LEPAKSHI – Of mythological and archeological folklores- this blog covers everything you need ot know before you travel to Lepakshi Temple in Andhra Pradesh.
Folklore has it that when Ravana was flying away with Sita to Sri Lanka, Ram’s devotee, a demi-God in vulture form Jatayu, tried to fight and stop Ravana from doing so.
In this fight, Jatayu, unfortunately, lost his life. He was breathing his last when Lord Ram and Lakshman arrived. Lord Ram granted him nirvana at this very place by uttering “Le Pakshi’ (in Telugu) which means ‘Rise Bird’, hence the name Lepakshi.
Lepakshi is in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.
Guides at Lepakshi Temple?
There are a lot of guides available. I’d strongly recommend you to hire one.
Attractions and stories in Lepakshi temple
Each attraction has a different story to tell and is beautifully created. The kind of architecture crafted in the 16th century with limited tools is astounding!
The temple has paintings of Shiva, Vishnu, etc in the ceiling. It has life-size statues of the perfect man – VastuPurush and perfect woman – Padmini on the center pillars.
There are a lot of murals across the temple depicting the stories of Qurans, Mahabharat, and Ramayana.
Can you see the murals on the ceiling? These are from the 16th century and still intact!
There are designs on the pillars which are used in saris even today. The designs are inspired by those pillars.
When you wander further, you will also see carved plates on the floor used for having meals for the sculptors.
Fancy a meal in these old beautiful stone structures?
Natya Mandap or the Dancing Hall consists of 70 carved pillars. Out of which 12 are in the center making the Natya Mandap which is in front of the temple.
The pillars have carvings of Dancing Goddess Rambha with the audience including Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Surya holding a musical instrument and other Gods holding various musical instruments including Natraja!
It has a beautiful ceiling with a lotus of 100 petals carved out of 12 stones knows as Shatpatra Kamal meaning Shat(100) patra(leaves) Kamal(lotus)! There are a lot of other mythological stories carved on these 70 pillars!
One of the pillars in Lepakshi Temple has a sculpture of dancing Guru Brigeshwara having 3 legs, eyes and teeth of a horse, dancing with Rambha!
Guru Brigeshwara having 3 legs, eyes and teeth of a horse, dancing with Rambha!
Sita Mata footprint at Lepakshi Temple
Goddess Sita’s right foot’s impression can be seen here. It is always filled with some water 365 days.
This temple is important for Shiva devotees because folklore has it that this temple was created out of Lord Shiva’s rage during the yagna of King Daksh when Goddess Sati killed herself.
Lepakshi temple has Vijaynagar style architecture because of it was built under Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya in 1540.
Hanging pillar of Lepakshi temple
The main attraction of this temple is a Hanging Pillar! It is 8 feet tall and is the main pillar or the ‘mul stambh’. It is connected to the ground with just one dot and has a gap of half an inch.
A Britisher named Hamilton wanted to figure out this architecture and inserted an iron rod to find out. Turns out, this experiment displaced some of the nearby pillars. With fear of them/temple collapsing, he put a stop on this experiment.
Apart from other Gods in the temple, there are 5 shivalingas too since it is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Three of these are inside the temple and two are in the verandah. Nagling (below) and the fifth one – Tandaveshwara is situated behind the Mantap.
Monolithic Nandi at Lepakshi Temple
This is India’s biggest Monolithic Nandi. It is just 200 meters away from the temple’s complex. The Nandi is beautifully and finely carved. It is positioned such that the nandi faces the naga of Veerbhadra temple.
Nagling (Snake Idol)
This is the 4th shivling in the temple premises. It is the largest Nagling in India.
The story goes as that one day a few sculptors entered the kitchen to have lunch. The mother said that the food preparation will take time and that they need to wait for some time. Not wanting to waste any time, the sculptors saw the stone opposite the kitchen and started fabricating this huge seven-headed sculpture.
Monolithic Ganesh idol
This monolithic 6 feet idol is right beside the Nagling. As our teaching goes, the devotees have to come prat to Lord Ganesh and then proceed towards Lord Veerbhadra’s temple. This idol is however, is situated behind Lord Veerbhadra’s temple.
An incomplete Kalyan Mantap
Lepaksi Temple has an interesting story about why this hall is incomplete.
Viruparna Nayak who was the treasurer of the kingdom was falsely accused of forgery in accounts while making this hall. It happened because the King wasn’t aware of this construction. He was constructing this hall for Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s wedding. The King, believing his ministers, ordered to remove the eyes of Viruparna as a punishment. Shocked by this untrust in his king, Viruparna himself removed his eyes from the sockets. There are bloodstains on the adjacent wall and is said that those stains were caused while removing the eyes.
Following this tragic incident, the Kalyan Mantap wasn’t resumed.
There are sculptors of 10 Rishis (saints) at the entrance of the hall. The ones with crowns are Raj Rishis and the ones without crowns are Bhrama Rishis. There is also sculptors of Goddess Parvati’s kanyadan while she holds Lord Shiva’s hand.
Space for devotees
These areas are filled with devotees during Shiv festivals.
The exact spot where Jatayu fell
Folklore has it that this is the spot where Jatayu fell. Of course, there are going to be a lot of theories about this place. My friend had I had a lot of questions which the auto guy couldn’t answer.
The locals are constructing another temple here. It is 2-3km away from Lepakshi temple. We took an auto (INR 50) to reach this place.
How to reach Lepakshi Temple from Bangalore?
By Flight: The nearest airport to Lepakshi is located at a distance of 43 km, which is the Sri Sathya Sai Airport. You can take a cab from the airport to Lepakshi
By Train: There are no direct trains from Bangalore to Lepakshi. However, you can take a train from Bangalore to Malugur, which takes three hours. You can take a taxi or bus from Malugur.
By Road: You can go for a long drive in your four-wheeler or hire a cab from MMT / Ola (like we did). A return journey cost us INR 4000
Public transport by road – You can catch a bus from Bangalore to Hindupur, You can find buses to Hindupur (100 kms, 3 hrs) from Majestic 3rd Terminal. Lepakshi is 14 to 15kms approx from Hindupur. You can find private buses from Hindupur Parigi bus stand for every 10mins.
Accommodation and language at Lepakshi
In case you want to stay here. You can check-in in Haritha Hotel (Opp Nandi Statue)
Telugu and Kannada are widely spoken but you can do with broken Hindi around. Very few people would understand English as well.
Costs for exploring Lepakshi Temple:
My best friend and I went on this trip on the 1st of May, 2019. We left at 4 am and returned home by noon.
I hope you have had a fun journey in history with this blog. Let me know if you’d like to know anything else.
Other blogs you might enjoy reading:
- Pondicherry- things to do in 3 days. Read here.
- A weekend in Kodaikanal. Read here.
I hope this blog-post “a day in Lepakshi Temple” helps you plan your travel easily, making it possible to share it with your travel companions!