The Hemakuta group of temples is a cluster of ancient temples situated on the Hemakuta hill in Hampi. The Hemakuta hill is located in the southern side of the Hampi village and the hilltop is dotted with a large number of temples.
The temples on the Hemakuta Hill are among the oldest cluster of shrines in Hampi. The Hemakuta Hill as well as the group of temples situated on the hilltop are popular destinations for the tourists on the Hampi trail.
- Timing: From morning to dusk on all days of the week
- Entry Fee: No entry fee required
- Photography: Allowed
- Visit Duration: About 3 to 4 hours
- Best time to visit: From November to February
History of Hemakuta group of Temples, Hampi
The Hemakuta hill is sprinkled with ancient temples that belong to both, pre-Vijayanagara as well as Vijayanagara periods. A large number of these temples dates back to 9th to 14th century and hence, belong to the era before the Vijayanagara Empire was founded.
The Hemakuta Hill can be described as a canvas of stones. In the ancient times the whole hill was fortified with tall stone walls. Traces of the ruined fortification can be seen even today. The top of the hill is a stretch of rocky sheet that is almost flat.
All the temples dotting the face of the hill are hundreds of years old and represent a historical era of art and culture.
Mythology Associated with Hemakuta group of Temples, Hampi
Most of the Hemakuta group of temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva. According to local folklore there is a mythological reason behind this.
According to mythology, Lord Shiva performed penance on Hemakuta Hill before marrying a local girl named Pampa or Parvati. Lord Shiva was pleased with the dedication of the girl and consented to marry her. Due to this decision of Lord Shiva it rained gold on the hill. Since gold is known as Hema in Sanskrit, this hill came to be known as Hemakuta.
Another legend has it that Hemakuta Hill was also the place where Lord Shiva had burnt Kama, the God of lust. Kama had helped Pampa to marry Shiva by distracting Shiva from his penance. This act of Kama angered Shiva and he killed Kama by emitting fire from his third eye. However, after Kama’s wife Rathi pleaded with Shiva for the life of her husband, Shiva relented. Shiva brought back Kama to life but only in character and not as a physical being.
As such, Hemakuta Hill came to be deeply associated with Lord Shiva and many temples were built on the hill to worship Shiva.
Architecture of Hemakuta group of Temples, Hampi
The architecture of the temples on the Hemakuta Hill is quite different from the typical Vijayanagara style of architecture found in many other temples in Hampi. The Hemakuta group of temples have a distinct style of their own.
These temples are often mistaken for Jain temples due to their architecture, which is in some ways similar to that of the Jain temples. As such, they are sometimes mistakenly referred to as Jain temples.
The Hemakuta group of temples are compact triple chambered structures with pyramid like roofs made from granite. Some of the temples located on the northern side of the hill are built in the Trikutachala style of architecture. In this style of architecture, three shrines are placed in perpendicular position to each other face a common central hall.
The temples have almost plain outer walls, except for the horizontal chain of floral motifs that provide some ornamentation to the walls.
A Few Popular Temples on the Hemakuta Hill, Hampi
There are more than 35 temples on the Hemakuta Hill. The largest and most elaborately decorated temples are situated on the northern side of the hill and face the Virupaksha temple compound. On the way to the southern side of the hill is the ancient or the original Virupaksha temple, also known as Mula Virupaksha Temple.
Though not as grand as the one built by the Vijayanagara rulers, the Mula Virupaksha Temple represents a style of architecture that was popular before the Vijayanagara style came into being.
There is a small pond in the courtyard of the temple. It is one of the few ancient temples which are still under active worship. Further south, one can get an aerial view of the Krishna Temple, the Sasivekalu Ganesha, the temple of Lakshmi-Narasimha and the Badavilinga temple.
There are several other temples in this area that ate built in the pre-Vijayanagara style of architecture.
The beauty of the ancient temples and the relative calm of the place make it a popular spot for tourists to spend some peaceful moments on the hilltop.
Present condition of Hemakuta group of Temples, Hampi
Among the Hemakuta group of temples, some are in total ruins while some are in comparatively better condition. Some of the temples have partially sunk to the ground. The Archaeological Survey of India is undertaking efforts to renovate these temples and bring back their lost glory. Some of the temples that had escaped destruction during the Mughal invasions have suffered damage from the wear and tear of weather.
However, the Hemakuta group of temples remain one of the major attractions in Hampi.
How to reach Hemakuta group of Temples
Hampi is a famous tourist destination that draws visitors from all over the country and beyond. There are a number of ways to reach Hampi from various parts of Karnataka and beyond. The Hemakuta Hill is not a very high hill and does not offer a steep climb. The hill is easily accessible from all parts of Hampi.
Hampi is an ancient ruined village with no airport of its own. Ballari (Bellary) is the closest town to have an airport. The airport at Bellary is located at a distance of around 64 km from Hampi.
Visitors can reach Ballari by taking a flight and then proceed towards to Hampi by means of local transport.
Hampi does not have a railway station of its own. The nearest railway station can be traced to the city of Hosapete (Hospet). It has the Hospet Junction Railway Station. Hosapete is at a short distance of around 10 km from Hampi.
One of the simple ways to reach Hampi from Hosapete is to take a bus. A few other means of local transport also exists and visitors can avail them to reach Hampi from Hosapete.
Hampi is connected by the road network to a number of towns and cities. Several KSRTC buses ply between Hampi and other towns and cities in Karnataka. Visitors can reach Hampi either by bus or by hiring private cars, cabs or other vehicles from the major cities like Bengaluru (Bangalore) or Mysuru (Mysore).