The second day, Siv and John both set out in the car with Pradeepa as driver (and unofficial guide) to visit the Vitthala Temple and the Royal Centre.
The vast Vitthala Temple is certainly the most beautiful piece of architecture at Hampi. The temple construction was begun around the end of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century. It is preceded by a pair of tanks and pavilions, which once had colonnaded arcades running all around them. Ruins of many buildings in the area show that this was once a very populous area. The entrance is reached along a modern road, but it is more fun to walk along the stones of the old one which are still in place. Sadly, the entrance gopuram is now broken and half-destroyed by fire, perhaps from the period of pillage and destruction following the defeat of the Vijayanagara army in January 1565.
|Small pavilion near tank||Tank and Vithala Temple|
|Ancient road to Vithala Temple||Vithala Temple gopuram|
|Vithala Temple Court|
Entering the temple through the half-destroyed gopuram gate, one is immediately struck by the vast opennes of the interior court. Inside, the main temple and several smaller mandapas are spread out over a large area. Just in front of the main temple is the famous Garuda shrine, a huge chariot made entirely of stone. The wheels look as if they are free to turn. The main temple is unfortunately in rather bad shape, so access to it is completely forbidden. But it is magnificent nevertheless. To the left and right are other free-standing mandapas. Behind and to the left is a 100-pillared hall, another mandapa. The pillars of all the mandapas are wonderfully sculptured with rearing horses or other animals mounted by men and other creatures, the famous Vijayanagar style we had seen at Tiruchirapalli, in Tamil Nadu in 2008.
|Garuda Shrine||Garuda Shrine|
|Main temple mandapa seen from free-standing mandapa|
|Side and back of main temple||Western tourists|
|Main temple||Garuda shrine and mandapa|
|A forest of pillars||Side of main temple|
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