Lepakshi is one of those places that mesmerizes you with its history and architecture. Being a Heritage buff (okay not a buff)...Heritage lover, the tantalizing sight of carvings, sculptures and mural paintings are simply spellbinding. I went there during the last week of March and it was HOT!!! Though the travel was tiresome because of the heat, the trip is totally worth it.
Now, on to the post.
Lepakshi is a small village in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. It is a place of archeological and historical significance. This place is also know for it mural paintings of the Vijayanagar Kings. This place is just 120 km from Bangalore and is a great choice for 1-day trip. These sculptures and mural that I'm talking about are present in the Veerabhadra temple (in Lepakshi). If not for religious reasons, art/history/heritage lovers must definitely visit this place.
You can click on the image below to know the route or get directions. Here's the coordinates for this place : 13.81°N 77.60°E 🙂
The Virabhadra Temple at Lepakshi was built in the mid of 16th century by Viranna and Virupanna and is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The first thing that strikes you immediately is the unfinished state of the architecture here. This is because Virupanna, the treasurer of the Vijayanagar kings who was left in charge in the absence of the kings, used up all the money/wealth in the treasury for building this place. Hence this unfinished business!
Enough of my yapping, let the pictures speak for it self. You can choose to see the video and take the virtual tour or scroll down for more pics.
Let's get to the story behind this place; there are actually two versions of it.
The Vijayanagar kings returned during the final stages of construction and were infuriated when they found out that Vipunna had emptied the treasury to build this temple. As a punishment, the kings ordered that he should be blinded for his 'acts'. Vipunna being loyal to the kings, blinded himself by ramming himself against the rocks. Since the loyal and highly talented builder lost his eyes in this place, the village is called 'Lepa-akshi', meaning 'Village of the blinded eye'.
The second version mentioned in Wikipedia is of religious nature and is connected to Ramayanum. According to Valmiki's Ramayana, when Ram and Hanuman met the dying Jatayu, they helped him attain moksha by uttering the words "Le Pakshi," which means 'Rise, bird' in Telugu. Hence the name, Lepakshi.
According to the local legend, Lord Shiva and Parvati were married on the spot where the Kalyana Mandapa stands.
A brief look in to the garpagraha (inner sanctum) of the temple. Clicked a pic with whatever little light was there as I didn't want to use flash and offend anyone.
This is near the entrance of the temple. The pillars have sculptures of dancers and musicians. The pillars are aligned in a circle and looks amazing. Check out the above video for a 360 degree view.
The 'Praharam' outside the temples is the most interesting part of the temple. This temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva. Hence there is also a Shivaling here. It is carved out of a natural boulder and has a black-polished lingam cradled in the ribbed coils of the snake.
There is an image of Ganesha carved into the side of a boulder. Next to the Ganesha shrine, there are carvings that depict the legend of Sri (Spider), Kala (Serpent-king) and Hasti (elephant) worshipping the linga.
The murals at Lepakshi are the most important aspect of art forms of Vijayanagara and illustrate the high level of artistic achievement reached by them during their time. Some of the paintings that had survived the ravages of time and nature has been restored. Though we have saved whatever we could, a majority of the mural paintings have been lost.
The temple is being maintained really well and the decent landscaping adds beauty to this place.
The Nandi poses majestically outside the temple and is a sight to behold. We couldn't hang around it for more than 2 minutes as it was unbelievable hot and we were getting cooked out there.
I had loads of fun during this trip and it was a splendid way to spend the weekend. Hope you get to visit this place too. Do comment and let me know about this post.