Prasanna Virupaksha temple is one of oldest temples in Hampi. Built during the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire, the temple is located near the main road to Hampi bus stand and close to the Noblemen’s quarters after Chandikesvara temple.
It is one of the popular temples that are visited by tourists on the Hampi trail.
- Timing: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM on all days of the week
- Entry Fee: No entry fee required
- Photography: Allowed
- Visit Duration: About 45 minutes to 1 hour
- Best time to visit: From November to February
History of Prasanna Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
The Prasanna Virupaksha temple dates back to the 14th century AD. The temple is dedicated to Prasanna Virupaksha, an avatar of Lord Shiva. The temple stands amidst a beautiful lawn covered in green.
The temple has remained buried for over four hundred years before it was discovered in the 1980’s decade. It is believed that Vijayanagara ruler Krishnadevaraya had donated extensively to this temple.
The location of the temple and its proximity to the Noblemen’s quarters indicates that the temple might have been used by the members of the Royal family of Vijayanagara for their private ceremonies.
Why is Prasanna Virupaksha Temple known as the Underground Shiva Temple?
An interesting fact about the Prasanna Virupaksha temple is that it is located a few metres below the ground level. The roof of the temple is at par with the present ground level while the main structure of the temple stands on a low lying area. The reason behind such a unique location for the construction of the temple is not known.
Another thing to note is that the sanctum of the temple remains submerged under stagnant water throughout the year. During the monsoon season, extending from June to August, the water level rises inside the temple and submerges the floor of the maha mantapa and other mantapas.
This restricts the entry of visitors to most parts of the temple during the rainy season. The water inside the temple is considered to be sacred by the people of Hampi and the devotees of Lord Shiva.
Reason behind the water inside the Prasanna Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
While it is a known fact that most portions of the Prasanna Virupaksha temple remains submerged under water for most part of the year, the accurate reason behind it fact is not known.
There are different stories floating in the local circles regarding this uniqueness of the temple. One of the popular stories is that the temple has an inlet and outlet for the water. The water that flows inside the temple comes from the Tungabhadra River.
When the dam water of the river is released during the monsoons, the water level rises inside the temple and floods it.
Architecture of the Prasanna Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
The Prasanna Virupaksha temple has been constructed following the Vijayanagara style of architecture. The temple is a simple and beautiful structure that is located inside a large courtyard surrounded by an enclosure wall. There is a water canal in the courtyard of the temple.
This Underground Shiva temple has a flat roofed main tower. There are steps leading from the main tower to the main pillared hall of the temple.
The temple has a garbhagriha along with an antarala. The temple also has an aradha mantapa and a maha mantapa.
The maha mantapa has pillared corridors that combine with the pillared mukha mantapa. This makes for a huge pillared frontal mantapa. The frontal mantapa also has a dhwaja stambha that protrudes through the rooftop.
The pillars of the temple are simple and austere in appearance, unlike the carved and engraved pillars found in most temples of Hampi.
Present Condition of the Prasanna Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
The Prasanna Virupaksha temple is in a dilapidated condition and is no better than most other temples in Hampi. It can be easily seen that the temple lacks maintenance. The inner sanctum of the temple once had an idol of Lord Shiva, but today there remains just an empty pedestal.
Some parts of the temple are accessible during the summer season. But the inner sanctum remains flooded throughout the year. During monsoon most parts of the temple become inaccessible due to the rise in the water level.
The stone pillars are plain and devoid of any ornamental carvings. But it is a thrill to wade through knee deep water and reach the inner sanctum.
The inner sanctum is a dark area where nothing can be seen clearly. Bats have made the inner sanctum their residence and they can be seen flying inside the temple.
How to reach Prasanna Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
Hampi is a famous tourist destination that attracts lot of visitors from far and near. There are a number of ways to reach Hampi from various parts of Karnataka and beyond. It is an easy matter to reach the Underground Shiva Temple from most parts of Hampi.
Hampi, the ruined village, does not have an airport. Ballari (Bellary) is the closest town that has an airport. Ballary is located at a distance of around 64 km from Hampi.
Visitors can fly to the airport at Ballari and then proceed to travel to Hampi. There are several means of local transport to reach Hampi from Ballari.
Hampi does not have a railway station of its own. The nearest railway station is situated in the city of Hosapete (Hospet) and it is called the Hospet Junction Railway Station. Hosapete stands at a distance of around 10 km from Hampi.
One of the easiest ways to reach Hampi from Hosapete is to take a bus. Some other means of local transport are also there to reach Hampi from Hosapete and visitors can avail them.
Since Hampi has a good road network, it is well-connected to many towns and cities with the help of this network. There are several KSRTC buses that travel between Hampi and other towns and cities of Karnataka.