Musical Pillars

This stone has another remarkable property! It is a special sonority or a so called musicality. When struck with the finger, the slender colonnettes of these pillars emit sounds which in a few cases are musical notes. Only three or four notes can be obtained from different colonnettes grouped, together. In a few instances, two different notes are produced by the same colonnettes of square section, when struck on orthogonal faces. A musician is thus enabled to play a simple tune of three or four notes. The fact that we obtain from several colonnettes attached to one and the same block of stone different pitches is more intriguining"

The sonority and the differences of pitch do not depend upon the carving of the pillar, nor upon its shape and size. The sonority is a natural property of the stone. The differences of pitch from one colonnette to another, or from one face to another orthogonal one in the same colonnettes, may be due to different disposition of crystals in different directions. This is to be explained by the natural structure of the rock, not by the innovative skill of the sculptor.

The musical quality of these pillars attracts the attention of all visitors. This quality is not the creation of the sculptor architect but an accidental outcome of the crystal content of the stone. From several colonnettes of the same pillar, carved out of a single block of stone, three to four pitches of sound can be produced when beaten with the bare fingers, but not with either stone or wood. The step-ways to the pavilllion are also of considerable interest. The surul-yali and the elephants which flank the balustrade are the characteristic features of Vijayanagara architecture.


The Musical Hall or Dolotsava Mantapa: This structure was built for the Vijaya Vitthala at least in three stages: (a) the original foundations were laid sometime during the reign-periods of two Devarayas (1406-46) of the Sangama dynasty; (b) it was thoroughly renovated and redone during the time of Krishnadevaraya (1503-1528) of the Tuluva dynasty; and (c) it was further extended during the time of the two successors of Krishnadevaraya i.e. Achutadevaraya (1529-1546) and Sadasivaraya (1542-1565). It is obvious that the temple of Vijaya Vitthala was repeatedly renovated until the capital was destroyed in 1565.

The dolotsava-mantapa, which was added to the main temple between 1541 and 1554, is open on all the three sides (N. S. and E.). It was also called Uyyale-Mandapa. It was here that the swing-ceremony of the god was conducted.


The temple proper falls into two sections: (a) the main temple from the sanctum to the Rangamandapa with entrances to the south and to the north; (b) the front hall called the doloisava-mandapa or the 'hall of the musical pillars'. The first is remarkably simple compared to the second. The most interesting components of the first are the circum-ambulatory passage within, the ornate pilasters as well as niches on the outer wall.


The dolotsava-mantapa, with its 60 pillars, is the main attraction in the Vitthala temple. It is about 30.5 mts. from end to end. Some of the pillars are 3.6 mts. high and 1.5 mts. wide. The pillars are concentrated in the four coiners of the hall: 13 each at the N-E and S-E (totalling 26) and 8 each at the NW and SW (totalling 16). The central bay is rectangular. These pillars have gained "universal reputation by their complex-composition and musical quality". In workmanship, they fall into a dozen variety; they meaningfully divide the hall and serve the most important architectural function.