Vistiting Halebidu, Belur and Hampi were on my mind for quite a long time. Have been going through various sources like blogs, reviews, Wikipedia, wikitravel etc to gather as much information possible. It was the time when I was sitting in one of the packed bays in Egmore Office without any system to work 🙂 . During my system sharing hours, I used to try exploring information on these places. There has been one name “The Hoysalas” which was referred everywhere in these places. I happened to search by the Hoysala Architecture and found unbelievable stuff. As a matter of gyan, Hoysalas were once the rulers of Karnataka and parts of Andhra with Dwarasamudra alias Halebidu (as more commonly referred) as their capital city.
These days, I was awaiting my travel to Dubai for my RAKBANK assignment . My visa processing was also done. As usual, uncertainty was on high in our office with regards to travel dates. They were delaying my travel because of Bakrid marking which, office in Dubai was on holiday for 5 days. So my travel to Dubai would be of no use during that time. I started planning my tour with some off beat hoysala era temples on the prime list of my visit. One fine evening, I went and spoke to my manager who said I could take those desired number of days of leaves as my travel would be beyond 20th of November or so. My usual chats with Joyce, our office receptionist about these has surprised her as she thought I was on a pilgrimage for which I had to assure her it is only the love of architecture 🙂 🙂 . All set. Applied leave immediately from the following day and tried booking train tickets tough all were full. Luckily got one return ticket to Chennai on 17th morning. Left office in the night, went home and packed things for the road trip.
DAY 1 11/11/2010:
I started from our T-nagar guest house at 6:30 am. It was raining cats and dogs. Went to Koyambedu by a MTC bus which took unusually long because of the rain and the morning traffic. When inquired upon reaching, the first bust to Bangalore would only start by 9:30 am. Had to pass time strolling in the bus stand amidst all the usual chaos. Finally the bus driver and conductor had come and I took the Karnataka’s state owned bus Rajahamsa. The bus was a medium standard one with hardly any passengers on it. This took the route via Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and we had a stop in the same place at 12:30 pm for lunch. The restaurant was decent and so was the food. Post this, the bus started again and finally reached Bangalore at around 5 pm.
My immediate move was to take a bus to Hassan which is the hub for people visiting Belur and Halebidu. Got a bus within no time from Majestic bus station and through a bumpy road, reached Hassan at 10:30 in the night. It was drizzling in the night and there were hardly any people around. The bus station was completely deserted. Luckily, i found a lodge very close by and took a single bedroom , ordered some food and tried to catch up some sleep to be prepared for an early morning travel.
DAY 2 12/11/2010:
Bright morning it was. I woke up morning woke up at 6:30 am and started to Halebidu at 7:30 am. Hassan being the focal point for these two famous temples, there are a lot of buses from Hassan to Halebidu and Belur. I had my breakfast in one of the restaurants in the bus station and started off. The journey to Halebidu was a memorable experience. One can sight lush green landscapes and numerous streams overflowing the narrow village roads/ The entire place was so pristine and untouched, one can feel the freshness in the air. The previous night’s rain has added to the beauty. To add upon the beauty one can find windmills in far distant locations near and above the mountains.
Halebidu bus station is relatively small for the tourists. The town is a very small one and right opposite to the bus stationis the Halebidu Hoysaleshwara temple. There were no prayers performed the time I reached and the temple was unsusually quiet with very few tourists. The temple is an architectural marvel. Most of which was destroyed by the raids the temple had survived.
From Halebidu, my next stop was a small village called Belavadi. It was a 20-30 mins travel from Halebidu. The temple was a yet another marvel with Veeranarayana as the main deity.
Very calm and serene atmosphere surrounded the temple. The priest was delighted seeing me coming from Chennai to visit these far cut off temples. There was no power but he took pains in showing the deities by a gas light.
Once i was done with the temple,to travel back to Halebidu, I waited for sometime and got an auto rickshaw. The auto driver and some other excited locals were kind enough in telling me stories in Kananda though I couldn’t understand a slightest part. When we were about to reach Halebidu, It so happened someone asked me which country I belonged to and I felt crazy replying I am an Indian 😀 . Once i was back in Halebbidu, I took someones’ help in knowing where Jain Basadis were. The Jain Basadis are right behind the Halebidu main temple at a distance of nearly 1 km. It was 1:00 pm then and I could see halebidu main temple flocked with tourists.
