1. Vitthala Temple

Vitthala temple is one of the most splendid structures in Hampi. The ancient monument is well known for its extraordinary architecture and craftsmanship. It is considered one of the largest and most famous structures of Hampi. The temple is located within a mighty complex in the north-eastern part of Hampi, near the banks of River Tungabhadra.

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Plan of the Vitthala Temple ©Samanata Kumar, Reference Hampi: Discover the Splendours of Vijayanagar
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View of the Vitthala Bazaar ©Samanata Kumar

Vitthala Temple was built in the 15th century during the reign of King Devaraya II of the Vijayanagara Empire. Many areas of the temple were added or renovated by King Krishna Devaraya,the illustrious ruler of the Vijayanagara Dynasty. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vitthala, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. An idol of Vitthala was enshrined in the temple but is lost in the ravages of time. The legends believe that the temple was built as a residence to Lord Vitthala but due to the large area the Lord went back to Palampura.

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The entrance of the Temple ©Samanata Kumar
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The famous Stone Chariot seen on the Indian Currency note ©Samanata Kumar

After the grand entrance from the Gopuram, the stone chariot is seen in the open campus. The chariot has become an idol of Hampi not only for the tourist but it has also been printed on the Indian Currency. Built on a rectangular platform, the chariot is dedicated to Garuda, ride of Lord Vishnu. The back-left wheels of the chariot used to rotate but in order to avoid any damage to the structure, the government cemented the wheel. In front of the chariot two elephants are kept, as if they are pulling the chariot but these elephants are brought from elsewhere. Earlier there were two horses being present, today the remains of the horses can be noticed behind the elephants.

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The stone carving on the pillar ©Samanata Kumar
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The remains of the western Hall ©Samanata Kumar

The mandapa has four sections, two of which are aligned with the temple sanctum, the south, north and east are intact but the western hall has collapsed during the battles. The maha mandapa has forty pillars lining the facade each having a height of 10 feet. The balustrade is decorated with carving elephants. The central area forms a rectangular court with sixteen intricately decorated pillars having beautiful sculptures of Narasimha and Yaali. The mandapa is linked by an enclosed Pradakeshina patha around the sanctum. Other structures are Amman shrine (meditation hall) and the Utsav Mandapa or festival hall.

The Ranga Mandapa has 56 carved stone pillars of different diameters, shape, length and surface finish. These pillars have astounded the traders who would visit the Empire as they produce musical notes when struck. Every pillar supports the ceiling of the mandapa while each pillar also has seven minor pillars which emit different musical notes. According to the local, the hall was used for public celebrations.

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Front View of the Ranga Mandapa ©Samanata Kumar Sculpture at the base ©Samanata Kumar Mythical creature balustrade ©Samanata Kumar Musical pillars ©Samanata Kumar

The Kalyana Mandapa, which was used for wedding ceremonies. consists of a hundred columns. The complex also has an old tree which is more than 150 years old.

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There are many interesting carvings present in the complex. One of such carving is given below, it depicts a monkey face, a monkey pulling a small monkey, serpent head, a frog and a jumping monkey.

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Kalyana Mandapa ©Samanata Kumar 150 years old tree in the courtyard ©Samanata Kumar Detail at the plinth ©Samanata Kumar

2. Ugra Narasimha Temple and Badavi Linga

Hindu mythology states Narasimha is the 4th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. As per the incarnation the Lord consists of a human body (nara0 and head of a lion (simba). Narasimba is known for his divine anger, so his worship is considered very important and is only done by a lifelong celibate every day in the morning. The temple has the largest statue of a deity in Hampi with a height of 6.7 metres.  The statue has a clearly designed mane of the lion and wonderfully shaped broad chest. The Narasimha is shown in a cross-legged Yogic posture on the coil of snake with the seven heads of the snake forming a hood about the deity’s head called the sesha. The anger can be seen in the eyes of the statue by the protruding eyes and facial expressions. The deity is destroyed so only the left arm is visible and the other is lost. The deity is seated below the Makaratorana which is supported by 2 ornate pillars. The stone mandapa where the deity is placed has no ceiling making it open to sky.

