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Hazara Rama Temple
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Entrance Pavilion

Carvings on Compound Wall

Elevation and Section of Principal Shrine


Situated in the middle of the Royal Centre, this religious monument was used as a private chapel by the Vijayanagara rulers and their private family members. This link with royalty is expressed in the reliefs covering the outer face of the compound walls inside which the temple itself stands. They portray the processions of elephants, horses with attendants, military contingents, and dancing women, exactly as in the Mahanavami festival as described by the foreign visitors. Pavilion-like gateways on the east and north give access to the temple compound.

Inscriptions inside the Hazara Rama temple indicate that Devaraya I erected it in the early 15th century as a shrine to the god Rama under the name Ramachandra. This dedication explains the panels illustrating the Ramayana epic carved on the inner face of the compound walls and around the outside of the two shrines that stand freely within the walls. Indeed, these reliefs are the most extensive of any series to be found anywhere in Indian art. They testify to the artistic achievements of the Vijayanagara artists working at the capital.

The main temple is approached through an open mandapa, actually an addition of early 16th century, within which is the original entrance porch with finely carved columns. Side porches are seen on the north and south. The interior of the temple is unadorned, except for four ornately sculpted columns in the middle. An empty pedestal stands within the sanctuary; its three holes may have secured images of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, but these are lost.

The outside walls of the temple have the Ramayana sculptures already referred to set between pilasters. The walls are raised on a basement with finely set worked mouldings and overhung by curving eaves. A brick plaster tower rises over the sanctuary, its original details obscured by modern restoration.

A secondary, smaller shrine stands built in a similar style, also with epic wall carvings, stands nearby. It has two sanctuaries, one perhaps for Narasimha, since the story of this incarnation of Vishnu also appears on the outer walls.

To the east, beyond the enclosure walls of the Hazara Rama temple, is a small shrine, perhaps for an image of Hanuman or Garuda, with a badly reconstructed lamp-column standing in front. A road from here lined with shrines dedicated to different divinities proceeds through the Royal Centre into the Urban Core. It finally exits the fortified zone at Talarighat gate before leading to the river crossing to Anegondi. Immediately south of the main entrance to the Hazara Rama temple is a sequence of two gateways giving access to the largest and presumably most important enclosure of the Royal Centre, with the audience hall and Great Platform.

For a description and analysis of the temple see Dallapiccola et al, 1992, The Ramachandra Temple at Vijayanagara; for discussion of its reliefs see Dallpiccola, 1990, "Die Ramayana-Reliefs um den Ramachandra Tempel Vijayanagara", and 1996, "Processional Friezes on the Outer Enclosure Wall of the Ramachandra Temple", all in Project Publications.


Last updated February 9, 2014 - ©2014 Vijayanagara Research Project