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Virupaksha Temple is counted amongst one of the beautiful ruins of the historic city of Hampi. Hampi, today is a small villag, 350km from Bangalore in Bellary District of Karnataka. After the conquest and defeat by the muslim emperors, the once prosperous Vijayanagara Empire came to ruins and lost everything. It was then the UNESCO took up the responsibility of reviving all that was remaining as ruins; some of the major temples and structures, and declared it a World Heritage Site.
Virupaksha Temple is one of the oldest and main center of pilgrimage at Hampi and considered highly sacred over centuries. This is the only temple in Hampi where people still worship and devote pujas.
History Of Virupaksha Temple in Hampi
he Virupaksha Temple is dedicated to lord Shiva, who is known here as Virupaksha the consort of the local Goddess Pampa, who is associated with the river Tungabhadra. The temple history dates back to 7th century, it existed much before the Vijayanagara capital was formed. The temple started as a small shrine which turned up into a huge temple complex with the help of the Vijayanagara Empire. Some inscriptions in the temple describes the miracles of Lord Shiva and dates back to 9th and 10th centuries.
There have been contributions to the temple from the Chalukyan and Hoysala kings too. In the 14th century the Vijayanagara artists began art work on the temple as carvings and paintings, but by the 16th century beacuse of the attack by the Muslim rulers, their work was abrupted and most of the wonderful work an structures were systematically destroyed. Although it was destroyed but this was one of the temples in Hampi which sees a huge footfall of worshippers and a continous approach towards renovations are being made.
Structure of Virupaksha Temple in Hampi
The entire temple is made out of bricks on a stone base. The main temple consists of sanctum, three chambers, a closed pillared hall and an open pillared hall. There are also small courtyards, gateways, shrines and pillared cloister. There is a nine tier eastern gateway which is the largest, measuring 50 metres in length and gives access to the outer court containing many sub-shrines. The eastern gateway leads to the inner court and numerous smaller shrines. A small channel of Tungabhadra river flows through the temple terrace, falling into the temple kitchen area finally moving out through the outer court.
Krishna Deva Raya is one of the famous kings of the Vijayanagara empire who was a major patron of this temple. The most ornate of all the structures in the temples, the central pillar is supposed to be his addition to the temple. Inscriptions on the stone installed in the pillared hall lists and explains Krishnadevaraya’s contribution to the temple.
Attractions to see
To enjoy the local culture, the best time to visit is during December as it is an auspicious time a lot of weddings take place. Along with the marriages in the temple, it is also the time for local festivals.