Temple dedicated for Lord Siva was built many meters below the ground level. For this reason, almost all the time the sanctum and the core parts of the temple are under water, restricting entry to the inner areas.
The Prasanna Virupaksha temple dates back to the 14th century AD. The temple is dedicated to Prasanna Virupaksha, an avatar of Lord Shiva. The temple stands amidst a beautiful lawn covered in green. The temple has remained buried for over four hundred years before it was discovered in the 1980’s decade. It is believed that Vijayanagara ruler Krishnadevaraya had donated extensively to this temple. The location of the temple and its proximity to the Noblemen’s quarters indicates that the temple might have been used by the members of the Royal family of Vijayanagara for their private ceremonies.
The Prasanna Virupaksha temple has been constructed following the Vijayanagara style of architecture. The temple is a simple and beautiful structure that is located inside a large courtyard surrounded by an enclosure wall. There is a water canal in the courtyard of the temple. This Underground Shiva temple has a flat roofed main tower. There are steps leading from the main tower to the main pillared hall of the temple.
The temple has a garbhagriha along with an antarala. The temple also has an aradha mandapa and a maha mandapa. The maha mandapa has pillared corridors that combine with the pillared mukha mandapa. This makes for a huge pillared frontal mandapa. The frontal mandapa also has a dhwaja stambha that protrudes through the rooftop. The pillars of the temple are simple and austere in appearance, unlike the carved and engraved pillars found in most temples of Hampi.
Underground Siva Temple Hampi
Why is Prasanna Virupaksha Temple known as the Underground Shiva Temple?
An interesting fact about the Prasanna Virupaksha temple is that it is located a few metres below the ground level. The roof of the temple is at par with the present ground level while the main structure of the temple stands in a low lying area. The reason behind such a unique location for the construction of the temple is not known. Another thing to note is that the sanctum of the temple remains submerged under stagnant water throughout the year.
During the monsoon season, extending from June to August, the water level rises inside the temple and submerges the floor of the maha mandapa and other Mantapas. This restricts the entry of visitors to most parts of the temple during the rainy season. The water inside the temple is considered to be sacred by the people of Hampi and the devotees of Lord Shiva.
The reason behind the water inside the Prasanna Virupaksha Temple, Hampi While it is a known fact that most portions of the Prasanna Virupaksha temple remain submerged under water for the most part of the year, the accurate reason behind it fact is not known. There are different stories floating in the local circles regarding this uniqueness of the temple. One of the popular stories is that the temple has an inlet and outlet for the water. The water that flows inside the temple comes from the Tungabhadra River. When the dam water of the river is released during the monsoons, the water level rises inside the temple and floods it.