Temples Of India: Lepakshi Temple, Andhra Pradesh
Every temple narrates a story; sometimes through the motifs on its walls, and sometimes through its ruins.
Our series on the Temples of India aims to bring forth their stories, in the hope that you witness their magnificence in person some day….
Article Credit: Sarah Merchant
‘A treasure created by a treasurer’, Lepakshi temple has enchanted people since the 16th century. It is situated on a tortoise-shaped hill, Kurmasaila, and was built by Aliya Rama Raya’s treasurer Virupanna. He surely did put the king’s treasury to good use!
Why It Deserves A Visit
An inspiration to designers and artists, Lepakshi temple is a powerhouse of beauty! The stories narrated by the stunning murals, intricate artwork and sculptures are nothing less than inspiring. Great care has been taken by the Archaeological Survey of India to preserve and restore the work of the ancient artisans who built this architectural marvel.
The temple stands on 80 painstakingly carved pillars, well almost 80. Because the last one, fondly called the Hanging Pillar (elevated from the ground) actually holds the weight of the rest of the 79 pillars. Tour guides can be often seen inserting sticks and newspapers from underneath the pillar only to have it appear from the other side! A dynamic attribute that certainly needs to be explored.
How It Originated
The creation of this temple is backed by many legends; the most popular one belongs to the famed Ramayan! It is believed that, this is the very place where Lord Rama encountered the injured bird ‘Jatayu’ who tried to save Sita from the clutches of Ravana. Upon seeing his wounded state Lord Rama commanded the bird to rise with the words “le pakshi”. Hence, the name.
Another popular tale states that the place is named after Virupanna who punished himself by gorging his eyes out. He faced charges of overspending (for building the shrines) by the King. The name was believed to have evolved from his blind state (lopa akshi).
Its Intriguing Design
Like any South Indian Temple, Lepakshi is grand! The complex has been typically constructed in the Vijaynagara fashion. Built in the 16th century, the earliest architecture of the temple featured a carved sculpture of Lord Ganesha, which is now placed in the inner sanctum of the temple. Other than the spectacular murals, the star attraction of this temple is the Vivaha Mandiram (marriage hall) of the divine couple, Shiva and Parvati where you can witness several scenes from their marriage. The outer pillars of the hall are equipped with beautiful sculptures that depict their lives. Another must visit is the Natya Mandiram adorned with the sculptures of Shiva, Rambha, Parvati and other ‘apsaras’. Here, Lord Shiva is immortalised amidst his performance of the ‘ananda tandava’. You can also spot Brahma playing the drums and Tumburu playing the veena (Indian classical music instrument).
The temple complex is dotted with shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Veerabhadra (the wrathful form of Lord Shiva); with the latter being the presiding deity here. Amongst the much talked paintings and murals, the images of the seven forms of Parvati (Sapta Kannikas), the panel depicting the Purnanic legends and the mural of Veerabhandra are the most enchanting. The Naga Lingam captured by the seven-headed cobra is truly a piece of art.
- The temple is located at Lepakshi in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh
How To Get There
- By Road: Catch a taxi to Lepakshi from Bangalore. You can also take an auto from Hindupur
- By Air: Banglore Airport is closest to Lepakshi
- By Rail: Disembark at the Hindupur Station
Best Time To Visit
- From February to March
Festival To Watch Out For
- The chariot festival that is held in Lepakshi for 10 days in the month of February