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The Lepakshi Temple - Poetry on Stones

At times when airlines inform you well in advance about your flight getting late, but you might have already started moving towards airport, what will you do in such a situation?
You have 2 options; interesting one is to continue to airport, enjoy food and drinks at airport lounges, have a jolly good time and relax. And boring option will be to start searching for any on the way attraction and wear out yourself. It happened to me when, I was already on way to Bangalore from Vijaynagar. To decide, I opted for the boring option to explore Lepakshi, a small village in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh which was 15 km from the highway.

After accounting remaining travel time, I had precisely 2.5 hours to spend at Lepakshi. Lepakshi as pronounced locally is the place where king of bird “Jatayu (जटायु)” left this mortal world, in arms of lord Ram. There after Lord Ram requested heaven to accept Jatayu by saying "Le-Pakshi" (take the bird) and that is how, we now know the place as Lepakshi.
This small village is house to one of the most amazing architectural wonder in India, perhaps in the world, the Veerbhadra Temple with hanging pillar. I knew that I was about to step into a wonderland, the moment I took the first step inside the sacred premises. 

Main entrance gate is rather small, but leads to an empire of grand architectural extravaganza. Paragon of excellence in architecture, the present temple was built in 1583 by brothers Viranna and Virupanna, who used to serve Vijaynagar Empire. Temple is dedicated to Lord Veerbhadra, the fearsome avatar of Lord Shiva, which was taken to kill Daksh Prajapati (दक्ष प्रजापति ).
Main temple is surrounded by long walkways and meditation halls with exquisitely carved endless pillars and long lamp in front of temple.

Main temple has other deities of lord Vishnu, Bhadrakali, Hanuman, Ramalinga, Naga Linga and Ganesha. After worshipping it was the time to let loose of ourselves in this beautifully carved temple.
Gods, musicians, dancers, figurines of various forms are carved on every structure; be it pillars, roof and outer walls of the temple. 

And -

Roofs are decorated with mural paintings.

In the main temple premises the major attraction is the hanging pillar. Yes, the pillar is attached from the top and is not touching the ground. If you are not aware about this hanging pillar, in all probability you will miss out noticing.

You will see people coming here with towels, sheets of cloth and passing it from the space between pillar and ground. Check out -


This pillar is a testimony to the engineering expertise of ancient India. During the British era, it is said a moronic British engineer tried to move this pillar in order to find the secret. But the whole structure started shaking and the scared engineer prayed and ran away for this life.
Temple priest was a wonderful person who narrated the history of this temple in one of the most fluently articulated English and an equally eloquent Hindi, when I told about my place.
Priest advised us to next go to Nagalinga. Nagalinga is the 3 coiled, 7 headed Sheshnag (शेषनाग ,the divine snake of Lord Vishnu) shielding Naga Linga (Shiv Linga/ manifestation of Lord Shiva).

This is the first time I came across such a structure, Sheshnag over Lord Shiva. Must be some significant chapter from our heritage, but here it is a treat to the eyes. This blogger forgot how many clicks were taken were, perhaps the most in the entire blogging career.
Just behind the Naga Linga is statue of Lord Ganesha, with snake tied to the belly. Only two statues exist of this type, other one at Sasivekalu Ganesh at Hampi. Click to read.

See the structure closely the supporting pillars are not symmetric/ are different. Perhaps left incomplete or some engineering principles not known to present science.
Rock, on the left of the Lord Ganesha depicts a warrior and an elephant praying to Lord Shiva. Who this warrior is? Do not know, but I will find out and update here.

After praying to Lord Ganesha, adjacent Kalyan Mantap/ Latha Mantap was the next spot, a fairy tale in the temple premises. At this moment recalled an old Hindi song- किस कवि की कल्पना किसने दिया आकार है, ये कौन चित्रकार है? The brothers must have been poets, to have created this masterpiece of poetry in stones. I was feeling like that any moment the statues will overcome the other casing and get live, such is the level of expertise in carving here. 

Locals told that most of the design here inspire design for local sarees and other clothing items. It was then I started checking the structures more closely. Every pillar/ structure is an institution in itself. 

Soon we realized that these pillars do not have a roof. 

Why? Actually roof would have been there, but due to lack of funding/ probably the king stopped funding the construction, abruptly. It was being built to hold wedding ceremony of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Had this structure got completed, what a GRAND STRUCTURE it would have been?
Alas, why this word exist.
After this the outer part of the temple was left for exploring. As soon as we came out of Kalyan Mantap, saw a huge foot step, believed to be of Goddess Seeta. While kidnapping to Lanka Goddess Seeta, demon Ravana rested here for a while. The water on this footmark never dries, you may dry off the water by using a cloth, but it will appear again.

Nearby of this holy footmark is the dancing Lord Hanuman. Too much was coming our way much more than I could have ever dreamt off.

Main Temple structure is surrounded by verandah, tall lamp, long walkway surrounded by pillars, perhaps was meant to accommodate the visitors in Lord Shiva wedding ceremony. Do not know, but definitely work as meditation chambers.

Walking around in the verandah/ walk ways is relaxing as well as divine, and isolating you from worries of routine life. I will be a stupid if I do not believe in the existence of heaven in our temples.

More than 2 hours have passed, when the driver called me up reminding of catching the flight. I checked with airlines hoping some more delay but for the first time got disappointed by the reply - no more delay. All of a sudden, I realized that the temple floor was quite hot, however I never realized it while going around the temple. Why? Because I have been in the company of Gods, heaven for last 2 hours?
So with heavy heart came out from this wonderland and started moving towards the vehicle, just few minutes for local market.
1.5 km ahead from Veerbhadra temple and on way to Bangalore is a huge monolith Nandi, site of Basavann temple, which we have skipped while going. The size is enough to speak about engineering acumen which must have gone to make this. This is another notable example of Vijaynagar style architecture. 

This is considered as biggest Nandi in the World. Finally I was on way to Bangalore and thinking about this memorable day. While thanking the Gods for this lovely break and feeling proud on our heritage. 
Keep exploring guys.
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