Anegundi, or Kishkindha as it is historically known, has many facets. Overlooking the ruins of Hampi on the other side of the river Tungabhadra, it is generally an addendum to the itinerary of tourists visiting Hampi. However, by the sheer magnificence of its landscapes and the folklores around it, Anegundi can have its own claim to touristic fame.
Those familiar with the Ramayana know Kishkindha as the land of the “Vanaras”, or the monkey brigade that had a significant part to play in the epic. Led by their king Sugriva and assisted by the monkey God Hanuman, the Vanara soldiers played a pivotal role in Lord Rama’s successful quest of his beloved queen Sita that culminated in a bitter war with the demon king Ravana of Lanka. One important member of Sugriva’s court was Jambavan, the divine king of the bears, revered for his wisdom. It is probably no coincidence that the region is also presently a well known habitat of sloth bears with the Daroji Bear Sanctuary located not too far away.
Hampi, the famous capital of the Vijayanagara kingdom, lies across the Tungabhadra, on the southern bank. The heritage sites of the Vijaya Vitthala, Virupaksha and other temples as well as the remnants of many royal buildings lie on the southern side. Back in the days of the empire, some military establishments of the empire lay on the northern bank, in Anegundi (Anegundi literally means “elephant’s pit”), where elephants were housed and trained for warfare. The remnants of the city wall is also visible as you approach Anegundi.
One of the attractions of the region used to be what is known as the Hippy Island. This had a number of homestays and shacks and used to draw a lot of young crowd and backpackers. These accommodations and shacks have now been closed down by the local administration in order to protect the area from excessive human presence that was seemingly posing a threat to the sustainability of this world heritage site.
Hampi and Anegundi have a number of folklores around the Ramayana, the happenings in Kishkindha being an epoch in this saga. The Anjanadri hill that was the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, the various hills and caves associated with the stories of Sugriva and Bali, their falling apart, Lord Rama’s arrival on this land and the final vanquishing of Bali (a morally debatable episode) all bear testimony to the ancient connections of this region.
Hampi and Anegundi provide a spectacular ensemble of heritage architecture and unique landscapes. Some of the adjacent areas like Kamalapura, Daroji Bear Sanctuary and Hirebenakal (a recently discovered megalithic site) add to the mix of experiences to be had in the region.
My visits to Hampi and Anegundi have been extremely fulfilling. I have shared my experience of the ruins of Hampi in my blog post “Romancing the Ruins – Hampi” (https://travelinthenewnormalin.wordpress.com/2021/06/06/romancing-the-ruins-hampi/).