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Shri Virupaksha Temple

The Virupaksha temple is located at the foot of the hill called Hemakuta Hill is the core of the village of Hampi. The temple, often called Pampapathi temple, is the most sacred of the temples of this place. Historically speaking, this temple has an uninterrupted history from about the 7th century. The temple contains the shirines of Lord Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneshwari. What was once a small shrine, in course of time, developed into a large complex under the Vijayanagara rulers. At present, the main temple consists of a Sanctum, three ante chambers, a pillared hall and a Mukha Mantapa also called Ranga Mantapa or an open pillared hall. A pillared cloister, entrance gateways, courtyards, attendant shrines and other manttapas surround the temple. In 1510 A.D. Krishnadevaraya added the above-mentioned Ranga Mantapa.


The Ranga mantapa consists of 38 pillars, relieved with sculptures. These pillars are divided into two vertical sections - the first is cut to resemble a rearing Yali - a mythical lion, standing on a Makara, while the second section is basically square with small relief, depicting mostly Shaiva themes. These pillars are aesthetically composed and skilfully constructed.

The central ceiling of the Ranga Mantapa is of substantial size. The ceiling as well as the beams supporting the ceilings is covered with painted panels. The panel depicts themes from the Mahabharatha, the Ramayana and the Shiva Puranas as well as from the contemporary life.


Starting at the entrance of the temple is Virupaksha Bazaar or market, largest of the many bazaars of Vijayanagara. Each major Temple complex had its own bazaar around which a township developed. This is the only bazaar around which a township of a sort still exists. This bazaar is flanked by the main gopura of Virupaksha temple called Bishtappa's gopura on the one end and the monolithic Nandi at the other end. The 9 storied, 53 meters high gopura adds elegance to the 732 meters long and 28 meters wide Virupaksha Bazaar.

The other temple of significance in this complex is the shrine for Goddess Bhuvaneshwari. This shrine was rebuilt in the Vijayanagara days, over an 11th century temple. This temple is chiefly noted for its marvelously worked door-frame, pillars and articulately chiseled ceiling panels.

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