The Stone Chariot in Hampi is an artistic marvel that is renowned for its exquisite architecture. The Stone Chariot is located within the Vittala Temple complex that is situated in the north eastern part of Hampi. The striking chariot is considered to be the most fascinating sculptural achievement of the Vijayanagara era.
This stunning structure of Hampi has become one of the most famous symbols of Karnataka Tourism. The structure is a huge attraction for the tourists and is often considered by the visitors as the highlight of their Hampi trail. The Stone Chariot at Hampi is one of the three famous stone chariots in India. The other two chariots are situated in Konark (Odissa) and Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu).
- 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 Stone Chariot, Hampi
The Stone Chariot of the Vittala Temple complex is also known as the Kallina Ratha. This ancient structure was built in the 16th century, during the rule of King Krishnadevaraya, one of the greatest kings of the Vijayanagara Empire.
It is believed that the idea for the construction of the chariot dates back to the time when King Krishnadevaraya saw the famous stone chariot at the Konark Sun Temple in Odissa while waging war on the eastern state.
The architecture and beauty of the chariot at Konark Sun Temple fascinated him so much that he decided to construct a similar chariot in his own kingdom, Vijayanagara. As Hampi was the core of the Vijayanagara Empire, he decided to build a magnificent stone chariot in Hampi.
Interestingly, the locals at Hampi believe that the world will be destroyed the day the Stone Chariot of the Vittala Temple moves from its place.
Striking Beauty of the Stone Chariot, Hampi
The Stone Chariot represents the artistic perfection of the craftsmen of the Vijayanagara period. The structure was carved with great precision. The Stone Chariot is actually a shrine that has been given the shape of a chariot and has been decorated with ornamental carvings.
The shrine is dedicated to Garuda, the mythical mount of Lord Vishnu. The temple had an image of Garuda enshrined inside the sanctum. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful monuments in Hampi.
The beautiful chariot is a piece of creative excellence. It was meant to be a decorative shrine and was not built for transportation. So, unlike the wooden temple chariots, this stone chariot never moved from its place since its construction more than 500 years ago.
Fascinating Architecture of the Stone Chariot, Hampi
The Stone Chariot is built in the Dravidian style of architecture. One of the specialties of the architecture of this structure is that the chariot looks as if it is a monolithic structure that has been carved out of a gigantic stone.
However, the colossal structure was built using a number of granite blocks of huge size. The joints of the granite blocks were hidden by exceptional carvings and it provided the chariot the look of a monolithic structure.
The chariot is built on an ornamental rectangular base that has a height of about one foot. The base platform is decorated with scenes from mythical battles. The chariot has four massive granite stone wheels attached to it with axis shafts. The wheels are decorated with floral motifs and are capable of revolving.
The chariot has two elephants positioned at its front side. It seems as if the elephants are pulling the chariot. However, on careful observation it can be seen that the two elephants do not belong to the original structure of the chariot. They were added later on to replace the two horses that were carved into the front position of the chariot.
It is presumed that the sculptures of the horses were somehow destroyed and the elephants were placed in front of the chariot as their replacement. In fact, the tails and the hind legs of the horses can be seen behind the structures of the elephants even now.
There was once a stone ladder that was used to access the sanctum of the shrine. The ladder can be seen between the sculptures of elephants.
Present Condition of the Stone Chariot, Hampi
The Stone Chariot is a representation of the rich sculptural beauty prevalent during the days of the Vijayanagara Empire. However, the structure has suffered some damage through the centuries.
The sanctum of the shrine once contained an image of Garuda. The sanctum is an empty structure now as the image is no longer there. The giant granite wheels of the chariot were designed for rotation. Some years ago the government cemented the wheels of the chariot and rendered them unmovable. This was done to protect the wheels from any further damage caused by their turning by the huge number of tourists.
There was a large superstructure of the chariot that has gone missing over the centuries. It is not clear whether it has crashed or was removed to protect the remaining part of the chariot. But it was definitely an impressive part of the stone chariot.
Now-a-days there are floodlights installed within the Vittala Temple complex. These floodlights illuminate the chariot in the evenings and provide an amazing view of the beautiful structure. The bright lights illuminating the structure against the backdrop of the dark night sky is a grand view that leaves the spectator mesmerised.
How to reach the Stone Chariot
The Stone Chariot within the Vittala Temple Complex in Hampi is located at the end of the ruined Vittala Bazaar. It is a place that can be easily reached by tourists from all parts of Hampi. The place is accessible by vehicles.
As Hampi does not have an airport, it cannot be reached directly by flight. Ballari (Bellary) is the closest town to have an airport. Ballary is situated at a distance of around 64 km from Hampi. Visitors can reach Ballari by taking a flight and then proceed to Hampi by means of local transport.
Hampi is not directly connected by the rail network and has no railway station of its own. The nearest railway station can be found in the city of Hosapete (Hospet). The Hospet Junction Railway Station is connected to several other towns and cities of Karnataka by means of regular trains. Hosapete is situated at a distance of around 10 km from Hampi.
One of the easiest ways to reach Hampi from Hosapete is to board a bus. There are a few other means of local transport also to reach Hampi from Hosapete.
Hampi has a good road network and is connected to many towns and cities in Karnataka by this network. There are a lot of government and private buses that travel between Hampi and several towns and cities in the state.
Visitors can also hire private cars, cabs or other vehicles from big cities like Bengaluru (Bangalore) or Mysuru (Mysore) to travel to Hampi.