Virupaksha Temple Hampi- History and Structure

Virupaksha Temple Hampi- History and Structure

Virupaksha Temple is 8 kilometres from the main town on the left bank of the Tunga river. The approach to it is on a slanting pathway made up of white polished stone slabs. The complex is built in a complex architectural style drawn from both South Indian and Sri Lankan architectural traditions.

In the medieval period, the structure was decorated with marble, bronze, terracotta tiles and laterite sheets.

The offerings inside include several sculptures spread over the entire temple’s interior, which has been described as having been “developed into a vast work of art.” The site also features large wooden doors which were found during excavations at the site.


The temple is divided into two areas, an outer platform and an inner shrine. The outer platform is made of bricks and consists of three layers. The top layer contains some plain wall paintings that are known as “vignettes” which are tiled on the outer walls. The second layer is decorated with bands of sculpted figures on walls which also contain images of various animals, men and women, dancers, musicians and other figures. At the base of this area lies a porch with an elaborately carved stone lintel image known as “Tower on Wheels”. It is made up of several animals in different poses and sizes in a layered composition.

The roof of the temple was originally gilded and was supported by 24 pillars of granite and laterite. It also rested on a circular stone platform enclosed by a balustrade of about 54 meters in diameter.

The inner shrine is made of stone slabs and contains a small shrine. The painted ceiling has three bands, which contains mythological figures along with plants, birds and animals.

The temple has many carvings on its walls and ceilings which are arranged in an irregular pattern. This tells us that it had not been completely completed when it was abandoned after centuries of use. The sandstone reliefs depict various legends related to Shiva including his marriage with Parvati, triumph over death, his union with Shakti, and so on. The deity of the temple is said to be an avatar of Vishnu.

About the Temple

This temple represents the three different styles of Hinduism practised during the time: Shaivism (Virupaksha deity), Vaishnavism (Harihara-Narayana deities) and Shaktism (Jagadamba). is one of several temples in the main temple complex which was erected by the Vijayanagara kings, relating to Shiva worship. It is also known for its architecture and workmanship. It has an enormous gopuram or gate tower which towers over the central tower of the complex.

Virupaksha or Virupakshipu is one of the ten avatars of Vishnu dedicated to the destruction of evil forces. The legend speaks of Parasurama, Parasurama’s six sons and two daughters. They were cursed by the god Brahma who banished them from the Kanyakumari district. The curse says that they will face starvation and death if they do not find a place to stay, with a reason for each curse.

Reaching a place that produces a lot of rice, they would die there as their curse prevented them from going any further.     

They reach a place where a lot of jewellery is made and die as they were unable to survive without it. Brahma curses them to live like animals. One of the sons, Virupaksha, goes to the Himalayas and builds a temple for his father Brahma located on Mount Kailash.

It is one of the finest examples of the Vijayanagar style of architecture. Hampi was also called Kamalapuram or Pampaapur, meaning ‘the city with lotus tank’. It remains an enigma for all those who visit Hampi for its mystique and overwhelming beauty.

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