Sri Virupaksha Temple
The Virupaksha Temple is one of the famous historical temples of India. The temple is located in Hampi, Karnataka state of India, 350 kilometers from Bangalore. The Virupaksha Temple is a major part of the group of historical monuments of Hampi, especially in the group of monuments located at Pattadakal. The name of this temple is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha and his consort Devi Pampa. Virupaksha is a form of Lord Shiva. Near the Virupaksha Temple are small and dedicated temples to other deities.
History of Virupaksha Temple
Virupaksha Temple has a history related to the famous Vijayanagar Empire. The temple is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, Hampi, the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. This temple is of the 7th century and the carvings done on it are of the 9th or 11th centuries.
Originally it was a small shrine, and the sanctuary of Virupaksha–Pampa existed prior to the commencement of the Vijayanagara Empire. However, the Vijayanagara rulers were responsible for building this small shrine into a large temple complex. Although most of the temple buildings were constructed during the Vijayanagara rule, some few were also erected during the late Hoysala and Chalukya empires.
Gopuda and Rang Mandapam were built by Krishnadevaraya in 1510 AD in 1509 AD. Virupaksha Temple is the main center of pilgrimage in Hampi and is considered the holiest sanctuary for centuries. The temple is still intact in the surrounding ruins and still, Lord Shiva is worshiped in the temple.
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The architecture of Virupaksha Temple
The Virupaksha Temple reflects the South Indian Dravidian architectural style and is built of brick and lime. To the east of the temple is a huge stone Nandi, while on the south side there is a huge statue of Ganesh. There is a 6.7-meter high statue of Narsingh holding the body of half lion and half man. The gopuram of the entrance of Virupaksha Temple is surrounded by huge rocks placed on Hemkuta hills and other surrounding hills and the balance of rocks is astonishing.
Virupaksha Temple is also known as Pampapati Temple. This holy place has a Mukha Mandapa (Ranga Mandapam), which has a huge chamber with three chambers and pillars. Currently, the Virupaksha Temple consists of an open pillared hall and a pillared hall, three ante chambers, and a sanctum. Some other structures surrounding this temple are entrance gateways, pillared cloisters, smaller shrines, and a courtyard.
The gateway located at the east is nine tiered and is the largest among all the gateways at 50 meters. It incorporates earlier structures and is proportionately constructed. The stone base is two-tiered and the superstructure is made of bricks. You can access the outer court containing many smaller temples from the eastern gateway.
You can pass through the smaller eastern gateway to the inner court and visit a plethora of small shrines located there. The temple has been so constructed that the River Tungabhadra flows along its terrace, descends to the temple kitchen, and passes through the outer court.
The central pillared hall is the most ornate structure and it is believed that this was added by the famous Vijayanagara Emperor Krishnadevaraya. The hall was commissioned by the Emperor in 1510 A.D.
There is also an underground Shiva temple in Virupaksha Temple. A large part of the temple is contained in water, so no one can go there. The temperature of this part of the temple is very low as compared to the outside. Stone plaque inscriptions provide a detailed account of the contribution of the Emperor to the Virupaksha Temple.
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The legend related to Sri Virupaksha Temple
According to another legend, Sri Virupaksha Temple is associated with the context of Lord Shiva and Ravana. In Tretayuga, Ravana did hard penance to please Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was very pleased with the austerity of Ravana and asked to ask for the bride.
Ravana invited Shiva to walk to Lanka, but Lord Shiva refused and gave Ravana a Shivalinga. Lord Shiva gave Shivling to Ravana and said that do not place it anywhere on earth. If you put it somewhere, then this Shivling will be installed there itself. Then it will not be removed.
Ravana took Shivling and walked towards Lanka. On the way, Ravan had to stay for some reason. He caught an elder Shivling and told him not to place it on the ground. But by the time Ravana arrived, the elderly had put him on the ground. Ravana tried hard to take Shivlinga with him, but he could not even shake it. Eventually, Ravana left Shivling and went to Lanka. Since then, that Shivling is here.
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How to reach
The Virupaksha Temple is located in Hampi which is about 350 km from Bangalore. It is accessible by air, rail, and road. The nearest airport is Bellary Airport which is 60 km from Hampi and a nearby railway station is Hospet Railway Station which is 13 km from Hampi.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit is from October to March. The time from Shravan month to Falgun month is the best time to visit. The main festivals held in the temple are Mahashivratri, Annual Rath Yatra, Falapuja festival. The chariot festival in the month of February is the chief annual festival celebrated here. The divine marriage between Virupaksheshwara and Pampa is celebrated in the month of December.