Lepakshi – Poetry cast in stone

It was an impromptu decision for a day visit to Lepakshi in January. Husband was keen to take the car for a spin and I was keen to explore the 16th century treasures of Lepakshi. Saturday morning saw us heading towards this historical hamlet in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh.

The road to Lepakshi (130 km north of Bangalore) is on Bangalore – Hyderabad highway (NH7) and is a pleasure to drive on. Driving past Bangalore International Airport, Chikballapur and Bagehalli, you reach Andhra Pradesh border and a toll booth . As you cross the toll booth, there are signs on the left pointing to Lepakshi (16 kms from there). The road leading to the village are narrow but asphalted.

Built during the Vijayanagar kings’ period (1336–1646), it is a walk into the bylane of history. A legend has it that this town was where the wounded bird Jatayu fell after a battle against Ravana who was carrying Sita away. On reaching the spot Lord Rama lovingly addressed the bird with, “Le Pakshi” — ‘rise, bird’ in Telugu. Co-relation to this incident gives this town significant importance in the Ramayana.

Few things that mesmerized me during this day trip

1) Lepakshi Nandi

You are greeted by this monolithic sculpture of Nandi, Hindu God Lord Shiva’s bull as you park on the village road.

Monolithic Nandi @ Lepakshi

Monolithic Nandi @ Lepakshi

The structure is 15 feet high and 27 feet long. It is the largest Nandi in India, making for selfie ops for visiting tourists! The sculpture is positioned to face the shivalinga (symbol of Lord Shiva) which is shielded by a Naga (Cobra) with three coils and seven hoods inside the temple. Ganda-Berunda, which is the state emblem of Karnataka, is carved on the neck of this Nandi monolith.

Up close with Nandi

Nandi from close quarters

2) Veerabhadra temple
The Veerabhadra temple of Lepakshi is a 16th century marvel, built by brothers Viranna and Virupanna, in service to the Vijayanagar kings. The temple is dedicated to Veerabhadra, a fearsome form of Lord Shiva who was created by the wrath of Shiva after Daksha’s daughter and Shiva’s consort Sati self-immolated in the sacrificial fire (Yagna). The temple has several other forms of Shiva.

Veerabhadra temple

Veerabhadra temple

  • The mural paintings on the ceiling of the temple are impressive in their base red-orange hues, along with other white, black and yellow-golden shades. These are made with natural pigments on lime treated surfaces. They depict stories of Shiva-Parvati and from Mahabharatha and Ramayana. You cannot stop thinking of the grandeur of these murals in their hey day. They are still eye-catching, despite being in dire need of restoration.
Draupadi's Suyamvar

Draupadi’s Suyamvar

  • A major attraction in this temple is the hanging pillar. There are about 70 pillars in this temple of stone, but this one is the showcase of engineering marvel and genius of medieval India’s temple builders. It is said that it is a bit dislodged from its original position since a British engineer, during the British era, attempted to move it to unravel the secret of its support. A guide showed off this marvel proudly by passing paper through the base and was rewarded with audible gasps from his audience !

 

The famed hanging pillar @ the temple

The famed hanging pillar @ the temple

  • Sculptures within the Kalyan Mandapa (wedding ceremony hall) and Nritya Mandapa (dance hall)
Lord Shiva Sculpture in the temple

Lord Shiva Sculpture in the temple

  • Nagalinga : Legend has it that the Naga of the Nagalinga was carved out of a single stone by sculptors while they waited for their mothers to prepare lunch ! Child’s play huh ! It’s considered to be the largest Naga-Linga in India.
Shivalinga shielded by a Naga (Cobra) with three coils and seven hoods

Shivalinga shielded by a Naga (Cobra) with three coils and seven hoods

  • Sculptures with the temple premises – The detailing on the pillars and structures here makes for great background for camera happy tourists. You can capture great pictures and much credit goes to the photogenic subjects. The kids get some rest too 🙂
Pillared Mandapa within the temple complex

Pillared Mandapa within the temple complex

 

Within the temple complex

Within the perimeter of the temple complex

 

For some rest and shade from the sun !

For some rest and shade from the sun !

 

Or meditation and some pranks

Or meditate while the prankster plans her next move

  • Open air pavilion – One can sit and ponder the reason why the open-air pavilion was never completed. It will remain an untold story in history, perhaps.
The open air pavilion

The open air pavilion

Open air pavilion from a different angle

Open air pavilion from a different angle

The street leading to the temple is lined with small shops selling nick-knacks.

Travel tips from my experience

  • It is advised to be equipped with water and food as there aren’t many places to eat within / near Lepakshi.
  • For the Monolithic Bull and Veerabhadra Temple, parking is on the road or nearby lanes.
  • There are lot of monkeys around, so be careful about your sunglasses, handbags and avoid carrying eatables in plain sight.
  • The best mode of transportation to reach Lepakshi is road.
  • It can become exceedingly hot during a sunny day, so visit in the morning would be ideal.
  • A guide is recommended and you can pay as per service.
  • Lepakshi is fairly close to Puttaparthi, the holy town of Sai Baba. One can find accommodation there, if needed.
  • Lepakshi is famous for silk sarees and depiction of stories of stone in silk. The carvings on the walls of the temples inspire designs on these famous sarees! Go, check them out 🙂
A daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, IT professional and now – a travel blogger. I just love traveling, exploring new places and this inspired me to share travel experiences and memories with others.

admin

A daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, IT professional and now - a travel blogger. I just love traveling, exploring new places and this inspired me to share travel experiences and memories with others.

14 Responses

  1. Ami says:

    Lepakshi still mesmerizes me – an unexplored wonder in our world

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    • admin says:

      Hi Jane,
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  3. Jona says:

    Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a totally different
    topic but it has pretty much the same layout
    and design. Great choice of colors!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Jona. Guess a case of great minds design alike 😉
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  4. Alok Singhal says:

    The paintings and the pillars are indeed awe-inspiring.

    Hopefully will visit this place sometime!

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  6. Saru Singhal says:

    Thanks for the travel tips. This place is beautiful. Have to go there one day.

    • admin says:

      You must Saru. Its a lovely place and quite photogenic. Just go when the weather is pleasant in Bangalore ! The stones can get too hot to handle otherwise.

  7. Fumiko says:

    Great place! I want to visit here! And thank you for good advice! I’ll keep in mind!!

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