The Virupaksha Hindu Temple is situated in Hampi in the Ballari district of Karnataka, in South India. It’s a component of the Group of Monuments at Hampi, which has been designated as a World Heritage Site, by UNESCO. This temple is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, who is a form of Lord Shiva. The temple was constructed by Lakkan Dandesha, who was a chieftain under the emperor Deva Raya II, of the Vijayanagara Empire, who was also known as Prauda Deva Raya.
Hampi, capital city of the Vijayanagara empire, sits on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Virupaksha Temple is the major centre of pilgrimage at Hampi, and had been considered the most sacred sanctuary over the centuries. It is intact among the surrounding ruins and is still used in pilgrimage and worship . The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is commonly known here as Virupaksha/Pampa pathi, as the consort of Pampadevi, the local goddess, who is usually believed to have an association with the river Tungabhadra. There is also a Virupakshini Amma temple (mother goddess) in Nalagamapalle village, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, around a hundred kilometres away from Tirupati.
The history of this temple has been uninterrupted since around the 7th century. The Virupaksha-Pampa sanctuary was present well before the Vijayanagara capital was situated at this place. Inscriptions referring to Lord Shiva go back to the 10th and 9th centuries. What began as a small shrine turned into a huge and magnificent complex under the emperors of Vijayanagara. Evidence and proof shows that there were additions and modifications made to this temple in the late Hoysala and Chalukyan eras, although a major share of the buildings of the temple are credited to the Vijayanagar Empire’s era. The massive temple building and complex was constructed by Lakkana Dandesha, a chieftain under the ruler Deva Raya II of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Under the emperors of Vijayanagara, in the mid of the 14th century, a flowering of native and culture and art began. When the emperors were defeated by Islamic invaders during the 16th century, most of the wonderful and splendid decorative structures and creations were destroyed systematically.
The religious sect of Virupaksha-Pampa didn’t cease to exist with the ruination of the city in 1565. Worship and pilgrimage there has persisted throughout the years. At the beginning of the 19th century there were major renovations and additions, which included ceiling paintings and the towers of the north and east gopura.] This temple is the only nicely preserved and maintained temple in Hampi as yet; the other various places of worship in Hampi were ruined and devastated desecrated at the hands of the Bahmani Sultanate.
Krishnadevaraya, who happened to be a popular emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire was a huge patron of this complex. The central pillared hall, the most ornate of all structures in the temple is believed to be his contribution to this temple. So is the gateway tower giving access to the inner courtyard of this temple. Inscriptions on a stone plaque installed next to the pillared hall explain his contribution to the temple. It’s recorded that Krishnadevaraya, to mark his accession, commissioned this hall in 1510 AD. He also constructed the eastern gopuram. These modifications implied that the central shrine happened to occupy a rather small part of the larger complex. The temple halls were used for a plethora of different reasons and purposes. Some were points in which the images of gods were put for witnessing special programmes of drama, dance, music etc. Others were used to celebrate the marriages and bonds of the gods.