At some point in our lives, with numerous backgrounds we would have watched some of the most beautiful sun-rises giving us hope for the day and setting suns giving us a promise of tomorrow. But watching a sun- rise or a sun -set with a mythological background is very erratic and contrasting unless we choose to get there. One such location with a mythological background and is most spoken about in Karnataka, India is the Matanga hills at Hampi, now a UNESCO world heritage site. I have witnessed some of these moments as luck by chance, but for the first time I took a time off to hike up to Matanga hills to watch the sunset. At about one Kilometre from Hampi bus station Matanga hills is located at the eastern end of the Hampi Bazaar and is easily accessible by road till the foot hills.
The ascent to the top will take about thirty minutes, can be lesser depending on the pace. With a total step count of around 600 , it’s a fantastic climb with some great views. There are steps from the base to right up the hill, it appeared easy and I believed it’s going to be a cake walk. But I was wrong. As the approach got narrow and steep with some boulders to walk over, the rhythm and momentum in me reduced. With back pack on shoulder, camera hanging around my neck and water bottle in hand, carrying light was the only option and had to pack off the camera to the backpack, so no pictures clicked. Well, from then on, I steadied up with an anticipation of the view at the top. The steps are original with some boulders to walk over. On the way up, as you near the peak there is a cave between the boulders which will eventually lead you to the shrine. It’s a beautiful sight up at the hill, this is one of the best part about Hampi. As you explore there is always some thing of interest pretty much everywhere.
Matanga hills has a story behind and this is some thing which I grew up hearing from my grand mom. As per Ramayana, the Hindu mythology, the place was the heritage of sage Matanga. Monkey prince Vali killed a buffalo demon called Dundhuvi and had thrown the corpse on to the sacred Matanga hill. Angry at this act, sage Matanga cursed Vali that he could never venture on to this hill. Later Dundhuvi’ s son Mayavi fought with Vali to avenge his father’s death. Vali chased him into a cave; and asked his brother Sugriva to stand guard outside.
After a while thinking that Vali was killed in the fight, Sugreeva closed the cave. Finally, Vali emerged from the cave and chased Sugreeva out of the monkey kingdom. Sugreeva along with his warrior Lord Hanuman, took refuge at the Matanga hill, as Vali could not climb this hill. Later Lord Rama killed Vali and crowned Sugreeva as the king of the monkeys. However, the temple located at the hilltop is that of Veerabhadra connected with Lord Shiva.
It was such a blissful moment up there, unfortunately I could not get to see the sun set due to cloudy weather. Despite several people up there, the place was very quiet and there was this group of young priests chanting prayers which was very soothing to the ears. The descent took a little slow in pace due to the jagged structure of the rocks. Travellers, backpackers, trekkers, climbers, nature and history lovers, devotees – Hampi has something in store for everyone, not just because its historic and mythical but for the fact that the heritage it carries to our culture which every Indian should be proud of.