Virupaksha Temple, Tamil Nadu, India

The focal point of Hampi Bazaar is the Virupaksha Temple, one of the city’s oldest structures, and Hampi’s only remaining working temple. The main gopuram (gateway tower), almost 50m high, was built in 1442, with a smaller one added in 1510. The main shrine is dedicated to Virupaksha, an incarnation of Shiva.

If Lakshmi, the temple elephant, and her attendant are around, she’ll smooch (bless) you for a coin; she gets her morning bath at 8am down by the river ghats.

To the south, overlooking Virupaksha Temple, Hemakuta Hill has a few early ruins, including monolithic sculptures of Narasimha (Vishnu in his man-lion incarnation) and Ganesha. At the east end of the recently abandonded Hampi Bazaar is a monolithic Nandi statue, around which stand colonnaded blocks of the ancient marketplace. Overlooking the site is Matanga Hill, whose summit affords dramatic views of the terrain at sunrise.

Within the now-derelict bazaar is the Hampi Heritage Gallery, exhibiting interesting historical photos of the ruins.

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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