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The Entrance to Ugra Narasimha and Badavi Linga ©Samanata Kumar
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Ugra Narasimha Temple and Badavi Linga ©Samanata Kumar
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Ugra Narasimha Temple and Badavi Linga ©Samanata Kumar

Next to the Ugra Narasimha is the Badavi Linga,it is the largest monolithic Linga in Hampi and second largest in India.

The Shiva linga also has a three-eye mark which depicts the three eyes of Lord Shiva. It is made of black stone with a height of 3 metres. Badavi Linga is a combination of two words Badava meaning poor and Linga representation of Shiva. The legend has it that the construction was commissioned by a poverty-stricken woman. The linga is placed in a stone chamber but it does not consist of a ceiling so the sunlight directly falls upon the Linga. There is a large circular pedestal known as the Yone Pitha of the Shiva Linga. It stands in water all 365 days of the year as a water channel flows through it.

3. Underground Shiva Temple

Also known as Prasanna Virupaksha Temple was built in the 14th century near the Noblemen’s quarters. The temple is dedicated to Prasanna Virupaksha, an avatar of Lord Shiva. The temple is surrounded by greenery.

The temple was buried under the ground for over 400 years before being discovered in the 1980’s .

The temple is located a few metres below the ground so the roof is at the ground level. A pillared corridor of the temple leads to the main Garbhagriha. The corridor is filled with water so one has to walk in 2 feet of water to reach the main Shivalinga.

The temple is simple yet elegant in design with a plain stone ceiling and pillars with carvings like other temples in Hampi. It has the main hall (maha mandapa), courtyard (Ardha Mandapa), inner sanctum (Garbhagriha) and the small hall (Anthrala).

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The entrance of the underground Siva Temple ©Samanata Kumar
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Interiors of the Underground Siva Temple ©Samanata Kumar 

4. Virupaksha Temple

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Gopuram at the entrance of the Virupaksha Temple ©Samanata Kumar

Within the huge boulders of Hampi the large gopuram of the Virupaksha Temple is seen from a distance. Dating back to almost 1300 years, the magnificent structure consists of a layer by a large group of Hindu deities and symbols. It is one of the oldest functioning temples in India.

The temple is faced eastwards, aligning the sanctum of Shiva and Pampa Devi to the sunrise. The gopuram marks the entrance with a height of 160 metres and it is repainted during the renovations by the government.

Temple is also known as Pampapati Temple as it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the husband of Goddess Pampa. The inscriptions of the temple date back to the 7th century.

It started as a small shrine and later developed into a huge complex during the Vijaynagara Rule. There is evidence that shows the temple was made during the later years of the Hoysala and Chalukyan era.

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Plan of the temple ©Samanata Kumar, Reference- Hampi: Discover the Splendours of Vijayanagar

The Hampi Bazaar earlier known as the Virupaksha Bazaar is a series of old pavilions on both sides almost covering 750 metres. It was once the centre for trading. It was a well organised market with some pavilions containing two floors. It also had residences of many rich and important people.

The gopuram leads into a rectangular court which consists of modern water tanks, kitchen and community hall which is a 100-column hall to the south side consisting of all four sides of a pillar carved with Hindu relief work and a smaller gopuram dating to 1510 CE. A narrow water channel from the Tungabhadra River which flows along the terrace of the temple and gradually descends to the temple kitchen (Pakasala).

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100 column of community hall ©Samanata Kumar

The naive craft art and culture was popular during the 14th century, but these works have been lost time after the Muslim invaders. Though the activities in the temples have never come to a halt since the 7th century, extensive renovations had been done in the 19th century which included the towers and ceilings. The temple consists of three ante-chambers, a sanctum, a pillared hall and an open pillared hall.

After entering the 1st gopuram, on the left is a statue of 3 headed nandi and map of Hampi.

The gopuram gives entrance to the temple, on the entrance dipa-stambha (lamp pillar) and nandi are present. The court leads to the main mandapa of Shiva Temple which consists of the original square mandapa and a rectangular extension composed of two fused squares and 16 piers built by Krishnadevaraya.

