.It was long pending to Visit Lepakshi temple - Veerabhadra swamy temple : at least from one year. We finally had an opportunity to visit the place and if I have to describe the place Lepakshi, I would say a place of great importance in architecture and also to the great epic Ramayana. Located at just around 120 KMS from Bangalore, we decided to make it a one-day trip to Lepakshi.
We started from Bangalore around 8 AM after an early breakfast and reached Lepakshi in around 2 hours. By 11 AM or around 11:15 AM, we entered the temple. As we entered the temple, I went looking for a guide. After my visit to Halebidu, I have realized one thing very clearly: for historical places a guide is a must and I was proven right again this time. Within seconds of our hunt, we got a guide named Virupanna(co-incidentally Virupanna is also the name of the person who built the temple). We asked him the fees and he replied with a sweet smile 'We do not demand anything as fees. Any amount you give is fine'. We happily agreed and he started his explanation of the temple. Although the explanation of the temple is very much difficult to pen down, I try to put the most important things which seemed as wonders to me and my friends.
Wonder 1: Sita's Foot mark
Since the crowd moving in the direction was clockwise, he chose us to take anti-clockwise. Due to this, the first wonder we saw was the foot marks of Sita Devi and the continuous flow of water coming from the foot mark. There is a story related to this and I have pen down in the 2 stories section.
Wonder 2: Half constructed Kalyana Mantapa
As he progressed, he took us to the Kalyana Mantapa where the architects depicted the arrangements of the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. The Kalyana mantapa has many pillars and on each pillar one of the god has been depicted indicated their presence at the marriage. We noticed the Kalyana Mantapa did not have any roof only after Virupanna told us. The reason why the Kalayana Mantapa is left without roof comes in the story 2 which is explained below.
Wonder 3: Shivalinga guarded by Hooded Snake
As we came at the backside of the temple, we saw a huge hooded snake guarding the Shivalinga. The story behind this is what made me call this as a wonder. The architect came hungry to his mother who was cooking. The kitchen is exactly opposite to this wonder created. He approached the kitchen and asked his mother to serve him food. As the food was not ready, his mother answered him that the food isn't ready and would need around 1 hour. The architect came out disappointed but to divert his mind from hunger and also thinking not to waste 1 hour of time, he created the hooded snake in that one hour. The snake covers the Shiva linga in the center. As the mother finished her preparation, she came out to call her son for lunch and was taken aback in shock looking at the creation of her son in such a short span of time. Due to this, the Hooded snake has a crack in the right side. It is said that it is caused due to the matru drusthi.
Wonder 4: The hanging pillar
As we came back to close to the entrance of the temple, we saw what is famously known as Hanging pillar. There are 873 pillars in the entire veerabhadra swamy temple. However, what makes this pillar stand apart is that the pillar is hanging. Meaning the pillar has no base. The pillar is not grounded completely. The gap between the ground and the pillar is clearly visible and we demonstrated moving a hand-kerchief beneath the pillar like every other visitor. You can watch the video below.
We were yet to come out of the amazement of the hanging pillar and Virupanna told us a mesmerizing story. He said the entire temple is based on this hanging pillar. the temple was in 1530. However, in the year 1902, the British came here, unable to control the curiosity wanted to test the pillar. They tried to move the pillar a bit and as the pillar moved slightly, they noticed the other pillars which were straight tilted as shown in the below pic. With an apprehension that moving this pillar might cause a breakdown of the entire temple, they immediately stopped their experiment.
Wonder 5: Nandi
If you are going to Lepakshi from Bangalore by road, you would see a huge Nandi 1 KM before the Lepakshi temple. The Nandi here is the biggest monolithic Nandi in India. Built with a dimension of 27 feet Length and 15 feet height, Nandi is undoubtedly a wonder. You also notice the Nandi is slightly tilted in the direction of temple Veerabhadra temple i.e. Lepakshi temple. Just few years back, if you would stand near the right ear of the Nandi and look in the direction of the face of Nandi, you would see the Shivalinga horded with a serpent which is nothing but our wonder 3.
Wonder 6: Building of temple
Another wonder is that the entire temple is built on a single stone. The stone was in the shape of tortoise. There is no basement for the entire temple. Hence you can see that the walls here are inter-locked so as to provide support to themselves.
Now let us move to the 2 stories related to Lepakshi
Two Stories that define Lepakshi: Story 1:
The bird Jatayu was fighting with the Ravana when Ravana tried to abduct Sita devi. Ravana killed one of the wings of the bird Jatayu due to which the bird fell down. Seeing the struggle of the bird, Sita devi put her foot on the rock and the water started flowing helping the bird Jatayu to drink water. in the meantime, Lord Ram came to the place and after hearing the story said 'Le Pakshi' which translates to get up bird and so came the name.
There is another legend behind the name Lepakshi. Nirupanna, the treasurer of the Penukonda region built the The Veerabhadra temple. Several ministers complained to the King accusing that Nirupanna is wasting the money on building the temple. Agitated with this news, King ordered to make the Nirupanna blind. As Nirupanna heard the news, he decided to punish himself rather than being humiliated in the Kingdom. He pulled out his eyes from his own hands and thrown on one of the wall. In the early 20th century
The blood marks can be seen on the wall. In the early 20th century, British conducted a test and certified it was the actual blood of a human being thus verifying the story. Since then, the place came to known as Lepa - Akshi meaning a place of blinded eye.
The construction of the temple was almost done and only the roof of the Kalyana Mantapa was pending. As Nirupanna became blind, the construction was stopped completely and this is why the Kalyana Mantapa doesn't have a roof till today.
Other Small Attractions:
Apart from these, there are many noticeable work in the entire architecture of the temple. We managed to capture few.
Located at around 120 KMS from Bangalore, Lepakshi is a one-day trip from the city Bengaluru.
The nearest airport is Bengaluru International Airport. It is around 100 KMS from the airport. One has to hire a taxi to reach this place from Bangalore.
The nearest station to Lepakshi is Hindapur which is around 14 KMS from Lepakshi. From Hindapur, There are frequent buses to Bangalore and one can board these buses and get down at Lepakshi
There are plenty of buses reaching this place from Bangalore. Board any Hindapur bus and you would be in front of the temple in just a couple of hours.
As always, going by own vehicle is always the available option. One has to travel around 100 KMS on Bangalore Hyderabad National highway and take a left just after Bagepalli.