Special feature: Hyundai Great India Drive with the all-new i20
The very place that you are standing right now is the testimony of our glorious past, said one of the locals pointing out to the numerous structures around us. We have driven down close to 800km from Mumbai to visit the heritage city of Hampi to experience the unseen side of the country and also live through the bygone era of opulence and a great legacy. And to do that, we had the all-new Hyundai i20, a hatchback that has won the hearts of many over its years of existence. It all started with Hyundai handing over the keys of the red hatch in Mumbai.
While the team did not blurt it out, I could feel the sense of scepticism about the choice of a hatchback to travel the long distance considering its cabin space, comfort and performance compared to an SUV, which would have been an obvious choice. But to their happiness, the i20 not only accommodated us comfortably but also offered sufficient space to carry our equipment all the way and back. But then what is life without some thrill, right? Instead of taking the conventional route to Hampi from Mumbai via AH47, we took the much busier route passing through Pune, Solapur and Vijaypura to see if our little red driving hood could take on the city heat without affecting our comfort. And happily, it did
You know you are closing in towards Hampi when you are surrounded by a view of self-balancing gigantic rocks, some of them are twice the size of an HCV truck. Many of these rocks are believed to be more than 2.5 billion years old, which have attracted not only domestic but international tourists. The climate and geographical conditions of these terrains have also invited different species of animals to make it their habitat.
It's extremely early in the morning and we are at our first highlight of the trip, the Yeduru Basavanna. A giant structure of a monolithic bull that will intimidate you with its presence and also make you feel extremely small with its size and form. Carved out of a single boulder, this structure was commissioned by one of the rulers in the Vijaynagara Era that has stood through time, guarding Hampi. This is in line with its mythological reference to Nandi being the gatekeeper of Lord Shiva. One more interesting bit about most of the temples are the Pushkarnis for water storage that also served as a venue for conducting different ceremonies back then and even now.
If you are someone who likes intricate detailing, then you surely would enjoy the structures and pillars in the Vittala Temple. The carvings which have been there for centuries have stories to tell. But what will surely get all your attention is the Stone Chariot, one of the three in the country, a shrine that is dedicated to Garuda the carrier of Lord Vishnu. It is said that King Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire built the chariot inspired by the one in Konark. The Stone Chariot is architectural excellence with carvings depicting the battles that took place. Popular folklore about the chariot is that the world will come to an end, the day the stone chariot starts moving.
Moving from the rich bygone era of the Vijayanagara Empire, we proceeded to a modern marvel of engineering excellence. The Tungabhadra dam, which takes up the entire view of what you can see with its 33 crest gates. Located on the Tungabhadra river, the dam is only one in the country that has been created without concrete and cement but a combination of mud and limestone, making it stand firm and tall for close to seven decades now. Apart from the fact that is an important dam for its contribution to irrigation, flood control and also electricity generation, the geographical conditions around the dam has also invited different migratory species of birds. In addition to the breathtaking views of luscious trees, intimidating self-balancing rocks, Hampi is also a reminder of the rich bygone years that the country had seen. It takes you on a unique journey through its glorious roots highlighting the rich legacy and culture.
And that is the purpose of Hyundai's Great India Drive which has been conceptualised to capture unique stories across India, connecting people back to their roots and harmonizing in the symphony of nature. Also, how can we not mention the i20 whose performance kept us engaged, features that kept us entertained and comfort that let us enjoy the view without being bothered by anything else.
Images: Sumit Gaikwad
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