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The temples in Hampi or the Kishkinda Kendra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a buzzing tourist place.

The austere site of Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagar, the last great Hindu Kingdom. The princes of the kingdom built breathtaking Dravidian temples and palaces which have been admired by travelers not only in the 14th to 16th Century, but also since 1986, when it was declared as a World Heritage Site.

Site and context

Hampi’s landscape is magnificently dominated by the river Tungabhadra, hills and open plains and other natural and man made physical remains. The urbanity of different royal and sacred structures is evident from the forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples,  shrines, pillared halls, Mandapas, memorial structures, gateways,  defense posts, stables, water structures, etc that still stand in the vicinity.

The ultimate form of Dravidian architecture is captured under the Vijayanagar Empire, portraying architectural characteristics with their massive dimensions, cloistered enclosures and lofted towers over the entrances.

Let me give you two complex architectural design wonders that you must not miss when you visit Hampi in the state of Karnataka.

Virupaksha Temple

The Virupaksha Temple in Hampi is devoted to Lord Shiva. Located on the embankment of River Tungabhadra, it is a predominant center of pilgrimage in Hampi. The esteemed temple is at a distance of approximately 350km from Bangalore. Over the years, the Virupaksha Temple has survived the onslaught of the Mughals and abandonment that followed. The architectural state of the temple has remained pristine among the ruins that encompass the structure. It attracts a large number of tourists from the month of December to February when the annual chariot festival is carried out.

Virupaksha Temple as seen from Hemakuta Hills in Hampi

History:The temple dates back to the 9th Century based on the engravings that have been found with several inscriptions about Lord Shiva. The temple initially was a small shrine that was later developed into a temple complex. Until the 14th Century, the native art, craft and culture was on its high until the empire was crushed by the intruders and the beautiful creations of the architecture history were destroyed.

Architecture:The temple consists of a shrine, a pillared hall and three antechambers, which is surrounded by courtyards, pillared monastery, other small shrines and entrance ways to the temple. The entrance gateways known as the Gopuram stand as tall as 50 meters with up to nine tiers on the eastern side. The northern and inner eastern Gopuram reach up to five stories and three stories respectively. 

Hampi Bazaar also known as the Virupaksha Bazaar

Plenty of dilapidated mandapams and an ancient shopping center interlined with mandapams on the forecourt surround the temple. The bazaar was a well planned market area with a series of two two storied pavilions where trade flourished, catering to the demands of the elite and the masses. 

Today, the Hampi Bazaar still functions as a marketplace with the charm of the bygone era. A variety of local items such as embroidered shawls, textiles and antiques are sold. The marketplace also becomes the center of the festivities during the annual festival

Dilapidated mandapams of Virupaksha Bazar in Hampi

Vitthala Temple

The Vittala Temple or Vitthala Temple in Hampi is an historic monument that is renowned for its splendid architecture and unmatched craftsmanship. It is regarded to be one of the biggest and the most prominent structures in Hampi. The temple is located in the north eastern section of Hampi, by the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Stone chariots and musical pillars are tourist attractions.This temple is a validation of colossal architectural and artisanal supremacy of the sculptors. The temple complex is sprawled and surrounded with high compound walls and towering gopurams.

Vitthala temple with musical pillars in Hampi

Stone Chariot and Musical Pillars

The stone chariot and the musical pillars are the main attraction of the complex. The chariot is in the ornamental shape dedicated to the Hindu mythological bird, Garuda.

The mandapa of the temple is made of 56 pillars emit musical notes when tapped gently. Each main pillar is surrounded by seven minor pillars which emanate musical notes from different musical instruments.

Stone chariot at Vitthala temple in Hampi


It is the most fascinating to see how architecture without architects has thrived over centuries for us to witness, cherish and embrace in our cultures. Hampi remains an epitome of fine architecture set upon what is now just a mound of ruins.  Drop a comment below for more such insightful blogs available to you only on MATERIAL DEPOT

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