The Monuments of Hampi (Continued…)
THE VITTALA TEMPLE
The Vittala temple is undoubtedly the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. Vittala is a form of Lord Vishnu after whom the temple is known. Originally built in the 15th century the temple was extended by many successive rulers to the present form. One can see the remains of a township called Vittalapura that existed around the temple complex. The highlight of Vittala Temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot. The halls are carved with overwhelming array of sculptures on giant granite pillars. The stone chariot is often considered as the symbol of Hampi.
THE INSCRIBED VISHNU TEMPLE
The temple got its name thanks to the numerous rows of inscriptions carved on its outer walls. Though it’s popularly called the Inscribed Vishnu Temple, this temple was originally a dedicated to Tirumangai Alvar, the last of the 12 Alvar saints. The Alvars were poet-saints espoused bhakti (devotion) to the Lord Vishnu, hence this temple’s proximity to the Vittala (a form of Vishnu) Temple. The inscriptions on the wall says this temple was built by Avubilaraju in 1554 CE.
THE KING’S BALANCE
The Kings’ Balance is an ancient scale located south west of the Vittala Temple. This rare balance is also known as Tula Bhara. The balance was used by the Vijayanagara kings on special occasions like Dasara, Coronation ceremony etc. The king used to weigh himself with gold, silver, gems, precious stones and jewellery and give away those things to the priests of the temples in charity.The monument consists of two beautifully carved granite pillars with a height of 15 feet. The pillars support a heavy stone beam of about 12 feet. There are three hoops on the underside of the stone beam. The hoops were used to hang the balance. One of the pillars has the image of the king and two queens carved on stone.
THE VARAHA TEMPLE
The Varaha Temple is located close to the river side north end of the courtesan’s street. The temple is dedicated to Varaha swamy one of the incarnations of Vishnu.
THE ACHUTARAYA TEMPLE
This was one of the last grandiose temple projects executed in the capital, before the fall of the empire. The temple complex and the ruined market street in front of it sit in a semi secluded valley created by two hills – the Gandhamadana & Matanga hills . Partially due to its off location from the main tourist track and the hidden nature of the temple’s location makes it less crowded. The temple dedicated to Lord Tiruvengalanatha, a form of Vishnu.
THE RIVERSIDE RUINS & 1008 LINGAS
The riverside gorge just north of the Kodandarama Temple is remarkable for the various clusters of ruins. The important ones are the array of Shiva Lingas carved on the surface of a flat rock. One is an array of 108 Lingas and the other is of 1008 Lingas. Not very far on a vertical rock there is a carving of Lord Vishnu in a reclining position. The other interesting features include a series of pavilions, partially submerged tiny shrines, sequence of motifs carved on the rock surfaces and spotting of sculptured artifacts lay at random all around.
To reach this location you can hire a coracle from near the Kodandarama temple. You can negotiate the price, normally they charge Rs. 50/- per head and if you are alone they may ask for Rs. 300/- for a trip. Since I was alone they finally agreed for Rs.200/- for a trip. The ride will give you a nice view of the gorge on both sides and they will stop you at the place where the carved Lingas are there. The climb may be little tricky as the rocks are bit slippery and there are no steps available. From there you can see the Chandramauleshwara Temple on the other bank of the river which is under renovation and is off limit to visitors.
And finally these feathery friends who made there nest on this dead coconut tree near my lodge:
I spent 2 days in Hampi, exploring the various monuments. Most of the areas were covered by foot except for the rikshaw which I hired for half a day to visit the Bhima’s Gate, Ganagitti Temple, Pattabhirama Temple and the Archaeological Museum at Kamlapura. It was unfortunate that I could not see the Museum fully due to the absence light owing to a power failure in Kamlapura area that day. Still feel I have not covered all the areas!!! May be next time to spend a week there….