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Nandi at the entrance ©Samanata Kumar
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Interior of the Temple ©Samanata Kumar

In the open hall the ceiling is painted showing the marriage of Shiva and Paravati, the legend of Rama- Sita of the Vaishnavism tradition. These were painted in the 19th century during renovations. The mandapa has 5 aisles with 38 pillars which have carvings of Yaalis, mythical animals containing horse, lions, elephant and an armed warrior. This mandapa was used for wedding ceremonies including other temple rituals.

In the open hall the ceiling is painted showing the marriage of Shiva and Paravati, the legend of Rama- Sita of the Vaishnavism tradition. These were painted in the 19th century during renovations. The mandapa has 5 aisles with 38 pillars which have carvings of Yaalis, mythical animals containing horse, lions, elephant and an armed warrior. This mandapa was used for wedding ceremonies including other temple rituals.

The central pillared hall is the most ornate structure in the temple complex, known as the Ranga Mandapa, it was added in 1510 AD by Krishnadevaraya. To the west is the sanctum of Lord Virupaksha. Two 4 armed guards, about 8 feet tall, stand on either side of the entrance. These shrines are older than the other structures. The short circular pillars, the doorways and ceilings are richly carved. Behind the main sanctum is the rear exit which also has one of the interesting facts of the temple. There is a small hall that has a small slit, from which an inverted projection of the main gopuram is seen on the wall.

The structure is a mixture of different architectural designs, the base is Hosayala architecture, pillars and hall are in Chalukyan architecture and the roof in Japanese Pagoda style.

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Temple plinth ©Samanata Kumar
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Detail at the top of main mandapa ©Samanata Kumar
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Detail of the column ©Samanata Kumar, Hampi: Discover the Splendours of Vijayanagar
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Elements of the temple ©Samanata Kumar

5. Krishna Temple

The temple was built by the King Krishnadevaraya in 1513 adlocatly with a bazaar and sacred Lokapavam tank to celebrate the conquest of Udayagiri (Odisha). As per the inscription present in the temple, a Bal Krishna idol was brought from Udaygiri and was enshrined in the mandapa here.

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Krishna Temple as seen from the Sasivekalu Ganesha © Samanata Kumar

A huge stone slab in the temple states the story of the temple and the conquest of Udaygiri. This structure is made in Islamic-Architectural style and was the granary of the temple complex.

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Detail at the door of the Krishna Temple © Samanata Kumar

The entrance is provided with a lofty gopuram at the east. After entering the eastern gopuram,the attention is drawn to the single standing stone carvings of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu on the entrance. On the ceiling of the entrance gopura praveshadvara, two serpents on either side of the moon are depicted and this relief sculpture is regarded as the representation of lunar eclipse.

In Hindu tradition the moon is swallowed by Rahu and Ketu which are a form of snakes and when swallowed, the eclipse occurs. The temple has garbhagriha, antarala, ardha mandapa and maha mandapa. The temple compound is layered into mandapas, including an outer and an inner enclosure. There is an open mandapa consisting of 5 x 5 rows of pillars which leads to the 3 x 3 rows of enclosed mandapa.

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Krishna Temple © Samanata Kumar

The temple has a large open pankama with high walls containing the towered main sanctuary. The vimana has three talas with a circular sikhara. The pillars are carved on Yaali’s and the entrance to the temple hall are flanked with impressive carvings of elephants and mythical lion balustrades. The complex of the temple consists of a kitchen in the south-west of the main shrine. There is a six domed structure, it is dark inside with a hole in the centre of each dome from when the sunlight enters. The temple has been decapitated during the fall of Hampi and some are under renovation.

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Krishna Temple ©Samanata Kumar
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Domed structure on the roof ©Samanata Kumar
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Domed structure on the roof ©Samanata Kumar
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Decapitated structures ©Samanata Kumar
Colonnaded pavilions that was once used as a market ©Samanata Kumar

In front of the temple, there are series colonnaded pavilions. This market comes under the district of Krishnapura and is known for trading general groceries. Today, the market stands on empty grounds in front of the large boulders.

