Virupaksha Temple, one of the oldest structures in the area, is located at Hampi Bazaar. It is said that this temple, believed to have been built in the 7th century, was once a humble structure dedicated to Lord Shiva. Under the Vijayanagara rule, it was constructed upon to achieve epic proportions. Today, the main shrine is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva and the 49-m-high (approximately) tower or gopuram of the temple is said to have been constructed in 1442. Dominating Hampi's skyline, the towering gopuram is a distinct landmark in Hampi, as are the stucco figures around the temple's exterior. Hampi's only continuously functioning temple, it includes a sanctum sanctorum, pillared halls – the most elaborate one consisting of 100 pillars - antechambers, grand gopurams and a number of smaller shrines, along with a temple kitchen and administrative offices. The main gateway boasts elaborate nine tiers and the smaller gateway gives access to the temple’s inner courtyard. The three-headed statue of Lord Shiva's sacred mount, the Nandi bull, is a major tourist draw. In December, when the temple celebrates the marriage of its presiding deity to his consort Goddess Pampa, it draws thousands of devotees. Another popular time to visit the temple is February, when the annual chariot festival is celebrated.

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