7 wonders of Lepakshi Temple – the land of legends

After tiring and prolonged work schedule for many weeks, we decided to head towards a place where we could score a completely new experience. And also which could revive our energy to carry out the everlasting demand of  IT Job. At least till we get chance for next enthralling journey. We were looking for a place which is comparatively less explored. And, where we could get a historical essence with divine feelings. That is when we visited Lepakshi Temple. 

After giving it some thought, we reached to a conclusion that this would be a short one day trip somewhere near to Bangalore. Then after further exploration we settled down for a place named “Lepakshi”. As,  it could have been easily covered in one day trip. Also it had all that we were carving for. So began our trip an early morning on a foggy day.

Lepakshi 2
Foggy highway on way to Lepakshi

Lepakshi background

Lepakshi is a small village located in the Anantapur District, in Andhra Pradesh, India

The famous Veerabhadra temple that 
dates back to 1583, and is dedicated to Veerabhadra, is located here. It was built by the brothers Viranna and Virupanna. And, this temple is one of the most notable examples of the Vijayanagar architectural style. Also, it is famous for its sculptures. These were created by the artisans of Vijayanagara empire. Also, it has idols of Ganesha, Nandi, Veerabhadra, Shiva, Bhadrakali, Vishnu and LakshmiA huge Nandi bull made out of a single granite stone is one of the major attractions near the main Lepakshi temple. And, the place is renowned for being one of the best repository of mural paintings of the Vijayanagar Kings. Many old Kannada inscriptions dating back centuries can be seen on its walls.

Legend 1 from Lepakshi Temple : Legend has it that the Naga of the Nagalinga was carved out of a single stone by sculptors while they waited for their mother to prepare lunch.

Legend 2 from Lepakshi Temple : 
Another legend gives the town a significant place in the epic Ramayana. It says , this was where the bird Jatayu fell, wounded after a futile battle against Ravana who had abducted Sita and going to Sri Lanka with her. When Sri Rama reached the spot, he saw the bird and said compassionately, “Le Pakshi” — ‘rise,o bird!!’ in Telugu. 

And that is where the place is believed to have got it’s name from.

Where is Lepakshi Temple ?

Lepakshi is around 135 KM from Bangalore. In fact, it is very near to Karnataka and Andhra boarder. The most preferred and also the best route to take is NH7, Bangalore-Hyderabad highway. This is the same road which connects the Bangalore International Airport to Hebbal Flyover. It was fun to drive on NH7, although it was tough driving till International Airport due to ongoing construction and heavy traffic flow towards the Airport. (The construction is now over , though). But once we crossed the BIA, there was very less traffic and 4 lanes road with divider. Thereafter it was fun to drive. And finally, the road leading to Lepakshi temple is also in good condition. It is a narrow road but compensated by very less amount of traffic.

Lepakshi
The NH7 highway to Lepakshi

Directions to Lepakshi Temple

After crossing the Karnataka-Andhra boarder keep looking for APTDC restaurant and sign board directing towards Lepakshi. You can find these around at a distance of 3-4 Km from the boarder point. At this point you will need to take a left turn on a road which goes to Lepakshi. From this point temple will be of around 18 KM. In the way you will see two big statues of stork (one kind of bird). Keep going straight.

Our experience

We started at 6:45 AM from our house in our own car and reached at Lepaskhi around 9:30 AM with one break in between for fuel filling and breakfast. It was really fun to drive on NH7. We spent around 15-20 mins near Nandi statue and around 2 hours in exploring Main temple. Around 12 PM we started from Lepakshi and by 2:30 reached back to Bangalore.

The Basavanna Temple

1 KM before the main temple there is big Nandi statue, another major attraction of Lepakshi. As said, it is the biggest Nandi statue in India. A very nice park is built up around this statue and is very well maintained. You can spend sometime here and can take some good snaps.

Wonder 1 : Nandi at Basvanna Temple

At 27ft in length and 15ft in height, it is a colossal structure, reputedly India’s biggest monolithic Nandi. Its grand size and the perfectly proportioned body make it a popular photo-op with visitors. Can you imagine such a huge structure cut out of one single stone!! The whole area has been developed in the form of a park, around this Nandi. You can visit, roam around or just sit in the park.

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The huge Nandi

There is a beautiful small pond as well at one side.

Lepakshi 4
Pond inside Basvanna park

The Veerbhadra Temple, Lepakshi

As soon as you step into the temple premise, it will start tracing an impact of its enriched cultural and ancient engineering marvel. It is a true splendid creation which compelled me to think about the master skill posed by the engineers, architects and whoever else were involved in creating this masterpiece.The whole Lepakshi temple is made of stones depicting our never vanishing traditional and cultural integrity. Various deity of God and Goddess have been carved out on the walls and pillars of the temple. You can see various sculptures all around in the temple, all made of stone and some are crafted on walls and pillars. Another attraction is roof painting speared all over on the roof of temple depicting glorious ancient Indian culture and traditions. 

