The Varaha Temple is one of the most impressive temples in Hampi. The structure is famous for its architectural beauty and carvings on the walls. The temple is located at the northern end of the Courtesans’ Street and is close to the riverside.
The Varaha Temple is dedicated to Varaha Swamy, one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The temple is a protected structure under The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It is a major draw for tourists who visit Hampi.
- Timing: 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM on all days of the week
- Entry Fee: No entry fee required
- Still Photography: Allowed
- Video Camera: Allowed
- Visit Duration: About 2 hours
- Parking Fee: Parking is free
- Best time to visit: From November to February
History of Varaha Temple, Hampi
The Varaha Temple was built in the 13th century, during the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire. It was a significant place of worship in that era. Vishnu is one of the most popular deities of the Hindus. As such, his incarnation Varaha was also much revered by the people of Hampi.
Legend Associated with Varaha Temple, Hampi
Legend has it that Varaha, the mythical boar, was the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology, the reason behind the Varaha incarnation of Lord Vishnu was to protect the earth from a demon named Hiranyaksha.
The demon had dragged the earth to the bottom of the mythic ocean. Vishnu appeared as Varaha and went inside the ocean to rescue the earth. A long battle took place between Hiranyaksha and Varaha.
It is believed that the battle lasted for about a thousand years. Finally Varaha emerged victorious and saved the earth from the demon’s hands.
He emerged out of the ocean by carrying the earth between his tusks. As such, he is also known as the eternal upholder of the earth.
Architecture of Varaha Temple, Hampi
The Varaha temple was built in the typical Vijayanagara style of architecture. The temple complex is a rectangular area bounded by a wall. A huge entrance tower adorns one side of the complex. Though damaged to a large extent, the entrance tower still reflects the beauty and grandeur that was once attached to it. The temple stands in the middle of the large compound.
An interesting fact to note is that the walls of the temple have images and bas-relics of boars carved into them. The remarkable thing about these carvings is that some of them represent the insignia of the Vijayanagara kings.
The Royal insignia of Vijayanagara comprises of 4 elements, namely, Varaha (the boar), Sun, Moon and Dagger. The presence of an image of the Royal insignia on the temple wall points towards the significance of the temple during the ancient times.
Dispute Regarding the Varaha Temple, Hampi
There is some dispute regarding the reigning deity of the Varaha Temple. According to a section of experts the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and not Lord Vishnu, as commonly believed. Their argument is that the artefacts found along the temple configuration point towards the basis of the theory regarding a Shiva temple.
There are a few local stories that revolve around the reigning deity of the temple, but none of them can be verified concretely. Like many other structures in Hampi, the truth regarding this temple has also sunk under the heaps of ruins.
Present condition of Varaha Temple, Hampi
The Varaha Temple is in partial ruins today. The top portion of the beautiful entrance gate is no longer there as it was damaged long ago. The sanctum sanctorum is an empty chamber as the idol is no longer there.
Most probably, the idol was damaged during the Mughal raids on Hampi that led to the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire. Even then, the temple has an old-world charm surrounding it.
The carvings on the wall are amazing sights. The bas-relics on the walls display the skill of the craftsmen who worked on the temple. The temple is managed under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Recently the Archaeological Survey of India has partially renovated the temple in its attempt to preserve this historical structure.
How to reach Varaha Temple
Hampi is a popular tourist destination that is scattered with ruins of many structures and temples. Among these ruins, the Varaha temple stands out as a popular tourist destination.
The temple can be reached by means of local transport as well as on foot from nearby places like the Courtesan’s Street.
Hampi, the ruined town, has no facility of an airport within its area. The nearest town to have an airport is Ballari (Bellary). Ballary stands at a distance of about 64 km from Hampi. Visitors who want to travel by air can take a flight to Ballari and then avail local means of transport to reach Hampi.
The town of Hampi does not have a railway station of its own. The nearest town to have a railway station is Hosapete (Hospet) where the Hospet Junction Railway Station is located. Hosapete is at a distance of just 10 km from Hampi and is well-connected to the ancient city.
To reach Hampi from Hosapete one can opt for a bus ride or avail other means of local transport.
Hampi is a town with a well-connected road network. There are a number of buses that ply between Hampi and several of the major towns and cities in Karnataka.