We love surprise travel planned either by me or my hubby Rajesh. Since last time we went weekend trip to Srirangapatna by bike, I was looking for a weekend trip by train within Karnataka. I have always wanted to go Hampi –a World Heritage site, it has been in my top priority list since we both started our weekend trips. I have well researched about Hampi tourism, Hampi places to visit, Hampi Weather and temperature, trip cost, Hampi travel guide and photos by other travellers.
Hampi Express – How we reached Hampi from Bangalore:
On 24th Sep 2016, We boarded Hampi express at 10 pm at KSR railway station, reached Koppal at 8.35am. There was a Karnataka bus pick up at station entrance otherwise KSRTC bus depot is 3 min by walk. At 8.50am we boarded KSRTC bus to Kukanoor, travelled for about 40 min. There were no direct buses to Itagi, from Koppal one has to re-route from Kukanoor. Anyways, we already planned to visit Kukanoor Mahamaya Temple and Navalinga temples before visiting ITAGI Mahadeva Temple. I wouldn’t suggest eating at Kukanoor nor a good place even for a coffee. Local people guided us to the Mahamaya temple, 15min by walk from the bus station.
1.a. Mahamaya Temple, Kukanoor
Outside view of the temple doesn’t give an image of being a famous temple mentioned in Mahabaratha. But to understand its great historical value, One has to enter the low roof entrance directly to the main deity, Shatrabala. There are 3 deities in the garbhagudi. Two female deities:-Laxmi & Parvathi/MahaMaya, and One male Deity-Harihara. Harihara means Half-Shiva and Half-Vishnu. All the 3 idols are south facing, which is a rare thing, as most idols in temples face the north. South-facing deities are considered to be more powerful (source -Wikipedia)
The reference to this temple in Mahabharata suggests it was built before 8-9th century BC. There are rumors that there is a hidden underground temple below the current existing temple. The underground temple is dedicated to the Indian Goddess Kali.
b. Navagraha Temple, Kukanoor.
The ancient Navagraha temple is present at the back of the Mahamaya temple. It is so painful to see the carelessness in the maintenance of such epic architecture. This temple cannot be described in words, one has to see and feel it. Anywhere you see is Lord Siva in the form of linga, guarded by Nandhi. I have never seen such alignment of 9 Sivalinga under one roof, each Lingas guarded by his vehicle Nandhi.
We left from Kukanoor to Itagi by auto, we bargained for INR 100/- fare for 15 min travel to the temple and drop back to a bus stop. Mahadeva temple was such a feast to sight, one cannot stop marveling at the decorative sculptures and art in pillars, roofs and on the mandapa of this temple. There were no poojari except he performs one time pooja in the morning, but the temple remains open till evening for the visitors.
The main deity, Lord Siva, can be worshipped through the closed door. Since it has been recently taken under Archaeological Survey of India, lots of repair work going on around the temple and there was a full-time security guard who guided us around the temple (also took our pics).
We spent quite some time there, chatting with temple committee members who were in charge of that ongoing renovation.
On the way back, the Autowala dropped us in the main road 2km away from Mahadeva temple, where we boarded a bus to Koppala. We didn’t go back all the way to Kukanoor bus station to catch the same bus to koppala. After 40 min long journey, we reached Koppala at 1.10pm. Had satisfying lunch at Krishna Sagar veg restaurant, then boarded bus to Hosapet, 40 min journey towards the Hampi, Karnataka.
3.a. Virupaksha Temple
From Hosapet bus depot, we boarded a bus to Hampi, a UNESCO world heritage site, which was the last stop, paid 26/-fare for 15 min journey. All the greenery on both the sides showed that it is a flourishing town in Thungabadra river. We ignored all the tourist guide swarming us, went to the great monumental Virupaksha temple, a breathtaking Lord Siva temple built on a vast area. We spent about 40 mins before we picked a travel guide (autowala) to see other places. We negotiated for INR 400/- for dropping us at few places by auto – Narashima Temple and Badavalinga temple, Queen’s palace, Elephants castle, and finally Vittala Temple.
Same tourist guide dropped us at a nearby bus stop from Vittala temple, where we took a share auto to Hosapet bus depot which saved us time. Hosapet is big township compared to Koppala. Had dinner at Udupi restaurant just opposite to the bus depot, then went by walk to board the return train at 9 pm to Bangalore.
One can skip travelling to Kukanoor and Itagi, instead, go directly to Hampi (get down at Hosapet railway station) so that you can spend more time in Hampi itself. We are looking forward to going back again to Hampi, a magnificent temple town in Karnataka.
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