Virupaksha Temple is one of the best preserved historical places in Hampi.
An essential attraction on your 3 days Hampi itinerary, Virupaksha temple is not to be missed.
Surprisingly well preserved and still in use today, Virupaksha Temple stands majestically tall, as it has done for centuries, at one end of the Hampi bazaar.
The temple, located on the banks of a small tributary of river Tungbhadra, is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, an avatar of Lord Shiva.
The Virupaksha temple standing by the Tungabhadra river is Hampi’s most famous Hindu temple. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its awe-inspiring beauty as well as history.
It is dedicated to Shiv ji’s avatar, Virupaksha, who is worshipped here. The temple’s long and illustrious history is chronicled by stunning seventh-century stone inscriptions on its exterior. For the ones interested in architecture or history, you should consider paying a visit.
The presence of massive gopurams, or towers, that open up to the inner sanctums is a distinguishing feature of the temple design.
Using the gopurams, one may access a variety of internal sections, many of which are beautifully ornamented with brickwork and carvings. Each of the sculptures depicts a different deity or goddess. Apart from Virupaksha, temple also houses a number of other idols.
A large number of people travel here to celebrate important festivals.
The design of the Virupaksha is influenced by the traditions of South Indian/Dravidian styles.
The temple has 3 gopurams, the largest is located on the complex’s eastern side. There are a total of 9 levels on the 50m high gopuram. The facades are embellished with Hindu sculptures. The outer courtyard, with smaller temples dedicated to other deities, can be reached after passing through the eastern gate.
Dedicated to the goddess Bhuvaneshwari, it has a remarkable structure with outstanding pillars and masonry in line with the Chalukyan style.
From the outside courtyard, you will have a good view of the temple’s sanctums.
The three-headed Nandi, Lord Shiva’s ride, is maintained in a chariot-shaped building connected to it by a hallway with 100 pillars. Pataleshwara, yet other incarnation of Shiva, is also present in the smaller shrines.
The Virupaksha temple is comprised of a number of pillared halls. During his reign, King Krishnadevaraya made significant endowments to the temple. Built in 1510 A.D. to commemorate his coronation, the ‘Maharanga Mandapam,’ in the center of the palace is the focal point.
The endowments of Krishnadevaraya to the temple are inscribed on a stone adjacent to the hall. An array of ruinous structures may be found outside the temple’s perimeter, remains of a old market area.
The temple is believed to be constructed somewhere in the 7th century much before the risde of Vijayanagara empire. But the temple grew in prominence only during the rule of Vijayanagara empire.
The famous king Krishnadevaraya is said to be an ardent devotee of Lord Virupaksha. Fortunately, the temple miraculously escaped the wrath of mogul onslaught in the 16th century.
Virupaksha is quite a big temple with a large courtyard, inner sanctum and a group smaller temples. Inside the temple it’s hard to miss the giant statue of nandi, the vahana of Lord Shiva, located somewhat in the center of the courtyard.
The temple is still functioning and if you are interested you can do a darshan inside, and partake in the pooja activities.
Virupaksha Temple also a cute temple elephant name Lakshmi which you can see roaming around(!). You can get blessings from her or if you are lucky you can watch it take bath in the nearby river.
While you are there, Virupaksha Temple should be at the top of your places of interest in hampi.