The Jain Basadis a.k.a Bastihalli were towards one corner unnoticed. Were built like any other hoysala temples but were dedicated to jains. With not even a single tourist, I felt like a lonely soul in the planet.
I could smell the bat droppings all over the temple inside. Seeing the big statues of mahaveer were scary enough with my loneliness there 🙂
Not having my lunch so far, I came back to Halebidu’s bus stand and took a bus to Belur which is approximately 15-17 kms of travel.
I reached Belur at around 2 pm in the afternoon. Unlike Halebidu, Belur was a bigger town. The temple is around 1.5 kms far from the bus stand and can be walked if not for the sun. I started walking but later a person whom I asked directions near the bus stand gave me a lift on his scooter generously. He opened a dialogue amd asked my whereabouts .Belur’s Chennakesava Temple was dedicated to various dance forms unlike Halebidu which was dedicated to Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Visiting it at 2:30 pm was tough with sun on high. Lots of tourists and the scorching sun can make anyone feel uncomfortable. Yet the building was an excel. Not to be missed the dancing figures out of which a famous one is the Mandakini. Having seen the entire temple, I started from Belur back to the bus station. Took a bus and went back to Hassan by evening at 4:30 pm.
Having nothing to do or visit further for the day, decided to go somewhere nearby in the town. I wanted to visit a village called Hulikere where a small ornated stepped well is located. It is nearly 5kms away from Hassan. But no one seemed to know about it. Finally, i decided to take an evening walk around my hotel to see the local markets. It started raining again and thought a perfect combination would be some chilli bajjis. :).. Phataaak.. found a small bajji seller and enjoyed the rain.. and spent the rest of the evening in the room.
DAY 3 13/11/2010:
The next move was to Harnahalli. Harnahalli also is a small village where it hosted one more Hoysala temple. In the bus, neither the conductor nor most of the passengers seemed to know about the place. To my luck, there was a person who travels in the state on a medical representative job. Seemed to be talking good but he spoke very little english or hindi.
Once there, I walked from the bus stop to the temple. it was pretty close by. I felt bad seeing the temple actually closed. But as the doors were still open, and went in to have a look. Archeological Survey Of India (ASI) was doing some maintenance. The Temple was in a dilapidated state. The main temple was shut for years.
On my way back, there was another small village called Korvangala where Bucheswara temple was located which is nearly 12 kms from Hassan. My luck again, no one knew Korvangala. Conductor kept looking for a village by this name and finally stopped near the village on the main road. The temple is approximately 2 kms from the road.
From the main road, I started walking. The village scene was extremely beautiful with full paddy and maize fields on either sides and streams overflowing the roads. Also there was a railway crossing, which made the entire place just perfect.
I could get a distant view of the temple. When went there, I found the temple was maintained very well by ASI. People were generous in showing me the temple in and around. That was a dwikota style temple dedicated to Surya and Shiva gods. Also very close were some complete ruins.
I saw some villagers playing cards inside the temple and the moment they saw me with camera, they either thought I was from the Media or from ASI and started packing up things and ran off. That situation made me laugh like crazy!! I started back from there and a speechless lady was excited seeing me with a camera and requested me to take some of her pics. Also there were some school going kids who were excited too seeing me with a camera on. Managed to get a bus back to Hassan from the Korvangala main road and reached at around lunch time.
Once back in Hassan, I had my lunch and planned to visit Doddagaddavalli. There was a controller in Hassan bus station who found me asking people about Doddagaddavalli and directed me to take buses going to Chikmaglur. He also warned me saying majority of the conductors would not know a place called Kalkare which is close to Doddagaddavalli. He wrote it on a ticket in kananda and gave it to me for some reference.
Chikmaglur bus was quite full and when asked ticket for Kalkare all gave a weird look at me. Conductor started arguing saying he has no idea about that place. He gave me a ticket to chikmaglur asking me to inquire on myself. Not knowing what to do, I didnot react but just kept looking for my stop. Suddenly not even half way through, the conductor calls me. And yes, he found Kalkare. 🙂 There were few enthustiastic college boys who also got down along with me. They were happy talking to me describing about the temple. At the same time, they gave me tough looks as this small village is 4-5 kms far from main road and is very remote and isolated. I said I would somehow manage. It was around 3 pm and the walk was the toughest till then.The village slopes and the high sun were not cooperating enough. There were some tractors that passed by looking at me with pity. 😦 I thought of asking them for help but by the time I decided to ask, I did not see anymore people crossing by.
