Oct 032012

The Sacred Center of Hampi Temple – Where History and Mythology Live Together

sacred center of Hampi Virupaksha Temple foreigner

The Virupaksha Temple Complex is spread over a large area

A Guide and Tourist at  Sacred Center of Hampi Temple


The sacred center of Hampi temple is where most of the religious and tourist action happens. Right in the middle of a Bazaar (crafts village like a flea market) you can see the main Virupaksha temple from miles. After passing through the bazaar, dodging the aggressive vendors trying to sell you things and more aggressive beggars trying to sell you heaven in both present and afterlife, you reach the sacred center. There is a small camera fee you need to pay to take your camera with you, no money for cell phone cameras! Another Indian rule that I have never been able to comprehend, in this time and age of ubiquitous cell phone cameras, why somebody carrying a digital camera has to pay a fee when the guy next to you is happily clicking pictures from his cell phone.

angry goddess

The Sculpture of Warrior Goddess at Hampi Temple


Most monuments do not allow Tripods for cameras as this obstructs the movement of people, but what I discovered on this trip is that you are not allowed to sketch the monuments. Not sure what the logic is, you can take pictures, make a video but you cannot make a pencil sketch. The guard actually came running to stop one of our group members who was trying to make a sketch of the temple.

The Sacred center of Hampi temple is on the banks of Tungabhadra and you can actually reach the Ghats(Stairs to river) from the courtyard of the temple to check some activities on the Ghats.

The temple is devoted to Shiva and has many small shrines inside the complex in typical south Indian style of temples with each shrine dedicated to one of the gods, anybody with knowledge of Indian mythology will know that we have no dearth of gods. We have one god for everything right from creating the universe as Brahma to nurturing it as Vishnu and finally to destroy it as Shiva, only to recreate a better world once again. I really liked a small shrine with three Nandi idols (Nandi =A sacred bull who is used by Shiva to ride), adoringly looking at the deity of the main temple. I just loved the concept of Nandi idol in front of the gods so that they can have his darshan (holy view) eternally. This reminded me of Krishna Deva Raya’s idol at Tirupathi in front of lord Venkateshwara. What appears to me is that at some stage there was a shift from Shiva worship to Vishnu as a lot of shrines are dedicated to either Vishnu or one of his incarnations.

Hampi Temple Complex

Virupaksha Temple complex in Hampi

Sacred Center Seen From Hill Top

 Another attraction of the temple is the hollow pillars that resonate with the sound of drums if you tap on them. It seems the main hall at one time also had performances by musicians and dancers in honor of the gods.

blessings by holy elephant of temple

Elephant At Sacred Center of Hampi Temple

entrance to the hampi temple

Tourists at Sacred Center of Hampi

One side of the courtyard there is an abandoned Stable where horses and elephants used to live at one point in time, but today only one young Elephant called Laxmi lives with her mahout there. Luxmi is trained to pick rupees and coins from the hands of visitors and touch them with her trunk to offer the blessings on behalf of the gods; well she is minting money for her mahout. I hope he takes good care of her. Each one of us got our share of blessings from the resident pachyderm in exchange of Rs 10 each.

pond in front of moola virupaksha temple in Hampi

The ancient Temple of Hampi

Every single stone in the temple narrates a story from Indian mythology. You actually need many days if you want to study and photograph even the top 1% of the stones. Even the roof at some point in time would have been very beautiful as even today one can see portions of intricate paintings done on the roof. Remember these temples are more than 1000 years old which makes work of Michelangelo pretty modern.

It appeared to me was that the next phase of the temple complex was still being done when some kind of attack happened and we see a lot of unfinished structures in the ruins.  Words cannot describe the beauty and serenity of this complex. Unfortunately, our government is not doing a very good job of protecting the same and right in the ruins we found a lot of cows and goats grazing leisurely on the grass and overgrown bushes, only to be taken out of their perfect life by disturbing monkeys.
nandis always looking at gods
3 Nandis Blessed With Eternal Darshan
next phase of temple of Hampi
Hanuman from a scene in Ramayana In Stone
snake worship in the temple of Hampi
Naga Idols

 We were so busy clicking pictures of the temple complex and ruins in the sunset that we totally forgot about visiting the Royal center and by the time we reached there it were totally dark we tried to click some pictures using flash but the results were not very good. We regretted our decision to visit the Dam in the morning before lunch, I would suggest if you are in Hampi to look at the temple and other monuments you can actually skip this dam as it is like any other dam, only when we visited it was overflowing.

goats grazing in temple complex
The Ruins of Hampi

watching sunset from hill
Sunset from Ruins of Hampi
I decided not to try to click pictures of the Royal center in the dark and just tried to soak the same with my eyes during the flash photography attempt by my friends. Thus, you will not find any pictures of Hazaar Ram temple, queen’s bath, the tombs of the sages and many other monuments. I guess 2 days are two short for a place like Hampi.  While boarding the bus to come back to Hyderabad each one of us resolved to come back and visit the places we have missed. 

The annual Hampi festival is in November and it will be a go there. What are your plans for November? It will be a good time to visit Hampi with pleasant weather and festivities all around you. Thanks for visiting do like our Facebook page by clicking here


next phase of temple complex
Time Stands Still In Hampi

Other blog posts in the Visit to Hampi Series

1.            Visiting Hampi
2.            Exploring Hampi
3.            Temples of Hampi
4.            Under The Mango Tree
5.        Pilgrims in Hampi

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  9 Responses to “The Sacred Center of Hampi Temple”

Comments (8) Pingbacks (1)
  1. Nice clicks and write up. Love this place. Its been long since I visited.

  2. Lovely write up. I liked the last picture.Thanks for sharing. In a way , I feel a little lost, I dont think I will go there at all.It sounds too much effort right now.

    • Hi Pattu Raj: I think you are worried about the climbs? If that is the worry you can just visit the Royal center, and the Sacred Center which are on plane and there is no climb. The other temples like Hanuman birthplace and Durga temple are on hilltops…..

  3. Lovely short crisp travelogue. Had visited Hampi in august. Planning to revisit in November as you rightly pointed out one visit cannot do justice!

  4. Loved the blog…

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