Hampi Underground Shiva Temple

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For reasons that I have yet to find an explanation for, the next temple we visited also seemed to have been purpose-built so that the linga could stand surrounded by water.

This was the Prasanna Virupaksha (Delighted Virupaksha) Temple, popularly known as the Underground Shiva Temple, which was constructed well below ground level. Fortunately, some parts of its rather gloomy and empty interior were dry so we were able to have a poke around them, but neither of us was tempted to wade through the water surrounding the linga itself.

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Little is known about the origins of the temple, except that the Vijayanagara King Krishnadevaraya donated Nagalpura and other villages to it so that the villagers could worship and make offerings to the god for the merit of his parents Narsa Nayaka and Nagajidevi.

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According to one theory, the Prasanna Virupaksha may have been the chief temple connected to Naga worship because of the collection of nagakals (serpent stones) in the north east of the temple. Others speculate that the temple may have been used by members of the king’s household because of its closeness to many of the residential structures in the royal center.

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Nobody can explain though as to why such a dark and austere structure should have been given the name of Delighted Virupaksha.

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