Virupaksha Temple Hampi Exploring the Fascinating History and Cultural Significance

Virupaksha Temple Hampi Hampi Karnataka

Virupaksha Temple Hampi, Situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in Hampi, the Virupaksha Temple Hampi, also known as the Prasanna Virupaksha Temple, boasts a history dating back to the 7th century. Its captivating architecture and historical significance have earned it the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage site. This temple venerates Lord Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva. Although presently located in Hampi, the temple was originally a modest shrine within the illustrious Vijayanagara empire. The temple’s walls proudly display stone inscriptions from the 7th century, offering a glimpse into its rich heritage. Enthusiasts of architecture and history should make it a point to visit this remarkable temple during their time in Hampi.

The temple is graced by towering gopurams, or monumental gateways, a hallmark of South Indian architectural style. These gopurams lead to inner corridors and halls adorned with intricate stone carvings. These sculptures depict tales from various mythologies, celebrating a multitude of Gods and Goddesses. While the central deity is Lord Virupaksha, the temple also pays homage to several other Hindu deities. While the temple draws many devotees during festivals like the Car Festival, it generally offers a less crowded ambiance.

Insight into Virupaksha Temple Hampi

Nestled along the Malaprabha River, this UNESCO World Heritage Site stands as a testament to the opulent Chalukyan architectural tradition from the 7th and 8th centuries. It is renowned for its finely detailed temples, a prime example being the cluster of ten major temples in Pattadakal, which showcase an array of striking architectural elements. Ptolemy, the renowned ancient geographer, documented the town as “Perti gal” around 150 AD. Pattadakal even served as a ceremonial hub for royal coronations and commemorations. The temple complex in Pattadakal exhibits a blend of Dravidian and Aryan architectural styles, making it a unique marvel in India. Notably, the Pattadakal temple complex houses a sculpture gallery maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Queen Loka Mahadevi, wife of King Vikramaditya II, spearheaded the construction of the temple after victorious military campaigns in Kancheepuram. The temple boasts an expansive quadrangle surrounded by smaller shrines, with a grand gateway and a secondary entrance. The temple’s great hall features a roof supported by sixteen massive square columns arranged in four rows, each adorned with exquisite episodes from the Puranas. It’s believed that the Virupaksha Temple Hampi served as an inspiration for the Kailasa Temple in Ellora.

A mere 400 meters from Pattadakal Bus Stand, the Virupaksha Temple Hampi stands as an ancient Hindu sanctuary. Dominating Pattadakal’s temple landscape, it is an integral stop for those exploring the area. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is the sole active shrine within the complex and a prominent attraction in Pattadakal. Built in 745 AD, the temple commemorates Chalukyan ruler Vikramaditya’s victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi.

The temple’s Dravidian architectural style is evident through its three mukhamandapas, or entrance halls, with a significant stone gateway facing the Malaprabha River. An expansive pillared hall leads to the sanctum, featuring a circular path for pradakshinas (circumambulation). Elaborate carvings depicting gods and scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata grace the mukhamandapas and pillars of the hall.

Of particular note is the captivating sculpture of God Surya riding a chariot alongside his consorts, carved into the ceiling of the Eastern Mukhamandapa. Additional renowned sculptures within the Virupaksha Temple Hampi include Ravana lifting Mount Kailash, Narasimha slaying Hiranyakashipu, scenes from Parvathi’s marriage, Kurukshetra War depictions, the duel between Bheema and Duryodhana, the fall of Bhishma, and episodes from the Ramayana. The temple’s exterior walls feature notable sculptures as well, such as Hanuman carrying Sanjivani hill and the liberation of Gajendra.

Facing the shrine is the expansive Nandi mandapa, housing a monolithic black stone Nandi, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva. The Nandi mandapa’s walls showcase elegant carvings of feminine figures. Interestingly, the Virupaksha Temple Hampi’s design served as a reference for the renowned Kailasa Temple at Ellora. An ancient stone inscription dating back to 733 AD adds to the historical significance of the site.

The temple complex is open from 9 AM to 5 PM, with an entrance fee of Rs. 10 for individuals and Rs. 25 for photography.

Architectur of Virupaksha Temple Hampi

Exemplifying the South Indian architectural style, the Virupaksha Temple Hampi features three gopurams. The largest of these is the eastern gopuram, standing at an impressive 50 meters with nine stories. Adorning the outer surfaces of these gopurams are intricate sculptures depicting various Hindu deities. As you enter through the eastern gateway, you step into the outer courtyard, which houses numerous shrines for minor deities. Notably, the Bhuvaneshwari shrine within the complex boasts ornate pillars and elaborate stone carvings that showcase the Chalukyan architectural style.

Smaller gopurams that point to inner courtyards, sanctums, and idols can be seen from the outer courtyard. A remarkable feature is the 100-pillared hall, which leads to the sanctum of the triple-headed Nandi, the divine vehicle of Lord Shiva. This hall further opens to the inner sanctum of Lord Virupaksha, represented by a Shiva linga, with the walls adorned by intricate decorations. The temple complex is also home to shrines dedicated to Goddess Pampa, Bhuvaneshwari, Nava Grahas (nine celestial deities), and another form of Lord Shiva known as Pataleshwara.

