Route Three – Ending it with Royalty in Hampi

posted in: Asia, Heritage, India, Karnataka | 25

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

Entrance to the underground Siva Temple, Hampi
Entrance to the underground Siva Temple, Hampi
Built a few meters below the ground, this temple is quite unique from the others like the Virupaksha temple and the Vittala temple in 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.
Submerged temple sanctums at Hampi
Submerged temple sanctums at Hampi
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.
Kalyana Mantappa at the Underground Siva Temple, Hampi
Kalyana Mantappa at the Underground Siva Temple, Hampi

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

View from the top of the King's Pavilion, Hampi
View from the top of the King’s Pavilion, Hampi
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.
Step Well in Hampi
Step Well in Hampi
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.
Doors to the Royal Enclosure, Hampi
Doors to the Royal Enclosure, Hampi
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

Queen's bath in Hampi
Queen’s bath in Hampi
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

Hawa Mahal (Lotus Mahal) in Hampi
Hawa Mahal (Lotus Mahal) in Hampi
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.

Watch towers at the Zenana Enclosure, Hampi
Watch towers at the Zenana Enclosure, Hampi
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.
Elephant's stables at Hampi
Elephant’s stables at Hampi
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 templeYou 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. 

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25 Responses

  1. Ami Bhat

    Thank you Indrani – It was indeed a great trip. But I still would want to go again and discover what I may have missed 🙂

  2. Vyjay Rao

    The Lotus Mahal and the elephant stables are one of my favourite sights here. Lovely post and stunning photos.

  3. 2traveldads

    This is my new favorite Hampi post. The submerged area and corridors are so cool! I seriously cannot wait to visit!

  4. Ajaya Kumar Rout

    A beautiful Read on Hampi.Beautiful pictures too.Hampi fascinates a lot of people due to its rich architectural heritage.It’s unfortunate that I didn’t make it to Hampi even during my two years of stay in Bangalore.Now I am feeling the urge to visit Hampi again.

  5. Kevin Wagar

    Ami! Every day you’re opening my eyes to more and more spectacular places in India! The step well and submerged temple look incredible!

  6. Gearoid McSweeney

    Not sure I would want to wade through that palace, particularly if I had seen one of those spectacled cobras you referenced in an earlier article. However, I really enjoyed the photos, especially the one of the deep well. I had seen many photos of it over the years, but now I know that it is in Hampi. India remains on my long list, but in the meantime, I have added Hampi to the ‘must see’ places if I ever do manage a trip. Thanks.

    • Ami

      Ha ha. Those cobras are not here, but in the forests. 😀 Am sure you will love Hampi. Maybe you should bump India up your list 😉

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