Lepaskhi: Poetry in Stone

Lepaskhi: Poetry in Stone
The imposing Shivalinga at the Veerabhadra Temple Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Famous for its age-old shrines, Lepakshi is steeped in mythological grandeur. Here’s everything you need to know about the heritage site

Karan Kaushik
September 03 , 2020
08 Min Read

We have entered Unlock 4 and the travel and tourism sector is slowly getting back on its feet. One of the major travel trends in this post-COVID world has been short, self-drive weekend trips to nearby destinations. If you are in Bangalore (or Bengaluru) or plan to be there anytime soon, you must consider visiting the quaint village of Lepakshi. Located in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantpur district, at a distance of around 120km from Bengalore, Lepakshi makes for a great day trip. Club this with Nandi Hills, and you have an interesting weekend break.

Famous for its age-old shrines, Lepakshi is steeped in mythological grandeur. According to the Valmiki Ramayana, it is believed that this was the place where Ram had met the dying Jatayu and had helped him achieve salvation by uttering the words 'Le Pakshi' or “Rise, oh bird” in Telegu. This is how the place got its name. The larger-than- life sculptures and exquisite friezes here are a rich repository of stories from Hindu mythology.

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Lepakshi has several shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Papanatheswar, Raghunath, Ram 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 finesse and skill of the artisans of the Vijayanagara dynasty are evident in sculptures throughout the town.

Things To Do

Veerabhadra Temple
The main attraction here is the Veerabhadra Temple, dedicated to Veerabhadra, a fearsome form of Shiva. Mythology suggests that Daksha insulted his daughter Sati and her husband Shiva at a grand sacrifice. Unable to bear the humiliation, Sati immolated herself. To avenge her death, Shiva took on the form of the wrathful Veerabhadra. The temple complex is located on a low-lying 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).

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The ceilings of the Natya and Ardha Mandapa are bedecked with imposing murals which depict scenes from the epics like the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas. The most impressive among all these murals is the one which depicts the wedding of Shiva and his consort, Parvati. The central portion of the roof has a mural of Veerabhadra, flanked by the temple’s builders, Virupanna and Viranna. Measuring 23ft×13ft, it is probably the largest mural in Asia.  A popular myth that surrounds the Kalyana mandapa talks about how Virupanna was accused of misusing the state treasury for building the mandapa. To avoid being punished, Virupanna plucked out his eyes and crushed them against the walls of the mandapa. Two red spots on the western walls of the wedding hall can be seen to this day.

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.  Do keep an eye out for the footprints of Sita while exploring the temple complex.

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Mysterious giant footprint | Veerbhadra Temple | Lepakshi | Andhra Pradesh Local guide said that, this is believed to be a Lord Hanuman's or Sita's footprint, but still today it's mystery. But the strange part here is, this footprint is located at top of the hillock and it is always wet. One can see water from underneath sipping & washing this foot. Although the source of the water is unknown. You can try to dry or wipe out the water, it will slowly seeps back into the place. . . 📷 By @sushantbahutule sir #veerbhadratemple #lepakshitemple #16thcentury #losttemples #indiantemples #historyofindia #templesofindia #giantsonearth #lepakshi #anantpura #lepakshidiaries #giantfootprint #indiancontents #thisismyindia #andhrapradeshtourism #andhrapradesh

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The temple stands as a great reminder of the cultural and architectural heritage of the Vijayanagara empire. The stone idols of musicians, saints and deities have been skilfully carved. Also of special note here is the famous snake sculpture on the Nagalinga. Legend has is that the snake was carved out of a single stone while the sculptors were waiting for lunch. You can also visit the temples of Papanatheswara, Raghunatha, Srirama, and Durga located on the nearby hillock known as Kurma Saila, or the tortoise-shaped hill.

Lepakshi is famous for its traditional crafts. You must shop for Banjara embroidery items, brass artefacts, Kalamkari paintings and Cherial scroll paintings, cotton and jute floor mats,  Kids would love the Kondapalli toys made from softwood.

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A post shared by Lepakshi Handicrafts (@lepakshihandicrafts) on Sep 1, 2020 at 6:25am PDT

The Information

When to go July to February 

Getting There

Air: Bengaluru (82km/ 2.5hrs) is the nearest airport

Rail: Hindupur (14km/ 30min) is the nearest railhead. Most express trains halt here. Autos are available for Lepakshi

Road:  The most preferred route is NH7 which connects Bengaluru to Hyderabad

Alternate Route: From Bengaluru, head north on NH44, past Chikballapur and the AP-Karnataka border. At the checkpost (Kodikonda) before Palasamudram, turn left at the junction for Lepakshi

Bus: From Hindupur, APSRTC buses leave for Lepakshi every 30 minutes. Private and KSRTC/ APSRTC buses ply between Bengaluru and Hindupur

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