6. Zenana Enclosure

Northeast of the Royal Enclosure within the walled ladies’ quarters is the Zenana Enclosure. The enclosure is a sprawling compound that had tall walls surrounding it on all sides and watch towers were built so the guards could stop any trespassers. The fortified area has two entrances.

The enclosure had 4 towers but today only 3 remain. The legends believe to protect and offer privacy to the royal women eunuchs guarded the enclosures. They were ordered to only let the kings inside the complex.

The structures of the zenana enclosures are designed in Indo-Islamic architectural style. The design is not similar to the other structures present in Hampi from the Vijayanagara Era.

The Zenana Enclosure houses the Lotus Mahal, Queen’s Palace, Elephants Stables, Water Pavilions and Watch Towers but only the Lotus Mahal is the best-preserved structure in the complex.

The Queen’s Palace basement is a ruined structure measuring an area of 49 x 29 metres. It remains the largest palace base to be excavated in Hampi ruins. The base is a three-tiered ornate structure which suggests that the palace was grand. Opposite to the palace is a water pavilion with decorated platform situated in the centre of a shallow pool.

The Royal Treasury building is also located within the enclosure. It is a rectangular building with no windows which was only accessed by the kings. The three watch towers can be seen at the corners of the enclosed wall.

They were built in Indo-Islamic architectural style and were accessed by the eunuchs, who were the guards for the royal women of Vijayanagara Empire.

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Watch towers at the enclosure ©Samanata Kumar
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Watch towers at the enclosure ©Samanata Kumar

7. Lotus Mahal

The Lotus Mahal is also known as the Kamal Mahal or Chitrangini Mahal as per the old maps found during the discovery of Hampi. It is located within the Zenana Enclosure. The structure is surrounded by many shady trees and lawns. The palace was specially designed for the royal women of Vijayanagara Empire for recreational activities. It was also used by the kings and ministers for meetings.

The building structure resembles a lotus. The domes which cover the passages and balcony are similar to opened lotus buds. The central dome is carved as a lotus bud. The curves of the palace are given Islamic touch while the multi- layered roof design is related to Indian style architecture. This is a two storey pavilion which has massive pillars with arches having exquisite stucco moulding. There are 24 pillars which make the structure of the building. The interesting fact about the pillars is they can be filled with water which helps the keeping the place cool in the summers. This process has been given the name water cooling in modern architecture.

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Plan of the Lotus Mahal ©Samanata Kumar, Section ©www.google.images.com
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Lotus Mahal ©Samanata Kumar
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Arches of the Lotus Mahal ©Samanata Kumar

8. Elephant Stables

The elephant stables are the best preserved and largest standing structure of the Royal Enclosure. It was the residence of royal elephants and their trainers. During the Vijaynagara Empire they had 10,000 elephants out of which 11 were chosen to be in the royal service. The building looks symmetrical with respect to the central hall. The stable comprises a long line of eleven chambers with arched doorways and different domes styles.

The domes are made in Indo-Islamic Architectural style. The central chamber has a flat roof since above it is an open gallery where the musicians and drummers sat. The roof has collapsed throughout the years but the domes remain which are plain or fluted in design. The doomed chambers are inter connected through small arch doors.

The inside of each dome is different. The metal hooks which were used to tie elephants can still be seen on the roof of the chambers. The rear of each chamber has a small door for the trainers to enter.

The area in front of the stables was a parade ground for the elephants and troops. The area also consists of a second building to the left of the stables where the trainers and guards.

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Elephant Stables plan and section ©www.google.images.com
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Elephant Stables © Samanata Kumar
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Trainer’s stay area near Elephant Stables © Samanata Kumar
Details of the chambers ©Samanata Kumar
Author

Samanata Kumar, is a young interior designer, driven by keen interest for Architectural heritage and culture. Her curiousity includes parameters of architecture and design,photography, travelling, writing, roller skating and air rifle shooting for leisure. Her latest focus includes gaining knowledge in development of housing typologies around the world, space psychology and conspiracies in architecture.

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