Hampi Hopping, Sacred Center: Krishna Temple

The early-16th c AD Krishna Temple lies to the south of Hemakuta Hill, at the edge of the irrigated valley that separates the Sacred and Royal Centers. This temple was part of the profusion of temple construction that took place in the Sacred Center in the early-16th c AD. It is very much in the lineage of Tamil temple architecture, in contrast to the nearby shrines on Hemakuta Hill. The Krishna Temple is entered through a monumental gopuram which gives access to an enclosed rectangular space that contain the main temple at the center and free-standing subsidiary shrines around. The enclosure walls are lined with colonnades on the inside.

Monumental east gopuram

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Main temple with mahamandap in front

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Entrance to the ardhmandap in the foreground, and the mahamandap behind it

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Composite columns with yalis and colonnetes line the mahamandap

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It is interesting to compare the mahamandap of this temple with that of the Virupaksha Temple, which was built around the same time as this, and the later Vitthala Temple mahamandap, which was a mid-16th c AD addition. Both the Virupaksha and Vitthala mahamandaps are in typical Vijaynagar style (as we have seen the Virupaksha example is the progenitor of that type), with a larger central space surrounded by a dense agglomeration of composite columns. In the case of the Krishna Temple however, the columns are more evenly spaced out, and there is not as much of a focus on the central axial space. The mahamandap and indeed the overall layout of the Krishna Temple resembles the late-Chola era Airavateshwara Temple (mid-12th c AD) at Darasuram, albeit in a simpler form. The columns within the mahamandap in the Krishna Temple are not composite, even though the columns at its boundary are.

So the mahamandap of the Krishna Temple harkens back to earlier examples, while the Virupaksha and Vitthala mahamandaps belong to the new style which will be widely used in future Vijaynagar projects, including many additions to existing temples throughout the south.

Mahamandap interior

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Ardhmandap interior with the sanctum beyond

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Looking towards the main shrine

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Side shrines

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Northern gopuram

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The bedrock on which the Krishna Temple is built

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The granary that sits just outside the Krishna Temple brings out the contrast between religious and secular architecture in Vijaynagar. While temples were built strictly along the lines of previous temple architecture styles, secular buildings such as this granary made free use of elements such as arches for both decoration and structural purposes.


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The colonnaded bazaar space to the east of the Krishna Temple, directly in front of the east gopuram

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Pushkarani (water tank) in the bazaar

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