Comprehension Exercise – 27
Creative Writing – 82
Study the article and answer the questions that follow
A visit to Hampi: Contrast between Goa and Hampi through a tourist’s eyes [BBC]
Ancient Vijayanagara, a crumbling 16th-century metropolis, is a stark contrast to the decadence of Goa’s beach life. Once the hippie paradise of the sixties, Goa’s beautiful beaches are now overrun with endless hawkers and techno music. Last year, the Indian state broke its own tourism record. But just beyond the tourist trappings of the tightly packed beachfront development, lie the ruins of the opulent former southern capital of the spice trade. Ancient Vijayanagara, now known as the village of Hampi, is just a day’s drive from the Goan chill-out scene. It is a stark contrast to the decadence of beach life.
The rice fields and coconut plantations drop away into vast expanses of arid farmland, worked by men dressed in dhoties, driving oxen in their bare feet. Granite boulders litter the landscape, in hues of gold, pink and grey, a rocky backdrop to the sprawling ruins. The entire city was ransacked in the 16th Century, leaving behind one of the most important cultural and religious monuments in the region. This crumbling metropolis was once one of the most beautiful cities in its time. Today it is one of the most impressive ruins. This is why you go to India.
Most people stay in the area known as Hampi Bazaar, which is situated beside the main temple (Virupaksha), or they venture out to the neighbouring town of Hospet. The scale of Vijayanagara is not to be underestimated (26 square km of ruins), especially in the midday heat, so it is advisable to rent a bike, motorbike or hire a rickshaw driver as you cruise from temple to temple — although it is possible to walk. The best way to quickly grasp the magnitude of Hampi is to hike Mantanga hill, preferably at sunrise for the best views. Stone steps are carved into the hillside and while it is the only way to experience the full gestalt of the city, it is still hard to imagine how invading Muslims could have spent six months attacking and pillaging the once thriving capital of 500,000 people. The comparison between what must have been and what exists today is a constant part of the experience in Hampi.
From there, head to the main river that cuts through the town, the Tungabhadra, to watch pilgrims and locals bathe down by the ghats. Every morning at around eight, the loveliest thing happens. The temple elephant, Lakshmi, carefully lumbers down the long stairs to the river and blesses the pilgrims with a spray of water before receiving her morning bath. It takes about an hour to scrub her down and she lays on her side, poking her trunk up out of the water and adjusting her ears to allow her handlers better access. To start exploring the ruins, begin with the Ganesha temple, then work counter clockwise to the Krishna temple and the Badava Linga — an emblem of the Hindu deity Shiva. From there, you can rest from the unrelenting slow bake of southern India in the cool, dark stone of the underground temple. Nearby, the Shiva temple is decorated with pillars carved with images of the deity. Next, you will see the Royal Enclosure, a loop of road with several sets of ruins, and beyond that, the Queen’s bath, a faded building with sumptuously curved arches inside, surrounding a now empty bathing pool.
In Hampi, the sunset is a spectator sport, attracting decent crowds to admire as the surrounding hills and boulders transform from washed out creams and greys into warm reds and oranges. Hours after the sun sets, the rocks still feel warm. Festivals occur several times throughout the year (January: Mahasankranti, February to March: Sivaratri and Holi, March to April: the celebration of the marriage of Virupaksha and Pampa with a chariot festival, November to December: the betrothal ceremony of Virupaksha and Pampa), and often at night, with drumming and dancing in the street and locals offering pujas in the main temple, Virupaksha. Depending on the time of year, there might be some combination of candle lighting, fireworks, an appearance by the temple elephant, Lakshmi, or a bonfire.
While most of the sites are free, three charge for admittance. One ticket gets you into all three, but only within the same day, so it is cheaper to see them all at once. Vithalla is a large temple complex featuring a stunning 100-column hall, a large chariot-shaped shrine and several mandapas. It is shrouded in mystery as it was built after the destruction of the capital, but no one knows under what circumstances. Next is the Lotus Mahal, a symmetrical open-air pavilion which is one of the best preserved sites in Hampi. The gracefully arched building is framed by extensive grounds and a watchtower in the distance. Finally, the elephant stables, 12 chambers that would have fit two elephants each, now stand empty and silent. Because of the religious significance of the site, there is no alcohol served in Hampi, although it is possible to get it in neighbouring towns or across the river at certain guest houses. Also, when visiting temples, it is important to dress appropriately, which means covering up bare arms, shoulders and legs. And unlike Goa, Hampi is largely a vegetarian-only town, so do not be surprised to see a distinct lack of meat on many menus.
1. Why the writer uses the word ‘decadence’ to describe the beach life in Goa?
2. Make sentences with ‘trappings’ and ‘decadence’.
3. Why does the author suggest tourists to include Hampi in their travel itinerary?
4. Make sentences with words ‘pillage’, and ‘lumber’.
5. Which are the temples a tourist likely to see in the temple complex? How do they go around?
6. Describe the sunset in Hampi.
7. How is the marriage of Virupaksha and Champa celebrated?
8. Describe the Vithalla complex. What mystery surrounds it?
9. Describe the Lotus Mahal.
10. What precautions with regard to dress and food a visitor should adopt while on a trip to Hampi?
1. Goa attracts tourists who flock to its beaches for lazying around enjoying liquor, drugs, sex, and non-stop music. All these are the characteristics of people who have a non-serious, indulgent mind-set. They don’t consider liquor, sex, and drugs as immoral and sinful. So, the author identifies Goa with decadence.
2. Trappings – Politicians, the world over, find it hard to relinquish their offices because the trappings of powr like government bungalow, car, office, and the public attention prove to be too aluring for them.
Decadence – The decadence and continuous infighting of the small Hindu rulers made it easy for a small band of disciplined British traders to raise an army and occupy the whole of India.
3. Being the capital of the powerful and sprawling Vijayanagara empire, Hampi had become the symbol of culture, affluence, and power of the the dynasty who had built in a vast area of 25 sq.km. Although most of it was ravaged by Muslim invaders, yet even the ruins exude the richness and majesty of the empire. The relics stand as mute witnesses of the vibrant life that existed then. The whole place has many temples that add an aura of spirituality to the complex. The tourists should visit this place to get a feel of the greatness of the civilization that existed then.
4. Pillage – The Somnath Temple was pillaged a number of times for its vast treasure of gold, silver and stones etc.
Lumber – An old, over-loaded truck lumbered past our house at midnight waking me up from my bed in fright.
5. The temple complex has a plethora of temples of different gods. These temples belong to Sri Krishna, Ganesha, and Badava Linga. Nearby, there is another temple dedicated to Shiva.
6. The sunset in Hampi offers a spectacular view of the setting Sun and the terrain full of boulders and rocks. The golden light of the Sun falls on the earth changing the color of the stones and the rocks from grey to orange-red. Hordes of spectators gather to watch the sight.
7. In November-December each year, the ceremonial marriage ceremony of Virupaksha and Champa takes place with a lot of fanfare. A chariot is drawn with the deities mounted on it. Devotees offer prayers. The function takes place at night. A lot of drum-beating accompanies the function.
8. The Vithalla Complex is a fairly large area where 100 pillars stand to support the roof. It presents a splendid architectural sight. No information is available about who got such a beautiful and large hall built. Mystery shrouds the matter.
9. The Lotus Mahal is one of the most beautiful, and best preserved sites. It is a symmetrical open air pavilion. A watch tower stands close to it. The gracefully arched building is framed by grounds.
10. The visitors are expected to dress decently covering their bodies. Non-vegetarian food is difficult to get. So, one should refrain from it. Drinking liquor is also discouraged in the area.