The Hemakuta complex consists of a number of small to medium sized temples, located atop the Hemakuta hill.
A must visit in a 3 days Hampi itinerary, Hemakuta Temple complex is one of tourist’s favorite. And read my Hampi travel guide to be inspired and do your own travel planning.
The constructions are amongst the most ancient of them all found in Hampi. While touring the ruins of Hampi, visitors often make a pit stop at the hill and visit these rustic temples.
The small temples and this majestic Hemkuta hill itself boasts of a long and distinguished history.
Throughout the grounds of the hill are the historic temples from the pre- and post-Vijayanagara eras. Many others date from the ninth to fourteenth centuries, making them older than the empire itself.
Hemkuta was formerly surrounded by large stone walls, which served as a natural defense.
Even now, vestiges of the fortress’s devastation may still be discovered. The summit is a relatively flat area which is easy to walk on.
Each of these temples represent a different epoch in art and cultural history of Hampi.
The Lord Shiva is revered in the majority of these temples, with some dedicated to Ganesha as well.
As the legends have it, this is said to be the place where Lord Shiva conducted his penance before getting married to Pampa (aka Parvati). The girl’s commitment earned Lord Shiva’s approval, and he agreed to marry her as a consequence of his adoration.
Lord Shiva asked that Hemakuta should be coated in gold for the ceremony. Gold is referred to as Hema in Sanskrit, the hill was thus given the name Hemakuta (aka Gold Hill).
According to another tale, Hemakuta Hill was also the location of Lord Shiva’s burning of the God of Love known as Kama. Kama had assisted Pampa in her marriage to Shiva by diverting Shiva’s attention away from his penance.
Lord Shiva was enraged at Kama’s behavior and showered fire from his third eye. Rathi then begged with Shiva to spare her husband Kama’s life, and Shiva agreed to her request.
While Shiva did bring Kama back, he did it purely in the guise of a character, rather than in the form of a real human.
As a result, Hemakuta peak became forever connected with him, resulting in building of several temples dedicated to Shiva on the summit.
The complex is nothing short of a masterpiece of Hindu architecture. The temple complex is distinguished by its distinctive architectural style with a resemblance to Jain style.. Because of this architectural similiarity, the temples are sometime misconstrued for Jain monuments as well!
The temples are modest, three-chambered constructions with granite pyramidal ceilings and are surrounded by a moat. On the northern slope of Hemkuta hill, you will find a slew of Trikutachala temples to visit. A central hall is shared by shrines, arranged perpendicularly to each another.
There are around 40 temples atop Hemkuta. Their location on the hill’s northern slope, which overlooks Virupaksha, and the size and ornateness of their decoration distinguish them as being the most impressive.
From the approach, you will find yourself admiring Old Virupaksha Temple, on the south side of the hill.
The Mula Virupaksha, despite the fact that it is far smaller than the Vijayanagara dynasty’s temple, has a distinctive architectural style that precedes the Vijayanagara’s.
It is possible to find this little pool of water tucked inside the temple’s grounds. As one of the few temples that is still in use as pilgrimage, it is considered to be particularly significant.
From up here you can see the other famed Hampi temples such as the Sasivekalu Ganesha, Krishna Temple,and the Lakshmi-Narasimha Temple.
A number of additional temples in the vicinity were built in the pre-Vijayanagara architectural style, which was popular at the time.
Because of the majesty of the temples and the relative tranquility of the surrounding region, it is a popular destination for travelers looking to get away from crowds.
In the Hemakuta group, there are a few of temples that are in ruins, while others are in a more respectable condition of restoration.
One or two of the temples that managed to avoid destruction during the Mughal invasions have fallen victim to the ravages of time.
Currently, the Archaeological Survey of India is working to restore the temple complex to their former splendor.