Vittala Temple – The showstopper of Hampi
If Hampi hosts a fashion show where the monuments are walking the historic runway, Vittala temple has to be the showstopper ! The architectural beauty of this temple is something to be seen. Of course, when I started the day, I did not know that I would be wowed so 🙂 . Let me share my experience in this 4th series on Hampi.
We started the day – driving towards Vittala Temple and passing through Talarigatta Gate
1) Talarigatta Gate
While the Talarigatta Gate is largely damaged, it apparently was one of the main entry points into the center of the capital city from the riverside. It was probably the tollgate into Hampi in its hey days.
We parked the car in the shade, bought the tickets to the electric vehicle ride to the temple. Standing in the queue we looked around and spotted the Gejjala Mantapa
2) Gejjala Mantapa
Surrounded by coconut plantation, the exactly purpose of this structure is not known. Its proximity to the Vittala Temple suggests religious significance, maybe a platform to keep idols of the gods during festivals.
The structure being relatively small does not attract a lot of tourists (or maybe they ignore this in their zest to get to Vittala temple). I did find some tourists taking a break in the shade of this pavilion though.
The electric cart finally arrived and I saw the mystic of this fabulous temple unfold.
3) Kudure Gombe Mantapa and Pushkarni
This monument is on the way up to Vittala temple. It gets its name from the horse sculptures (Kudure means horse) that are carved on its front pillars.
The fact that this is on the main road leading to the temple and diagonally opposite the temple tank (Pushkarni) , it probably had significant role in the annual chariot festival or the boat festival held in the temple tank. A great spot to catch some breath or escape the heat of the sun as these tourists found out !
4) Vittala temple
This Vishnu temple was originally built in the 15th century AD. The road leading to this temple, known as Vittala Bazaar, was once a thriving market place and famous for horse trading. Depiction of this can be seen on the decorated base of the Maha Mantapa.
The ruins of the pillared pavilion can be seen on both sides of the road
We enter the premises through the massive entrance tower, next to which the ticket counter is located.
I was immediately awe-struck. The first thing that drew my attention is the most famous artifact in Hampi, the Stone Chariot or the “Stone Car” as one tourist inquired.
a) The Stone Chariot
Located in the center of the courtyard, this iconic structure is in fact a shrine in the form of a chariot. It is dedicated to Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.
It is believed that all the sculptures in this temple, at one point, were painted with mineral colors. Remnants of these can be seen on the carvings of the chariot, especially the undercarriage.
The chariot is placed on a carved platform and on the wheels have intricately carved floral motifs. Earlier the wheels of the chariot could be moved. It has now been fixed to arrest further wear and tear due to movement.
b) Maha Mantapa
This is the main hall of the Vittala Temple and is a structure of immense beauty. The steps of the Maha Mantapa are decorated with elephant balustrade.
It stands on an ornate platform which also has bas relief of foreign horse trades.
Maha mantapa is divided into four halls with stairs leading to these four different directions. One part of the halls has collapsed and was under renovation when we visited.
This most talked about part of the hall is called “Musicians Hall” and the main attraction are these pillars known as Musical pillars. When gently tapped, these pillars emit tones as depicted by the figure underneath each pillar.
Can you not imagine the grandiose of this place when there would be dancers performing to the music from these pillars ? Curiosity of visitors has damaged many of these and tapping on it is now banned for preservation.
You can see beautiful carving all around like these
c) The 100 pillared hall (Kalyana Mantapa)
This 16th century hall was probably used for ceremonial marriage and events. It has stone carvings of Vishnu and his various Avatars.
Within the complex, we can see pillared cloisters all around the enclosure wall
I loved the contrast this tree makes to the ruined temple domes. Portrays life in ruins !
From the temple we also get a great view of the Anjenadri Hill at Anegundi village, which is the birthplace of Hamuman.
We were also shown a 4 in 1 sculpture that can be mother and baby monkey, frog, snake and lion. Can you spot them ?
Al in all, we had a great time exploring Vittala temple and monuments related to it. Would you agree with me that this is the showstopper ? Which is your favorite monument ? Would love to hear from you.
Link to other Hampi article in the series (in case you missed these)
Route 1 – Exploring Sacred Center
Route 2 – Exploring the riverside at Hampi
Route 3 – Exploring the Royal Center
Things you may want to know before the travel (Travel tips)
- Getting here and other tips from my first blog
- Vittala temple can be reached by walk along the riverbank from Hampi Bazaar or by vehicle / bus
- The temple opens from 8.30 in the morning to 5.30 in the evening. Try and be here by 8 am for a peaceful visit and great photography ops
- A guided tour may not take you to lesser sites like Gejjala Mantapa, Kudure Gombe Mantapa or Pushkarni. Shortlist places based on your interest for the available time and confirm your itinerary and stopover locations before you start
- Admission fee for Indian citizens is Rs 10 and USD 5 for foreign nationals. This ticket can be used the same day for Zenena Enclosure. Admission is free for children less than fifteen
- Video camera ticket is Rs25 while use of the still camera is free