Hampi spread across 26sq kms lie the remains of the splendid medieval city of Vijayanagara, the city of victory.Hampi was the capital of the powerful Vijayanagara empire from AD 1343 to 1565. Which was ruled by the powerful kings like Harihara II, Devaraya II, Krishnadevaraya who showcased their immense might in the grandiose monuments they constructed. It is listed in the UNESCO world heritage site.
Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. Once I entered this temple I totally lost my senses.. “What a beauty it is?” No amount of words can explain this 15th century spectacle. This temple is a mix of Art and science. I think there’s no other temple in the world which is so rich in art and is combined with acoustics sciences. The temple is built in the form of a sprawling campus with compound wall and gateway towers. There are many halls, pavilions and temples located inside this campus. This temple is dedicated to Vittala(Lord Krishna). The highlight of this temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot. The halls are carved with an overwhelming array of sculptures on the giant granite pillars. The stone chariot located inside the campus is almost an iconic structure of Hampi.
As I entered this temple, My eyes got struck on to a stone chariot that is so beautifully carved. An image of Garuda (the eagle god) was originally enshrined within its sanctum. Garuda, according to the Hindu mythology, is the vehicle of lord Vishnu. Thus the Garuda shrine facing the temple’s sanctum is symbolic.
All around this base platform is carved with mythical battle scenes. Though the chariot is not resting on it, the four giant wheels attached mimic the real life ones complete with the axis shafts & the brakes. A series of concentric floral motifs decorate the wheels. This Chariot has became the trademark of Hampi and the wheels still rotate, This proves that Vijayanagara Kings have a great taste in art of sculptures.
On leaving the Stone Chariot you reach the main hall in front of the Vittala temple. This hall though partially damaged is still awe inspiring. Facing the Stone Chariot, a series of steps flanged with elephant balustrades gives access to this elevated open hall called the Maha-Mantapa (the great hall). The balustrades on the east and west porch of this hall is more dramatic with giant lion Yalis fighting the relatively dwarf elephants. The Maha-Mantapa stands on a highly ornate platform. This fluted platform is carved with a series of floral motifs. The lowermost of it is a chain of horses, its trainers and the traders.
The Maha-Mantapa contains four open halls within. The south, north and the east ones are still intact. The central western hall is collapsed, probably due to the arson that followed the fall of the capital.
The main highlight of the Maha-Mantapa is its richly carved giant monolithic pillars. The outermost of the pillars are popularly called the musical pillars. These slender and short pilasters carved out of the giant pillars emit musical tones when tapped.
The eastern hall which is called the musicians hall is notable for sculptures of musicians on the pillars. Each of the pillars surrounding this hall is sculptured with musicians, drummers and dancers.
The southern hall is dominated with the rampant mythical creatures called Yalis. The capitals of each of the pillars branches into heavily ornate corbels with terminating with lotus buds.
The inner sanctum is devoid of any idol. A narrow and unlit passageway encircles the inner sanctum. A few steps on either sides of the sanctum’s main door give access to this passage. The outer wall of the sanctum that one can only sees from this passageway is richly decorated with the Kumbha-Pankajas (the motifs where lotus flower flows out of a pot). Even after so many Ravages this temple didn’t lose its charm.
Some Tips and Info from my perspective:
1. Taking a knowledgeable guide is a must and mandatory, without them its really very difficult to understand these Architectural wonders. Guides here Speak different languages starting from Telugu, Tamil,Hindi to German, French and Spanish.
2. Though we didn’t do a Bicycle tour. After seeing few people doing it, I felt it as fascinating.
3. If you are an Architecture lover then try to spend 3 days in Hampi.
4. According to me this temple/Hampi is one must see places in India. People are very friendly and hospitable, You won’t regret visiting this place.
5. This is also a romantic getaway for couples.