Hampi - Virupaksha Temple (Ballari - Karnataka)

One of the 2 most important sites in the whole of Hampi is Virupaksha Temple. We entered though the East Gopuram which is the main entrance! Inside, there's a stand for shoes and the ticket counter. Just beneath the Gopuram, unlike the usual flat roof, this one has the Islamic inspiration with pointed arch roof. 

As soon as you enter in, on the left is a small 3 headed Nandi. This was the original Nandi and since one of its heads was broken, it was replaced with 3 different Nandi. To the right is the symbol of Vijayanagara Empire (wild boar and inverted sword).

Through the second Gopuram is the actual entry into the temple. There are the Bali Peeta, Deepa Sthamba, Dwaja Sthamba etc behind the Nandi Mandapa. On either sides along the walls are the roofed corridors with Simha Thoon (Lion Pillars) very similar to Achyuta Raya Temple.

The Maha Mandapa of this temple was the very reason this was atop the list of all sites in Hampi. There atop - on the ceiling of Maha Mandapa - is a gorgeous carpet of Murals - all painted in the Vijayanagara Period!!! I was totally spellbound by the beauty of these paintings. My original idea was to just sit and lie down there and just enjoy the beauty, while my guy would check out the rest of the temple but once I was there, I couldn't be alone - thanks to the monkeys there!!! Yes, there are too many. One did jump over my guy's backpack!!! 
Over to the ceiling - bang at the centre was the lotus relief as usual and on either sides of it were Manmandha Vijayam and Tripurantaka! Manmadha Vijayam is the scene where Manmadha or Kamdev shoots the arrow of lust onto meditating Shiva. Accompanying him is Rati, his wife. Shiva is shown as a absolute ascetic with matted locks, snakes around him and an anthill built around him. 
On the other side is my favourite Tripuranka! This was an absolute stunner. This is the scene where Lord Shiva as Tripurantaka is destroying the 3 citadels (tri-pura) of evil. His bow is the Mount Meru, the bow's string is the snake Vasuki (depicted here with 5 heads), and the arrow is Lord Vishnu (depicted here thrice to form the length of the arrow). His chariots wheels are sun & moon and his charioteer is Brahma (shown with all 4 heads), and has 5 horses pulling it! The fierceness in his face, complete with the mustache is just impeccable!
Above this is the scene of marriage of Shiva and Parvathi. They're accompanied by Brahma, Vishnu, Saraswati, Himavant (Parvathi's father), Tumburu, Naradha, Veerabadhra, Bhringi, Nandhi and Ganesha. Atop this (the farthermost from the Sanctum Sanctorum) is the Trimurthi of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma with their respective wives on their lap flanked by their respective DemiGods incl Tumburu, Naradha, Nandi, Garuda etc.
Just above the central panels is the Ashta Dikbalas and below the central panel is the Dasavathara. If you can really strain your eyes and see, on either sides of the Dasavathara are Rathi and Manmadha mounted on a horse and elephant respectively. The speciality - the horse and elephant are composite images made of multiple women (remember Thirukurungudi?!).
Below the Dasavathara is the panel of Rama and Sita's wedding at the centre. On either sides is the Swayamvara of Rama and Arjuna! Esp the Arjuna one has been depicted so perfectly with his very difficult archery contest of having to accurately shoot the circling fish in the ceiling, while looking at its reflection in bowl of water on the ground!!! Here's the whole ceiling documented in high res by IIACD.
The pillars here are just incredible with full height Simha (lion) with the soldiers sitting on its back! Complete with the pushpa podhigai (floral details on the pillar corbels), pretty much reminding me of Avudaiyar Koil, Tirunelveli! Another feature just Avudaiyar Koil was the Kodungaigal - the tiled terracotta roof simulation!!

After spending too much time here, I was pulled away by my guy and our guide so we can see the rest of the temple as well. After a darshan of the Lord Shiva here as Virupaksha, he headed to the Devi's shrine. The lathe pillars here made of black stone is perfectly Hoysala! The ceiling and the doorjamb are made of wood and are exquisitely ornamental! Close to it, again on the ceiling is a panel of fresco, but this is heavily damaged unlike the Maha Mandapa ceiling! 
Further ahead, what I witnessed was just astonishing - A pinhole camera in architecture!!! Through a piece of missing stone on a wall, facing the Gopuram, an inverted image of the Gopuram is formed on the opposite wall inside the building!!! I did try my best to take a photo without shaking too much, but with such the darkness inside, this is all I could do! The inverted image wasn't really in-focus, it was bit blurred by itself!
On the outer wall of the Sanctum Sanctorum were some interesting relief sculptures like Hazara Rama Temple incl Crab worshiping Lord Siva, Elephant & snake worshiping Lord Shiva, Kannappa nayanar etc.
The main Eastern gopuram is 52m tall and has 9 stories. This was probably built in the period of Deva Raya II in 1422-46. The inner gopura & Maha Mandapa was probably built in 1510  by Krishna Deva Raya! 
Bang opposite to the Eastern Entrance is the main Hampi Bazaar which extends to about 650m! This is one very wide bazaar where merchant & buyers moved with their horses and elephants at times. Horses were also sold in these bazaars. Some portions were 2 storied where the upper floor was used a storage space!!! It must have been a buzzing commercial street few centuries ago! Today its serves shade and resting place for the tired travelers! We had our lunch here. A portion of this Bazaar serves as a museum and another portion serves as the local police station!!! At the end of the Bazaar is the huge Monolith Nandi, facing Virupaksha!!!

