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Virupaksha Temple
Britannica

Virupaksha Temple: Heritage and History in Hampi, Karnataka, India

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The specialty of Hampi is its amazing temples. The grandeur of the Virupaksha temple is worth seeing, while the artefacts of the Hazara Ram temple will attract you. Apart from these, you can also visit the Queen’s Palace and Vitthal Temple.

Introduction to Virupaksha Temple

Visit Hampi’s Virupaksha Temple, a confluence of history and devotion
Today we visit the historical Virupaksha Temple of Hampi, located in the Karnataka state of South India. This temple is not only a center of faith for the devotees of Lord Shiva, but also attracts people crazy about history and architecture. So let us know some interesting things about this grand temple:

The Majestic Virupaksha Temple of Hampi

In fact, Hampi used to be the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Virupaksha temple was built in this city. This temple is believed to have come into existence in the 7th century, although it was expanded several times by subsequent rulers.

Also known as Pampapathy

Although this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, but he is known here as Virupaksha. Besides, there is also a temple dedicated to Mother Parvati in the temple premises, who is called as Pampapati.

Pride of World Heritage Site (A UNESCO World Heritage Site)

In 1985, the Virupaksha Temple along with the ruins of Hampi was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This gave global recognition to the historical and religious importance of this temple.

Virupaksha Temple Hampi
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Virupaksha Temple History

Ancient Temple, Mysterious Origins

It is said that the history of Virupaksha temple goes back to the 7th century. However, some historians believe that this temple may be even earlier than this. There is also an interesting story related to the establishment of the temple. It is said that Lord Virupaksha (Shiva) married Parvati here. That is why, the Pampapati temple dedicated to Goddess Parvati is also situated in the temple premises itself.

Blessings of the Vijayanagara Empire

The Vijayanagara Empire dominated South India from the 14th century to the 16th century. The rulers of this empire, especially Krishnadevaraya, greatly expanded the Virupaksha temple. He built the Gopuram (gateway) of the temple, which even today mesmerizes the tourists with its grandeur. The artistry and decoration of the temple also increased during his reign.

Significance in Hindu Mythology

According to Hindu scriptures, Virupaksha temple is also said to be related to Ramayana. It is said that Hampi is the same place which was known as Kishkindha in Ramayana. It was here that Lord Rama met Sugriva and Hanuman during his exile. There is also an inscription present in the courtyard of this temple, in which the bravery of Hanuman has been described.

Architecture and Features

Grandeur of the Temple Complex

Virupaksha Temple is not just one temple but a whole complex of temples. As soon as you enter here, you are faced with a huge gopuram (gateway), which was built by Krishnadevaraya, the ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire. The carving of this Gopuram is so fine and beautiful that it is worth seeing.

Stone Chariot: A Marvel of Art

While going inside the complex, you will come face to face with a unique chariot, which is made of stones. It is known as “Hajar Ram Teerth”. This chariot is dedicated to Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Its sculptures and carvings are so finely carved that it seems as if it is not a stone, but a unique piece of art!

Other Architectural Marvels

Several other mandapas (halls), smaller temples and tirthas (sacred water bodies) are also located in the Virupaksha temple complex. Some of the special ones are – Hazar Stambh (Hall of Thousand Pillars), Hakka Bazaar (Food Market) and Siddhivinayak Temple. The architecture of all these structures is inspired by the Dravidian style, which is the identity of South India.

Significance of Tungabhadra River and Hemakunta Hill

The surrounding natural beauty further enhances the grandeur of Virupaksha Temple. This temple is situated on the banks of Tungabhadra river, whose holy water attracts devotees. Also, this temple is built at the foothills of Hemkunt Hill, which gives a historical and religious importance to this entire area.

Virupaksha Temple Hampi
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Religious Significance

Unwavering Devotion to Lord Virupaksha (Shiva)

As we know, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is worshiped here under the name Virupaksha. It is believed that Lord Virupaksha married Mother Parvati, who is known here as Pampapati, at this place. This is the reason why a separate temple dedicated to Goddess Parvati is also located in the temple premises itself.

Every year thousands of devotees come from far and wide to visit the Virupaksha temple. Here, performing Jalabhishek of Lord Shiva and receiving his blessings is considered a matter of good fortune.

Largest Functioning Shiva Temple

What makes the Virupaksha temple of Hampi special is that it is the largest active Shiva temple in the whole of Hampi. The process of worship has been going on here continuously for centuries. There is a constant flow of devotees from morning till evening. Special festivals are organized here on festivals like Shivratri and Kartik month, by participating in which the devotees become drenched in devotion.

Cultural Context

Hampi’s Virupaksha Temple: A Blend of History and Culture
Today let’s talk about the cultural aspect of this temple, which has been a witness to the culture of South India for centuries. So let’s get started:

Cultural Influence of the Vijayanagara Empire

Hampi was once the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Naturally, the culture of this empire had a deep impact on the Virupaksha Temple as well. Both the grandeur of the temple and the artistic style speak of the grandeur of the reign of this empire.

The kings of Vijayanagara, especially Krishnadevaraya, played an important role in the development of this temple. He not only got the temple expanded, but also patronized artists and craftsmen. For this reason, today we can see the craftsmanship of sculptures and carvings in the Virupaksha temple, which is an unmatched example of the craftsmanship of that period.

Krishnadevaraya’s Invaluable Contribution

During the reign of Krishnadevaraya, art and literature also flourished in South India. The direct impact of the development of these areas can also be seen on the Virupaksha Temple. The culture of that period is also reflected in the festivals and religious rituals organized in the courtyard of the temple.

Virupaksha Temple is not just a place of worship, but it has also been the guardian of the culture of South India for centuries. Coming here feels like turning the pages of history.

Travel Tips for You

The best time to visit Hampi is considered to be between October to February, when the weather is pleasant. To reach here, buses and taxis are easily available from different cities of Karnataka. To roam around Hampi, you can rent a bicycle or take the help of a rickshaw.

There are many types of hotels and guesthouses available to stay in Hampi. You can choose any of these according to your budget.

Tourism and Visiting

Information and guidelines for you

First of all, let’s talk about reaching Hampi. Hampi is located in the state of Karnataka. To reach here, you can come by train or bus to Hospet, the nearest city to Hampi. Hampi is just 13 kilometers away from there. To roam around Hampi, you can take the help of taxi or auto rickshaw, or you can rent a bicycle and enjoy roaming in the old streets.

October to February is considered the most suitable time to visit Hampi, when the weather is pleasant. Before coming here, keep in mind that Hampi is a historical site, hence it is our responsibility to maintain the monuments and property here. Also, don’t forget to bring a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.

Group of Monuments at Hampi

Hampi has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A major reason for this is the group of monuments present here. Some of these major monuments are –

Hazar Ram Mandir (Stone Chariot) – You will be stunned to see its artwork.
Vittala Temple – Famous for its musical pillars.
Queen’s Palace – Shows the grandeur of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Secret Temple of Hendre (Huchchimalli Gudi Temple) – Famous for its unique architecture.
Apart from these, there are many other things to visit in Hampi. You can visit the old markets here, or sit on the banks of the Tungabhadra river and watch the sunset.

Virupaksha Temple
Britannica

Exploring the Surrounding Area

After visiting Hampi, you can also visit its surrounding areas. Located at a short distance is a village named Anegundi, which is believed to be associated with Lord Hanuman. Here you can visit Hanuman temple.

Similarly, there is Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, 120 kilometers away from Hampi, where you can see Indian Sloth bears.

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