Hampi Continues to Live – Part 4

Continued from Part 3

Vijay Vittala Temple


“Spirituality is indeed the master-key of the Indian mind; the sense of the infinite is native to it.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, 20: 6)


In our last part we wrote about Virupaksha Temple, situated on the banks of Tungabhadra River. Vijaya Vittala temple is north east of the Virupaksha temple and also on the banks of the river Tungabhadra. The main deity at Virupaksha is Shiva, while at Vittala temple it is Lord Vittala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The Entrance





Talarigatta Gate (toll collection gate) served as one of the main entrance points into the urban centre of the capital from the riverside where Virupaksha temple is located. This gate was built with fortification walls that enclosed the capital city. The Vittala temple is also located in this central area.

“India saw from the beginning,—and, even in her ages of reason and her age of increasing ignorance, she never lost hold of the insight,—that life cannot be rightly seen in the sole light, cannot be perfectly lived in the sole power of its externalities.” (ibid.)




The Vittala temple is believed to be the grandest of all the temples and monuments at Hampi.

The temple showcases the immense creativity and the architectural expertise, which was possessed by the sculptors and artisans of the Vijayanagara empire. The temple is built in the Dravidian style of architecture, which speaks volumes about the grandeur of the south Indian temple architecture, with elaborate carvings that are unmatched in the other structures in the town.

“When we look at the past of India, what strikes us next is her stupendous vitality, her inexhaustible power of life and joy of life, her almost unimaginably prolific creativeness.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, 20: 6)

The Musical Pillars of the Ranga Mantapa

The large Ranga Mantapa at the temple is well known for its 56 musical pillars. These pillars are also known as SaReGaMa pillars, which are attributed to the musical notes emerging out of them. The musical notes can be heard when the pillars are gently tapped.

One can find a set of main pillars and also several smaller ones at the mantapa. Each pillar provides support to the ceiling of the mantapa, and the main pillars are designed in the manner of musical instruments. Every main pillar is wrapped by 7 minor pillars and these minor pillars emit different musical notes. Every note coming out of these pillars vary in their sound quality and also change as per the percussion, string or wind instrument being played.





Temple Gopuram


“The wealth of ornament, detail, circumstance in Indian temples represents the infinite variety and repetition of the worlds,—not our world only, but all the planes, —suggests the infinite multiplicity in the infinite oneness. It is a matter of our own experience and fullness of vision how much we leave out or bring in, whether we express so much or so little or attempt as in the Dravidian style to give the impression of a teeming inexhaustible plenitude. The largeness of this unity is base and continent enough for any superstructure or content of multitude.”
(Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, 20: 278-279)






The main shrine originally had an enclosed mantapa or hall; an open mantapa was added to the structure in the year 1554 AD.




Lavish Courtyards




“She creates and creates and is not satisfied and is not tired; she will not have an end of it, seems hardly to need a space for rest, a time for inertia and lying fallow…Everywhere, as on her soil, so in her works there is the teeming of a superabundant energy of life. European critics complain that in her ancient architecture, sculpture and art there is no reticence, no holding back of riches, no blank spaces, that she labours to fill every rift with ore, occupy every inch with plenty. Well, but defect or no, that is the necessity of her superabundance of life, of the teeming of the infinite within her. She lavishes her riches because she must, as the Infinite fills every inch of space with the stirring of life and energy because it is the Infinite.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA 20: 8)


The Stone Chariot


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The Stone Chariot, which stands tall in the courtyard of the temple, is one of the most stunning architectural wonders. It is also one of the four famous stone chariots in the country. The other three chariots are located in Konark, Mahabalipuram and Darasuram.

The 50-rupee Indian currency now proudly features this stone chariot of the Vittala temple of Hampi.

Garuda inside the Chariot


Kalyana Mantapam




Art on the Temple Pillars


“The line and run and turn demanded by the Indian aesthetic sense are not the same as those demanded by the European. It would take too long to examine the detail of the difference which we find not only in sculpture, but in the other plastic arts and in music and even to a certain extent in literature, but on the whole we may say that the Indian mind moves on the spur of a spiritual sensitiveness and psychic curiosity, while the aesthetic curiosity of the European temperament is intellectual, vital, emotional and imaginative in that sense, and almost the whole strangeness of the Indian use of line and mass, ornament and proportion and rhythm arises from this difference.” (Sri Aurobino, CWSA, 20: 293)



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Coming up in next part…Sri Krishna Temple and Marketplace


SEE PARTS 1, 2, and 3




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