On exiting the north tower of the temple (Kangiri Gopura) you reach a pavement with the Matanga tank on you right and a series of smaller shrines on left. This is tank is the prime water body associated with the temple. Rectangular stone blocks form a gallery like steps around the pond. The white and brick red vertical strips painted over the steps are a typical feature of Hindu temples. The tank is now fenced all around with an entrance at its western side.
As a custom devotees are requited to take bath in the temple pond before entering the shrine. You can see the pilgrims take bath in the nearby river owing to the bad condition of water in this pond. There are ductworks that connect the tank to the Tungabadra River just across the road.
A long row of shrines are doted along the northern edge of the tank are of more antiquity than the Virupaksha temple. Some are as old as 8 century AD. But most of these are empty and not functioning temples. The noted one is that of goddess Durga which is still under worship. This temple is easily identifiable by the icon of a warrior fighting with a lion installed in its porch. The plain pinkish sandstone built shrine houses the goddess with eight arms.
This form of the goddess Durga is also known as Mahishasura Mardini (the slayer of the buffalo demon). The image inside in fact portrays this act of the ferocious goddess. Her right hands hold a chakra (discus weapon), arrow, sword and a trident (striking the fallen demon); the left hands hold a conch, bow and a shield; the fourth left hand pulls the tongue of the demon. Her left leg pins the demon down to the ground. The goddesses' mount, the lion, is positioned nearby.
Club holding guardian deities are carved on either side of the shrines door jambs. An inscription slab installed in front with a linga icon on top possibly records the royal patronage offered to these temples.
Behind these rows of shrines are a number of homes, mostly of the temple priests.
The path further proceeds northward to the riverside (sacred bathing spot) after exiting through a pavilion like gateway.
Anegondi was the capital of the region, before it was moved to Hampi. In fact this was the core of a tiny kingdom that eventually expanded into the Vijayanagar Empire covering the whole of south India. Currently Anegondi is sleepy village with a principally farming community inhibiting it.
Domingos Paesa a Portuguese traveler visited Hampi 500 years back wrote "...People cross to this place by boats which are round like baskets.Inside they are made of cane, and outside are covered with leather; they are able to carry fifteen or twenty persons, and even horses and oxen can cross in them if necessary, but for the most part these animals swim across. Men row them with a sort of paddle, and the boats are always turning round, as they cannot go straight like others; in all the kingdom where there are streams there are no other boats but these..."
They are exactly as it is today as it was five centuries back, except probably the PVC sheets has replaced leather, and motorbikes too are added to its cargo list!
According to some historic accounts, the Virupaksha Temple in Hampi is one among the ancient temples in India with an uninterrupted history from about the 7th century. What you see now as the grandiose temple complex is attributed to various vijayanagara kings from 14th Century.