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Virupākṣa Temple

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Meaning of Virupākṣa[edit]

Virupākṣa is one of the epithets of Śiva since he has ‘distorted eyes’.[1] Śiva has three eyes instead of two, this itself being the ‘distortion’.

Origin of Virupākṣa Temple[edit]

The Śiva temple at Hampi in the Bellary district of Karnataka is known as the Virupākṣa Temple or the Pampāpati Temple. The original temple might have been built in the 11th century A. D. and gradually became a big complex by the 16th century. It was renovated by the emperor Kṛṣṇadevarāya[2] in A. D. 1510.

Location of Virupākṣa Temple[edit]

The temple is situated on the northern bank of the river Tuṅgabhadrā and at the northern end of the famous Hampi bazaar. Out of the three gopuras or towers, the one at the eastern entrance is the highest. It is estimated to be 50 meters[3] high. It has nine storeys. There is a large number of small shrines and maṇḍapas[4] in the temple complex.

Figures & Paintings in Virupākṣa Temple[edit]

One of these maṇḍapas contains bas-relief figures. There are also paintings, one of which depicts the scene of Arjuna, the Pāṇḍava hero, discharging the arrow to hit the eye of the rotating fish. This is known as matsyayantrabhedana during the svayamvara of Draupadi, daughter of the king Drupada of the Pāñcāla country. There is also another painting of the sage Vidyāraṇya[5] going in a procession. There is a small shrine dedicated to him in the temple campus. Regular worship is still going on in the main temple even now.


  1. Virupa means distorted and akṣa means eye.
  2. Kṛṣṇadevarāya A. D. 1488-1529
  3. It is approximately 164 feet.
  4. It means pavilions.
  5. He lived in A. D. 1296-1386.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore