Stone Chariot

One typically accesses the campus through the eastern entrance. On entering through this massive tower, the first thing draws our attention would be a series of compact platforms along the central axis of the campus. At the end of these platforms stands the Stone Chariot. This is in fact a shrine built in the form of a temple chariot. An image of Garuda (the eagle god) was originally enshrined within its sanctum. Garuda, according to the Hindu mythology, is the vehicle of lord Vishnu. Thus the Garuda shrine facing the temple’s sanctum is symbolic.


The car, which faces the dolotsava-mantapa, is another architectural marvel of this school. The Vijayanagaras seem to have experimented with similar stone-structures else¬where also. At least one other si¬milar example has survived at Tadapath. Originally the stone car was crowned with a brick super-structure. This structure survived almost until the beginning of the 20th century. For some reasons of security, it was pulled down. The location of the car-temple offers clue as to the date of its construction. The car was obviously put up after completing the dolotsava-mantapa in about 1554.


In front of the chariot two elephants are positioned as if they are pulling the chariot. In fact these elephants where 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.


Contrary to popular belief, the Stone-Chariot, 4.5 x 4.8 mts. is not a monolithic monument; it has been built of dressed and designed stones as that of any Dravidian temple. Its four solid wheels move round the axles imparting an illusive element of mobility to the structures. Facing the main temple, this structure is said to have served also, as a shrine of Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu (Vitthala). Unlike the great Sun temples set on fixed wheels, the car-temple of Vijayanagara is set on moving wheels, a symbolism connoting stability and movement at once.