The Ruins of the Achutaraya Temple

Published on: 20/04/2018


View from the vantage point

I must confess upfront that I am neither a big-time history-culture buff, nor is the spirit of mine, with it’s existentialist leanings, enthralled by stories of palaces, kings and kingdoms. Yet, Hampi had been on my to-do list for quite some time now. It must have been the hippy in me wanting to commune with the similarly inclined multitudes that throng there, or simply the allure of a place that I had not even an inkling of familiarity with; I can’t put my finger on the exact reason for it being so.

A cursory reading online had helped me zero in on the places to be, once in erstwhile Pampapura. The Achutaraya temple, among many, caught my eye, for it is tucked away behind hillocks of disjointed boulders, off the well-trodden path and shrouded in silence. Eyes that gawp, mouths that ramble or fingers that soil aren’t found there, and you have the whole complex to yourself was what the internet had proclaimed; so it was to be.

Walking away from the colonnaded main street of Hampi Bazaar, a flight of steps takes one to a vantage point, next to Matunga hill. This is where I caught the first glimpse of the magnificent Achutaraya Temple complex.

Standing in the centre of two rectangular walled enclosures, Achutaraya temple is the last of the many grandiose monuments built by the Rayas of Hampi and showcases the Vijayanagara style of architecture, that drew inspiration from the Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya and Chola styles, in all its glory.


The Pushkarni

As the bright sun of the day waned, i enter the temple precinct from the west, through an imposing gateway built into a wall of rough hewn granite.

Sculpted out of granite are pillars adjacent to the entrance to the Mandapa, depicting Yalis, fantastic leonine beasts; grotesques. An Antarala (antechamber) leads to the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), which has a circumambulatory path around it. Ornate carvings on walls, depict scenes from daily life, scriptures and mythology. Figurative and, occasionally, geometric motifs on display are of the medium and high relief varieties.

Exit the temples through two gopurams named after kings of Vijayanagara and one enters the Courtesan’s street. It was here that the famed dancing girls of Hampi performed. Ambling towards the river on the now deserted thoroughfare, on your left is a vast Pushkarni (temple tank).

I make my way to the river, the Tungabhadra, as the daylight fades. Turning back to take in one last eyeful of the ruins of Achutaraya temple, an old Frangipani in full bloom catches my eye, silhouetted against the sky that is fast losing light.

Hampi is a sobering reminder of the transience of human achievement. It deflates the human ego and lays bare the folly of wealth, power, fame or titles. Watching the coracles carrying raucous tourists rippling the otherwise placid waters that has been the lifeblood of this ancient city, I realize that I am wiser than just a few hours before.

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Neeta Shankar

It is a classic tale of curiosity leading to genuine interest leading to a cherished profession. After a brief stint as an R&D; engineer at a reputed Product Development Company, Neeta quit IT towards the end of 2012, moved into the role of a Wedding Photographer and started her own company. Apart from being a talented photographer, an Entrepreneur, Creative Director, and a mentor and inspiration for aspiring photographers, Neeta is also a Social Media Influencer with a staggering following of more than 5 Lakh people across her social networks. She can be contacted at

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