Virupaksha Temple
India, Karnataka

Virupakshi Temple is located in India, in the state of Karnataka, in the village of Hampi. On the banks of the Tangabarga River, in the middle of the ruins of the ancient city of Vijayanagar, the former capital of the Hindu Vijayanagar empire, stands the temple of Virupakshi - the only sanctuary of the empire that survived after the city fell and turned into ruins. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, who is known by the name Virupakshi in the Tungabhadra River area. It is he who is considered the husband of the goddess Pampa, who patronized the local population and made the river waters clean and sacred. The exact date of the construction of the temple is unknown, archaeologists have established that the first sanctuary in this place was built long before the appearance of the Vijayanagar empire. Some buildings date back to the 7th century, the earliest inscriptions mentioning Shiva found in the temple date back to the 9th-10th centuries, there are structures from the empires of Chalukya and Khoisal, but most of the temple was built during the existence of the Vijayanagar empire. In 1565, the empire fell, the capital was completely destroyed, only the Virupakshi temple survived by a miracle, which, despite the dominance of Muslims, continued to function and host Hindu pilgrims. To this day, the temple has been preserved in the form that it had in the XII century. The Virupakshi temple complex consists of a main temple, an entrance gate, a columned arcade, small sanctuaries and courtyards. The main temple has two large courtyards and a pillared hall. The most exquisite temple building is the Column Hall of the Rang Mandap, built in 1510. The hall has 5 aisles formed by 38 carved columns, its walls and ceiling are decorated with bright paintings from the ancient epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puran. In the western part of the complex is the Virupaksha Shrine, the entrance to it is guarded by stone statues of guardian soldiers, the idols of Virupaksha and the goddess Pampa are installed inside. The main gopuram (gate tower) 50 meters high consists of nine levels, its facade is richly decorated with carved bas-reliefs. Through the gate you can get into the outer courtyard, on which the secondary sanctuaries are located. The Tungabhadra River flows along a narrow channel along the temple terrace. Virupakshi Temple is very popular among believers and tourists. Pilgrims from different parts of India and other countries arrive here daily. Among the many holidays and festivals held in the temple, a festival with a temple chariot procession should be noted, and the largest is the Virupaksha and Pampa wedding festival, celebrated annually in December. Since 1987, Virupaksha Temple has been part of the Hampi Group of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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