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Hampi... a tour

Tunghabadra Dam
So long as the Vijayanagara Empire and Hampi are talked and written about, the mighty Tungabdhra River will always find a place in history. It's befitting therefore, that the massive Tungabadhra Dam forms a part of the itinerary of any visitor.

Just about 5 kilometers from Hospet is this huge dam built across the historical river, 2440 meters long and 49 meters high with a maximum water storage level of 497.74 meters. Construction of this dam was started in February 1945 and completed in 1964 at a cost of Rs.130.76 crores. The Dam is a major source of irrigation to vast areas of land and also generates power supplied to Karnataka and the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. Adjacent to the Dam is a well-maintained park, with manicured lawns and trees.

Tunghabadra Dam
The massive Tungabadhra Dam - a must visit landmark

Leave it be...
Leave it be...
So Sorry, HAMPI...
The Vijayanagara Empire ruled for a little over two centuries and in that period they made an indelible mark in the annals of history. They built temples and monuments of great beauty and their style of architecture is legend.

One bunch of invaders played havoc and left their capital Hampi hanging by a thread. Another bunch of invaders has just shown its ugly face and is making attempts to further ruin these ruins. The power-hungry politicians of our previous governments had cleared the construction of two bridges near the ruins, having bowed down to demands by locals. Not a thought went into the fact that Hampi is a national treasure and is also rated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Preservation and excavation at Hampi is in progress under the direct supervision of professional archaeologists and the world body.

However, if that was bad news, there's some good news also. The present Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri S.M. Krishna has been appraised of this and under his instructions a Task Force has been set up to get things under control especially since UNESCO made a categorical statement that they were considering removing Hampi from the World Heritage list. Hopefully, with such sensible intervention Hampi will have the protection and preservation it rightly deserves and preservation for posterity's sake. Let's not torment Hampi any further. It has had its share of suffering. Otherwise, like Tigers and Peacocks, we will kill this too. Leave it be...

How to reach Hampi

From Bangalore, Hospet is an overnight journey by either bus or train. One can drive down to Hospet and the distance is approximately 350 kms. From Hospet the most economical and recommended way to visit Hampi would be the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation bus (KSTDC). It leaves around 9.30 in the morning and will return back to Hospet by about 5.30 in the evening. The current fare is Rs.75/- per head. On the way to Hampi, the bus picks up the local guide who is pretty well versed with the historical and legendary aspects. He is not a paid employee of the KSRTC and depends on your contribution for a living. His English is reasonably good (at least the guide who accompanied spoke good English) and foreigners who speak fluent English will not find it difficult to comprehend his version of the language.
 

Important Tips
  1. The area to be covered in Hampi is fairly large (26 sq. kilometers) and involves a fair bit of walking on foot and climbing steep steps (though not much). One supposes that if one wants to really indulge in history and see the wealth of architectural masterpieces, these are minor inconveniences.
  2. Around lunchtime the Bus takes you to the Karnataka Tourism department restaurant for lunch, but it's nothing much to write home about. You haven't much choice because in Hampi there aren't any other better eating-places. Do the best with what you get.
  3. Ensure you have sufficient mineral water with you. All that walking and climbing could make you very thirsty especially if it's a hot day.
  4. If you have planned on doing quite some bit of photography, then ensure you have enough film rolls on hand. You may not find a photo studio in Hampi to buy film.
  5. Keep close to the group always so that you don't get lost.
Where to Stay

In Hospet there are number of hotels, though not very luxurious. However, Hotel Priyadarshini is highly recommended. The place is very clean, service is fast, people are courteous and it's very economical as well. It's very close to the railway station and the bus-stand and more importantly, you can book your Hampi tour tickets at the hotel. In fact, the KSTDC bus does a pick-up and drop from the hotel. If you decide to have an overnight stay at Hotel Priyadarshini, then visit their open-air restaurant for a good and sumptuous meal. The stuff is really good and after a tiring day, it can be really relaxing.

You can call them at:
(08394) 28838, 28096, 27313, 28139 or Fax them at: (08394) 24709.
Their email address is priyainn@vsnl.com

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