Strolling through history – II

Posted: June 9, 2009 in Travelogues
Tags: , , , , ,

Pic on top: The water supply system at Hampi
Pic above: The Vitthala Temple
The next stop was the Queen’s Bath. Hell, it could give a modern-day indoor air-conditioned swimming pool a run for its money. The royals sure knew how to look after their queens! Not only was there a pool, there were also water outlets through a rock carving that sprayed water on the ladies as they bathed. Once they had finished bathing, the water could be drained and the tank refilled with fresh water through the amazing water supply system. This wasn’t all. They had covered platforms where the ladies could get a massage. Peeping toms were kept away by women guards! What mystified me, however, was why the royal baths were so far away from the palace where the queens stayed. I guess, like it’s for some of people today, bathing was more a ritual than a necessity!
But I guess there were two places that completely fascinated us. The first was the Royal enclosure, which housed the Mahanavami Dibba, a pyramid-like structure with a huge platform atop which the kings conducted pujas during festivals, and the second was the Vitthala Temple. The first site was amazing, because there were rooms which had water supply units in each room, a drainage system, a royal bath, and even a secret underground chamber used by the Vijayanagram royals.
The second was the Vitthala temple which was nothing short of awesome. The sculptures, designs and the carvings gave us glimpses of a dynasty that really indulged in and understood art. The stone chariot is a magnificent structure and the intricate designs spoke of a very high level of artisanship. Although vandalized, it is still an architectural masterpiece. The guide told us that till the Archaelogical Survey of India stepped in and took over the entire 26 square kms of Hampi, people would either walk away with artifacts or would break off pieces to keep as souvenirs.
It would have taken us at least three days to cover Hampi, but since we had just 24 hours we had to cram in as much as we could. The next day at around 10.30 am after some more sightseeing, we decided to visit Anjaneya Hill on our way back. According to mythology, Anjaneya Hill, in the kingdom of the mythological Kishkinda, is the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. You have to walk up a few hundred steps to the top of the hill and since I wanted to preserve my energy for the drive to Hubli, I let the others take the climb. What was surprising was that I saw more foreigners trudging up the hill in the scorching heat, than Indians!
We set off for Dharwad soon after, at around 12.30 pm. The road conditions were not that great and deteriorated rapidly as we neared Hubli and as we reached the outskirts of Hubli we were travelling over gravel more than metal. Driving through Hubli and Dharwad slowed us down and we finally managed a hotel room in Dharwad, right off the road that would take us on the third leg of our journey, to the forests of Dandeli also known as Veerappan country.

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