Yatra is a Sanskrit word which means journey. In Indian tradition, the journey itself is as important as the destination. Journeys in India are not as utilitarian as in the west. A true yatra starts with the thought, proceeds to the planning stage, then the reservations and ticketing, followed by the journey itself, the destination and tours, the return yatra and finally recollecting and remembering the full journey.
The Ideal Yatra
In this respect our trip to Hampi in 2015 was an ideal Yatra – a trip where we combined the best of tradition and modernity. Hampi is a UNESCO heritage site and was earlier the capital of the Great Vijaynagara Empire which ruled South India for close to 300 years. This great city was destroyed in the 16th century because of foreign invasions, and fell into ruins. However, a lot of the ruins survive today and is spread over more than 25 square kilometers.
Our journey began when we boarded an Indigo Airlines flight from Kolkata to Bangalore. As an old and loyal customer of Yatra.com (almost a decade old relationship), I booked all my flight tickets through them. I was quite excited about Hampi, because I am a history buff, and the prospects of immersing myself in traditional architecture and landscapes for 3 days was quite exciting. My wife was happy to be on a break in a less crowded destination and my 2 year old son was happy to be flying and kept on repeating “Hampi”.
Bangalore is a 2+ hours flight from Kolkata. The new airport at Bangalore is quite far from the main city and we had to rush to reach the station. We boarded the Hampi Express at night and reached Hospet in the morning where we were put up in the Malligi Resort which came highly recommended. After having good complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we decided to start exploring Hampi. We had already talked to the hotel about tour guides and they had explained various options. So over the next 3 days we visited some of most the important landmarks like the 16th century Vittala temple, Chandramauleshwara temple, the Malyavanta Raghunathswamy temple, the small and big Ganesha temples, the underground Shiva temple and many other places.
The stepped tank of Hampi has some wonderfully intricate and complex designs. As a computer engineer with a background in mathematics, I could easily spot what we call fractals (a self-repeating pattern) and was amazed at the technical superiority of Indian architects of the 15th century.
On the second day, apart from touring ancient temples, we also went to the ancient Virupaksha temple (Shiva temple) near the Hampi Bazaar. My son was very excited on seeing the Temple elephant. After offering our Puja we headed to the Hampi Bazaar. However, we did not like it very much because of the crowd and the narrow lanes. There were a lot of foreigners in Hampi Bazaar, and consequently many of the mementos and gift items were exorbitantly priced.
There was some construction going near the ghat, so we had to walk all the way, but we were glad we did. The serenity and peacefulness of the ghat was truly wonderful, and achieving this sense of oneness with Nature is perhaps the aim of all Yatras.
On the last day we visited the amazing Tungabhadra dam, the lighthouse, and the surrounding gardens and also went for a boat ride in the nearby lake. There was a boating race taking place that day and we got stuck in the middle. My son was excited, and we finally discovered that we were better racers than the actual participants. We came first but did not receive any prize.
At the end of our trip, we thanked the staff of Malligi hotel. It was a very nice hotel, with great amenities, wonderful restaurants and very courteous staff. We also discovered to our surprise that quite a few staff members were Bengali.
We came back to Bangalore and then boarded a flight back to Kolkata.
All in all it was a wonderful Yatra – great journey, good food, good people, great enjoyment and a lot of learning.
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