Tag Archives: Jain temple

Hampi: Day 3, on a moped

The moped dragged us across the bumpy terrain of Hampi. Today was our last day in this surreal landscape. There was only one agenda in mind. Hire a moped and explore the ruins of Hampi. Follow the nose (of the moped) to the not much trodden paths and get lost somewhere among the boulders, broken palace basements, fallen temples and watch towers.

We had earlier rented a moped from Hampi bazaar and had paid Rs. 300, inclusive of the fuel. There are numerous shops in Hampi bazaar that rents out cycles, scooters and mopeds. They even let you to keep the vehicle overnight at your hotel. You just have to give them a xerox copy of any valid photo identity proof.

From Hampi bazaar we took the road to Kamalapura village. Right before the underground Shiva temple we saw a mud track and decided to follow it. After a few turns we reached a watch tower called the Mohammadan watch tower. The watch tower had steps leading up to a balcony which overlooked the mud track.

Mohammadan watch tower

A few meters from the watch tower is the Danaik enclosure.

Danaik’s enclosure

This was used as the military training area. Only the systematically partitioned basement of the enclosure remains.

Mosque

Right next to the Danaik enclosure is a mosque and and another watch tower called the band tower.

The band tower

On the other side of the Mohammadan watch tower is the noblemen’s quarters.  This was where the aristocrats lived. Just like the Danaik enclosure, only the basement remains.

Noblemen’s quarter

Right next to the quarters is a modern watch tower with steps, railings et al. We climbed the watch tower to get a better view of the whole area. The bird’s eye view was worth the climb.

Our next stop was Malyavanta Raghunatha temple. This temple is situated on top of Malyavanta hill which is on the way to Kampili village. The road was steep, winding and long.

Road to Malyavanta hill

I was obliged to dismount at a point and followed on foot.

The legend is that, after killing Bali, Rama and Lakshmana rested at this place before going in search of Sita.

The eastern gopura

The 3-storeyed eastern gopura of the temple leads into a large courtyard. There were a few neatly pruned trees and a few dogs enjoying their pre-noon siesta.

Malyavanta Raghunatha temple

Other than a single devotee reading shlokas from Ramayana, we were the only people inside the complex.  The temple has large pillared ornate mandapas on both sides.

From  the western side of the temple you can step onto the Malyavanta  hill and climb a bit further up. From the top of the hill you can get a view of the tough and rustic Hampi terrain.

View from the top

There is a small shrine on top of the hill with a lot of shivalingas sculpted out from the rocks.

Shrine on the top of Malyavanta hill

Our next stop, Pattabhirama temple, though as large as Vittala temple, is less frequented by tourists. It is is probably due to its location being a little away from the rest of Hampi and just beyond the Kamalapura village en route to Daroji Bear Sanctuary.

The security guard at the gate seemed a bit surprised to see us. He said only the most committed of visitors make it to Pattabhirama temple. Modestly patting ourselves, we entered into the temple complex through a side entrance.

Pattabhirama temple

The temple must have been a grand structure during its prime. The huge courtyard has various mandapas on all sides with the main sanctum at the center.

Another view

Other than the abundant simian population, both alive and sculpted, no other soul was in the premises.

Further down the road we came across a rectangular shaped structure with a dome called the Domed gate.

Domed gate

Within the Domed gate there is an image of  Hanuman carved on the wall.

The Hanuman temple inside the domed gate

This gate had no similarities with the Bhima’s gate we had seen earlier. However, we did find some similarities with the Talarigatta gate we saw later.

Talarigatta gate

In ancient Hampi, very few people would have had houses with private bath areas. People must have enjoyed going to public bath houses. We came across at least three public bath houses, not to mention the innumerable pushkarinis (water tanks) we saw.

The most magnificent of them all is the Queen’s bath pavilion, the bathing area for the queen and the mistresses.

Queen’s bath

The pavilion has a veranda that runs on all sides. In the middle is an open pond that can be accessed by steps. Projecting into the pond from the verandah are many balconies decorated with tiny windows. There are various aqueducts terminating inside the pond. The pavilion does not have a roof.

The moat around the pavilion

Around the building is a water channel that was probably designed to prevent intruders from walking into the pavilion when the women took bath! The Queen’s bath can be found right next to the road to Hampi bazaar.

