Majestic, Mystical, Magical Hampi…

I must say daydreamed and tripped.

Hampi is the place I was planning to explore since last 2 years and now when I am on the verge of shifting out of Kolhapur, a hippie in me wanted it more desperately.

Finally we decided to take off…

After a long journey (7 hrs drive from Kolhapur) and without much to see outside the car window, we finally entered the area. But then, when we saw the rocky mountains, we realised that next 3 days were going to take us to a completely different era.

Hospet is the nearest town to Hampi, about 14 kms & is well connected with different places. But we choose to stay closer to Hampi that is in Kamalapur. It is a neighbouring village where all the Hampi residents have been shifted due to UNESCO activities.

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Rocky hills around the Hampi

Here is the brief insight of the place I dreamt of:

Hampi previously known as Pampa Kshetra, Kishkinda Kshetra, Bhaskara Khsetra.

Like all the ancient places, Hampi too has its own set of myths. It goes something like this: Two local chiefs, Hakka & Bukka, report of an unusual sight they saw during a hunting journey to their guru. A hare chased by their hound suddenly turns brave and start chasing back the hound. Vidyaranya, the guru, tells them that the place is special and asks them to set up their local capital at this place. And the seed of an Empire was sown.

The history of this region can be pushed back to the Mauryan period. But mainly by the end of the 13th century, affected by Islamic invasion, southern powers resisted and raised “The Vijaynagara Empire”. The Sangama brothers Harihara and Bukka carved a Kingdom between 1336-1342 AD and founded this splendid city Vijaynagara with Hampi as its capital. Over the next two centuries (1336 AD – 1565 AD) four dynasties ruled Vijayanagar. History of Vijayanagar has been a saga of resistance against the Northern Sultanates as well as building of its spectacular capital in Hampi. However this city never regained its original glory after its dramatic fall and destruction in 1565 AD.

This region speaks volumes of history, Hampi is also believed to be the ancient “Kishkinda” of Ramayana period. The name Hampi was derived from the word “Pampa” which is the old name of Tungbhadra river, on whose bank the city is situated.

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Whenever I go to historical places like forts, palaces, temples, lakes I always imagine its heyday times and I just go numb every single time. The picture stands in front of me… people wearing traditional dresses, jewellery are roaming around… Tongas, Bullock Carts, Chariots running on the roads… women are busy with daily chores like grocery buying or shopping (obviously 😉 😛 )… the place would have lightened and decorated at special occasions and festivals… I always picture the place at peak of its blossom era.  I feel ecstatic. Yeah I am a dreamy person.

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Adjacent surrounding of Vijaya Vitthal Mandir 

Even after a hectic journey, of course for the drivers 😛 , we decided to start the exploration (as I call it). We hired a Tour Guide, a must have, for next couple of days. With very little time on hand, with the setting sun in sight, we started with Vijaya Vitthal Mandir, the most beautiful site in Hampi (according to me). As we reached there, we left our car in a parking lot and transferred to battery operated vehicle to reach the temple arena. Otherwise it is a very nice idea to take a long walk through the walkway, but as we were running out of time we decided to go with the vehicle. Our tour guide told the story that saint Pundalik escaped with the Vitthal Murti when Hampi was attacked and the same murti placed in Pandharpur, Maharashtra. We were going through an array of stone pillars and pushkarni (water tanks formed as ponds) on the right hand side and huge boulders on the left hand side. One can actually get the taste of carvings of the main temple and its massive area on the way itself. The big entrance welcomed us and we entered into a totally charged up atmosphere. A stone chariot, massive mandaps, beautiful carved pillars, a centuries old tree… I felt like I was becoming invisible to the world. ( I was so charged by the view that I forgot to capture it 😦 )

