Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Virupaksha temple is one place in Hampi which is filled with visitors almost all day, even in the night. One can choose to sleep on the floor gazing the starlit night sky. It is a big complex whichDSC00605 has a lot of space for freely squat on the floor.

The temple of Virupaksha or Pampapati, on the banks of the river Tungabhadra was the official deity of the Vijayanagara rulers. It is the most sacred living monument of Hampi. The temple was initially a modest structure and as years have gone by, many kings have commissioned constructions starting from the 7th Century A.D, especially the kings of the Sangama and Tuluva dynasties. Devaraya II(1416 - 1422) and Krishnadevaraya got the temple to its present form.

As mentioned before in one of the posts, the street outside the temple is always busy with vendors and tourists. The firDSC00830st thing one notices about the temple is the height of the main gopura (entrance). It stands at 165 feet and is the second highest in India, the first being that in the Meenakshi Temple in Madhurai (Tamil Nadu).

As you enter the main entrance of the temple, you will see a big statue of Veerabhadra under the gopura in one of the enclosures to the left. As you just enter the temple complex, just turn around and you will see a small three headed Nandi statue. A three headed Nandi is a rarity and probably is found only here. Once you enter the temple complex, there is a lot of open space. You will see another gopura further and on the left, there is the Ranga Mantapa.  It is a very beautiful pillared hall and there is a small platformDSC00701 where the king used to spend some time when he visited the temple. Each of the pillars is carved with sculptures of mythological stories about Lord Siva and Ganesha.  It is one of the places one can choose to spend some time in the hot Sun as it is comparatively cooler inside. We then move towards the inner complex through the second gopura.

As we enter the inner complex, we find a lot of empty space and the main tempDSC00626le on the other end. There are very long pillared corridors on either sides. The temple elephant Lakshmi blesses the devotees here. In the middle of the empty space, you will find a small sanctum where you can find four Nandi statues in it. Its one of the rarest of rarity as there will only be one statue of Nandi in front of a Siva shrine.

Behind the Nandi statues, there is a small Sivalinga on a broad round pedestal. The devotees try to round the Sivalinga between their two palms. It is a belief that it is good if one can cover the outer ends of the Sivalinga with their palms. Directly  before the Sivalingas, there is the Homagundam(the sacred place where the yagas are held). Just in front of the Homagundam, there is the entrance of the temple.


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