Hampi is one of the most visited destinations in the Asian subcontinent and was on my bucket list for a very long time. Being the capital of the Vijayanagara Kingdom, Hampi boasts one of the spectacular Dravidian form of architecture. It is one of the Unesco World Heritage Site here in India. A day trip around the ruins of Hampi takes back to the rich heritage of Mother India in ancient times. The prime and most photographed attraction of Hampi is the Vitthala Temple dedicated to Lord Vitthala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is the most well preserved monument in the area. The temple is situated on the northern part of Hampi along the bank of river Tungabhadra.
The temple can be reached via an eco-friendly van from the nearest road. The main entrance facing the east was our port of entry. The main temple complex constituted of Maha Mandapa (the main hall) which has intricately carved deities and war scenes in each of them. The entry to the hall was guarded by an unique animal like structure. To quench our interest in knowing more about it, we turned back to our guide. He explained that that the animal like structure was the symbol of the dynasty and was a fusion of several animals. The head was a comprised of a dragon, an elephant with the teeth of a crocodile and eye of a vulture. The body represented the power of a lion with the beauty of a peacock (the peacock is intricately carved in the calf muscle of the structure). You have to see to believe it. A warrior rode on the back of the creature (Check out the picture below). The Ranga Mandapa had 56 musical pillars. Through gentle tap, our guide elicited various musical notes. I was also told that scientists from around the globe could not provide a scientific explanation to this creation. This cluster of musical pillars were cut out of single hollow stone. Kalyana Mantapa (marriage hall), Utsava Mantapa (festival hall) were the other halls.
The prime attraction certainly was the grand Stone Chariot in the centre of the Temple. King Krishnadevaraya II was inspired by the Konark Temple in Odisha and had ordered his craftsmen to build one for him. Let the photographs do the talking !!
The Vitthala temple was truly a masterpiece of the Vijayanagara dynasty.
More on Hampi coming soon.