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My boy posing for cam 🙂

The whole architecture has been set up around the stone chariot. There are number of mandaps surrounding the chariot. The left side is covered with beautiful carved pillared halls known as waiting halls. There is a “Sangeet Mandap”, a music hall I got most amazed by. We still can hear the beautiful sound of chimes when we tap the pillars with our fingers and to our amusement, our guide told us that these pillars were solid, unlike what we thought of it being hollow. He even showed us ruined pillar remains. The circle completes with “Bhajan Mandap”, a prayer hall. The main hall at the center is “Utsav Mandap”, this place might have witnessed grand festivals, royal weddings, puja rituals and the glory at its time. Over enthusiast tourist have already damaged the musical pillars of this hall and rightfully so, the entry to this hall is barred for the tourists. But a good thing is repairing and fixing of this hall is in progress and soon we will get to see the mandap in well condition, thanks to UNESCO. The temple was built in The King Achyutdevraya dynasty and hence it is also known as Achyutraya Temple. One can get the full picturesque panoramic view from nearby hill.

I was magnetized by so many intrinsic carvings of dancers, soldiers, elephants and horses, swans, forms of Narsimha, stone loops & various sculptures all created in granite. At the same time we were hypnotized by folklores, myths & unbelievable art we were witnessing.

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The main attraction of this place – Stone Chariot
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Waiting Halls
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Garbhagriha
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Utsav Mandap
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Musical Pillars at Utsav Mandap
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A different kind of pillars in Sangeet Mandap
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Random view
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Bhajan Mandap
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an old tree
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from the hill

I was getting strange feelings when I was about to leave the place but I had no other choice with limited time at hand… there was still so much on my bucket list.

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Leaving the place 😦

We moved to the Malyavanta hill to see Raghunathaswamy temple. The workmanship here is beautiful and the location of this temple is very peaceful. It is believed that Ram, Lakshman & Sita when in vanvas lived here for some time. The pujas are still performed in this temple so you get that divine feeling here unlike many other temples in Hampi. But what I loved the most is the hillock behind the temple.

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Raghunathaswamy temple

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Hillock behind the temple

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sunset view

At the end of the day I saw three important pillars of my life sitting there and enjoying the view… that was the most beautiful sight for me that time.

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My family enjoying the view

I sat there for a while to watch the sunset. The sun has already left the golden glow behind and I was summarizing today’s events…how empires rise and fall. I have seen so little of this empire till now, will I be able to explore all the things in a next day?

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Unwind … Shiroda

Sindhu means sea and Durg is fort….

A bunch of beach voyagers escaped from the scenic destination Devbag and proceeded to the Sindhudurg fort.

It was approximate 10-12 kms drive. Anyone can see the outline of the fort from the Malvan Jetty. It takes a 10 minutes boat ride from jetty to reach the fort. I found behavior of the boatman rough and rude, but then they are infamous for it. It was a panoramic view from the ferry… a large structure standing firm and proud in the heart of the sea. The fort was built by Shivaji Maharaj in 17th century. It is constructed on a rocky island named Kurte. Over 14-15 families are still living in the fort. I was wondering about their lives in monsoon. There are sweet water ponds and wells inside the fort and coconut trees are all over the place on this island. The weather was hot and humid, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. History lovers will be happy to see footprints of Shivaji Maharaj there.

The fort actually is not in a good condition, still the remains are beautiful and surrounded by the sea. The large stone walls were calling me…I wanted to take a long stroll over it but due to lack of time I was unable to do that. One hour is not enough to explore the fort. Probably next time…

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Some serious boyz talk …
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A view…

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Tired companion 😉

We took a lunch break in Malvan to taste Malvani food and moved to Shiroda. It was 60 kms drive. BUT…We as “The Williams” family have a travel tradition “to lose the way to the destination & go through the weirdest route possible”. And this time also we followed the ritual. Thanks to the maps, we lost our way. I actually understood the meaning of country roads that day. The people from nearby fields were watching at our car like we were flying UFO. After an hour of bizarre drive finally we were on the right track.

