As the epicenter of Hampi’s attractions, Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. No amount of words can explain this spectacle. 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.
Vittala, after whom the temple is known, is a form of lord Vishnu. This aspect of Vishnu was worshiped in this part of the country as their cult deity by the cattle herds.
The temple was originally built in the 15th century AD. Many successive kings have enhanced the temple campus during their regimes to the present form. You can even see the remains of a township called Vittalapura that existed around this temple complex. The highlight of Vittala 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.
One enters the Vittala Temple complex along a long pedestrian-only road.
Along the road are the ruins of many small temples and huge water tanks.
Then you arrive at the huge and intricately carved gopuram entance.
On entering through this massive tower, the first thing draws your attention is a series of compact platforms along the central axis of the campus. At the end of these platforms stands the Stone Chariot. This is in fact a shrine built in the form of a temple chariot. 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.
It is sometimes referred to as a monolithic structure. In reality this stone shrine was built with many giant granite blocks. The joints are smartly hidden in the carvings and other decorative features that adorn the Stone Chariot. The chariot is built on a rectangular platform of a foot or so high. 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. It appears from the marks on the platform, where the wheels rest, the wheels were free to move around the axis.
You can still see the remains of the painting on the carvings of the chariot. It is believed the whole of the Vittala Temple’s sculptures were once beautifully painted in similar fashion using the minerals as medium.
In front of the chariot two elephants are positioned as if they are pulling the chariot. In fact these elephants where brought from elsewhere and positioned here at a later stage. Originally two horses were carved in that position.
There are so many more beautiful structures throughout Vittala.