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Hampi was once considered to be the seat of the Vijayanagara Empire and in close proximity to the Hampi bus stand, stands the Prasanna Virupaksha temple. The temple boasts of stories starting from the seventh century. Initially emerged as a small shrine, it later burgeoned into a massive complex during the Vijayanagara rule. Further additions were made during the Hoysala and Chalukyan sovereignty. Located close to the Noblemen’s quarters, it is believed that the temple has also been the center for private ceremonies of the members of the Royal family of Vijayanagara.
Innumerable inscriptions about Lord Shiva were engraved in the temple premises in the 9th century, existing during the same time as the Virupaksha-Pampa retreat. The construction of the temple dates back to 14th century AD. It is believed that for over hundred years, the temple remained buried until it was discovered somewhere around 1980.Relics state that King Krishnadeveraya of Vijayanagara donated massively to this temple.
The Vijayanagara reign, around the fourteenth century, witnessed the flourishing of the native art, craft and culture which was later destroyed by several Muslim invaders. However, the devotional group of Pampa and Virupaksha still remained intact as Hampi was torn apart in 1565.
The culmination of the nineteenth century saw several renovation and addition work done on the ceiling paintings and towers of the north and east gopura. The temple never ceases to prosper and still stands tall amidst the ruins surrounding it. Today, it is part of the Group of Monuments at Hampi and is also revered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Virupaksha temple is the main pilgrimage site at Hampi and stands beautifully inside a large courtyard, amidst lush green lawn. Its construction reflects the Vijayanagara style of architecture.
Near the entrance is a living deity, Lakshmi, the elephant and a 50-meter high tower. Inside, the temple consists of a shrine, a hall with intricately adorned pillars and three ante chambers. It is well surrounded by courtyards, few smaller shrines, entrance ways and a pillared monastery.
The underground Shiva temple comprises of a flat roofed main tower which has steps that lead to the main pillared hall. It boasts of 3 towers, among which, the eastern gateway is the largest. It is nine-tiered and 50 meters high. Its construction dates back to first half of the fifteenth century and was later refurbished by Krishnadeveraya. It is well-proportioned and has a brick super structure with a stone base that leads to several smaller shrines. The eastern tower has its inverted image fall on the western wall of the temple through a small hole behind the shrine.
The northern Kanakgiri gopuram has five storeys while the inner eastern gopuram has three storeys. The northwards gopuram paves way for a little enclosure with additional shrines and ultimately to the river Tungabhadra. A narrow channel of the river flows through the terrace, following the temple kitchen and finally out through the outer court.
Goddess Virupaksha or Pampapathi is predominantly worshipped here. Additionally, there is an embellished shrine in ode to Bhuvaneswari and one to Vidyaranya, the spiritual founder of Vijayanagar. It is believed that King Krishnadevaraya is the forbearer to the main pillared hall of the temple. A stone slab besides the hall is said to encompass inscriptions explaining his contribution. The hall was initially used to house the images of gods to witness programs of music, dance, drama and so on.
A mandapam was also built by Krishadevaraya in front of the shrine and was later adorned with murals and bas reliefs, reflecting the Vijayanagar style of architecture. It also contains manifestations of Shiva, the ten incarnations of Vishnu, a mural depicting Vidyaranya, the spiritual founder of Vijayanagar and an epic scene from Mahabharata. Around this temple are plethora of rickety mandapams and also ruins of an archaic shopping arena that once interlined with mandapams in front of this temple.
·Virupaksha means ‘the one with oblique eye’. The temple is synonymous to Lord Shiva as he has three eyes. It is believed that this temple has been functioning uninterrupted since 7th century AD.
·This temple is the exact spot where the legend of Karnatic Music, Purandaradasan lived and composed his music.
·Tourists are welcomed by a little, mischievous elephant on entering the second tower on the left side. On giving a one-rupee coin that he takes it from his trunk, the elephant gives you a kiss on the head as a blessing.
·The temple is located a few meters below the ground level and its roof is at the same level as the ground.
·The shrine remains submerged in stagnant water throughout the year. From June to august, the water level rises inside the temple and submerges even the maha mantapa and other mantapas. This is why entry to the temple is restricted during monsoons.
Entire week schedule can be found on the link: http://www.htnew.org/index.php/main-slide/33-nithya-daily-puja-schedule
Tickets can be collected on the same day at the counter. For details, refer to the link: https://gotirupati.com/hampi-virupaksha-abhisheka/
Nearest airport is at Bellary, located at a distance of 64 km, from where one can book a cab to Hampi. Nearest railway station is at Hospet, called the Hospet Junction Raliway Station, around 13 km away and is conveniently connected to major cities like Bellary and Bangalore. One can book a cab from Hospet to reach Hampi.
Volvo, AC buses and KSRTC buses ply from Bellary, Hospet and Bangalore. Private cabs can also be booked from Bengaluru and Mysuru (Mysore).
The best time to visit the temple is from November to February. Several big and small vegetarian restaurants and lodges are available around the temple with ample eating and dining out options. There is also a shopping spot, the Hampi Bazaar located around 0.2 km from the temple.
07:00 to 12:00 (Morning) and 16:00 to 19:00 (Evening), all days of the week.
No entry fee is required.
While it is a known fact that most portions of the Prasanna Virupaksha temple remains submerged under water for most part of the year, the accurate reason behind it fact is not known.
There are different stories floating in the local circles regarding this uniqueness of the temple. One of the popular stories is that the temple has an inlet and outlet for the water. The water that flows inside the temple comes from the Tungabhadra River.
When the dam water of the river is released during the monsoons, the water level rises inside the temple and floods it.