Historical monuments standing tall against the test of times are fascinating sites to explore. Often these monuments have interesting stories or folklore associated with them and thus visiting such places is an enriching experience.
Couple of months back; I came across a travel show which showed a story of one such fascinating temples in India. The most unusual and striking feature of this temple was a pillar hanging miraculously against the gravity. This was a place called Lepakshi!
It was indeed interesting to watch something like this and even more exciting to know that this place was just 125 km from Bangalore, A place where I stay. So we decided to take a road trip to Lepakshi with our friends.
Only after reaching there did we realize that Lepakshi has more than one wonder to its credit. In fact place resonates with mysteries, each coupled with an interesting story /belief. Here is all you need to know about Lepakshi.
Where is Lepakshi?
Lepakshi is a small village in Ananthpur district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Situated at a distance of around 125 kms from Bangalore, Lepakshi is a perfect weekend getaway destination.
Popular Legends: How the place got its name – (Le-Pakshi)!
This story relates to epic Ramayana. According to legends Jatayu had a furious battle with Ravana while trying to rescue Sita from being abducted by Ravana. But, he couldn’t withstand Ravana’s power and fell off to ground. As Lord Rama commanded the bird to rise (Le-Pakshi in Telgu), the place got its name.
Veerabhadra Temple, Lepakshi
Lepakshi is primarily known for Veerabhadra Temple, which dates back to 16th Century and is a noted example of Vijaynagar architectural style. Build on a hill know as Kurmasaila as the Hill resembles a tortoise, this impressive temple houses shrines of Ganesha, Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra.
As you enter the temple, an impressive complex with brilliantly carved pillars greets you. Each pillar depicts stories from famous epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and puranas. It’s fascinating to observe them and absorb what they have to offer.Temple also has bright and colorful fresco paintings on its roof some of which are now withering away.
Lepkashi has many wonders which will amaze you and are worth exploring. Here is a list of what you should not miss while in Veerabhadra temple.
- Hanging Pillar – before we could even enter the temple, all we wanted was to witness the popular hanging Pillar. (Although once inside the temple there were many astounding structures to divert our attention.) After looking for the hanging pillar everywhere, we could finally spot it in the main temple complex standing tall & mysteriously among other pillars. Clearly there was a gap between the pillar and ground. It’s amazing that architects in those days were so precise and could create something that defies the gravity. We watched people putting cloth or newspaper underneath the pillar and sliding it from end to another. However one edge of the pillar slightly touches the floor.
- Shivling of Lepakshi temple – Another prominent structure in Lepakshi temple is the huge Shivling hooded under multiface snake (the naag). This unique idol of Shiva is supposedly carved out of one huge rock and was carved in such a speed ; apparently even before the cook had finished cooking for the workers.
- Incomplete Kalyan Mandapa – Right in the middle of temple courtyard one can see a magnificent area with beautifully carved pillars. The unfinished Kalyan Mandapa is where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were believed to have married.
- Sita’s footprints – The moment you step out of the main temple courtyard, you will witness a big foot carved on the ground which is perennially filled with water and is supposed to be Sita’s Foot. It is also said that its Goddess Durga‘s foot when she visited here.
- The eye on the wall – There are two red marks on one of the walls of the inner enclosure and it is believed that the treasurer of the Vijayanagar empire (Virupanna) was accused of using the funds without kings permission to build these monuments and build mantapam behind the temple. When king realized this, he ordered a punishment for Virupanna to be blinded.The red stains on the wall is believed to be the marks from his bleeding eyes and hence the village is called “Lepa-akshi” i.e., a village of the blinded eye.
- Fresco paintings – You can spot murals and paintings almost all across the roof of the temple. These paintings depict the stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Puranas like marriage of Shiva with Parvati, wars, architects of the temple praying before Shiva, and many more. However the murals in the temple are damaged and some of them are not in great condition.
- The Nandi idol – Once you enter Lepakshi, the first thing you will notice is a huge Nandi idol ( apart from a giant Eagle statue on the mountain cliff). The Nandi idol is carved out of a single granite rock .You wouldn’t stop appreciating the attention to details paid by the artists while carving the body parts like paws and neck of the Bull. The garden that the Nandi sits in is well maintained with green grass and flowering plants.
Apart from these 2 historical wonders you can also visit the Lepakshi park , which is basically a cliff top from where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the temple complex and the village.
Overall Lepakshi is a marvelous example of outstanding craftsmanship and architecture combined with interesting stories. our trip to Lepakshi was a unique experience where we could witness and learn about the stories and beliefs about this temple. Check out some more weekend getaways from Bangalore in the links below.
- Try to start early as it can get very sunny and most of the temple complex is open.
- Carry water bottles and some eatables.
- Lepakshi has only one restaurant that offers a decent traditional Andhra meal during lunch.
- Carry hats and umbrella if travelling with kids.
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