This is the largest statue in Hampi. Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called Sesha. The heads of the snake acts as the hood above his head. The god sits in a cross-legged Yoga position with a belt supporting the knees.
Sometimes this is referred as Ugra Narasimha (i.e. Narasimha in its terrifying form). The protruding eyes and the facial expression are the basis for this name.
Narasimha (means half-man’half-lion in local the languages) is on of the ten incarnations (avatar) of Lord Vishnu.
The original statue contained the image of goddess Lakshmi, consort of the god, sitting on his lap. But this statue has been damaged seriously during the raid leading to the fall of Vijayanagara. Even the damaged portion of such a large statue of Lakshmi carved on his lap is missing. Probably it may be laying around in tiny pieces. But the goddess’s hand is visible resting on his back in embracing posture. If you get a chance to go inside this enclosure, it is possible to see the hand of the goddess. Even the nails & the rings on her fingers are so perfectly executed.
Lion face of Lakshmi Narasimha also sometimes called as Unganarasimha (the ferocious Narasimha) Lakshmi Narasimha
Somehow this single statue alone can demonstrate at the same time how creative and destructive the human mind can be.
The Hindu mythology has a tale of Narasimha’s origin.
"Lord Vishnu takes the form of Narasihma in his fourth incarnation, the previous one being that of a Boar (Varaha). Vishnu kills the demon Hiranyaksha during his Varaha avatar. Hiranyaksha’s brother Hiranyakashipu wants to take revenge by destroying Lord Vishnu and his followers. He performs penance to please Brahma, the god of creation. Impressed by this act, Brahma offers him any thing he wants.
Hiranyakashipu asks for a tricky boon. That he would not die either on earth or in space; nor in fire nor in water; neither during day nor at night; neither inside nor outside (of a home); nor by a human, animal or God; neither by inanimate nor by animate being.
Brahma grants the boon. With virtually no fear of death he unleashes terror. Declares himself as god and asks people to utter no god’s name except his. However his son Prahlada (who a devoted worshiper of Lord Vishnu!) refuses. Repeated pressurization on him yields no results for Hiranyakashipu. Prahlada declares the omnipresence of Lord Vishnu.
Once Hiranyakashipu points to a pillar and asks if Vishnu is present in it. Prahlada nods in affirmative. Angered at it, he draws his sword and cuts the pillar; Narasimha appears out of the broken pillar.
Lakshmi Narasimha in the Yogic posture Lakshmi Narasimha in the Yogic posture
Narasimha (being a man-lion god form) kills Hiranyakashipu. He comes out to kill at the twilit (neither day nor night);on the doorsteps of his palace (neither inside nor outside); uses his nails to kill (neither animate nor inanimate); puts him on his lap before killing (neither earth nor in space). Thus making power of the boon ineffective.
The death of this demon king is celebrated as Holi (the celebration of colors) in India, especially in the northern parts.
This icon was the centre of an ambitious temple plan. But it was never completed