Karnataka · Travel

Vittala Temple, Hampi: An architectural masterpiece

Hampi is one of the most visited and popular sites in Karnataka and it is really one of those places you never tire of seeing again and again.  This is because there is so much to explore in this ancient town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and akin to an open air museum.  I was delighted to visit this fascinating town again as part of the Golden Chariot journey.

Of the innumerable wonders in Hampi, the Vittala temple is considered to be the most magnificent and perhaps the ‘star attraction’ of the town.  Built during the reign of Devaraya II, the temple was further renovated under the famous ruler Krishnadevaraya in the early 16th century.  Often touted to be pinnacle of the Vijaynagar school of architecture, the Vittala temple is synonymous with architectural and sculptural brilliance.

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Like many of Hampi’s monuments, the temple’s imposing brick tower, is not in a very good shape and is almost in a dilapidated state today.

Built on an ornate plinth, the temple complex is large and houses a number of pavilions, four halls, enclosures and temples.  The 100 pillared hall pavilion or mantapa on the south western part of the temple and the northern and southern gateways carved with images of Vishnu, to whom the temple is dedicated are some of the special features of the monument.

Intricate sculptures of leaping yalis (mythical beasts) with riders mounted on them are seen abundantly in the temple especially in the southern hall.

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The carvings on the outer walls are also detailed and boast of some of the most superior craftsmanship.

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The pillars of the halls have multifarious and unique carvings.

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The highlight of the temple is of course the iconic stone chariot and the marvelous musical pillars.  Situated on the east, opposite to the entrance is the spectacular stone chariot that is literally, the symbol of Hampi.  It is one of the three famous stone chariots found in India, the other two being in Konark and Mahabalipuram.

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The wheels of the chariot actually rotate but the same has been cemented by the Archaeological Survery of India due to the potential damage it may cause given the high density of visitors.  Dedicated to Lord Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu, the chariot is seen being drawn by two elephants.  Originally there were a pair of horses in the place of elephants.

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The other unique feature of the Vittala temple are composite pillars of the Sabha mandapa that are designed as clusters of hollow, slender pillars.  These pillars when gently tapped emit soft melodious musical note like sounds.  These are popularly known as the “Saregama” pillars today.  Tapping on the pillars is prohibited now due to the extensive damage that has already been caused to these master pieces.

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The entrance to the temple complex was a vibrant market, the remains of which are seen even today.

Click here and here to read about other magnificent temples in Karnataka.

27 thoughts on “Vittala Temple, Hampi: An architectural masterpiece

  1. Of all your fascinating images I like the stone chariot the best. I am amazed at the high level of craftsmanship that went into making the chariot with wheels capable of turning.

    By the way, could look into your blog design and see if there is a flaw somewhere. I receive about 5 notifications for each post that you publish.

    Greetings from distant Canada!

  2. Beautiful account of a beautiful place! I’ve never been to Hampi but have always wanted to paint the famous stone chariot. Didn’t know about the Saregama pillars…very interesting Rashmi. Trust you to come up with these amazing, articles brimming with immense history 🙂

  3. Hi Rashmi

    I read your blog post on The Vittala Temple, Hampi. It was insightful, with quite an amount of information on the Temple which were so far unknown to me, along with the sharp, magnificent photos depicting its architectural style cum wonder. Last but not the least, your narrative style is very good. I felt as if I am watching a documentary on TV 🙂

    Keep up your good work about such heritage sites and other stuff. By the way, I would like to request you to write bigger articles/documentaries accompanied by video posts if possible

    Thanks !!

    Best regards
    Vijay Bhaskar

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