Sri Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao
Hon'ble Minister for Tourism
GOVT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
The Kondapalli art of crafting is a 400 year old tradition. The artisans who make the toys are referred as Aryakhastriyas (also known as Nakarshalu), who have their mention in the Brahmanda Purana.
Kondapalli Toys are the toys made of wood in Kondapalli of Krishna district, a village nearby Vijayawada in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Bommala Colony translates to Toys Colony in Kondapalli is the place where the art of crafting takes place.
A diversion in the road after Ananthagiri Hills leads to the Borra Caves. The approach road to the caves is flanked by small eateries that offer delicious Bengali and Odia meals, serving as a reminder of how close you are to the state's border regions. And if that's not enough, the guides at Borra Caves can speak to you in five different languages.
The drive from Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley is so picturesque and rewarding you will want to stop constantly just to soak in the spectacular views that you start wondering if the low-lying, presumably underwhelming (when compared to the Western Ghats) Eastern Chats could offer you anything further. That is when the Araku Valley presents itself, with its pine trees, green meadows, awe-inspiring views of the hills beyond, salubrious climate and unique tribal culture.
The temple town of Lepakshi is seeped in mythological grandeur.The larger-than-life sculptures and exquisite friezes here are a rich repository of stories from Hindu mythology. It has shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Papanatheswara, Raghunatha, Rama and other deities.Whether it is the smaller carvings on the pillars of the Veerabhadra Temple or the monolithic Nandi, said to be the largest in the world.
The state government has planned to organize the annual Lepakshi Festival in february. The festival is intended to show case the rich cultural and historical heritage of the Lepakshi town and it’s religious glory. Festival is celebrated in the month of February. On this occasion a car festival is conducted, which is attended by huge number of people. The Lepakshi temple can be divided into three sections – the ‘Mukha Mandapa’, (or the ‘Nitya Mandapa’ or ‘Ranga Mandapa’), the ‘Artha Mandapa’ and ‘Garbha Griha’, and the ‘Kalyana Mandapa’ The sculptures and the mural paintings seen in the Natya and Kalyana Mandapams are exceptional for their artistic beauty and skill.
Most of these sculptures portray the mythological puranic episodes like ‘Ananthasayana’, ‘Dattatreya’, ‘Chaturmukha Bramha’, ‘Tumburu’, ‘Narada’ and ‘Rambha’. The Lepakshi temple has been built in honor of Lord Veerabhadra.
According to legend, the Kalyana Mandapa of the temple had witnessed the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati. The ‘Natya’ (Dancing) and ‘Ardha’ (worship) Mandapas are the best parts of the temple in terms of architecture. The ‘Natya’ Mandapa has been adorned with sculptured pillars depicting life-size musicians and dancers.
The interiors boast of impressive sculptures in half-relief on the granite pillars. The carvings represent dancers, drummers and divine musicians. Here, you can see Lord Brahma playing drums, celestial nymph Rambha dancing and Lord Shiva engaged in ‘Ananda Tandava’. In the intermediary hall, there is a frieze that depicts geese with lotus stalks in their beaks.
The flawless carvings adorn the entire temple perpetually, all of them done with the minutest of details. Most celebrated for its splendid paintings, Lepakshi Temple has a colossal painting of Virabhadra in the central hall.
In the ‘Hall of Dance’, one can trace eight panels, depicting Puranic legends on the ceiling. Most of the paintings and murals have been devastated by the ravages of times. Lepakshi is a notable store of expertise, which is on the brink of extinction.