We reached at our home stay in Shiroda at twilight time. We immediately freshened up and ran towards beach. It was 5 mins walk through lush green bushes and trees. And suddenly the walkway ended in the silky white sand beach. Beauty!!! Long beautiful stretch, clean sparkling water, whispering breeze, less crowded place and friendly locals… the best version of my vacation.

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The day was filled with a piece of history, exciting long drive, picturesque beach and it perfectly ended with lip smacking tasteful dinner.

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The next morning was action-packed. We headed to the Redi Ganapti temple. Following 5-6 kms drive from our place, we reached to the divine destination. The Ganesh statue here was discovered from a mine in 1976. I have been here few years back. The trust have renovated the temple in a better way but I missed the old structure built in Jambha stone. However the idol and the aura inside the temple is simply pure and divine….some feelings we really cannot explain in words.

The beach here is untouched, clean and rocky…you can spend hours here … surrounding is a way beyond scenic…

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Bappa…

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blue water…
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nice view from hillside…

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The next planned spot was Tiracol/Terekhol fort. The fort was built by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhosale in 17th century. But in the war of 1746 the king surrendered this fort to Portuguese. Now this fort has converted into a hotel, Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel. The church is also not open to the public except special occasions. This structure disappointed me little bit as a fort, yet interiors of the place and surrounding sea view was pretty as a picture.

Small tip for booze lovers here. Tiracol is located on the northern tip of Goa. You cannot carry any kind of “Sparkling Golden liquid” from Tiracol to Sawantwadi/Shiroda. We didn’t have any idea about this, but due to morning’s Redi blessings and innocent faces (we made) the Police guys warned us and allowed us to carry the ‘THINGS’  as we were not aware of the Goa-Maharashtra border 😀 😛 😉

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Tiracol Fort

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Inside the fort…

My boys were dog tired once we returned at our place. They wanted to spend remaining day at leisure. After a delicious lunch and a nap on hammock I decided to take a walk alongside the beach. Ultimately I found some ME time here. Surprisingly lot of foreigners were enjoying the sun at this lesser known beach as I thought it is little offbeat. I took a long stroll on the beach…talked to local fishermen and got to know about various fishing nets and fishing techniques. These simple guys make u think that life actually is simple… we unnecessarily make it complicated.

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Jakson the Fisher guy posing for the click 😉

Now I just wanted to sit and relax. So I sat down and decided to watch nothing except the canvas where different shades were appearing one by one….shiny yellow… deep amber and then it transformed to dark purple. It was just breathtaking. Sun was sinking fast now…

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“Man amadeam”… few days back one of my  close friends has sent me lyrics of a soulful song. This means “I’ve come to you” in Persian … and sitting here lost in the rhythm of waves I was thinking… ‘ I’ve come to you, why I can’t be here all the time… to be closer to what I love…’

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Road Trip to Devbag-Shiroda

How often did it happen to you that you plan for a place and you settle down for totally different one? It keeps happening to me. Our initial plan was to go to south Goa for Christmas holidays. But all of a sudden, we thought why not go to konkan? I am especially fond of historical places which have magical “once upon a time” kind of stories behind them and love solo travelling. But this time we as a family decided to explore through konkan coast.

Devbag is a small fishing village with a beautiful view and long stretched coastline. We travelled for almost 8-9 hrs from Pune to Devbag and found our property (Salgaonkar beach resort) without much trouble. Once we entered the place… WOW… it was amazing. There was an adrenaline rush as we saw the beautiful panoramic view of the ocean, image of clear blue sky and white sand beach.  I love everything about sea, sand and sunshine and I was going to spend next 48 hrs alongside. While we reached there, the sun was sinking below the horizon and atmosphere was like crimson tinge with dark frame. I grabbed a cup of tea and sat on the beach. “Ahhh! It is my happy place.” It was clear skyline and bright sea, I don’t even remember how long I was sitting at the place. There was an intense silence around us, halted by the sound of a big wave and playful laugh of my kid. In no time the sun disappeared from the sky and we entered in totally different ambience. All the colours faded away and stayed behind the roaring and pounding sound of waves.

