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Hampi, Vittala Temple, Kallina Ratha | by Arian Zwegers
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Hampi, Vittala Temple, Kallina Ratha

Hampi, Vittala Temple, chariot

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Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka, India. It is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi.


Most of Vijayanagara lies on the south bank of the Tungabhadra River. The city was built around the religious center of the Virupaksha temple complex at Hampi.


The city of Vijayanagara was originally encompassed by seven lines of fortifications. These fortifications had a large number of bastions and gateways. The seventh and the innermost fortification enclosed the main city and is the best preserved. The extant monuments of Vijayanagara or Hampi can be divided into religious, civil and military buildings. While most of the monuments at Hampi are from the Vijayanagara period, a small proportion may be assigned to pre-Vijayanagara times. The Jain temples on Hemakuta hill, the two Devi shrines and some other structures in the Virupaksha temple complex predate the Vijanagara empire. The earliest amongst them, the Shaiva shrines with their stepped pyramidal vimanas or superstructures, date to the early Chalukyan period around ninth-tenth century AD.


The Vittala Temple is situated northeast of Hampi, opposite the village of Anegondi. It is one of the principal monuments of the city. It is dedicated to Vittala, an aspect of Vishnu worshipped in the Maratha country. It is believed to date from the 16th century.


In front of the temple is the world famous stone chariot or ratha. This is one of the three famous stone chariots in India, the other two being in Konark and Mahabalipuram. The wheels of the ratha can be rotated but the government cemented them to avoid the damage caused by the visitors.


One of the notable features of the Vittala Temple is the musical pillars. Each of the pillars that support the roof of the main temple is supported by a pillar representing a musical instrument, and is constructed as 7 minor pillars arranged around a main pillar. These 7 pillars, when struck, emanate the 7 notes from the representative instrument, varying in sound quality based on whether it represents a wind, string or percussion instrument.


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Taken on January 14, 2009