To the south of Hemakuta Hill and the two Ganesha temples is the Krishna Temple, one of four major shrines in the sacred centre of Hampi.
You enter the temple via a partially ruined gateway that still has some impressive carvings. Inside you reach an inner courtyard with the main shrine and various other subsidiary structures.
The temple was built in 1515 to commemorate the victory of Krishnadevaraya over the Gajapati kings of Orissa, from where a giant statue of Balakrishna (Lord Krishna as an infant) was taken and installed here as a war trophy. Sadly that statue is not still in situ, it has since been removed and installed at the state museum in Chennai.
A stone inscription here not only records the construction of the temple, but also the king’s gifts and endowments to it. These included valuable ornaments, gold and silver articles for rituals, eleven villages to meet the expenses of different offerings and festivals, plus additional land for the maintenance of 37 brahmins appointed for various services in the temple.
Around of the enclosure wall and accompany structures are some interesting carvings, look out in particular for an interesting depiction in stucco of troops in battle formation, I assume these are scenes from that campaign in Orissa.
This was one of the highlights of my visit to Hampi. The carvings are exceptional but also on both visits I found the temple deserted, I had the place completely to myself. There is nothing quite like visiting a site like this alone – I’m able to connect much more to the feeling of the place, you can’t help but let the atmosphere envelop you.
Back outside the temple across the road looking east is a sprawling set of structures heading off into the distance with banana plantations on the right. This was the high street (or chariot street) which once led to the temple, known as Krishna Bazaar.
It’s a wonderful place to explore, soak up, and of course to photograph. The long pavilions were once shops in the market street and following this will take you to an impressive temple tank called Kalyani, with structures both around and in the middle of the tank.
Just a little southwest of the Krishna Temple is the Narasimbha Monolith and Badavilingam shrine, where I’ll be heading to for my next blog.
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