Every tourist place has that one spot which earns it galore and admiration. For Hampi, the small, dainty temple village set in Karnataka, it’s the iconic stone chariot. It’s the leading man in the army of exquisite beautiful sights that Hampi offers and depicts Karnataka tourism as an icon itself.
The chariot is actually a shrine dedicated to Garuda, built inside the Vittala Temple Complex. The massive sculpture of Garuda, Lord Vishnu’s escort, once was seated atop the chariot but it is empty at the present date. The Hampi Chariot has earned its name among the other three famous stone chariots in India- One in Konark, Odissa, and the other in Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu).
Quick Facts about the Stone Chariot
- Timing: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM on all days of the week
- Entry Fee: No entry fee required
- Photography: Allowed
- Video camera: Allowed
- Visit Duration: About 3 hours
- Best time to visit: From November to February
History of the Chariot
The chariot was built by King Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire during the 16th century, who got fascinated with the Konark Sun temple chariot while fighting a battle in Odissa. The chariot is meant to represent the beauty and artistic perfection of the Empire. An interesting folklore emanates from the Hampi chariot as villagers believe that the world would come to a halt when the chariot moves from its place. It has come to have a sacrosanct presence and is internationally recognized as a world heritage site even by the UNESCO.
Inspired by the Dravidian style of architecture, the chariot is a colossal structure which shows the skill of the earlier craftsmen and architects. The beauty of the chariot lies in the fact that it looks like one solid structure but in fact, has been built by slabs of granite whose linkages have been cleverly hidden with artistic designs.
The base on which the chariot rests depicts beautiful mythical battle scenes in intricate details. There were sculptures of horses where presently elephants were seated. Visitors can actually spot the hind legs and tails of the horses behind the elephants. There are also the remnants of the ladder in between the two elephants, using which priests used to climb up to the inner sanctum to pay homage to the sculpture of Garuda.
A beautiful illumination of the chariot happens in the evening from the floodlights installed in the Vittala Complex. The spectacular view of the chariot and its detailed designing in the glow of the lights from the complex makes for a mesmerizing experience.
Things to Know for Tourists
- The Vittala Temple Complex is open on all days of the week from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
- There is no entry fee
- The authorities allow for photography and videography within the temple complex.
- Tourists normally spend about 3 hours at the complex.
How to Reach Hampi
Hampi doesn’t have an airport and hence visitors will have to use the Bellary Airport which is roughly 64 km from Hampi and visitor can take a vehicle to cover up the last few miles.
The nearest railway station is Hosapete which is at a distance of 10km from Hampi and has a good connectivity in and around Karnataka.
Hampi has good road connectivity and people travel usually from big cities like Bangalore and Mysore to Hampi via private or public buses or by hiring cars.