Let’s travel along the Route Two of the Hampi trails through the Vittala Temple, suggested in the map here. As mentioned in my first post, Hampi is quite huge to detail out in a single write up and hence, my three-part journey of this place. For those, who have missed the first post, click here to access the same.
In the map suggested, Route two starts with Hampi Bazaar and leads upto the Vittalatemple. However, in this post, I will start with the Vittala temple and lead you back to the Hampi Bazaar, describing a few key sites along the trail, but spending a lot of time at the main one – Vittala temple.
Another landmark and an important attraction in Hampi is this beautiful temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. On this trail, this is by far the most magnificent stop and hence, it is advisable to either start with this or end with this owing to the sheer amount of time you might want to spend here.
For ecological and preservation reasons, one cannot drive up to the temple directly. As you near this monument, there is a designated area to park your vehicles after which, you can either walk around a km to the entrance of the monument or take the eco-friendly vehicle ride upto there. As you approach the main temple, you will notice a row of mantapas or remains of the bazaar, along with the Pushkarni or the temple tank.
Pushkarni was essentially used for ritualistic bath before the prayers as well as for any religious occasions like washing the idols or holi or immersing the idols. As you walk along the path, you will also, see some smaller temples on the side.
At the end of the pathway, is the entrance to the temple – which at the start may not seem as interesting as the Virupaksha temple but as you enter the temple premises, you will get blown away by the beautiful architecture. The first thing you will lay your eyes on is the “Stone Chariot”. A stunning piece of art.
Earlier, it was possible to turn the wheels but now, the same have been blocked to prevent further wear and tear. Some of the carvings have been lost over time but what remains is beautiful. The stone Chariot is the shrine of Lord Garuda. Facing the chariot is the main Mantapa known for its musical pillars. The Musical pillars and its uniqueness is what draws the visitors to this particular monument.
Each pillar has been sculpted with the image of the sound that it makes. With your ears to the pillars, once you tap the same with stones, you can hear beautiful musical notes. However, the tapping has been discontinued for the sake of preservation. It is said that these pillars were covered with curtains while the musicians played their musical stones on them and the open mantapa area was used by the dancers for their performance.
Beyond this hall of pillars is the main temple Sanctum. The ceilings of the temple are also, beautifully carved. Along the temple, there are certain sculptured pillars and artifices that portray one sculpture from one side while another from the opposite side. To spot the same, it is advisable to have a guide with you. Check out the picture below of one such artifice which is a 4 in one sculpture – a frog, a baby monkey and mother monkey, a cobra/ sheshnag and a lion.
One can also, spot a miniature model of the temple that was used as a prototype to build the whole temple.
The inner sanctums have some beautiful idols and sculptures of Vishnu and Mohini. One can enter the same and spend hours gazing at the sculptures, the walls and the ceilings.
As you exit and head along the trail 2 towards Hampi Bazaar, you come across this structure, which is actually a weighing balance . The king used to sit on one side of a weighing scale while the other side would be piled with Gold, silver and precious stones. The treasures weighing equal to the King’s weight would be distributed to the poor and the priests on special occasions. Check out the image of the king sculpted on this scale. You can even see the loops through which the balance was hung.
Along your walk back towards Hampi Bazaar and the Virupaksha temple, you would pass through various ruins and structures. The Riverside ruins is fascinating area as this has scattered sculptures on rocks, waiting to be discovered. The area needs a bit of trekking and has various nooks and corners that have some hidden treasures, each waiting to tell you a story of its own.
There are numerous other monuments of interest along this trail – Sugreeva’s cave, The ancient bridge, a monolithic bull, temples etc.This route is best explored by a bicycle or by foot as each of these monuments require some bit of trekking. Once you are done with the route, you end up at the #Hampi Bazaar, just in time for some good meal and rest. For tips on those, refer to my previous post here.
Spend a lot of time at the Vittala temple – the same being the main monument and highlight of this trail.Head there early in the morning to beat the crowd, for this temple is best explored without too many people around.