• Sahana Kulkarni

Lepakshi - An unfulfilled dream.

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

Lepakshi is a temple built for Lord Veerabhadra which is another name of Lord Shiva. Built on the huge granite rock, the temple has a beautiful architecture. It was a random plan made and i started my trip towards Lepakshi from Bangalore, which is at a distance of 130 kilometers. Lepakshi is situated in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district, which is a border town between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The temple was built during the 16th century dated 1530 AD by subordinates of Vijayanagara Kingdom named Virupanna and Viranna Nayaka. The temple has three entrances and three parts. As you enter the temple you can find the dhwaja stambha with the bells. If it is a windy day then the ringing bells are the music to your ears.

In the epic Ramayana it is mentioned that Jatayu - the bird fell on this place while fighting with Ravana for Sita's rescue. Lord Rama commanded the bird to raise and hence the name Le Pakshi.

The temple is of 3 parts - Mukha Mantapa, Arda Mantapa and Garbha griha.

Main Attractions:

1. Monolithic statue of Nandi

Basavanna temple

This is made out of single granite rock and is said to be the world's largest Nandi statue. One can see the Nandi statue on the way to the Veerabhadra temple which is at a distance of around 500 metres from the Nandi. Place is well maintained. There is also a small pond with lotus flowers besides this place. This sculpture is 10 metres in length and six meters in height and is one of a kind.

2. Mukha Mantapa

Pillars in Mukha Mantapa

As you enter the temple there is a vast courtyard with the several pillars and the dhawaja stambha. It is a nice place where you can sit and relax for a while. Mukha mantapa leads way to the arda mantapa where one can find idols of Naga linga and Ganesha. Also the unfinished Kalyana Mantapa.

3. Ganesha idol

Sculpture of Lord Ganesha

As you enter the arda mantapa you will find the Ganesha idol which is craved out of a single rock. It is said that before constructing the temple, this idol of Lord Ganesha was carved out and the construction of this temple began by offering the prayers. Next to this there are carvings representing Shri Kala Hasti.

4. Naga Linga

Nagalinga Sculpture

Even this is carved out of a single rock and it is about 12 feet in height. This is a Shiva linga which is guarded by the 7 hooded snake. This beautiful carving is adjacent to the Ganesha idol.

5. Kalyana Mantapa

Unfinished Kalyana Mantapa

As per the folklore, the governor Virupanna started the construction of this temple by utilising the treasury in the absence of the king Achchuta Devaraya. When the king came back he was furious to see his treasure being emptied and for constructing the temple without his permission. So he ordered to stop the construction of the temple and so you can see the incomplete Kalyana Mantapa with many pillars without a covered roof. The king ordered that the governor be blinded, hence the village is called as Lepa - akshi(Eye), Village of the blinded eye.

5. Large footprint

There is a large impression on the rock which resembles that of a large human feet. There are many stories that goes by saying that the footprint is that of Jatayu/ Sita. There is no evidence on the same. There is always a spring that flows from this place. Also near to this there are plate like impressions on the rock.

6. Ranga Mantapa

There is a Ranga Mantapa which is said to be of 100 pillars. Beautiful carvings of the artists holding different musical instruments are carved out in these pillars. There is also a hanging pillar here. Unfortunately there is no sign board which gives the information about this. I loved this place and started thinking did the artists really perform here. If so then how nice it would be.

7. Murals

Murals on the roof top

The roof top of the Ranga Mantapa is painted by murals. But the sad part is that these are all faded or disappeared completely. Much care should have been taken to preserve these. The paintings are also present inside the garba griha and photography is not allowed in here. There is a shrine of Lord Veerabhadra which is still worshipped and daily pooja's are performed here. There are murals on the walls of the Sanctum as well but hardly visible, all faded.

Tips and Suggestions:

1. Try not to visit here during summer season as the heat would be too much for the bare foot to resist while walking around the temple.

2. There is no visiting fees and you are expected to pay only the parking fees for the vehicle.

3. You can also visit Nandi Hills, Bhoga Nandishwara temple, Muddenahalli which is near by to this place, if you are visiting from Bangalore. There is also a birds sanctuary on the way to Lepakshi from the highway.

4. There are no good restaurants near by , so it would be good to carry your own food.

Overall it makes a very good day trip from Bangalore and you will surely love this place for its beauty and calmness.

A typical Vijayanagara style architecture i would say.

You would also like to read:

Hoysala temple of Somanathapura. A visual treat.

Muddenahalli - Birthplace of Sir M.V

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