canal system with the ancient pipes. There is a small area near the canals which used to be a washing area for vessels. There are some ancient plates and place holders still there for you to view.
Between the King’s Pavilion and the Step well is the underground chamber that was used by the king for his meeting. Entry to the same is next to the Pavilion. It has narrow steps that lead to some rooms.
Further ahead the Stepwell is a huge swimming pool – Huge being an understatement. The same is deep. Though empty now, one can only imagine it in its hey-days and admire its sheer magnificence.
Don’t miss the massive doors that are placed at the entry/ exit of this area. The size and the thought of how they would have been operated, definitely makes it worth a look.
3) Queen’s Bath
Straight from the Fairy tales and possibly an inspiration for the giant Prefect’s bath tub that finds a mention in Harry Potter, this is a little building that is open to the sky and used to serve as a bath for the King and his wives. The building has a canal around it for the water and as you enter it, lovely little jharokhas or balconies around it. You can see lots of aqueducts that serve as inlets for the water. One can spot some drainage holes as well within the bath . It is said that the water used to be mixed with fragrance and flowers for the Royal bath. A flight of stairs lead to the bath area.
4) Zenana Enclosure
While this is not a part of the route 3 trail that has been outlined in the linked webpage, this is one site that I feel can be best clubbed with this route. The Zenana enclosure used to be an enclosure for the Royal ladies with the Queen’s palace and the Hawa Mahal in its fold. The Queen’s palace is now only a foundation that can be seen, but the Hawa Mahal or the Lotus Mahal is a prominent structure in this place. The lovely monument has remnants of the aqua-ducts that used to take water to the different parts of the Mahal and spray around so that the interiors remained cool. There is a small well behind the Mahal that stored water for the same. One can walk around the ground floor while the upper floor is out of bounds. The Mahal has some lovely inscriptions of Lotus on their walls.
Around the enclosure, you can spot a few watch-towers. One of them has steps that can be climbed up to the first floor. It is said that the watchmen here were Eunuchs as this used to be the Ladies area.
There is a small treasury room, which is windowless at the corner of the enclosure. One can visit the same whilst here. Right behind the Hawa Mahal are the Elephant’s stables- massive, beautiful structures that give you a glimpse of the Royal times then.
Within the stables are some metal rungs and a small man-size openings- possibly for the Mahouts to enter.
A tip here – the entrance tickets to the Zenana enclosure also, includes entry to the Vittala temple. You might want to preserve the same.
With this, I end by three-part series of the key attraction in Hampi. Aside from the three route split, there are many other places and ruins with amazing stories and legends in this heritage ghost town called Hampi. A definite must-visit destination in India.
For travel tips, refer to my first part of this Hampi series. My other posts on Hampi: