South India is among those regions where you get one of the best chances to see the rich and diverse culture of Medieval India. Among several other sites, the temples of Medieval times are a perfect example of astonishing and beautiful architecture. Temples were the main center of the Medieval cities, and thus these temples were built with great devotion and using the best technology and artists of the time. Virupaksha Temple is one such beautiful illustration discussed in this article.
Virupaksha Temple is among the oldest and most beautiful temples of India. The Virupaksha Temple is present towards the south of the Tungabhadra river in the site of the ancient city of Hampi, which was the capital City of the Vijaynagara Empire. Currently, Hampi comes under the jurisdiction of Ballari District present in the state of Karnataka. The temple of Virupaksha is committed to none other than Lord Shiva. Temple is known as Virupaksha Temple because Lord Virupaksha or Pampa Pathi is a form of Lord Shiva.
History of the Virupaksha Temple
A small shrine dedicated to Virupaksha or Lord Shiva was present for a long time in Hampi, which was worshiped regularly and visited by many devotees. From different written texts, it is clear that rulers built the current structure of the Virupaksha Temple around the onset of the 15th century. The credit for constructing the huge building of the Virupaksha Temple is given to Lakkana Dandesha, who was a chieftain during the rule of the Vijaynagara Empire under king Deva Raya II.
It is important to note that the Virupaksha Temple is a part of a group of monuments of Hampi which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. An interesting fact to know about this glorious temple is that this temple succeeded in surviving the destruction of the whole city of Hampi in 1565 by the Muslim invaders. Also, the Virupaksha Temple is the only well preserved and sustained temple from the glorious past of the city of Hampi. Moreover, the worship of the temple continues today, thus making the Virupaksha Temple one of the oldest operating temples of India.
Architecture of the Virupaksha Temple
Like any other building of the Vijaynagara Empire, the Virupaksha Temple is also no less than an architectural marvel. The temple complex is huge and consists of the main shrine of Lord Shiva along with a large hall having many pillars engraved with different stories and paintings. There are 3 antechambers in the temple complex, which lead you from one part of the temple to the other part of this temple. Several gopurams are also present in the Virupaksha Temple.
Gopurams were the highlights of the architecture during the reign of the Vijaynagara Empire. A gopuram present in the Northern Part of the temple is called Kankagiri Gopura, which directly leads to some shrines and then to the river of Tungabhadra. It is also said that the main hall, which is the grandest structure of this temple, was bestowed by King Krishnadevaraya himself.
Festivals of the Virupaksha Temple
The temple is completely operational and attracts many devotees and tourists. The temple holds special religious importance, especially for the local people of the surrounding areas, and thus several festivities are organized in the temple premises. The chariot festival of the Virupaksha Temple is organized annually in February, involving thousands of devotees.
Arriving at the Virupaksha Temple
Despite being located in one of the Medieval cities of India, it is not very difficult to visit the world-famous Virupaksha Temple. Visitors can reach Hampi using Airways, Railways, and Roadways. The quickest way is to arrive by train because the railway station of Hospet is just 13 km away from Hampi. From Hospet, you can easily book a cab to Hampi and visit the Virupaksha Temple.
When visiting through a flight, you will have to come to the Bellary Airport, about 350 km away from Hampi. Then you can take a bus or a taxi to reach Hampi to visit the Virupaksha Temple and several other beautiful remains of the ancient city of Hampi.