Perhaps the most popular UNESCO World Heritage structure in Hampi, this Stone Chariot, which is situated inside the Vittala Temple Complex, was built by King Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire during the 16th century, who was fascinated with the Konark Sun temple chariot while fighting a battle in Odissa.
The chariot is actually a shrine dedicated to Garuda - Lord Vishnu's vehicle, and there once was a massive sculpture of Garuda seated atop the chariot inside the inner sanctum but that is empty now. There were sculptures of horses at the front, which were later replaced by elephants in such an artistic manner as to portray that they're pulling the chariot. Even today one can see the hind legs and tails of the horses behind the elephants.
The beauty of the chariot lies in the fact that it looks like one solid structure but in fact it has been built by slabs of granite whose linkages have been cleverly hidden with artistic designs. The base on which the chariot rests depicts beautiful mythical battle scenes in intricate details. There are also remnants of the ladder in between the two elephants, using which priests used to climb up to the inner sanctum to pay homage to the sculpture of Garuda.
An interesting folklore emanates from the Hampi chariot as villagers believe that the world would come to a halt when the chariot moves from its place! One thing's for sure, as soon as someone enters the magnificent Vittala Mandapa complex and is greeted by the sight of this beauty, their world comes to a halt for a while in admiration of the art, architecture, history, myths, story and glory adorning the chariot.