Friday, November 3, 2017

Hemakuta hills and the sunset, Hampi

It is said that Hemakuta hills have got a mythological connection to it's name. As per the story a local girl named Pampa [ after whose name the area is also known as Pampa kshetra and river Tungbhadra flowing through the region is  referred as Pampa  too] wanted to marry Lord Shiva. Impressed by her dedication and penance Shiva agreed to marry her. At the time of consenting to marry her Shiva was doing penance on this hill. At that moment it rained gold on this hill, hence the name Hemakuta, as Hema in Sanskrit means gold.
It was on this hill that Kamadev fell prey to Shiva's wrath for distracting Him from his penance. Kamsdev did so to help Pampa to marry Shiva but was burnt alive by Shiva's third eye. Later on on Rati's[ Kamadev's wife] request Shiva brought him back to life but not in physical form rather only in spirit.
Hemkuta hills is dotted with large number of shrines, mandapam , archways and pavilions. Some of these have been restored to large extent while others are ruins and yet others might have been obliterated completely. I think due to this Shiva connection perhaps almost all the temples on Humakuta hills are dedicated to Lord Shiva and two most important shrines of Ganesha.
Hemakuta hills is the most favourite sunset view point .It offers a great view and no steep climbing is required to reach the point. Hemakuta view point can be accessed through two sides - one from Virupaksha temple side and another from Sasivekalu Ganesha side. After a flight of few minutes the rocks stretch is almost plain.It is said that the temples on Hemakuta hills dates back to pre Vijayanagar empire period, about seventh century or so, though in certain temples great expansion and addition has been done during Vijaya nagar empire period.
The view point area itself is dotted with many structures, archways etc. The most recognized ones among them are Moola Virupaksha temple, which means original Virupaksha temple and small Hanumana shrine near the Frangipani tree on the top.
During our Hampi visit this oct. We enjoyed our first sunset at Hampi from Hemakuta hills.[ 24.10. 2017]
Sitting on the edge of that rock which plunged miles below in the vast valley strewn with boulders, dotted with greens of bushes and trees I was all set and ready to merge myself with the sunset sky. My gaze fixed on the stretch of the sky above the layers of hill range at the other end of valley, I absorbed the stillness of the moment. There were other groups of tourists scattered over the rocky terrain and murmur of voices could be felt but a kind of hushed expectant silence spread over the area. Every heart there was as if filled with deep reverence towards the most majestic, grand show of the day end. Sunset is there since humans are there on earth. So much has been said, written about it. We all must have witnessed more sunsets than we could count yet it’s charisma never fades. Every time we see the twilight slowly descending on earth, the lights gradually fading in oblivion, the majestic sun gliding on the sky, in and out of clouds and the blaze of colours…the golden yellows, the vibrant oranges, the silky blue turning into deep purple, the dashes of pink, our heart is filled with awe.
This sun there, must have seen the rise and fall of India’s one of the most prosperous empire. The setting sun must have kissed the Gopurams of the temples scattered all over Hampi with same equanimity whether they dazzled in their glory or lay buried in dust and mud. The thought gave me a feeling of timelessness. The whispering leaves of the lone tree near the small shrine on rocks fell into a silence. Wind too sang in hushed notes. All around us a sweet tranquility prevailed. Occasionally the sound of bells from Virupaksha temple groups reached us. It was a wonderful moment. A reassuring one when, suddenly that trust, that belief takes deep root within you that….everything is alright, everything happens for good.
After the curtain fell over the majestic show of the sunset, I lay there on the rock watching the tiny pale stars slowly walking in….life felt just so perfect.

 Reaching out to departing sun…. May all your yearnings be satisfied. On the extreme right is Moola Virupaksha temple.

 sipping the light….drop by drop I inhale and glow…..Hanuman temple

 The distant echoes of sunset sky are silently absorbed by the puddle . During the long, dark night every colour comes alive to whisper soothing lullabies to still waters.
 Before the curtain is finally pulled…. tender caresses of wind makes me feel light and feathery, the silky blue spreads in eyes and pearly pink nestles inside….. I am ready to surrender.

 Slowly Sun wraps up it’s golden orange extravaganza and starts fading into oblivion leaving stage to softer, subtler colours….. yes, the stage has to be shared to make the display more beautiful deep and complete.. Every one deserves a chance and each has it’s special attributes.

All pictures by Sunder Iyer.

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