(Continued from Part I here)
Moving on, the auto rickshaw guy took us to the Zenana enclosure in Hampi. Wikipedia tells me ‘Zenana’ is a persian term that was used for areas reserved for women, whereas the areas reserved for men were called ‘Mardana’.
To the left portion of the enclosure lie the remains of what was probably a huge palace in those days. Speculation abounds about what it would originally have been or looked like, with some even saying that the structure was built of sandalwood and pointing out traces of sandal wood found during excavation. However, no conclusive evidence exists. Pictures of the other attractions follow:
I had read stories about an air-conditioning system that was used to keep the interiors of the Lotus Mahal (reserved for the queens of the empire presumably) cool. Entry is denied inside the Lotus Mahal itself and there was no way I could check up on traces of such a system.
Further up ahead from the Lotus Mahal, is a gate that leads to the famed elephant stables and the guard quarters.
With the heat bearing down even more, (this was in October and I can’t imagine how it would be in summer), we took a quick break for lunch in some run down place that the auto driver took us to. We moved on to the famous Vittala Temple after lunch.
The Vittala temple compound contains the face of Karnataka state tourism – the famous stone chariot. Tales abound of how, at one point in time, the stone wheels could be used to move the chariot around. The elephants drawing the chariot, as many articles will tell you, are replacements for horses. Be warned however, any attempt to mount the elephants will earn you a stern (and well-deserved) reprimand from the guards there. The compound also houses the famous musical pillars temple, which is now undergoing repairs and is cordoned off to the visiting public.
Thankfully, there was an ice-cream vendor just outside the Vittala temple. The mango dolly he serves is recommended, very highly, not for the taste but for the heavenly bit of coolness it induces.
Our last stop for the day was the Malyavanta Raghunatha temple which stands atop the Malyavanta hill. The auto guy told us that Rama, while on his exile, shot an arrow that struck the ground here and caused water to spout. That spot is now marked by a well inside the compound but other articles and blogs online differ from the events he narrated. Anyway, the hill provides an excellent view of the boulder-strewn landscape of Hampi against the setting sun.
Sight-seeing for the day done, the auto rickshaw drivers dropped us near the Mango Tree for dinner. Our experience in the Mango tree, buttressed by raving reviews from other visitors was like a damp squib. Quite a few menu items were not available and the ones that were, didn’t really live up to expectations. A special word on their drinks menu though- do stay away from the lassi, especially the Pineapple lassi – it tastes like vomit. After dinner, we walked back to our stay from the Mango Tree in pitch black darkness, helped only by intermittent light provided by the moon when the clouds allowed it to.
With such a long and tiring day behind us, it wasn’t possible that we had the energy to stay up for long and I slept like a child that night. A long, dreamless sleep that was a preclude to the early morning visit to the Virupaksha temple that we had planned for the next day.
(To be continued..)