Virupaksha Temple is located in Hampi 350 km from Bangalore, in the state of Karnataka in southern India. It is part of the Group of Monuments at Hampi, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Virupaksha is a form of Shiva.
Virupaksha temple is the oldest and the principal temple in Hampi.This temple is located on the south bank of the river Tungabadra, just next to where the local bus drops you. This area in general has been an important pilgrimage centre for the worshipers of lord Shiva.
Virupaksha temple is equally sort after by the tourists and pilgrims. The annual festivals attract huge crowds of both the types.The very origin of Hampis history as a sacred place revolves around the myths associated with this temple.
It believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since its inception in the 7th century AD.That makes this one of the oldest functioning temples in India.
The original worship place was only a few separate humble shrines (believed to be as old as 7th century) housing the image of the god and the goddesses. Over the centuries the temple gradually expanded into a sprawling complex with many sub shrines, pillared halls, flag posts, lamp posts, towered gateways and even a large temple kitchen.
You access the temples main entrance tower through the chariot street in front now popularly called the Hampi Bazaar.This east facing giant tower (Gopura) leads you the first courtyard of the temple complex.
This pastel painted 9 storied tower with a pair of cow horn like projections on top is the most prominent landmark in Hampi. The lower two tiers of the tower is made of decorated stone work.
The Virupaksha Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is renowned as one of the most sacred temples in Karnataka. Virupaksha is an avatar of Lord Shiva, and among all the surrounding ruins, this temple is intact and is still in use. Hampi is located on the banks of River Tungabhadra.
This temple has ancient inscriptions which date back to 9th and 10th centuries. Originally it was a small shrine, and the sanctuary of Virupaksha Pampa existed prior to the commencement of the Vijayanagara Empire.
However, the Vijayanagara rulers were responsible for building this small shrine into a large temple complex.Although most of the temple buildings were constructed during the Vijayanagara rule, some few were also erected during the late Hoysala and Chalukya empires.
Major renovations and additions were carried out in the 19th century and gopuras were established and ceilings painted during this time.
Devotees throng to this temple in December every year to attend the betrothal and marriage ceremonies of Pampa and Virupaksha. Another festival which is held in February is the annual chariot fete.