Temple: Virupaksha Temple
The Virupaksha Temple in Hampi, Karnataka is noted for its architecture and has been listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Hampi used to be the seat of the Vijayanagara Empire and the Virupaksha Temple is among the group of monuments built during 1336 – 1570 A.D.
The Virupaksha Temple – Overview
The Virupaksha Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is renowned as one of the most sacred temples in Karnataka. Virupaksha is an avatar of Lord Shiva, and among all the surrounding ruins, this temple is intact and is still in use. Hampi is located on the banks of River Tungabhadra.
The Virupaksha Temple – History
This temple has ancient inscriptions which date back to 9th and 10th centuries. Originally it was a small shrine, and the sanctuary of Virupaksha–Pampa existed prior to the commencement of the Vijayanagara Empire. However, the Vijayanagara rulers were responsible for building this small shrine into a large temple complex.
Although most of the temple buildings were constructed during the Vijayanagara rule, some few were also erected during the late Hoysala and Chalukya empires.
Major renovations and additions were carried out in the 19th century and gopuras were established and ceilings painted during this time.
The Virupaksha Temple – Architecture
Currently, the Virupaksha Temple consists of an open pillared hall and a pillared hall, three ante chambers and a sanctum. Some other structures surrounding this temple are entrance gateways, pillared cloisters, smaller shrines and a courtyard.
The gateway located at the east is nine tiered and is the largest among all the gateways at 50 meters. It incorporates earlier structures and is proportionately constructed. The stone base is two tiered and the superstructure is made of bricks. You can access the outer court containing many smaller temples from the eastern gateway.
You can pass through the smaller eastern gateway to the inner court and visit a plethora of small shrines located there. The temple has been so constructed that the river Tungabhadra flows along its terrace, descends to the temple kitchen and passes through the outer court.
The central pillared hall is the most ornate structure and it is believed that this was added by the famous Vijayanagara emperor Krishnadevaraya. The hall was commissioned by the Emperor in 1510 A.D. Stone plaque inscriptions provide a detailed account of the contribution of the Emperor to the Virupaksha Temple.
The Virupaksha Temple – Festivals
Devotees throng to this temple in December every year to attend the betrothal and marriage ceremonies of Pampa and Virupaksha. Another festival which is held in February is the annual chariot fete.
How to Get to the Virupaksha Temple
The Virupaksha Temple is located in Hampi which is about 350 km from Bangalore. The nearest railway station from Hampi is Hospet and this lies at a distance of 13 km from Hampi. The nearest airport is at Bellary and this is located 60 km away from Hampi. Hampi is well connected by roads and railways and hence is easily accessible.