Another public bath, the Octagonal bath, as the name suggests, is an octogonal bathing area.

Octogonal bath

The bath has an octagonal shaped platform with aqueducts at the middle and has a pillared veranda around it.

Inside the Octogonal bath

The area between the veranda and the platform must have been the bathing area. This is found on a mud path about a kilometer from the Queen’s bath.

The Octogonal water pavilion, found on the road to Hampi bazaar, could have been a magnificent water fountain in its prime.

Octogonal water pavilion

Now practically in an abandoned stage with bushes and wild grass growing around, it looks more like a makeshift cooking place.

We had spent three days in Hampi and had not seen the sun rise or set. The sky was overcast on all days during dawn and dusk, not allowing us to capture the beautiful event. We climbed up the Hemakuta hill with whatever energy that remained to capture whatever remained of the sun through the overcast skies.

Jain temples

The Hemakuta hill is dotted with a lot of temples, the main being the Jain temples. The Jain temples look a bit different from the other temples. The main difference is in the stepped tower over the main shrine.

Hemakuta hill is an excellent vantage point. Other than the Virupaksha temple and the bazaar, a lot of other temples and ruins can be spotted from the top. Sun or no sun, a lot of tourists had come to enjoy the light cool breeze of the evening.

It was time for us to leave. Return journeys are the most toughest. What we did figure out, though, was that this journey was so worth it.


The Ghost Village of Kuldhara

The name Jaisalmer conjures up a picture of a mysterious desert kingdom with a magnificent golden fort standing high with winding lanes leading down to beautiful havelis full of courageous men and beautiful women. There is history, heritage, royalty, architecture and culture.

You could spend endless mornings at the numerous Jain temples, cenotaphs and beautiful havelis around. And endless evenings riding on a camel on the sand dunes into the sunset.  And endless nights gazing at the stars from your desert camp. You could explore the bylanes of this fort city and never get bored.

But beyond the dunes and the fort and all that history, tucked away is an entire ghost city crumbling from its former glory into weathered stones and dried lumps of mud.

We had already spent 4 days in and around Jaisalmer. In these  4 days we had already spent more than 1 day in and around the fort, visiting all the havelis, Jain temples and museums. We had driven down to Sam desert and watched the sunset  after a camel ride.

We had stayed a night on the desert at Khuri and enjoyed every bit of it. We also had time to visit the Akal fossil park and the Desert national park. We even had time to visit Tanot, a village on the border. But what blew us off was a visit to Kuldhara.

Just 18 km  west of Jaisalmer, on the  Sam sand dune road, is the village of Kuldhara.   Once a bustling and prosperous settlement of the Paliwal Brahmins, all the residents of Kuldhara and the 83 nearby villages abandoned their houses and vanished suddenly one night in 1825, having lived there since the 1300s. Nobody knows where they went and no one has ever been sure.

The Paliwals were very smart farmers.  They knew how to cultivate water intensive crops like wheat in the desert by identifying areas with gypsum rock layers running under the ground surface to ensure water was retained for the crops. The rulers depended on the Paliwals for much of their tax revenues.

But then why did they abandon everything overnight and vanish into oblivion?  The story is that the Diwan of Jaisalmer,  Salim Singh, is believed to have developed a lecherous eye for the village chief’s daughter who was stunningly beautiful. He was keen on adding the beautiful lady to his harem or else face the threat of unreasonable taxes. With pride and honour overruling all worldly interests, the chiefs of the 84 villages decided to go away in a single night with whatever they could carry with them leaving behind not just their homes but also a curse. That anyone who tried to live in the village would perish.

A sand stone gate welcomed us just before the village. We had to walk about 10 minutes along a sandy path to reach the village. The first sight of Kuldhara village gives you an extraordinary feeling of stumbling into another world. Sand stone houses, or whatever remained of them, neatly constructed on either side of wide dusty roads. All the houses were in a fallen state, but still you could make out that the Paliwal brahmins excelled in design and architecture.

Some houses had been restored and we could make out the inner courtyards, kitchen areas and other rooms.  The village had temples and other chathris prooving that Kuldhara must have been a well planned settlement.

While leaving the village we could feel the sadness and helplessness running through the ruins.  An old city had unpeeled its secrets to us.


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