The very first thing that struck me when I opened the newly arrived book written by noted author Roopa Pai and illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan, was to make a mini check list of my own if I had seen the places mentioned in the second page of the book.
I have been to Hampi around nine years ago and the story and book lists out the iconic Virupaksha temple, Lotus Mahal, Vitthala temple, Anjanadri hill among others.
The story is relived through the journey of a young girl and that of her grandmother who she calls Amma instead of Ajji (grandmother). It is a beautiful relationship of arguments, conversations, bonding that of a parent and a child.
Going back and forth in the story, the young girl discovers foods that are typical of a Karnataka meal, laid on a banyan leaf but is amazed to know that a few hundred years ago, people did not know on chilies or peanuts. In fact they were brought to the land by the Portugese through their sea quests.
The book is suited for 8 year old onwards and it might help if one can inform the kids on the history of how Hampi, then Vijayanagara came to existence with Hukka and Bukka and so many subsequent kings to the majestic Krishnadevaraya under whose rule the kingdom saw its true glory.
There is also the introduction of various Karnataka foods like mudde-saaru, mosaru butti that makes a reader want to taste the dishes soon enough.
The stories like episodes goes in flashes and are listed as chapters written in Kannada alphabets. There are humorous to emotional insights of what the mighty king would have shared if the empire was from Telugu or Karnataka dynasty or to him feeling remorseful after certain decisions.
One cannot deny the credit to the talented illustrator who brings life to the story. The colours are vivid, earthy and reflects Hampi’s personality of being vibrant and colourful. For a large part of the story, while reading, I felt it was as enigmatic as a motion picture like as one would watch the epic movie Bahubali.
The characters, the kings, queens, kingdom looks majestic and makes you want to live in the time of the story. The illustrations also look as captivating as Tanjore paintings do reflecting the costumes of the kings and the queens to the sights that behold when one goes to Hampi.
Tracing the history of the existence of Vijayanagara empire to the footprints of Arabs, Portugese, Persians and others, the story gives you the belief that when people travel and bring good things to a city, the city and its people grow in culture, food and language.
The description of the majestic Tungabhadra river to the must-see sunrise view at Anjanadri hill near Hampi to the interesting insight on how Hosapete got its name, the story of Krishnadevaraya truly makes you want to be transported to a different time zone.
If not for anything, the book has trickled my travel instinct and I do want to travel to Hampi again and check for the specific points listed in the storybook.
(Reshma Krishnamurthy from Mums and Stories received the book from Good Earth for a review.)
(Pictures are subject to copyright).