Entry Ticket: Rs.5
Camera: Rs.50

To Get There:
From Bangalore: 343km via NH48 & NH50
From Hyderabad: 373km via NH44
From Goa: 316km via NH67
From Pattadakkal (another UNESCO site): 135km via NH50
From Orange County Resort: 9km
Map of all important sites: hampi.in

These sites are covered in The Virupaksha Trail organized as a guided tour by Orange County Resort.
Each trail costs Rs.1000/- per head as a group.
If you want it exclusive just for you it costs Rs.4000/- for 2 trails (+ Rs.1000/- incl vehicle).
If you want a guide for yourself for the whole day it costs Rs.8000/-

Otherwise, KSTDC certified guides (they carry an ID card mentioning the same) can be hired at the Tourism Office or Ticket Office located in the premises of Virupaksha Temple, Sasivekalu Ganesha and Vittala Temple. The prices are Rs.1200 for 2-3hrs and Rs.1700 for 5-6hrs for upto 3 persons. For a larger group, the price would be higher. Also they are highly adaptable to your requirements / interest area etc and they could also meet you at your hotel and begin from there!
Ph no: of Prakash, one of the certified guides: +91 94820 61626

Dedicated to Venkat


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  1. The Virupaksha Temple is the most impressive structure you've photographed so far in your Hampi series. I understand why it's one of the two most important sites in Hampi just from the picture. The pinhole camera in the architecture is incredible, that's impressive you've found it and documented it.

  2. WOW I love the stunning colors and stories on the wall and ceilings! The attention to detail is super impressive! Love this I will have to get here someday!

  3. The Virupaksha Temple looks amazing with all its warm colours! And all that history that comes with it gives it quite a mysterious touch! Thanks also for listing the various itineraries from where you can get there. This information comes in quite handy!

  4. Hampi is so beautiful - keep seeing pictures and blog articles which makes us so envious! It seems still quite easy to get there. Great!

  5. The monkey in your photos was so cute! It's insane how old these structures are, considering how well preserved and ornate they happen to be. I really liked your photos of the religious art with the explanations below - I learned a lot!

  6. Indian sites like this are absolutely gorgeous!! The only drawback in most cases are the monkeys - I got bitten by one in Jaipur and now I hate them all haha. The murals are incredible!! So detailed and beautiful. I think I'd have to agree with you in that Tripuranka is my favourite too :) Or maybe the marriage between shiva and Parvathi - I'm undecided!

  7. The carvings are absolutely stunning! There's just nothing like the architecture of ancient temples! :O

  8. What a beautiful temple! The pinhole camera is so cool. I also like the threeheaded Nandi. But that adorable monkey is my favorite. I'd love to see it upclose!

  9. What an amazing temple. So many stories to decipher! It's almost overwhelming. I really enjoy and prefer having a local tour guide to talk me through what they all mean!

  10. The temple is so beautiful and so detailed. The carvings are stunning - it's impressive that it is so well preserved after all this time!

  11. The Temple structure is a great wonder. Thank you for providing us a detailed info. on visiting the place. I'll add this one to my Travel Wishlist. Thanks!

  12. I'm always amazed at the level of detail in Hindu temples, and this seems to be a good example of that. Of course, it wouldn't be a proper temple without monkeys, and the addition of a bazaar there for lunch is perfect.

  13. Wow everything is so beautiful! It reminds me of our visit to the Cave Temples in Sri Lanka last month. All the caves have beautiful old paintings, mostly of Buddha though.
    We also saw lots of monkeys there. We learned never to eat fruit near them! haha

  14. The walls of the temple tells so much about the heritage of the temple. It would really be culturally uplifting seeing these temples.

  15. Wow, the detail in the stone carving is amazing, and that shows up nicely in the photos. To be honest, this place wasn't even on my map, so thanks a ton for bringing it into my awareness!

  16. Love all the details and history behind the Virupaksha Temple. I've never heard of this particular location; I feel like there are so many cool places in India that I've never heard of. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I see that the variety of ancient buildings in Hampi is unending. Very impressive preservation of those intricately designed old buildings. You have inspired me to read more about this place.

  18. first thing that came to my mind as i saw the photos was an old anime i watched before.. never thought there was a place likethis somewhere... hope i get to visit this oneday

  19. Love love love the architecture. Reminds me of my visit to the Belur and Halebidu temples of the Hoysala dynasty. Such stories etched in stone. Fabulous pics. Your Hampi series makes me want to go there ASAP!

  20. I fall in love with these temples everytime I see them. Marriage of shiva and parvathi is so good.

  21. I always admire the architecture of the old temples. It shows us a lot about the previous generatios, and the know how they had to build such wonderful marvels like this one. Great photos by the way...

  22. The lotus relief on the ceiling reminds me of Sistine Church of the catholic. The design and details found in Hindu temples are so intricate and amazing.

  23. wonderful and useful post. This place is in my to do list, what a marvel!

  24. These temples and their architecture tell the story of the progress those people made in those times! Jaw-dropping...3-headed Nandi I saw for the first time.

  25. Your stories make me wanna look at those paintings up close! Can wait for you to put up a listicle article on all the temples you've visited!

  26. Temples are great places to go to because they usually shows a lot of history with interesting backgrounds and stories. Your travels seem fun.

    ❀ Grace ❀

  27. The design of the Virupaksha Temple is so detailed and impressive! The murals are gorgeous as well. They are a great way to learn about the story about Lord Shiva!

  28. What a fascinating tour. I love traveling to places like this, they are reminders of how great a history we all have.


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