Lepakshi 5
Entrance to the Veerbhadra temple, Lepakshi

As soon as you enter the temple, you get a feel of it’s vastness. You will immediately step into a courtyard that runs all across the main temple. The courtyard is neatly lined with Verandah on all sides, with endless pillars, intricately carved.

Lepakshi 6
Glimpses of the temple courtyard

 

Upon crossing the courtyard, you can proceed to the main temple. A flight of stairs lead to the main temple. I bet you will be mesmerized with the carvings on the pillars and walls of this temple.

Lepakshi 7
Towards the main shrine of the temple

Wonder 2 : The Hanging pillar of Lepakshi Temple

As you walk through the temple, you arrive at a pillar which does not rest on the ground fully.There are about 70 pillars at this fabulous 16th-century temple of stone in Vijayanagar style, but this one is the best known and a tribute to the engineering genius of ancient and medieval India’s temple builders. However, it is a bit dislodged from its original position. A paper or a thin piece of cloth can be passed from below the pillar and it comes out absolutely unhindered at the other end.
Legend 3 of Lepakshi Temple : It is said that during the British era, a British engineer tried to move it in an unsuccessful attempt to uncover the secret of its support. However, upon moving the pillar, the whole structure of the temple started shaking (due to the kind of balance with which the pillars are placed, you move one – you move all). The engineer was so petrified, he ran off for his life. 
Lepakshi 11
The hanging pillar of Lepakshi

 

Wonder 3 : The Shivling of Lepakshi Temple

From near this pillar, you can step out in the courtyard of the temple. Now, you are in the backside of the main temple. From here, walk towards the right, and take a turn at the end towards right once more. You will soon witness a huge Shivling. But the Shivling is also hooded under a multiface snake (the naag). This is a unique Shivling. We haven’t witnessed any such Shivling in the rest of the country so far.

Lepakshi 10
Shivling guarded by hooded snake

 

Wonder 4 : The incomplete Kalyan Mandapa of Lepakshi Temple

After crossing the Shivling you will arrive at a structure that looks incomplete. It is a Kalyan Mandapa (a marriage hall).

Legend 4 of Lepakshi Temple : It is said the if this Kalyan Mantapa had been completed, Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati’s marriage would have happened here. It’s construction was started by the then King’s accountant while the king himself was on a trip. When the King came back, he was utterly furious with the accountant for having spent the kingdom’s money on this construction without the King’s knowledge or approval (I feel it was more of an ego clash that the king had). He immediately ordered the Kalyan Mandapa construction to be stopped. And so it remains incomplete, till date.

The incomplete Kalyan Mandapa of Lepakshi
The incomplete Kalyan Mandapa of Lepakshi

Wonder 5 : The eye on the wall in Lepakshi Temple

Right across the incomplete Kalyan Mandapa, one can witness a red mark in one of the walls . And this strongly resembles an eye. You must be wondering how come an eyemark on the wall!! So, there’s a legend behind this too and this is how it goes:

Legend 5 of Lepakshi Temple : It is believed that the King was so furious with the accountant on having constructed the Kalyan Mandapa that he inflicted a punishment on the accountant. The punishment was that his eye be popped out . And, that explains the eye mark on one of the walls. I am not sure how true it is. But it does look barbaric. I guess this is the only temple that I have visited so far, with blood marks present on it’s walls.

Wonder 6 : Sita’s footprints inside the Lepakshi Temple campus

Moving further , after crossing the Kalyan Mandapa, you will arrive at a huge footprint in the temple floor. Almost as if someone stamped with strength on the floor. This footprint is believed to be of Goddess Sita. Interestingly, this footprint is always wet. You can see water from underneath constantly sipping and washing this foot. Although, the source of this water is unknown. Yet, it is believed that since it is the footstep of the divine Goddess, the water appears magically as a sign of respect to her. And you can try to dry or wipe out the water, it slowly seeps back into place. Interesting..huh!!

Legend 6 of Lepakshi Temple : It is said that when Ravana was abducting Goddess Sita, and taking her to Sri Lanka, they stopped at this temple to rest for a while. That is believed to be the source of the footprint that is seen in the floor of the temple premises.

Lepakshi 9

And last but not the least:

Wonder 7 : the Priest of Lepakshi Temple

Well, this did need a special mention. Although nothing to do with historical significance or architectural wonder, I couldn’t help feeling that the priest of Lepakshi temple is a wonder in himself. As you step inside the temple, he will greet you with a charming smile. And the first thing he will ask you is which language you know. Whichever language be your preference – hindi, english, tamil, telugu, kannada, Malayalam – he will interact with you in that language. He will explain to you enthusiastically about the wonders of this temple and their legend. And then he will leave you at your own to explore the place. No pressure of worshipping, no unnecessary bothering. And even if you are not there to offer your prayers, no problem. You will still be welcome. You can just visit the premises like a tourist at a historical site.

Rest of the Lepakshi temple

Apart from the special wonders and legends of the temple, there are many other interesting spots:

  • The longVerandahs with infinite pillars,
  • The chambers for meditation accessible through the Verandahs
  • A small temple of Ganesha
  • A leafless tree that is believed to be standing since ages

And there are countless more. In conclusion, it is a must visit in our opinion.

