Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rome, Greece, and...Hampi?

When we think of Rome and Greece together, we often allude to the two great empires that once stood towering over human civilization itself. We think of massive stone pillars, luxurious bathhouses, and the kindling of human endeavor. We conjure up images of lush cropland, bustling trading ports, and exquisite food. There is another city that makes the famous duo, a trio: Hampi, India. Hampi is an untouched, ancient wonder for anyone lucky enough to venture there. It also offers one of the best sunsets (and sunrises) I have ever laid eyes upon. In its height, The Vijayangara Empire, located in Hampi, ruled almost all of South India from the 12th-15th Century, and contained an impressive 0.1% of the world population. The Empire itself set milestones in establishing the languages of Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit. Additionally, things like Carnatic signing came to birth, and still exist today because of the Empire's wealth and achievement. According to recovered documents and archaeological findings, we know that the Vijayangara Empire was primarily Hindu, but tolerated all religions and sects. As with Rome and Greece, Hampi excelled in trading, the arts, and architecture. The Vijayangara Empire met its downfall slowly through a series of battles, poor leadership, and a breakdown of power. I have provided a UNESCO link, which I also used for information, under the 'Useful Links' tab! Here are some pictures from an eventful weekend:

Day 1:

Tanzeela and I on the sleeper bus to Hampi! No a/c with open windows makes for a promising experience, but not much sleep!

Emilie and Tom preparing for the 9 hour bus ride to Hampi.

Our first stop in Hampi after about 3 hours of sleep: Virupaksha Temple.

Monkeys at the Virupaksha Temple...they are trouble makers and snatched Emilie's water bottle right out of her hands!

A view of the Virupaksha Temple from a distance.

We had to wait for a HUGE herd of cows to pass through until we could continue our journey to the Tungabhadra River. Cows are intimidating in large numbers, trust me on this one.

Me on the steps of the Ganesha Temple!

Ganesha stone carving made from one stone slab.

Downtown Hampi dotted with shops, restaurants, and fruit stands.

Photo credit to Michelle for capturing me, capturing an iconic photo of Tanzeela under her new home.

Ruins near Virupaksha Temple.

Selfie on top of the boulders near Virupaksha Temple.

Outside the entrance of our hostel; we were all so tired from the bus ride!

Public health in action! Emilie, Tanzeela, and I used this mosquito net when we went to sleep.

Lunch with the cohort and we also got to meet Smriti's husband, Varun!

Pizza + Rooftop Restaurant + Hampi = Happiness

After lunch, we took a coracle ride along the Tungabhadra River; the boat was shaped like a contact lens and was basically just a floating basket.

Ancient ruins seen along the river.

Entrance to a beautifully serene and peaceful temple we came across after getting off the coracle. The text is in Kannada, and I am not sure what it means, but I feel like it is the name of the temple.

Bharatanatyam in the ancient pillars of Hampi! Choreography creds to Emilie Ryan-Castillo...

The shadows the pillars casted on the grass were so cool!

A stunning view of where the Vijayanagara Empire once stood.

Sunset over Hampi, India.

Hampi Rooftop Restaurant, where we ate dinner and breakfast! The waiter was a very sweet man from Nepaland told us that he would be "ready for us" after our sunrise hike the next morning.

Day 2:

Sunrise over Hampi on top of Matanga Hill. We hiked over giant boulders and up steep hills in the dark so we could see this beautiful sight.

As the sun peeked out above the horizon, it cast a magnificent light on the boulders, ruins, and vegetation down below.

Group photo after the hike up Matanga Hill for the view of the sunrise.

Mango Lassi before breakfast! Lassi is basically a smoothie and consists of yogurt, fruit, and sometimes, spices.

Sure enough, our favorite waiter was ready for us. Lemon sugar pancakes at Hampi Rooftop Restaurant. After breakfast, we ventured back into Ancient Hampi...

These two cuties in front of a temple entrance!

Underground Shiva Temple.

The engravings into the walls of temples and other buildings have been preserved very well, and we can see what life might have been like in the Vijayanagara Empire.

If my bathtub was this big, the possibilities would be endless! The Queen's Bath at Hampi.

This Shiva linga is used to worship Shiva (The Destroyer) because he is never directly worshipped, and, instead, is represented with structures like the one pictured above.

Group selfie inside the Band Tower at the Islamic Quarters in Ancient Hampi. Hampi has a lot of Islamic influence due to the toleration of religions by the Vijayangara Empire, and because of the extensive trading done with Arab regions.

After two full days of discovering Hampi, we said goodbye and boarded another sleeper bus back to Manipal.


In other news...

I am going to officially start my research next week, which I am ecstatic for. Dr. Aarthy, my research professor, and I have worked hard to get to this point and I am grateful for her guidance. I will have more on that next week hopefully.

As far as Bharatanatyam goes, the four of us (Sarah, Tanzeela, Emilie, and I) and our dance teacher (Monasi) are working hard to learn the moves and coordinate hand, eye, and leg movements so we look like we know what we are doing. We always start with our right foot in this dance, but I am trained to start with my left foot because of marching band...this is a struggle sometimes to say in the least.

Our field visit last week was to the Manasa Center in Pamboor, India. At this school, intellectually challenged children and young adults are given education and vocational training with the goal of self-sustainibility. It was a truly wonderful institution and is a pioneer in India's progress in handling mental illnesses. For more information on this NGO, check out:


Hampi was a wonderful place to visit because of its beauty, history, and hospitality. The more I experience of India, the more I love it.

Thank you for reading!



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  2. I am truly enjoying your blog posts..and await to see a new one with your travel experiences like this one!

    I have never visited Hampi and always wanted to. The more I hear and read about it, the more respect and wonder I feel for the place. Wow! Thank you for the beautiful acptures. ( That kananda script reads "Shri PurandaraDasara Mantapa", the name of the shrine probably.

    The sunrise is fantastic on the pic..can only imagine the beauty in reality.

    Wishing you the very best in your research and work ahead. Keep travelling and keep updating this space Kara :)

    1. Thank you so much Ashwini! It means so much that someone like yourself who is from Karnataka thinks that I am being accurate. Thank you for the translation, I was hoping you would comment on that :) :) :) I definitely recommend Hampi and hope that you get to go someday soon...I will be sure to keep on posting weekly about my journey here in your home country and state. Thank you again.