Virupaksha was the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi since the dawn of the 7th century. Since then this UNESCO World Heritage Site has been elaborated on by future rulers and especially Krishnadevaraya, the most famous kings of the Vijayanagara Empire, who commissioned the iconic nine-tiered gateway that we identify the temple with today.
The vivid blue skies of Bangalore pushed me out of the cozy sanctity of my home towards this little known hillock in Avani. Just about 80 km away from the bustling city of Bangalore this site finds its name in the legendary tale of Ramayana. Yes, this hill, hidden far away from away from the casual tourists is said to be the location of the ancient ashram of sage Valmiki, who sheltered Sita during her exile, where she gave birth to Luv & Kush.
Today we go to explore a Shiva temple raised to cleanse the sins of Rama and his brothers. The Avani village forms an intricate part of the story of Ramayana, as the birthplace of Luv & Kush. The shivalings at the Ramalingeshwara Temple here is said to be established by the Ayodhya princes themselves to absolve them of their sins of waging war against the twin adolescents.
Today I go on a heritage walk to the majestic Vittala Temple, dedicated to Vitthala, the South India name of Vishnu. Built around the 15th Century CE, and expanded several times by succeeding kings of the Vijaynagar empire with the most extravagant architecture and exceptional craftsmanship, the temple is the main attraction of Hampi.
The Tiger Cave is not really a cave and tigers do not live here either. It is a rock-cut Hindu temple complex with carvings of tiger heads around the structure, located in the hamlet of Saluvankuppam near Mahabalipuram. These rock-cut structures with tiger-head like shapes are believed to have been constructed in 7th century by Pallavas.
One of the most crowded places in Mahabalipuram, the Five Rathas or Panch Rathas are five monolithic temple structures built by the Pallavas in early 7th century AD. The buildings displaying exquisite carvings are named individually after Draupadi and the five Pandava brothers.
Today we go on a tour of the monuments of Mahabalipuram. The city of Mamalla, named after the title of Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman-I, was a sea-port during the time of Periplus and Ptolemy. Today it is a town studded with rock-cut caves, monolithic shrines, cave sanctuaries and structural temples. The open-air museum also includes the largest open-air rock relief in the world. The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram, were accorded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1984.
We drove to the Shore Temple at dawn to witness the pristine structure, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. Overlooking the shore of the Bay of Bengal, it is one of the oldest temples in Southern India. Constructed in the Dravidian style that reflects the royal taste of the Pallava dynasty, its sanctuaries are dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva.
I have an affection for stones. Crazy as it might sound, while in Kanchipuram, I dropped by at the Kanchi Kailasanathar temple at the break of dawn. to walk among the oldest mad-made art in the temple city. Located in one of the busiest cities of Tamil Nadu, the temple was commissioned in the 8th century by Rajasimha, the greatest of the kings of the Pallava Dynasty.