The Vitthala temple is probably the most beautiful structure in Hampi. The gopuram is practically all gone, but inside, its another story altogether!
Even the gopuram, or what is left of it, shows us some interesting things…..
|The figure in the centre looks more like Shiva, doesnt it? and the one on the left is really interesting...|
|A closer view doesnt really tell me anything... but it is interesting to see something like this on a gopuram, right?|
|Look at the left.. there are two figures, which sort of disturbs the symmetry... more interestingly, that extra figure seems to be one of Shiva again, since he is holding a 'damru'|
Here is our first view of the temple…
This is a Tulsi Matham – indicating that this is a temple to Lord Vishnu. We were told that this one had been re-assembled by the ASI from the pieces scattered all over!
And here is the stone chariot which is possibly the most famous and most photographed structure in all of Hampi…
Look at the amazing work on this chariot!
The stone wheels could move earlier, but thanks to people trying to push it all the time, the wheels have been rendered immobile!
These stone elephants are not pulling the chariot. They have been placed there to replace the horses which once stood there.. there is no sign of the horses now, except a portion of a hind leg still attached to the chariot, if you look closely….
And this portion of hind leg and tail on this side…..
Here is a front view…. The stones have been placed on the ladder to discourage tourists from climbing in!
Inside is an icon of Garuda – the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. I have no idea whether the icon was always there or not – while our guide told us that it was found on the premises and placed inside by the ASI, we heard another guide explaining that the chariot was built to house the idol of Garuda instead of the usual shrine!
The chariot must have been beautifully painted by natural colours at one time… all that remains today are these few traces of colour – which have survived the wear and tear of the centuries simply because they are on the under-side of the chariot, and thus haven’t been exposed to the elements, or to the destroyers!
Moving on to the main temple, here is a portion of the front façade…. We were told that this was a small model of the temple itself…interesting, wouldn’t you say? I wonder… did the idol of the Lord inside look like this? Or did he look like the traditional idol of Vitthala – with his arms at his waist?
And now we come to one of the most beautiful works of art here….. the pillars…. These are monolithic pillars, with 16 or 25 smaller pillars in each one!
And among these are the musical pillars – which not only give out notes when struck, but are also said to reproduce the sound of various musical instruments… such as this one, which would give out the sound of the drum, as shown by this figure beating a drum!
I was most disappointed to hear that we could not hear or even venture near any of these pillars – and even more angered by the fact that the reason was not just the delicate condition of the pillars (which I can understand) but the rough handling by tourists! Till recently, people were allowed to enter and touch the pillars, even strike them to hear the notes (my in-laws visited Hampi some years back, and they returned raving about this), but then, Indian tourists being what they are, they soon started damaging what had been left untouched by the marauders all those centuries back! And hence, today, we are only allowed to walk outside the mandapam, peeking to see what we can of the fabulous sculptures inside! and there is much to see, if only we could get any nearer! While the musical pillars have figures with musical instruments, there are stories from tales of Lord Vishnu etched on the others….
There is so much to see here that I could happily spend hours just in this one temple…. Such as these stone chains which are part of the roof, and used to hang lamps from, during festivals….
And this tiny figure at one corner, which shows different figures from different angles…..
The attention to detail is simply mindboggling! Look at these holes and grooves designed to allow water to flow from the roof to the ground….
………And the tapering ends allowing the water to drip slowly onto the floor!
The amazing patterns depicted on the base range from decorative ones….
To figures of horses, elephants, and travellers from other countries too….
The Kalyana Mandapa is another work of art… again with beautiful pillars….
To figures telling us stories of Lord Vishnu….as usual, Samhith and I looked out for the Kalki in the Dashavatar, and were thrilled to see him shown riding a horse, instead of being depicted as horse-faced!
Here is a depiction of Krishna stealing the clothes of the gopis…
Here he is again, this time shown killing the demoness Putana! I wonder about the smile on her face – is it her happiness at being killed by Krishna, or is it the pleasure of feeding the Lord?
and thats not all..…
|A couple in love....|
|Ravana in great detail!|
|A man giving water to another.... the donor looks like a Muslim, or at least a foreigner..|
Look at the detail even on the simpler pillars…
I was amazed to see even small things so beautifully done!
After this surfeit of beauty, it was really sad to see the empty sanctum. Even here, the pillars show stories of Lord Krishna, but the destruction was so apparent here, simply by the absence of the deity for whom all this was built, that I couldn’t get out of there fast enough!
The Utsava mandapa on the other side of the temple is also the same type as the Kalyana mandapa. Unfortunately, the structure has begun to tilt, and has been supported by brick pillars….
The base of this mandapa is covered with scenes from the palace – I especially loved the kolattam dance figures – for those of you who didn’t get that, kolattam is a folk dance of the south, performed holding sticks, similar to the garbha or dandiya of Gujarat.
Now that I am through with the temple tour, there is something I must mention. I have ranted enough about the ignorance and carelessness of tourists (mostly Indian, I must add… the foreign visitors appreciate the beauty much more than we do), and seriously wish we wouldn’t bring schoolchildren in hordes to such beautiful places on picnics! I wish the ASI would do something to reduce the influx of disinterested visitors to such wonderful places, such as increasing the entry rates, for one!
On the other hand, there is much to be said about the place earning World Heritage Status. The sites are well maintained and clean, and a pleasure to walk through! I must especially mention the new initiative begun here, which not only promotes eco-friendly practices, but also provides employment to a whole lot of women. Private vehicles are stopped at a car park on the main road leading to the temple. From here to the temple is a short and easy walk of about 10 minutes, and for this, they have introduced battery operated vehicles to ferry tourists to and fro, at the rate of Rs.10 per person. What I liked most about this was that ALL these vehicles were being driven by women! When we asked for more details, we were told that this was on a trial basis, and if it worked out, the same system would be implemented all over Hampi. Now, that would be a big step ahead! Wouldn’t you agree?