The "Stone Chariot", as it is often referred is the flagship tourist attraction of Hampi. This is not a chariot ,as the name suggests, rather a shrine built like a chariot. This is located inside the Vittala Temple campus. You would be visiting the Stone Chariot as part of your Vittala Temple tour.

In mythology Lord Vittala is an aspect of Lord Vishnu (See Gods of Hampi and Mythology of Hampi). Garuda (lord of eagles) is the vehicle (mount) of Lord Vishnu. The Stone Chariot once contained the icon on Garuda, though the shrine is empty now. This shrine is in the axis of the massive Vittala Temple and faces the sanctum of Vittala Temple.

It may appear to you (and sometimes even referred to) as a monolithic structure. In reality this stone shrine was built with many giant granite blocks. The joints are smartly hidden in the carvings and other decorative features that adorn the Stone Chariot.

The chariot is built on a rectangular platform of a feet or so high. All around this base platform is carved with mythical battle scenes. Though the chariot is not resting on it, the four giant wheels attached mimic the real life ones complete with the axis shafts and even the brakes. A series of concentric floral motifs decorate the wheels. It appears from the marks on the platform, where the wheels rest, the wheels were free to move around the axis.

You can still see the remains of the painting on the carvings of the chariot. Probably because it was relatively protected from the natural weather elements, the undercarriage of the chariot spots one of the best preserved specimens of this kind of paintings. It is believed the whole of the Vittala Temple’s sculptures were once beautifully painted in similar fashion using the minerals as medium.

In front of the chariot two elephants are positioned as if they are pulling the chariot. In fact these stone elephants were brought from elsewhere and positioned here at a later stage. Originally two horses were carved in that position. The tails and the rear legs of the horses can be still seen just behind these elephant sculptures. A broken stone ladder once gave access to the sanctum is kept between the elephants. You can still spot the marks on the floor and the doorsill where once the ladder stood.

There was even a dome like superstructure over the chariot. That too is missing now. However you can see them on the first ever photographs of Hampi taken in 1856 by Alexander Greenlaw.

Vittala Temple and the Stone Chariot inside are must do things in your Hampi itinerary. And also don't miss that customary photo opportunity with the stone chariot as your background!

Stone Chariot

Stone Chariot

The Garuda (eagle) shrine in the form of a chariot inside the Vittala Temple complex

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Inside Vittala Temple of Hampi

Vittala Temple

As the epicenter of Hampi's attractions, Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi.No amount of words can explain this spectacle.

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Inscription on the Vishnu temple

Inscribed Vishnu Temple

The temple got its name thanks to the numerous rows of inscriptions carved on its outer walls.The temple can easily give a miss as it stand hidden behind the much larger Vittala Temple complex.

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Kings Balance

This 5-meter or so tall ‘balance’ is located near the Vittala temple.Also called as Tula Bhara or Tula Purushadana, the king used to weigh himself with gold, gems, silver and precious stones, and distributed to the priests.

Purandaradasa Mantapa

This is a small open pillared pavilion with whitewashed top dedicated to the legendary poet Purandaradasa who lived in Hampi.The pavilion is located at the river shore near Vittala Temple.

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Rayagopura

When translated into English, Rayagopura means the royal tower or gateway.This is the ruin of a tower whose construction was never been completed.

Riverside Ruins

The riverside gorge just north of the Kodandarama Temple is remarkable for the various clusters of ruins.

The sought after ones are the array of Shiva Lingas carved on the flat rock surface and the carved Anandashayana Vishnu on the rock cleft.

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Tungabhadra River

Tungabhadra is a major river in the south Indian peninsula. Hampi is located on the south bank somewhere in the middle of this river’s path. In this area the river takes a number of twists and turns owing to the rocky terrain.

The river has immense significance in forming the political & religious history of Hampi. The river along with along with the boulder-strewn hills formed the northern barrier of the capital. It was not easy for an invading army cross the river without the fate of a sure defeat.

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