Numerous pillared halls enhance the grandeur of the Virupaksha Temple Hampi complex. King Krishnadevaraya, a significant figure in the Vijayanagara empire, played a pivotal role in the temple’s expansion. The central pillared hall, known as the ‘Maharanga Mandapam,’ was constructed by King Krishnadevaraya to celebrate his coronation in 1509-10 A.D. This hall stands as a testament to intricate craftsmanship and is adorned with inscriptions showcasing Krishnadevaraya’s contributions. Outside the temple, remnants of an ancient market site near the temple stand as a testament to its historical importance.

History of Virupaksha Temple Hampi

TheVirupaksha Temple Hampi’s inception revolves around Lord Virupaksha, the divine consort of Goddess Parvathi, who is revered as ‘Pampa’ within the region. Notably, the ancient name of Hampi, Pampakshetra, is directly linked to the Thungabhadra River, once known as Pampa.

While Hampi currently stands as a testament to the once-thriving capital of the Vijayanagar empire, the Virupaksha Temple Hampi’s origins are said to predate the empire’s establishment. A rudimentary structure was erected during the Chalukyan and Hoysala eras (9th century A.D.) in honor of Virupaksha. However, the temple complex underwent significant expansion and artistic embellishments during the Vijayanagar empire’s rule.

The Archaeological Survey of India acknowledges Queen Lokamahadevi, the wife of Vikramaditya II, as the driving force behind the temple’s construction. This endeavor commemorated the King’s triumph in a battle against the Pallavas of Kanchi. Consequently, numerous inscriptions also extol the temple as ‘Lokeshwara Mahasila Prasada,’ honoring the queen’s benevolence. Commencing as a modest ‘pre-Virupaksha Temple Hampi,’ it burgeoned under King Deva Raya II’s reign, boasting multiple gopurams (monumental gateways) and pillared halls. Despite subsequent northern invasions that dismantled much of the Vijayanagar empire and Hampi, the resplendent Virupaksha Temple Hampi endured with fortunate resilience.

Virupaksha amid the Array of Pattadakal Temples

The Virupaksha Temple Hampi is a significant member of the esteemed ensemble of Pattadakal monuments—a curated collection of Hindu and Jain temples in Karnataka. All these temples share UNESCO World Heritage status and uniquely amalgamate architectural elements from both northern and southern Indian styles. Within this congregation, the Virupaksha Temple Hampi stands as an artistic pinnacle, distinguished by the steadfast preservation of its central deity’s idol, which continues to be venerated with grandeur and devotion.

Festivities and Commemorations at Virupaksha Temple Hampi

The Chariot Festival, held during March or April, occupies a central role at the Virupaksha Temple Hampi. An ornate wooden chariot bedecked with flowers and lamps carries an idol of Lord Virupaksha through Hampi’s chariot-lined streets. The resounding chants and melodies of the procession mark the jubilant celebration of Lord Virupaksha’s union with Devi Pampa.

In December, the temple rejoices in the union of Virupaksha and Pampa through the vibrant ‘Phalapuja festival,’ drawing a multitude of ardent devotees. This event spans from the 3rd to the 5th of November.

Additionally, the annual Shivaratri celebration—an extended nocturnal prayer honoring Lord Shiva—is observed at the Virupaksha Temple Hampi, typically during the months of February or March.

Practical Tips for Visiting Virupaksha Temple Hampi

Bear in mind that footwear is prohibited within the temple premises. If you find walking barefoot uncomfortable, consider donning a clean pair of socks.

Kindly refrain from photographing the sanctum’s idols.

Navigating the Route to Virupaksha Temple, Hampi

Situated approximately 350 km from Bangalore, Hampi is accessible via Express and Passenger trains departing from Bangalore Railway Station. These trains transport travelers to Bellary in a minimum of 7 hours. From Bellary, a taxi ride of about 1 hour and 45 minutes transports you to the Virupaksha temple in Hampi.

Hospet Junction stands as the nearest railway station to the Virupaksha temple. Express and passenger trains connect Bangalore to Hospet, necessitating an approximate 9-hour journey. Subsequently, a half-hour car ride concludes the expedition to the Virupaksha temple.


What is the Virupaksha Temple?

The Virupaksha Temple is a historic Hindu temple located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in Hampi, Karnataka, India. It is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva.

Is the Virupaksha Temple a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Yes, the Virupaksha Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its architectural significance and historical importance.

What is the history of the Virupaksha Temple?

The temple’s history dates back to the 7th century. It is believed to have existed even before the rise of the Vijayanagara empire, and it underwent expansion and artistic enhancements during the rule of the Vijayanagara kings.

Who built the Virupaksha Temple?

The temple was built by Queen Lokamahadevi, the wife of King Vikramaditya II. It was constructed to commemorate the king’s victory in a battle over the Pallavas of Kanchi.

What is the significance of the Chariot Festival at the Virupaksha Temple?

The Chariot Festival, held in March or April, involves placing an idol of Lord Virupaksha on a beautifully decorated wooden chariot. The chariot is then paraded through the streets of Hampi in celebration of Lord Virupaksha’s marriage to Devi Pampa.

How do I reach the Virupaksha Temple in Hampi?

Hampi is approximately 350 km from Bangalore. Express and Passenger trains from Bangalore Railway Station can take you to Bellary, and from there, a taxi ride will take you to the Virupaksha Temple in Hampi.

Is there an entrance fee to visit the Virupaksha Temple?

Yes, there is an entrance fee to visit the temple. As of the provided information, the entrance fee is Rs. 10 for individuals and Rs. 25 for cameras.

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