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Temples: Singers in Stone

Dr Ujwala Chakradeo

Dr Ujwala ChakradeoOct 11, 2021, 02:42 PM IST

Temples: Singers in Stone

Many columns at Vittala Temple have figures of beautiful singers holding the musical instrument carved on it. Similar to the set of seven columns, these columns also emanate the sound of the instrument carved on it when tapped

 

Rang Mandap of Vitthala Temple at Hampi has 56 singing columns. They are also called sa, re, ga, ma pa  columns. By just tapping the columns with a hand or a small piece of stone, the sound of music emanates from them. The main column is surrounded by seven thinner columns. The main column is for the support and the smaller columns are for the music. These groups of columns at times are carved out of one  single stone.

There are three types of musical instruments. Stringed musical instruments like guitar, violin and Sitar. Wind musical instruments like the flute and Shehnai. Percussion instruments like the tabla, drums, Manjira and Jal Tarang. 

Many columns have figures of beautiful singers holding the musical instrument carved on it. Similar to the set of seven columns, these columns also emanate the sound of the instrument carved on it when tapped.

We can imagine Krishnadevaraya sitting in the musical concert in the Rang Mahal all ready to enjoy music. At every column well dressed musicians stood standing and tapping the instrument in tune with the raga and the music being played in the rang mandapa.  The idea itself is so engrossing and enchanting that one wishes to salute the designer and the architect of this rang mandapa as well as of the entire temple.

A British officer during the British reign wanted to unravel the mystery of these singing columns and broke two of the columns. He was unable to do so but two columns were lost to his crazy urge. The entire temple is actually in ruins now. Even in this state, UNESCO has declared the temple to be grade one heritage structure.  

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