As we were really running short of time we couldn’t spend quality time at the place, so a few glimpses should suffice for now.
The main entrance, known as the Rajagopuram (the royal temple tower), rises from the base area of around 5720 sq ft and goes up to 237 feet (72 m) – the tallest in Asia! – moving up in eleven progressively smaller tiers.
The structure of the rajagopuram remained incomplete at the base (17 meters high), for over 400 years. Started during the reign of Achyuta Deva Raya of Vijayanagar, the construction was given up after the king’s death. The Rajagopuram did not reach its current height of 73 m. until 1987, when the 44th Jeer of Ahobila Mutt initiated the process with the help of philanthropists and others. The whole structure was constructed in a span of eight years.
There are 21 gopurams (tower gateways) in total. The 20 smaller gopurams inside the temple complex were built between the 14th and 17th centuries. The gopurams have pronounced projections in the middle of the long sides, generally with openings on each of the successive levels.
Gopurams, as the one on the left generally display statues of Gods in varied sizes – the size in proportion to the importance of the god for the funding organization/devotees/artist. The Gopuram also depict mortals like Brahmins, dancing maidens and devotees in various welcoming postures. One common feature I have come to observe in most Gopurams of South India is the presence of Rakshashas (Demons) symbolically placed at the top or on the periphery of the structure – this I guess is to portray that even Rakshashas (though evil) are on the side of the good and almighty and protect those who walk in (to the temple).