The Emperors of Vijayanagar whose empire compromised of almost the whole of peninsular India, were great builders and spent lavishly on works of public utility, i.e. tanks, reservoirs, lakes, palaces and temples. In temple building they continued the traditions and styles of the Chalukyas, Cholas and Pandyas. These temples in Andhra Pradesh and Deccan show marked traces of Chalukyan style, whereas their temples in the south show Chola and Pandya influence. Built of hard stone, the Vijayanagar temples are large structures with spacious mandapas and lofty gopurams.
One of the splendid temples of the time is the famous Harasa Rama Temple at Vijayanagar built in the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1550 A.D.). It is considered to be “one of the most perfect specimen of Hindu Temple architecture”. The temple does not have a gopuram. The four central pillars are finely polished and decorated with beautiful sculptures, Panels of the entire life of Rama and episodes from the Ramayana are delicately sculptured on the exterior of the temple.
The temple of Vithala also in Vijayanagar dedicated to Vishnu is another gigantic structure started by Krishna Deva Raya in 16th century AD. A large well built complex, it is on the pattern of the southern temples. It has axial mandapas and small shrines and gopurams. It has a highly ornamented main mandap with intricate picture compositions painted on the ceiling. This shows that the art of sculpture and painting had attained a very high degree of excellence during that period. The typical lofty gopuram is covered with excellent sculptures. Other features of the temple are the exquisitely carved pillars and the massive solid granite rathas with three huge wheels in the open courtyard.