Important Sites at And Near Hampi
Hampi has various notable Hindu temples, some of which are still active places of worship. Among the most notable are:
Known as the Pampapathi temple, it is a Shiva temple situated in the Hampi Bazaar. It predates the founding of the Vijayanagar Empire. The temple has a 160-foot (49 m) high tower at its entrance. Apart from Shiva, the temple complex also contains shrines of the Hindu goddesses Bhuvaneshwari and Pampa.
The Virupaksha temple , located at the foot of the hill called Hemakuta Hill, is the core of the village of Hampi. The temple, often called Pampapathi temple, is the most sacred of the temples of this place.
Historically speaking, this temple has an uninterrupted history from about the 7th century. The temple contains the shirines of Lord Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneshwari. What was once a small shrine, in course of time, developed into a large complex under the Vijayanagara rulers. At present, the main temple consists of a Sanctum, three ante chambers, a pillared hall and a Mukha Mantapa also called Ranga Mantapa or an open pillared hall. A pillared cloister, entrance gateways, courtyards, attendant shrines and other manttapas surround the temple. In 1510 A.D. Krishnadeva raya added the above-mentioned Ranga Mantapa.
The Rangamantapa consists of 38 pillars, relieved with sculptures. These pillars are divided into two vertical sections ? the first is cut to resemble a rearing Yali ? a mythical lion, standing on a Makara, while the second section is basically square with small relief, depicting mostly Shaiva themes. These pillars are aesthetically composed and skilfully constructed.
The central ceiling of the Ranga Mantapa is of substantial size. The ceiling as well as the beams supporting the ceilings is covered with painted panels. The panel depicts themes from the Mahabharatha, the Ramayana and the Shiva Puranas as well as from the contemporary life.
Starting at the entrance of the temple is Virupaksha Bazaar or market, largest of the many bazaars of Vijayanagara. Each major Temple complex had its own bazaar around which a township developed. This is the only bazaar around which a township of a sort still exists. This bazaar is flanked by the main gopura of Virupaksha temple called Bishtappa’s gopura on the one end and the monolithic Nandi at the other end. The 9 storied, 53 meters high gopura adds elegance to the 732 meters long and 28 meters wide Virupaksha Bazaar.
The other temple of significance in this complex is the shrine for Goddess Bhuvaneshwari. This shrine was rebuilt in the Vijayanagara days, over an 11th century temple. This temple is chiefly noted for its marvelously worked door-frame, pillars and articulately chiseled ceiling panels.
In the basement of the temple is a shrine with a deity of Lord Vishnu holding scale, said to be for weighing the merits between the holy places of Kashi and Pampa Kshetra, which wins out.
Krishnadevaraya built this temple in 1513 A.D. to commemorate his victory over Prataparudra Gajapati, the ruler of Orissa. During the battle he seized deity of child Krishna and brought it to Vijayanagara as war trophy. He then built this temple to consecrate the deity. An inscription describing the conquest and the consecration of this temple on 16 February 1515 by Krishnadevaraya is found on a slab in front of this temple. Built in the centre of a courtyard, the temple possesses a sanctum, an antechamber, an ardhamandapa, a circumambulatory passage, a pillared hall with three entrances and an open pillared mandapa, in addition to a number of other shrines for the attendant deities. The sanctum is at present empty. The image of Balakrishna showing him as a child holding butter in the right hand is now resting in the Government Museum at Madras.
The inner sides of the entrance exhibit beautifully sculptured apsaras standing on mysterious animals and holding scrolls filled with panels showing the ten incarnations of the Lord. Like all major temple complexes, Krishnapura, a suburb, is developed around this temple. The bazaar in front is now a lush paddy field……..
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