Lepakshi village is a popular tourist destination for people looking for one day road trip from Bangalore or Hyderabad. I made an impromptu visit to Lepakshi village in 2016, while I was solo backpacking around India. Honestly, I wasn’t able to catch much on it, owning to less time. But, considering the culturally and archaeologically rich that the sites of Lepakshi is, I had to make a comeback. I was finally able to visit the Lepakshi sites just before the national Lockdown was announced and I was glad that I could do it
The most prominent sites in Lepakshi village which falls under the Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh are Veerabhadra temple and a giant Nandi bull said to be the one of the largest in the world but it is majorly the temple of Mahadev that attracts tourists to Lepakshi village than anything else.
Veerabhadra temple, also known as the Lepakshi temple has got a lot of mythological significance and it is also at this temple which houses the HANGING PILLAR
Origin of Veerbhadra Temple in Lepakshi Village of Andhra Pradesh
Veerabhadra Swami is said to be an extremely fierce form of Lord Shiva and represents the anger or grief stage of the Mount Kailash Mahadev. It is said that while Lord Shiva was mourning his wife’s death, it is in anger that he cut off his hair and threw it on earth. The grounds where his hairs fell, is exactly the same place where Veerabhadra temple stands today in Lepakshi. There is another mythological tale associated with Veerabhadra temple which comes from the text of Ramayana. It is said that while Jatayu, the vulture on which comes the name of Lepakshi, was fighting with demon king Ravana in order to save Sita from getting kidnapped, the wife of Lord Shiva for a moment stepped on to the ground and it is in the premises of Lepakshi temple that her foot mark can still be seen.
But whatever has been the origin of Veerabhadra temple, there is no denying that this temple in Lepakshi village is archaeologically rich with every pillar carved out so beautifully, indicating a story in itself
The History of Veerabhadra Temple of Lepakshi Village
Lepakshi Veerbhadra temple is a heritage delight and requires good amount of time if you would want to get into studying its architecture. The temple was built during the 16th century by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya, at Penukonda. No wonder that This temple of Mount Kailash Mahadev has got a Vijayanagara architectural style. In this blog, I am going to share step by step travel guide to explore Lepakshi Veerabhadra temple.
The Seven Hooded covered Shiva Lingam: While you will enter the premises of Lepakshi Veerabhadra temple, onto the left turn you will spot this huge Lingam of Lord Shiva covered with seven hoods which dates back to the 16th century. This lingam of Mount Kailash Mahadev is undoubtedly one of the most instagrammable location inside the Lepakshi temple.
So much that you would need good amount of patience to get yourself clicked here. The place is crowded most of the time but one thing that baffled me was when I spotted the crowd jumping and sitting on the lingam. I strongly feel that we need to realise the importance of our architecture and treat it with respect because these are the very structures which preserves our ancient talents. I missed spotting this Lord Shiva Lingam during my first visit to Lepakshi temple but I was glad to find it in this visit of mine
The Statue of Lord Ganesha at Lepakshi temple: A little walk ahead from Lord Shiva Lingam, you are going to spot a little giant statue of Mount Kailash Mahadev son who rest on his mythological vehicle. The statue is beautifully carved and again you would need a good amount of patience for a click here.
While you would walk from the Shiva Lingam towards the Ganesha statue, do look out for this carving, engraved on a stone which acts as a center between these two statues. Now, it is impossible for me to figure out its importance of carving it as a center but here you will spot a prince like figure paying his homage to the Lord Shiva Lingam.
Kalyana Mandapa: Walk ahead from the statues of Lord Shiva and Ganesha, you are going to spot an open mandala which resembles a marriage hall. If you ask me honestly, this mandapa left me impressed totally impressed with its beautifully carved pillars, which makes it one of the most beautiful spots to see inside the Lepakshi temple. The Kalyana Mandapa was built to perform the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva and Parvathi during annual festivals of Lepakshi temple, before they left foe their abode in Mount Kailash.
The carvings in this beautiful mandapa depicts several gods and saints from heaven who were believed to be a part of this wedding ceremony including Vishnu and Yamraj. This mandapa without the roof exhibits some of finest sculptures in the temple. There is a large open area beyond the Kalyana mandapa towards the rare side of the temple with a large corridor surrounding the rear wall. This area was used for cultural activities during Vijayanagar rule.
A Giant Footprint of Devi Sita from the Mythological Ramayana: At the starting this blog, I did mention about the significance of this giant footprint of Devi Sita from the mythological Ramayana. But, one of the astonishing things about this footprint is that it is always wet and never gets dried up. According to the locals, it is connected to a channel which supplies the water here naturally but there is also a tale associated with this water channel.
It is said that while Jatayu, the vulture fell on the grounds of Lepakshi wounded, Devi Sita prayed for his wellbeing and after she left with the Demon King Ravana, it started to rain and the water got collected in her footprint so that Jatayu can drink it easily. It is said that it is this water that gave the strength to Jatayu to remain alive, till the time Lord Rama and his brother Laxman came in search of Devi Sita. The water here is considered holy in nature
The Ancient Murals at Lepakshi Temple: A glance at the roof of Veerbhadra temple will reveal beautiful murals which stood with time, as it is. Though, slightly faded now but these are the naturally coloured murals which communicates the stories from the ancient text and showcases the unique talents of our country. These cannot be missed at all
The 70 Carved pillars inside the Main Sanctum: A little walk ahead from the footprints, you are going to enter the main sanctum of Lepakshi Veerbhadra temple, which will treat you with an amazing view of 70 beautifully carved pillars, each depicting tales of Ramayana and Mahabharat.
These carved pillars are laid in a circular motion, same as the Kalyana Mandapa, the only difference it that it is covered with a roof and got more pillars.
The World Famous Lepakshi Hanging Pillar: Last but not the least, a visit to Lepakshi Veerabhadra temple is incomplete without checking out the world-famous Hanging pillar. A major chunk of tourist visits Lepakshi temple for its Hanging Pillar which is believed to be a pillar that remains off the ground and hangs up in the air. Hanging pillar originally was built like this during the 16th century, in order to showcases the technical advancement of the era but it was during the pre-independence era, that a British officer tried making modification to Lepakshi pillar in order to understand its technology and in return left it tilted from one end. Though it’s a beautifully carved pillar
Pro Travel Tips for planning a trip to Lepakshi veerbhadra Temple
- Best time to visit Lepakshi Veerbhadra temple is between 1 PM-3 PM, when there is less crowd but mind you it is going to be really hot since it will be peak sun time
- There is no entrance fee for entering Veerabhadra temple, though a nominal charge for the car parking it taken. You can park your car upto 2 kms
- Carry your hat/scarf, sunscreen, googles and socks. The afternoon in Lepakshi village gets really hot
- Carry your own food and water in Lepakshi village. There is not much to eat or drink here
Comment below to let me know if you have visited this beautiful Veerbhadra temple in Lepakshi Village ? Would love to hear from you
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