Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Vittala - The Musical Temple

Now I will show off some pictures from Vittala, the world famous Musical Temple of Hampi. This post will be a little bit longer than usual with 10 pictures, since I have a lot to show. I figure I better keep them all in one post, so in case everyone is tired of temple pictures they can just skip this post. I hope you won't though :o)

This is the main courtyard of the temple with the main temple building to the left and one of several other "islands". This is the most famous temple of Hampi and it recently hosted several scenes in Jackie Chan's movie "The Myth".

The architecture of Vittala is interesting but perhaps not unusual enough to make it Hampi's star attraction. What is, however, completely unique about Vittala is that the whole it is one big musical instrument. Every pillar is unique in height, width and carvings providing for a different sound and note when you hit it. 500 years ago, whole symphonies would be played by 50 or so servants manning every set of pillars and hitting the appropriate pillar at the appropriate sound. On the picture above you can see how a carved figure shows what instrument the sound of the pillars emulate. Not all pillars are still working, but the ones you see here are. And believe me when I say that it really does sound like a drum!

Here I am carefully tapping the pillar while listening. Many pillars have been ruined by tourists tapping on them with rocks, so guards now make sure that no one is too rough on them.

A big chariot cut in stone, one of three existing in all India. The wheels used to be able to turn, and the chariot was once drawn by stone horses. They were destroyed and replaced by quite small stone elephants, which look a bit out of place.

A grand entrance to one of the smaller pavilions of the temple.

An interesting relief carving proving that the Vijayanagar Empire had contact with the Europeans. This carving shows what is probably two Portuguese soldiers.

A few other examples of the carvings of Vittala.

Pillars of Vittala lit up at dusk.

Down in one of the inner chambers of Vittala, a couple of deliberate holes in the ceiling provides lighting and an incredible ambiance.

The King's Balance at the entrance to Vittala. According to legend this is where the King would be weighed and pay according to his weight in certain valuables to be allowed into the temple. If you look closely at the top of the archway you might be able to see the holes from which the scales were hanging.

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