Vijayanagara, which means "city of victory," was both a city and an empire. In the fourteenth century, the empire was created. It once spanned from the Krishna river in the north to the peninsula's extreme south. In 1565, the city was sacked and afterwards abandoned. Although it was demolished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it survived in the minds of residents of the Krishna-Tungabhadra doab. They called it Hampi, after the native mother deity Pampadevi. Together with archaeological discoveries, monuments and inscriptions, and other records, these oral traditions assisted historians in rediscovering the Vijayanagara Empire.
Colonel Colin Mackenzie, an engineer and antiquarian, discovered the ruins at Hampi around 1800. He was an employee of the English East India Company and drew the site's initial survey map. Much of the early material he gathered was based on priests' recollections of the Virupaksha temple and the Pampadevi shrine. Following that, beginning in 1856, photographers began documenting monuments, allowing scholars to study them. Epigraphists began collecting several dozen inscriptions discovered at this and adjacent Hampi temples as early as 1836. To reconstruct the city's and empire's history, historians combined material from these sources with tales of foreign travellers and other Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, and Sanskrit literature.
The magnificent landscape of Hampi is characterised by the river Tungabhadra, rocky hill ranges, and broad plains dotted with physical relics.
The sophistication of the diverse urban, royal and sacred systems is evidenced in the almost 1600 surviving remnants, which include forts, riverbank features, royal and sacred complexes, temples (including Vittala Temple), shrines, pillared halls, and Mandapas.
The history of the Virupaksha temple dates back to the seventh century. The Virupaksha-Pampa retreat has been here for a long time. Several inscriptions about Lord Shiva dating from the 9th century have been discovered. During the reign of the Vijayanagara dynasty, it began as a small temple and grew into a massive complex. There is evidence that improvements to the Virupaksha temple were undertaken during the later years of Hoysala and Chalukyan rule.
The first shrine, according to inscriptions, dates from the ninth to the eleventh century, although it was significantly expanded with the formation of the Vijayanagara Empire. Krishnadeva Raya built the hall in front of the main temple to commemorate his accession. There were intricately carved pillars in this room. He's also responsible for the eastern gopuram's construction. As a result of these extensions, the central shrine came to comprise only a small portion of the complex.
The temple's halls were used for a variety of functions. Some were places where gods' images were put to watch extraordinary performances of music, dance, theatre, and other arts. Others were intended for deities to swing in, while others were used to celebrate deities' marriages. On certain occasions, special images, distinct from those housed in the modest central shrine, were utilised.
It was constructed in the 15th century under the reign of Devaraya II, one of the Vijayanagara Empire's monarchs. It is also known as Vijaya Vittala Temple and is dedicated to Vittala. Lord Vishnu is reported to have manifested himself as Vittala.
The complex is created in the Dravidian style, which is further embellished by exquisite carvings. Another fascinating monument is the Vitthala temple. Vitthala, a form of Vishnu commonly worshipped in Maharashtra, was the main god here. This temple, like other temples, includes multiple chambers and a distinctive shrine shaped like a chariot.
Stone chariot: The chariot is actually a Garuda shrine that is located within the Vittala Temple Complex. The chariot used to have a large sculpture of Garuda, Lord Vishnu's attendant, seated atop it, but it is now empty. The Hampi Chariot is one of India's three most famous stone chariots, the other two being in Konark, Odissa, and Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu).
The Hazara Rama temple is one of the most magnificent of these structures. The king and his family were most likely the only ones who could use it. It was moreover a private temple complex for the imperial household in the midst of the royal palace. It is dedicated to Lord Rama. The centre shrine's images have vanished, but sculpted panels on the walls have survived. On the inside walls of the shrine, there are scenes from the Ramayana sculpted.
Significance of Temple Building:
According to local legend, these hills were home to the Vali and Sugriva monkey kingdoms mentioned in the Ramayana. Other legends state that Pampadevi, the indigenous mother goddess, performed penance among these hills in order to marry Virupaksha, the kingdom's guardian deity, who is also recognised as a manifestation of Shiva. This marriage is still commemorated annually in the Virupaksha temple. Among these hills are also pre-Vijayanagara Jaina temples. In other words, this region was connected to a number of religious traditions.
Temple construction in the region dates all the way back to the Pallavas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, and Cholas. Rulers frequently supported temple construction as a means of identifying with the divine — frequently, the deity was overtly or indirectly connected with the ruler. Temples also served as educational institutions. Additionally, emperors and others frequently granted land and other resources for temple maintenance. As a result, temples became important religious, social, cultural, and economic centres. From the monarchs' perspective, building, renovating, and maintaining temples was critical for gaining support and recognition for their power, money, and piety.
It is possible that the site of Vijayanagara was chosen as a result of the presence of the Virupaksha and Pampadevi shrines. Indeed, the Vijayanagara rulers claimed to govern on the god Virupaksha's behalf. All royal commands were signed "Shri Virupaksha," which was often written in Kannada. The title "Hindu Suratrana" was often used by rulers to show their strong ties to the gods.