When I first saw the fabulous Vittala Temple Complex in Hampi dated 15th century AD, I was awestruck by its grandeur. It is a masterpiece in stone which is the symbol of the economic and cultural prosperity of the Vijayanagar Kingdom and continues to remain one of the most important attractions amid the ruins of Hampi. While India is on the world map for the Taj Mahal and the palaces of Rajasthan, Hampi also finds its pride of place in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We went back there again in the evening and as luck would have it, the entire complex comprising the musical halls and the stone chariot shrine was lit up for a special occasion. Grand by morning, Glorius by evening and a Masterpiece in totality, Hampi is a must include in the itinerary of any one travelling to the south of India.
At first glance the stone chariot appeared to be carved out of a monolithic rock but in reality it is constructed using multiple stone slabs with skillful concealing of the joints. The chariot whose wheels are decorated with floral motifs is strangely drawn by elephants instead of horses as it used to be the case. The base of the chariot is carved and painted with battle scenes and while it is tempting, you cannot really climb the stairs to get inside.
There are many temples, halls and pavilions in the Vittala Temple Complex. It was believed to be a mini township by it self in those days. The center of attraction in the entire complex continues to be the hall with the spectacular carvings on the musical pillars standing tall above the trademark multigonal base which was a trademark of those times.
Hampi is about 350 kms away from Bangalore connected by road and rail. The best time to visit is in the months of November to January when the temperature is tolerable. It is a good 3 day trip to the main centers of Hampi and the surrounding areas. Apart from a generous dose of history the other must do is a ride across the river in a coracle.