Doddagaddavalli was a goddess Lakshmi temple built by the Hoysalas on the banks on a river. I am sure the village is like any other Agraharam and the sight of a temple right on the banks of a river was an amazing one.
A kananda Brahmin family also were visiting it. The family offered me a lift till the main road.For a maruti car, they were full enough but they adjusted somehow sitting on each other’s lap to drop me on the main road to Hassan. I took a mini bus to Hassan from there and reached Hassan in the evening at 5 p.m. Upon reaching, I inquired in the bus station and learnt that the bus to Hospet starts at 8:30 pm. I had my dinner and set towards Hospet which was my next destination.
DAY 4 14/11/2010:
The journey from Hassan to Hospet was a terrible experience. Thanks to Karnataka’s worsely maintained roads and the inter city buses, for the whole night I couldnt sleep for even 15 minutes. Reached Hospet at 6 am and took a lodge near the bus stand. Hampi, the ruinced city of the king Sri krishnadevaraya was on the main agenda for the day. Lots of buses ply to hampi from Hospet. Very soon i took a bus and reached the Hampi main temple Virpukasha. Visiting Hampi was a life time experience. A whole city where diamonds and precious stones were sold on the roads now stands still with stalls selling lays packets and cold drinks. Foreigners were at large in Hampi. One can see lots of bike rental shops by the Virupaksha main shrine.
Expats were targeted by the shopkeepers big time. Once Visited the Virupaksha complex, I hired a Luna to go around for the rest of the day. The take money for the bike the petrol separately. And am all set to explore the Vijayanagara Empire.
I could not resist my excitement while I visited each of those spots. Literally every rock has a history in Hampi. One can see watch towers at a farthest point your eye can. So much was the extent of the Empire. Name anything, and that is there in Hampi. Sri Krishna temple, Bazaar, Pushkarini, other temples, Queen’s enclosure, elephants stable, guards stay, queens’ bath, Vitthala temple, octagonal bath, mahanavami dibba etc etc…
Sun was at its peak in Hampi as expected. Couldn’t help but to take all the heat. Though a luna was hired, had lots and lots to walk. Entire city sprawls across around 14kms area. One cannot find any restaurants inside Hampi apart from some refreshing drinks. Very close by, there is a small village called Kamalapura where ASI had a museum and once finished visiting , returned to Hampi at 4 pm. completed my trip by 4:30 and returned the luna and had some sandwiches nearby and took an auto rickshaw back to Hospet. Being tired enough for the day, I planned to stay at my room.
The Agenda was to visit a few more temples in nearby district Gadag to visit Lakkundi where some famous temples were there. But there was a strike because of which no buses plied from Hospet. So, decided to visit the Tungabhadra Dam in hospet. Good one but not allowed being close enough due to security reasons. There is a park which is meanly maintained and a deer park. Post visiting, came back to Hospet and had lunch and slept for the afternoon.
Woke up early in the morning and took bus to Bellary planning to get back to Guntakal from where my return train reservation to Chennai was done. Took 2 hours to reach Bellary. Bus stand was deserted. Had breakfast and not knowing how to spend time, decided to go to Mantralayam on Dad’s advice (though I really had no intention of visiting it). Took almost 5 hours to reach Mantralayam.Reached in the afternoon and quickly had lunch and the darshan didnot even take 10 minutes. Came back to bus stand and took bus to a place called Alur from where I took a share auto to Guntakal. But only once started travelling, realized it was far enough to travel in a share auto. Took almost 40 minutes to reach Guntakal on a badly maintained road. Took a lodge and in the evening went out into the bazaar. Had dinner and walked till the station to see the distance if it can be covered in the morning by walk.
Woke up at 5:15 am and freshened up. My train being at 6:15 in the morning, reached station on time and got into the train. Chennai Express, via kadapa reached Chennai in the evening at 4:30 pm.
Outcomes of the tour:
- Had a good time visiting these places alone. Friends gave me a crazy look when I said I travelled alone. But trust me, its fun!! There will not be any second opinion and you will be your boss!!
- Got tanned to the core. Thanks to Hampi!! Never u can miss the sun there. 🙂