Hampi – Vittala Temple
Vittala Temple is the cynosure of all the attractions in Hampi. It depicts the most grand architecture that dates back to early 15th and 16th century and no wonder the ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Vittala, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. The temple complex consists of halls, shrines and structures that were used in the olden days as marriage hall, the central sanctum, a rang mantapa, and the kitchen.
The road leading to the temple was once a market where horses were traded. These ruins can be seen as you approach the temple. Small golf carts ply tourists from the main road to the entrance of the temple. Inside the temple, one can see carvings that show Chinese men depicting traders who came to find business in the city.
The temple has been built per the Dravidian style of architecture and the entrance shows that beautifully.
You will notice carvings of a man, woman and a child in ashtanga namaskara pose showing that the complex was a place of worship in those days. However, today there are no idols and only the name remains.
An impressive pillared hall adorns the complex and there are carving on the granite pillars inside this hall. The pillars in the halls are musical by the design. They support the roof of the main temple and the way they are constructed, seven minor pillars surround a main pillar. These pillars when struck produce sound. In olden days, when this Rang Mantapa was used as a dance hall, these pillar were used as musical instruments. The structure has varying degree of radii along the length making it ring when struck.
The British were so curious about this phenomena that they had cut two pillars to check if there was anything inside the pillars that was produced the sound. These pillars turned out to be hollow. Even today we can see those pillars cut by the British.
Stone Chariot at the center of the complex is grandiose and considered to be the most stunning architecture of the Vijayanagara kingdom. It appears monolithic but it is not. There are parts of the chariot that were done separately and mounted. The wheels were also fixed to avoid any damage to the structure.
The more time you spend in the Vittala Temple, the more involved you feel in the history and all that happened around. How the place was kept cool in scorching heat, the carving and what they mean to Indian mythology and I was also mesmerized by the trees in the complex. All around, it seems there is some story waiting to be told.
Exploring the ruins of Hampi without a guide would be superficial. These men have studied archaeology and their profession demands sharing the knowledge they posses. Details that are minute yet significant. Details that you would not find in any book. They take you around one by one explaining history and how it evolved.
When in Hampi, start your day by a visit to this temple and then you can have as much time as you want to explore this architectural marvel and yes, do not forget to pack in your walking shoes.
I recently visited Hampi and this post is a part of series. The small city in North Karnataka has a lot of historical significance and is too grand and beautiful to be described in just a travelogue. Read the rest of the posts here. Happy Travelling!