There are many examples in Vijaynagar of the ground level around a ruin rising over the centuries to many feet above the level at the time the structure was built. In these situations, the temple gets partially buried underground, and when it is excavated to reveal the entire structure, a small retaining wall is built around the structure, indicating the difference in ground level. The ‘Underground Temple’ is a prominent example of this.An inscription indicates that this used to be a Virupaksha temple. The main shrine is potentially from the 14th c AD, as it resembles the shrines on Hemakuta Hill (see the last image in this post). Built around the shrine are many later mandap additions that add up to an incohesive whole, at least as it exists today. The large gopuram in front of the temple is from the 15th c.
The Underground Temple lies at the western edge of the Royal Center. It is surrounded by irrigated fields on two sides, and is often flooded with water. All this potentially points to an early (14th c) royal Vijaynagar shrine which continued to be patronised in subsequent centuries by Vijaynagar royalty, but was no longer of central focus after temples such as the Hazara Rama Temple were built. This is also a prime example that indicates how restored structures as they exist today were in all probability very different visually (and in usage etc) from what they were like in their heyday.
Large gopuram to the east with the ‘underground’ temple behind
Approaching the temple through a gateway
North court around the main shrine with colonnade
Looking towards the mahamandap from the south gateway
Main shrine structure