Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,You must travel it for yourself.It is not far, it is within reach,Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land - Walt Whitman.
It was a Friday evening on the end of summer, I called my wife from office and puzzled her by saying we have to prepare some eatables for our tomorrow's picnic. Both of us were damn bored in weekends as we usually spend watching some old movies from our collection. Hence, She was also desperate for some out of town trip. We haven't planned anything before. As soon as I returned home, we discussed about the places in and around Bangalore and outskirts for the picnic. Finally we landed in Lepakshi, the abandoned artistic treasure of Vijayanagar period. It is 130 kilometres away from our location in Bangalore and situated in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. We were unsure about the hotels or restaurants near the place. So, as per our tamil tradition, we prepared kattu soru, and curd rice which are taken by travelers from ancient times😜. Along with that we squeezed some lemons to fill the bottles with lemonade.
We set the wheels on road by 8.30 and reached the dusty village by 12. We traveled past Hebbal lake, traced NH 44 that passes through Yelahanka, Devanahalli, Chikballapur. Then we turned into the Lepakshi road, that doesn't seem to be way to such historical significant place, but an ordinary village road.
The first spot we reached is the massive granite Nandhi of about 20 feet height and 30 feet width surrounded by grassy area and a pond. This is said to be the largest Nandhi in India and is a monolithic statue i.e, made out of a single boulder. There were so many tourists in that day posing in front of the bull. We were roasted by the sun during the journey, but it turned cloudy then which was best for photography. And one such pic is this...
The Nandhi was finely chiseled and the jewelry like bells, chains etc carved in stone added to the grandeur and made it majestic. Even the finest notes like wrinkles in the face of the bull are visible. It is one of the great evidences of Vijayanagar architecture.
There is a parking space where you can lodge only a maximum of 5 to 10 Sedan vehicles, in front of the statue and a restaurant of Andhra Pradesh tourism board nearby this spot which is well maintained.
Next place is the main attraction of Lepakshi village, the Veerabhadra temple of sixteenth century ( 1585 AD ) said to be built by Veeranna and Virupanna who were under the reign of king Atchutha Raya. The temple rests on the hillock called Kurmasaila ( tortoise hill in Telugu ). This is one of the Divyakshetras or important pilgrimage site in Shaivism.
We have to move 200 metres upwards in the same road near Nandhi and turn left to reach the temple. The spot is filled with some shops that sell Pooja articles and toys, also many small vendors to sides of parking lot before we reach the steps to Northern entrance. One can see many monkeys around the temple premises that may threaten the visitors with eatables. But what threatens you more than that is the stories and folklores coming along with the air.
From the legends, it is said that Virupanna was accused of building the temple from the state treasure when Atchutha Raya was out of town, so the king ordered soldiers to dig out the eyes of Virupanna. But actually Virupanna spent his own treasure. To prove that, he threw the eyeballs in the wall which made the dark red lines that are even visible today. Some people say that the ghost of the noble chief still roam around the temple.
The history for name Lepakshi date back to Ramayana period that when Ravana kidnapped Sita he slayed the wings of Jadayu, which fell in this hill. Tracing the path lord Ram came to this place where he met the wounded bird and said le-pakshi !!! (rise oh bird) that turned out to Lepakshi.
As per Aahama Shastra, a Ganesha carving in the stone wall welcomes you in the East entrance. Then comes the artha Mandapam where we come across so many sculptures like avatars of Shiva, divine musicians, dancers, gods and goddesses.
In the ceiling u can see the gorgeous mural painting which are made with natural colours depicting stories from Mahabharata, Ramayana and other puranas.
Out of about 70 pillars, one pillar stands in air whose base doesn't rest on ground. It is left intentionally to prove the brilliance of the architects and the phenomenon is due to the eccentricity maintained in the construction. A British engineer tried to dislodge the pillar to unearth the mystery but he failed in the mission. This is the reason for slightest disposition of the pillar.
The main deities are Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra. The Garba Griha consists of nearly life size Veerabhadra statue of fierce nature embossed in stone wall.
Next is the kalyana Mandapam which is believed to be where Shiva married Parvati. This hall is incomplete without ceiling, that adds to the curiosity of the visitors. There's also a biggest footprint on rock which is said to be Sita's. A coiled multi hooded serpent which shades the Shiva linga (Naga linga) is a masterpiece.
Almost like every tourist spot in India this place too had lots of people who ask for money. But the sad note is that, if you ignore them they curse you badly and follow us like they ll snatch your purse. This will be more incase of foreigners. The governments should take necessary steps to ensure the safety of the visitors.
The splendid art and architecture of Vijayanagar period paused us and boosted our the Wanderlust to explore more of such historical significant places. We returned home wondering the contrast in the same spot, luxurious in medival age and abandoned nowadays. On the way, we marked the Devanahalli fort for our next trip that didn't happen till now.
Let's meet in the next spot where our wheels stop rolling.