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Lepakshi 11
Statue of Hanuman

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What we loved about Lepakshi Temple

Overall it was a wonderful trip that we had. We went to Lepakshi temple without knowing much about the legends and the wonders of the place. So, I guess we loved the place even more than usual. Also, we loved the fact that it was not at all crowded here. And, it is indeed an offbeat destination very near to Bangalore that many don’t seem to know about. Overall, there were hardly one or two other souls visible here and there. Thus, giving us an experience of utter tranquility.

Tips for visiting Lepakshi Temple

Travel Options

  • Best is by your own vehicle. You can take cab from tour operator. Other option is to take Buses plying from Bangalore to Hyderabad. You will need to get down near boarder check-post. From there you can take auto/tempo running towards Lepakshi.
  • However, be prepared to drive through fog and mist if you are starting early in the morning.\

Food outlets on the way

  • Kamat (after crossing Chikballapur town), APTDC (Near Andhra-Karnataka boarder, where you will take left turn for Lepakshi Temple ), Cafe Coffee Day while returning back, on the other side of the highway.

Other tips

  • Try to reach as early in the morning as possible. Since the temple premise is all stones. And, you will not be allowed to enter with your shoes on. So as the day advances, the stones tend to become very hot, making it really difficult to walk across.
  • Bring your water bottle with you. There are not many provisions near the temple.
  • Wear comfortable cotton cloths, it is mostly hot all through the year in this area.
  • Do visit the bull temple as well as the main temple.
  • We had a little hiccup almost 5km before reaching the temple. The village people had come out on the roads and were protesting against some water shortage issue. They had blocked the roads and were not allowing anyone to cross. Ultimately, we had to leave the highway and loop through the fields. So, it gave the trip a little adventurous edge too 😀 We will suggest : check the local news, ensure everything is peaceful. Although incidences like these are one in a million.
  • There is no entrance fee to temple.
  • It is good to offer some minimal money to the temple, that will go towards it’s sustenance. It’s up to your free will.



***************************Wish you a nice and memorable trip*****************************

lepakshipin-min

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90 Responses

  1. Sunny

    Have been to Lepakshi quita a few times. Not been there since 2014. It is indeed a beautiful place and must be explored by everyone.
    The Legend of the footprint although has conflicting stories. I have heard the below legends – (each time I went there I asked about the footprint as a first time visitor)
    1) Footprint of Ram himself who stopped by when he found Jatayu
    2) Footprint of Hanuman – This seems to be a popular one. He apparently bounced off this place with a thud (like a jump) while on his way to Lanka (looks more probable of all the legends)
    3) Footprint of Ravanna – He tried to crush Jatayu with one leg on the flying chariot.

    Footprint of Sita is a new one to hear, but interesting too.

    But I have always that one observation. If it indeed is a footprint from so many years ago.. this is a pretty big footprint, surely not human??

    • Neha

      Hi Sunny, the other legends sound equally interesting. Glad that you shared with us, will include in the blog. The footprint is indeed large compared to our sizes. But it is believed that the human beings used to be very huge at that point of time and they have been shrinking ever since. If you see the dresses of the Kings and Queens from the 14th and 15th centuries preserved in some of the palaces of Rajasthan, they are 6 feet gowns, and it’s believed they were 8 feet plus in height. If we go by this then the human of the era of Ramayana must have been so huge.

  2. Katchutravels (@Katchutravels)

    This is so beautiful Neha. I love the way you tell each story with the image. I did not know such a place existed so close to Bangalore. The Ramayana connect is interesting, and it looks like there are places in India that have a Ramayana Trail, which is otherwise not known. This has piqued my interest to go and explore this town.

    • Neha

      Thank you. Ramayana tales are imprinted all over India. Lepakshi and it’s temple in particular are a must visit. So are the temples of Kolar that we visited recently. Will soon write about that too

  3. thatguywithstories

    So many legends in one single post! I did not know the origin of the word, Lepakshi until you told all of us here about it. I feel South India has a lot of well-conserved structures in comparison to North India. I hope to visit these destinations one day.

    • Neha

      India is full of such structures all over. Be it the ruins and ancient temples of the empires of south India, the forts and palaces of Rajasthan, Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh and again the holy places in Uttarakhand. Lepakshi is one addition to that list which is a unique and beautiful heritage

  4. chikonahoka

    How cool that you’ve got a really well preserved site so close to the city!

  5. Liana

    It’s strange it’s rarely visited, even tho, you’re showing it the right way. I love the idea of visiting temple, because I didn’t have the chance to do so. I’ve never been to Asia yet, and for me, you’re just making it justice!

    • Neha

      There are some places that remain just so unexplored in spite of being so wonderful. Isn’t it? I guess after raising awareness at least those coming to Bangalore will be eager to visit.

  6. The Travel Ninjas

    It’s strange that this temple complex is rarely visited. It is so gorgeous and interesting and filled with wonders. Sita’s footprint is quite a mystery.

    • Neha

      You are right. I guess it’s not one of those places glamorized by the media and tourism department and all. So, we need to spread a word about it

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