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 presiding deity of the temple is Veerabhadra, a fearsome form of Shiva. According to Hindu mythology, Daksha insulted his daughter Sati and her husband Shiva at a grand sacrifice he had organised. Unable to bear the humiliation, Sati immolated herself.To avenge her form of the wrathful Veerabhadra.
Apart from Veerabhadra, there are shrines dedicated to Papanasesvara,Raghunatha,Parvati,Ramalinga and Hanumalinga. The temple complex is located on a low lying hill knowns as Kumarasailam, because it resembles a tortoise(kumara-tortoise,sailam-hill).The temple is enclosed by two walls and can be divided into three sections-the Natya Mandapa (dance pavilion) ; the Ardha Mandapa (foyer) and the sanctum and the Kalyana Mandapa (wedding hall).
The ceilings of the Natya and Ardha Mandapa have several murals illustrating scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas. One painting depicts Krishna as an infant suckling his toe, while the theme of another is the wedding of Parvati and Shiva (in his Sada Shiva form). Brahma is officiating the wedding, while Himavat, Vishnu and several sages give the couple their blessings.
The central portion of the roof has a mural of Lord Veerabhadra, Ranked by the builders of the temple Virupanna and Viranna. Measuring 23 ft 13 ft, it is probably the largest mural in Asia. There are also representations of at least 15 avatars of Shiva.
One of the major highlights of the temple is the Hanging Pillar,which seems like the 70 other pillars in the vicinity, but does not actually rest on the ground Local wide love to demonstrate its specialty by passing newspapers underneath it,leaving visitors awe struck. It is said that the pillar has been slightly dislodged from its original position,a defect attributed to a British engineer who tried to move it in an unsuccessful attempt to uncover the secret behind the architecture feat.Another attraction of the temple is a giant footprint engraved in the stone. Believed to be Sita's, its big toe is perpetually filled with water.
The unfinished open-air Kalyana Mandapa is believed to be the venue of Shiva and Parvati's wedding.Folklore has it that the brothers, Virupanna and Veeranna were building the temple by embezzling funds from the treasury without the king's permission. When the emperor caught them, he ordered them to be blinded, after which they had to abandon its construction midway.There are rust-coloured stains on a wall outside the Kalyana Mandapam,which are believed to be the marks left behind by the blood shed from their eyes!
To the south of the temple, there is a Nagalinga with a seven-hooded snake towering over it.Legend has it that the sculptors chiseled the snake to kill time while waiting for their mother to prepare lunch!There is also a sculpture of Ganesha and a snake, spider and elephant worshipping a linga.
A gigantic statue of Nandi, also known as Basavanna, is located about 200 mts away from the temple.The seated bull faces the Nagalingeshwara sculpture inside the temple. It is decorated with a necklace and garland of bells. At a height of 15 ft and length of 27 ft, it is the largest monolithic stone statue of Nandi in the country.The perfectly-proportioned body,finely carved ornaments and smooth contours make this colossal structure a popular photo of among tourists.
Where To Stay:
The only place to stay in Lepakshi is APTDC's Haritha Hotel (Tel : 08556-240324, Cell : 09885757537 ; Tariff Rs.500-893). The property, located close to the veerabhadra Temple,has spacious and comfortable AC and non-AC rooms. Their restaurant serves simple Andhra meals.
If the Haritha Hotel is booked out, you can stay at Hindupur,14km away from Lepakshi. Hotels here include palla Residency (Tel 224959, 228759 ; Tariff : Rs.1,000-2,451) on Railway Station road, Hotel JVS Paradise(Tel: 226777, 224888,Cell: 086882 24666; Tariff: Rs.1000-1680), near Balaji Circle).
The earliest reference to Lepakshi is in the Skanda Purana, which mentions 'Lepakshya-Papanasanah' amongst the 108 divya kshetras,important pilgrimage sites dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are quite a few stories regarding the etymology of Lepakshi. One legend invokes the Ramayana Jatayu, a vulture deity,sparred with Ravana to rescue Sita. He was wounded during the battle and fell to the ground. A distraught Rama,overcome by compassion, uttered the words 'Le Pakshi'-meaning 'rise bird' in Telugu. Another tale mentions that the name derives from 'lepa akshi (literally,'embalmed eye'), referring to a painting in the interiors of the Veerabhadra Temple.
Puranic legends attribute the temple to the mythical Sage Agastya.However, it was most likely built by Viruapanna,an officer in the service of king Achyuta Raya, and his brother Veeranna. The temple has about 20 inscriptions, of which the earliest dates back to 1583 CE.
The closest airport near Lepakshi is in Bengaluru.
Hindupur (14 Kms) is the nearest Train Station to Lepakhsi.
Lepakshi is well connected by Hindupur and Bengaluru.
Timings: 6.00 am - 6.00 pm
"One can pay a visit to the temple throughout the year". However, the best time is during the celebration of the festivals and lepakshi Utsavam.
Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy Temple-Is one of the finest architectural legacies of the Vijayanagara Empire because of the precision and finesse with which sculptures have been etched on them.
Chintala Venkat ramana Swamy Temple-Built with black granite stone, is known for its massive gopuram, which has a plethora of engravings at its base.
Kadiri Laxmi Narashimha Swamy Temple-Most of the inscriptions on the shrine's walls date back to the Vijayangara Era and are in Telugu in this temple.
Thimmamma Marrimanu-A canopy measuring over 25,000 sq m and about 1,200 prop roots, Thimmamma Marrimanu is a natural marvel that is touted as the largest banyan tree in the world.
Hemavathi-Historic village of Hemavathi is home to a remarkable group of temples built in the 8-10th centuries under the reign of the Nolamba Dynasty.
Gooty Fort-The fort at Gooty is one of the most impressive citadels in Andhra Pradesh.
Dharmavaram-The handloom silk and cotton sarees of Dharmavaram are famous not only in Andhra Pradesh, but across the country.
Penna Ahobilam-On the banks of the Pennar River stands tall a temple dedicated to Laxmi Narasimha Swamy.
Ratnagiri Fort-Close to karnataka border, stands the mighty Ratnagiri Fort, which stretches across two hill locks.