Virupaksha is one of the top tourist attractions in Hampi located beside the southern bank of Tungabhadra River. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also known as Shri Lokeswara Maha Sila Prasada. According to mythology, it dates back to 7th Century AD, and this makes it one amongst the oldest temples in India. Lokamahadevi, the queen of Vikramaditya, built this temple to commemorate her husband’s triumph over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram. Since its inception, the complex gradually grew; lamp posts, flag posts, pillars, pillared halls, sub-shrines, towered-gateways, temple kitchen etc were added with the growing time. UNESCO has considered this temple as a World Heritage Site, as a part of Hampi Group of Monuments. Kailasanatha Temple in Kanchipuram looks somewhat similar to Virupaksha Temple on the basis of plan and elevation.
Virupaksha temple can be reached via Hampi Bazar, the chariot street. One of the prime structures, Gopura is a 9-storeyed tower, facing eastwards. At its top is a projection similar to cow horns and it indeed is a landmark of this complex. Stone-work is done on this tower up to second floor. The whole structure is otherwise built from mortar and brick. On its southern side are erotic inscriptions that are connected to fertility rites. Gopura further leads to Virupaksha’s main Temple. Its main temple has two large courtyards and faces eastwards. The courtyard has a pillared hall (100 Column Hall) at the far left corner. On the far right corner Kalyanamantapa, ticket office, administrative office, police outpost, an ancient well can be seen. The kitchen complex can be entered through this pillared hall. The floor of the kitchen has connections with the river to get access of water. Going further, you can spot the sacred bull, Nandi’s statue; with a backdrop of a wall that has a huge map of Hampi with all its attractions marked.
As you move forward, you will get to the second tower that has shoe safekeeping booth, ticket counter and souvenir stall. This tower is named after a famous ruler Krishadeva Raya; it has three floors and was built in 1510 AD. Lakshni, the temple elephant blesses the devotees with its trunk touching the head. Offering a one rupee coin to the elephant is believed to be auspicious.