Hampi - II : Virupaksha Temple
Virupaksha Temple: Hampi - II
The road to Hampi ends at the Virupaksha temple, which is the oldest monument of Hampi dating back to 7th century AD. The temple was reportedly extended and restored over and again, which is also one of the oldest functional Hindu temples in India. The temple is located on the right bank of the River Tungabhadra. Through the main road you will pass though one of the gateways to enter inside the fort.
|The Main Gopura of the Virupaksha Temple|
Virupaksha is a form of Shiva, major portion of the temple complex was extended during the reign of Krishnadevaraya. The temple complex is housed with three main towers or Gopuras. The largest one being the main entrance called as Bistappaya tower facing east is about 165ft tall. The smaller eastern gateway leads to the inner court with its numerous smaller shrines. This tower is also called as the Raya Gopura.
|The Raya Gopura with the Main gopura in the backdrop|
The most striking feature of this court is the central pillared hall known as the Ranga Mandapa added to the temple complex in 1510 AD by Krishadeva Raya. The mural panel on the central portion of the hall is one of the few remains of this form of Vijayanagara art.
|Paintings on the ceiling of the Ranga Mantapa|
|Large panels of ceiling paintings|
|The later extended Northern Gopura along the Colonnade|
|Unique design of the Gopura|
Behind the main sanctum there is a path which takes you up through the steps and to your right there is a dark chamber, here the sun rays passes through a small hole on the eastern side forming an inverted shadow of the main Gopura of the Virupaksha complex on the western wall. This can be compared with the mechanism of how camera works.
There is a colonnade around the north and south ends of the temple complex. These colonnades are an hallmark of Vijayanagara Style of Architecture. At the first sight it appears to be two adjacent pillars, but in reality they are compound column cut from a single piece of stone only to appear as if they are two.
|The Colonnades representing the Vijayanagara Architecture|
In front of the temple is the famous Hampi Bazaar, which extends about 1km and eventually ends at the other end with a multistoried mantapa. The Bazaar Street has been recently evacuated from the encroachers.
On your way back to Kamalapura are the monuments Krishna temple, a pushkarni, Kadalekalu Ganapathi, Sasivekalu Ganapathi, Badavi Linga and Ugra Narasimha. Since we didn’t had ample time we stopped only for Badavi Linga and Ugra Narasimha. These are just a few steps from the Kamalapura-Hampi main road.
The sculpture of Ugra Narasimha is the largest of the idols found in Hampi, which is about 22ft tall monolithic stone carving. The man-lion incarnation of Vishnu is in a seated Yoga posture. After the fall of Vijayanagara Kingdom this monument was attacked by the enemies and partially destroyed. The idol at present doesn’t have any temple structure, and is open to air. Behind the head of the idol of Vishnu there is a seven headed serpent with its hood open. This monolith was commissioned by Krishnadevaraya in 1528 AD.
|The image of Ugra Narasimha is another iconic monument of Hampi|
Badavi Linga is just beside the Ugra Narasimha statue, it is the biggest of all Linga’s found in Hampi about 10ft tall. The inner sanctum is open to sky and is always partly submerged in running water stream. The Linga is probably one of the most beautiful and is made out of black stone.
Our final attraction was the Vittala temple, and we knew it were to be closed to tourists by 6pm. So we had to hurry to our final destination without stopping anywhere. The motorable route to Vittala temple is a different route from Kamalapura, although one can walk through the path descending from Virupaksha temple passing by the Hampi Bazaar and Achutaraya Temple. The walk path is about 2.5km in distance from Virupaksha temple while the motorable route is 10km.