In my last post, I talked about visiting the marvelous Virupaksha Temple in Hampi. That’s only one of the many temples in the town. In fact, it’s the only one where people still worship. But there’s this other temple that is much larger and has much more grandeur when it comes to architecture. The Vittala temple in Hampi is a must-visit site and the stone chariot is a treat to the eyes.
In this blog post, I’ll talk about my experience of visiting Hampi’s marvelous Stone Chariot at Vittala temple. I’ll also share all other relevant details that you’d need to explore Vittala Temple.
Vittala Temple – The History
The Vijayanagara Empire is credited to be the architect of most of the things that you see in Hampi today. From temples and halls to markets and homes, the Vijayanagara Empire made Hampi what it is today. Vittala temple is the most prolific structure that the kings built.
It was constructed in the 15th century during the reign of Devaraya. However, the modern-day complex was majorly done by Krishna Devaraya. Dedicated to lord Vitalla, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, an idol was also placed in the temple. The temple complex is one of the largest in India and among the best when it comes to architecture.
Also, the Vittala temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the other group of monuments in Hampi. This complex was listed as early as 1986 by UNESCO and shows the importance of the cultural heritage and the architectural marvel that was created in the 15th century.
Vittala Temple Complex
Located on the outskirts of Hampi, the Vittala temple complex is quite large. So much so that there’s a pickup & drop service from the entrance to the actual temple. The service costs Rs 20 per head and is recommended. Since there are absolutely no trees around, the sun beats quite hard and makes it difficult to walk. Also, the road leading to the complex is dusty, uneven, and difficult for walking. Hope the tourism department takes note of this and makes it more accessible.
The first structure in the complex is the Gajjala Mantapa. A multipurpose hall from the yesteryears, none of the modern-day multipurpose halls can compare to it. It was used for festivities and congregations with musical performances in the past.
From here, the village road takes you to the actual complex. En route, you’ll see the ruins of the bazaars – similar to what you see at Virupaksha Temple. There’s another mandap called Kuduregombe Mandap on the way. I didn’t stop there and went straight to the temple complex.
The entry fee is Rs 25 per head, and you can also purchase it online to avoid the queue at the complex.
Things to See at Vittala Temple Hampi
Like any other South Indian temple, the first thing that you’ll notice is the gopuram. Unlike the one at Virupaksha, this isn’t quite as tall, however, the architecture is amazing. Upon entering, you’ll see a lot of structures spread across the complex. The ones that will grab your attention are the Stone Chariot, Musical Pillars, and the Vittala temple along with the Kalyan mandap. The complex is pretty clean and well-maintained. However, due to the absence of trees, it can get extremely hot during the day. So the best time to visit Vittala Temple would be early in the day or late in the evening.
Marvelous Stone Chariot as seen on ₹20 Note
Printed on the Rs ₹20 note, the stone chariot is a marvelous structure. Though considered to be built from a single piece of rock, this is built using multiple granite blocks. However, the way they are joined together without any gaps, makes it look like it’s monolithic.
It was built by Krishna Devaraya with inspiration from the Konark Sun Temple. It is believed that people back then believed that the world would come to a standstill if this chariot moved. There’s a chamber atop the chariot which had an idol of Garuda – the mount of Lord Vishnu. The chariot overlooks the Vittala Temple.
The chariot is beautiful and only when you see it in person, you’ll realize why it’s on the Indian currency note. It has intricate carvings with various animals and demigods. The huge wheels are characteristic and truly remarkable. At the front of the chariot are a pair of elephants which depict that the chariot is pulled by them.
Musical Pillars of Ranga Mandap
One of the major attractions at the Vittala temple after the Stone Chariot is the Ranga Mandap. The main highlight of this is the intricately carved monolithic pillars. There are 56 such pillars that are placed in a certain way and emit different musical notes thus called musical pillars. At the current moment, this was closed due to restoration work.
The pillars have richly carved mythical creatures, humans, and gods which are beautiful. Each of these pillars curls up beautifully to support the roof of the mandap. The ceilings too have complex and beautiful carvings. The middle photo in the above image is my current wallpaper 🙂
The pillars emitting musical notes have left many baffled over the years including the Britishers. They actually broke open two of the pillars just to see if there was anything inside, but there was nothing.
Kalyan Mandap and other structures
There are other different halls within the complex that are equally beautiful. The Kalyan Mandap was one of my favorites in the complex. The beautiful pillars with intricate carvings were a treat. There were warriors on horses along with mythical figurines.
Apart from that, there’s the main temple shrine behind the Ranga Mandap which many people visit. Due to the lack of time, I didn’t go in because I had to drive to Hyderabad right after this. There are other places like the King’s Balance, Haleya Mandap, Shivappa Gudi, Vishnu Gudi, and other ruins outside the complex. So if you’re really interested, I feel an entire day at the Vittala temple would be less.
A Visit to Hampi is Incomplete Without Vittala Temple
A trip to Hampi would be incomplete without a visit to the magnificent Vittala Temple, where the iconic Stone Chariot stands as a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the Vijayanagara Empire’s architects and artisans. The temple’s intricate carvings and stunning architecture are truly awe-inspiring and make for a memorable experience.
You can immerse yourself in the history and culture of the region while marveling at the temple’s impressive engineering feats, such as the musical pillars and the iconic chariot. The Vittala Temple is undoubtedly a must-visit for anyone exploring Hampi, and a visit to this incredible monument is sure to be a highlight of any trip to the region.
That’s about it for this blog post, I’m also planning to write a complete Guide to Hampi, so keep an eye out for it. Until then, let me know your thoughts about this post in the comments below. You can also tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM me on Instagram, or Get In Touch.