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my cup of tea…
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Bliss…
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shades…
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an evening…
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View from the room…

You must relish the seafood if you are in konkan. Variety of fish, crab, prawns and tisrya (clams), everything was just mouth watering. We, I and my husband are from foodie tribe thus it was a real treat for us. People at the resort were friendly and attentive so we really had a good time there.

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fish for the foodies…

The next morning we were awaken to the noise coming from porch. Children were very excited to see the dolphins playing in the sea at a distant. And our day started! It was a water sports day as my cub was little more excited about the jet ski and parasailing stuff. We headed to the scuba diving spot. The resort guys gave us some references and we fixed a boatman for all the activities. As we reached the place, gosh! my less adventurer soul was on the verge of getting fainted. After the spine chilling experience of catapult at the Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, I wasn’t sure whether I should go for such attempt. I decided to give it a try. “Damn! I am out of the water.” Though I enjoyed the initial training session, I was unable to finish the diving as I wasn’t breathing very well under water. This is the last and only positive note on scuba diving, thanks to my trainer who was incredibly patient with me.

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My boy …

Tsunami island is close to Devbag beach which is submerged under water by 3-4 feet during high tides and otherwise is visible. We can enjoy water sports as well as  a good walk there. Bhogwe beach is again a nearby beach, surrounded with a view of beautiful hills and thick green forest across the shore with coconut trees. Our boatman told us that there is a beach house owned by the famous actor Jackie Shroff. As a Tiger Shroff fan, my kid was so excited to go. But of course we weren’t invited there. The boat ride from Devbag to these places was icing on a cake.

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Bhogwe Beach
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Tsunami Island at the time of low tide…

And here I am… barefoot… quieting thoughts…a long walk by the side of the shore…The day ended with a leisure time spending in front of the sea whilst watching sunset. Life should be like that…listen to the sound of the waves and just relax…

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“Don’t wait any longer.
Dive in the ocean,
Leave and let the sea be you.”
― Rumi

I am going to take you to the short ride of the  Sindhudurg fort and calm beach of Shiroda… till the time “be awesome…be yourself”….

A Journey through History – Champaner-Pavagadh

It is said “Old places have soul” and those are unconditional words for Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in north-west India, and has archaeological remains that date from the 8th to 16th century.

Champaner is located at a distance of 50 km from Baroda and at the foothill of the Pavagadh hill in Gujarat. What makes Champaner only one of its kind is the blend of Hinduism, Jainism and Islamism. The Champaner-Pavagadh area was under the control of the Rajputs for 200 years. Even though it was Gujarat’s ancient capital city , it fell into rapid decline, was largely abandoned and for several centuries was neglected and almost deserted. The British visited and refounded the town of Champaner in 1803 and it became a great exporter of silk. In the last decade the site has received attention by archaeologists and Heritage Trusts working in the area to develop it into a tourist attraction and a World Heritage Site. It has a blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture and with its beautiful and intense carving it has become one of the picturesque mosque.

The Saher ki Masjid – This mosque of the city was private mosque built for Royal family and noble of Gujrat Sultanate in 15th & 16th century.

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” The Saher ki Masjid” – First mosque of Champaner
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Indian trabeate and Islamic Arcuate

The Jami Masjid – The Jami Masjid is the most imposing and well preserved monument of Champaner. This mosque is architecturally classified as one of the finest mosque of Gujarat.  It represents a perfect blend of Indo-Islamic architectural style.

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Serene view at Jami Masjid

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Breathtaking work
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Beautiful landscape at the courtyard
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Intrinsic Carved Window at Jami Masjid

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The centuries-old history and culture of this place have a unique attractive force. If you are an admirer of fine architecture, you must visit this place. This place definitely holds a tiny place in your heart.

My proffers –

Tourist facilities like local transport, food and refreshments are not available at Champaner. Take an adequate amount of eatables and water. Put on walking shoes.

The best time to visit Champaner is November to January.

…Read…Eat…travel…Click…Breathe…