The 16th century Vittala Temple, one of the most ornate monuments in the area, represents the best of Vijayanagara architecture. Popularly known as Hampi's showstopper and decorated with extravagant carvings, the temple's highlight is a spectacular stone chariot that stands in the courtyard. One of the finest examples of Vijayanagara style of architecture, it is said that the chariot is a shrine of Garuda, a bird-like mythical creature believed to be Hindu god Vishnu's vehicle. Legends say that the wheels of the chariot, decorated with intricate floral patterns, were once capable of being turned. Even now, looking at its spokes, it seems as if they would turn at a divine command. The chariot, the main temple and a few smaller structures are housed within a vast walled courtyard with three imposing gateways.

The main temple is dedicated to Lord Vitthala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The mahamantapa (main hall) of the temple is flanked by elephant balustrades and is said to have been used as a venue for cultural performances. It is a fully developed temple with associated buildings like Kalyana Mandapa and Utsava Mandapa. The temple complex also has a large pushkarani (stepped tank) with a Vasantotsava Mandapa (a ceremonial pavilion) and a network of water channels. A unique feature of this temple is its elaborately carved musical pillars, which are said to produce the sounds of 81 different musical instruments when tapped with a wooden stick. Folklore says that the British were so fascinated by the pillars that they tore a few down to investigate how the music was produced.

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