Hampi - III : Vitthala Temple

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Vitthala Temple: Hampi - III

This is the most important among the ruins of Hampi for its art and architecture.  Though the temple complex was attacked by the Muslim invaders, it still stands as the most beautiful monument of Hampi, leaving behind us to only imagine the grandeur of the temple complex during the reign of Vijayanagara Kingdom.
It is strategically located on the right bank of the river Tungabhadra facing Anegundi town on the other side of the river. Connecting these two was an ancient bridge, which has only the pillars remaining out of the ruins. This probably was planned to be at the middle of the old capital Anegundi and new capital Hampi.
This temple is dedicated to Vitthala, a form of lord Vishnu.
A Ruined city at the Vitthala temple complex
Design of the temple complex: The Vittala temple complex is having a high enclosure with three gateway towers or Gopuras, the main tower facing the east, the smaller ones on to the north and south. To its west is the Tungabhadra river. In front of the main entrance to the east is a long Bazaar street with a stepped well at a distance. There are three open mantapas namely the Maha-Mantapa at the center, Kalyana Mantapa to the south east, and the 100-pillared hall at the south west.

In the temple complex the two main mantapas were built by Krishnadevaraya in 1513.
The main-entrance gopura to the east of the complex, made of clay bricks
Sculptures on the Main Gopura
Portion of the Maha-Mantapa (left) and the northern Gopura (right)

In front of the main temple is the Stone Chariot, which is termed as the most popular icon of Hampi. The stone chariot is a Garuda shrine built in the form of temple, with a ruined gopura. The stone chariot faces the Main Vittala shrine, as Garuda being the mount of Vishnu.
It is said that the wheels were once able to turn on their axles, although they are currently cemented in place.
The Iconic Stone Chariot
One more highlight of the temple is its remarkable monolithic musical pillars. The main hall of the Vittala temple is the star-shaped great pillared hall called as the Maha-Mantapa is an impressive piece of art with its majestic size and awe inspiring pillars. Though at present the Maha-Mantapa is in a ruined state but it still strikes the eye of the beholder. The monolithic pillars of the Maha-Mantapa are richly carved with the outer ones designed to give out different musical notes. Each of these pillars is further carved into seven circular pillars each of these producing different musical tones when tapped with fingers tied with leathers. The curiosity among men and unscientific procedure of tapping the pillars have led to partial destruction of these rare scientific pillars, leading to ban on touching them in the present day only to preserve it to our future generations. The central hall of the Maha-Mantapa is collapsed which was already in ruined state after the invasion that followed the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire. The western side of the temple is mostly a closed structure with doorways on to its north and south side. The main entrance to the east is evident of the damage of the temple.
The mammoth Maha-Mantapa, this probably illustrates why Vitthala Temple is considered the finest of the Vijayanagara series
The central portion of the Maha-Mantapa in a ruined state
The magnitude of the Maha-Mantapa can be seen here.
The Kalyana Mantapa or the Marriage Hall is located to the south east of the complex. This was used to perform marriage ceremonies during the Vijayanagara period. This is an open pavilion with its interiors surrounded by impressive and massive columns and a circular raised platform, for the performance of dances. The pillars of the Mantapa are sculptured with soldiers riding Valis, and carry the roof beams and large sculptured brackets. The architecture of this Mantapa is similar to that of the Maha-Mantapa.
Kalyana-Mantapa, the most sustained among the Vitthala complex
Soldiers riding Vali sculptured on the pillars
The central circular stage of the Kalyana-Mantapa

The Maha-Mantapa as seen from the Kalyana Mantapa
The temple complex also houses two more open pavilion mantapas one at the south west and another to the north east, both of these resemble the main mantapa in design.
The Mantapa to the North-East
The Colonnades on the south-east side of the complex along the enclosure wall.
The Maha-Mantapa as seen from the north-west corner, at a distance is the main gopura
Take a note on the closing time of the temple complex, its gate is closed at sharp 6pm, and all the tourists are forced to take the exit by the guards.
Maha-Mantapa (left), Stone Chariot (center) and the Kalyana-Mantapa (right)
The route left to the temple complex takes you to the River Tungabhadra passing through the Kings Balance. The ancient ruined bridge can be seen over the river.
The Kings Balance
Tungabhadra River with the ruined bridge
Don’t miss out to spend the evening at the banks of the river with cold breeze blowing you away with mesmerizing views of the sunset behind the hills of Anegundi, a perfect place to end the journey.
Beautiful sunset behind the Vitthala temple
For more on the story on Hampi click below links,
Hampi - I : The Royal Enclosure
Hampi - II : Virupaksha Temple

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