Elephant Stable




One among the few least destroyed structures in Hampi, Elephant Stable is a major tourist attraction. This long building with a row of domed chambers was used to ‘park’ the royal elephants. There are 11 domed tall chambers; some of them are inter- connected. The center one is specially decorated and big. Probably the musicians and the associated band troupes had been using this during ceremonies involving elephant processions. The whole building looks symmetric with respect to this central hall. The tower of the central hall resembles (though mostly destroyed) more like that of temples. However the five pairs of domes on either side are of Islamic in style. They are better preserved and of alternating patterns. Metal hooks (used to tie the elephants) on the inside roof can be seen. At the rear of each hall are small manhole type openings for the mahouts to enter the elephant compartments. You reach here through the Zenana Enclosure. From here you proceed to the Guard’s Quarters and then may be to the Ranga Temple located a bit south of it all.The elephant stable was constructed in the 12th century, during the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire. As the name indicates, the stable was constructed to house the royal elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire. The elaborate structure indicates the importance attached to the royal elephants during those days. It also suggests towards the amazing craftsmanship of the artisans of that era. The elephant stable in Hampi is one of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic style of architecture. Though most of the structures and monuments in Hampi were built using the Vijayanagara style of architecture, a few structures display the Indo-Islamic style as well. The elephant stable is a prominent building in Hampi that displays this beautifularchitectural style. The elephant stable is a long building with a rectangular shape. The building has a row of eleven huge domed chambers. Each chamber is large enough to accommodate two elephants at a time. The domed chambers are interconnected with large arched openings. The walls between the arches have small doorways. There is no sign to indicate that the chambers ever had any doors in the doorways. Every chamber contains a small opening at the rear side. It is believed that this opening was used by the mahouts to enter and exit the chambers. The building also contains a concealed staircase that leads one to the roof of the building. The chambers of the building have high ceilings. The central chamber contains a metal hook embedded in the ceiling. This hook was most probably used to tie the elephants during the days of the Vijayanagara Empire. The hook could also have been used as a pulley by the mahout to set the howdah on the back of the elephants. The uniqueness about the elephant stable is that it has a distinct central dome. The central dome is the largest and most decorated among the 11 domes of the building. The design of the central dome represents the architectural style found in the temples of Hampi. The other 10 domes represent the Islamic style of architecture. The domes of the building were designed in a variety of shapes, such as, octagonal, circular, ribbed, drum-shaped and fluted. All the domes possess asymmetric layout. Each of the domes was decorated with ornate plaster on the interior as well as the exterior. The elephant stable is among one of the few least destroyed buildings in Hampi. The wear and tear of time and weather has faded and weakened the building to an extent. However, it is still in a firm condition, more than 600 years after it was constructed. The plaster of the building has fallen off at some places. The central dome is not as well preserved as the other domes. Yet, the stable stands as one of the most remarkable structures in Hampi and attracts scores of visitors on a daily basis. It is one of the monuments that are preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India.