Hampi, now in ruins is the site of the ancient city of
Vijayanagar, capital of the Vijayanagar empire (founded under the spiritual guidance of
Vidyaranya of Sringeri in early 14th century CE)) which
brought about a renaissance of indigenous art and culture, as it defended the region
against the plundering armies from elsewhere.
Much of Vijayanagar is now in ruins, as when the
rulers were defeated at the hands of the invaders at the battle of Talikota
in the 16th century, most of the marvelous structures and edifices were systematically
The Virupaksha or the Pampapathi
temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi. It is fully intact, and it incorporates
some earlier structures. This temple has three towers, the eastern tower rises to a height
of 160 feet and is nine tiered. It dates back to the first half of the fifteenth century
and was renovated in the sixteenth century by Krishnadevaraya.
This tower has been built such that an inverted shadow
of this huge tower falls on the western wall of the temple through a small hole behind the
sanctum. The northern gopuram has five storeys, and the inner eastern gopuram is endowed
with three storeys.
The presiding deity here is Virupaksheshwara
or Pampapathi. His consort Pampa, is believed to be the daughter of Bhrama. There is an
ornate shrine to Bhuvaneswari. There is a shrine to Vidyaranya,
the spiritual founder of Vijayanagar in this temple. The inner prakaram consists of
shrines and pillars dating back to the 12th century.
Krishnadevaraya also built a mandapam in front of the
sanctum, and embellished it with Vijayanagar style bas reliefs and murals. Several of
Shiva's manifestations, and the ten incarnations of Vishnu are portrayed here, as is the
classic scene from Mahabharata depicting Arjuna's shooting the fish device in order to
secure Draupadi's hand in marriage. There is also a mural depicting Vidyaranya
the spiritual founder of Vijayanagar in procession.
In the vicinity of the Virupaksha temple are several
dilapidated mandapams. In front of the temple was once an ancient shopping center lined
with mandapams, the ruins of which stand today.
Festivals: The chariot festival in
the month of February is the chief annual festival celebrated here. The divine marriage
between Virupaksheshwara and Pampa is celebrated in the month of December.
Vitthala Temple - Hampi