Saturday, July 18, 2009

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi

Hampi has several architecturally beautiful temples. Virupaksha temple is the oldest among them and is located on the south bank of the river Tungabadra. It is principal temple of Hampi as it is believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since its inception in the 7th century AD. The temple can be accessed through the chariot street popularly known as the Hampi Bazaar.

Main entrance tower (click for larger image)

The main entrance tower of Virupaksha Temple is east facing and is a huge 9 storied tower. The lower two tiers of the tower is made of decorated stone work. The tower progressively diminishes as it moves upward and the
structure is made with brick and mortar. From the tower one will enter into two large courtyards, which are linked to each other. The first courtyard has a pillared hall called 100-column hall at the far left corner, Kalyanamantapa at the far right corner. As soon as one enters this place one can to see on the left side Triple headed Nandi (bull statue).

Triple head Nandi

In the open area in the center there is a pillared cloisters leaving gaps at the north, south and east edges for a series of sub shrines. The front portion has a row of decorated pillars. It looks like the lion figure carved at the base of each of these pillars supporting the slender upper portions. 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. Two mythical lion like creatures forms the balustrade for the entrance to this elevated open pavilion. This hall with 5 aisles and 38 pillars is used for temple rituals including the marriage ceremonies. The highlights include rows of pillars shaped with rampant lion like mythical creatures (Yalis) standing on aquatic creatures (Crocodiles).

pillared cloisters (click for larger image)

At the sanctum of Lord Virupaksha there are two 4 armed guardian deities, about 8 feet tall, stand on either side of the entrance to the inner hall. The sanctum contains the idol of lord Virupaksha in the form of a Linga .

The must see part of the temple is at the rare of temple complex. Behind the main sanctum a flight of steps leads to the rear exit of the temple complex. Just before the exit on the right side there is a dark chamber with a slit on the wall. The sun ray pass through this slit forms an inverted shadow of the main tower on the wall. This was designed in those early days and a masterpiece.

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