Every now and then, I have what I call ‘travel cravings.’ Sometimes I crave the seas; sometimes, the mountains; and sometimes, forests. I recently had this strong desire to see some art-on-stone (that’s not something that happens very often). And I couldn’t ignore it. Hubby was game for it so we buckled up the little ones in the back seat and drove to what might be a destination getting popular by the day — Lepakshi.
Lepakshi might be in the state of Andhra Pradesh (or Seemandhra) but it’s just about 120 kilometres away from Bengaluru and so it’s fast becoming a favourite among day trippers in the city (Move over, Mysore and Chikkaballapura (read Nandi Hills) 😉 ).
Lepakshi is a small town in AP’s Ananthapura District. For some time now it has been attracting people from India’s Silicon Valley and other parts. The attractions here are a few temples and whole lot of admirable sculpture in granite.
What left me tipsy at the end of the day were the ornate pillars of the Veerabhadra Temple in Lepakshi. Built in the Vijaynagar style of architecture this temple is quite a display of pillars, sculpture and paintings of another era.
|The entrance into the second enclosure of the temple. And the pillared Hall|
|The sculptured ceiling of the Dance Hall|
|The pillared hall and the murals on the ceiling.|
|Pillars of the Kalyana Mantapa (wedding hall).|
Talking of pillars there’s one that must get a special mention. This is the famous Hanging Pillar. Now if you haven’t read about it or don’t have somebody showing it to you, you would probably pass it off as just another of those sculptured pillars of the Veerabhadra temple. Having heard about it, I thought this one might be the pillar that everybody crowded about. Let me say, I was wrong. First of all, there weren’t a whole lot of visitors and devotees in the temple premises even though it was a Sunday.
After walking around the temple and taking in all its sights-of-stone it stuck me that I had missed the pillar. And I couldn’t leave with out seeing the celebrated column. Spotting a lady who seemed to know her way around the temple, I thought she was the one to approach. She was a local and seemed to know only Telugu. However, she gathered what I was trying to tell her in Kannada and through gestures and in the language she knew she directed me to it. As I was taking a good look at it, she came by, spread a towel on the floor and moved it toward the foot of the pillar. It easily slid through and went through a good part of what was supposed to the be bottom of the pillar. That was testimony to the fact that the pillar wasn’t for the most part attached to the floor of the pillared hall in which it stands.
|The Hanging Pillar|
|The bottom of the Hanging Pillar|
|A towel being slid below the pillar; that’s proof that this pillar is not attached to the floor.|
Lepakshi has a connection with the great Indian epic Ramayana, and even owes its name to it. It is believed that after abducting Sita from the forest, Ravana and Sita came this way on the way to Lanka.
Later Lord Rama, while looking for his wife, is said to have came this way too. They say it was here on these rocks that the exiled king encountered a wounded and dying Jatayu. Rama supposedly uttered the words ‘Le pakshi,’ (meaning ‘get up, bird’) to the badly injured Vulture who tried to fight Ravana. And that is the story behind ‘Lepakshi’
|Durga Padam or Sita’s Foot.
Sita is said to have set foot here on the way to Lanka. And this is the mark of that.
|This Ganesh (elephant headed god) is another attraction at this temple.|
|The Naga Linga.
They say that the naga (the snake) was carved while the sculptors waited for their mother to make lunch.
|The kitchen where the sculptors’ food was said to have been prepared.|
The Monolithic Nandi at Lepakshi
This Nandi is like the Welcome-to-Lepakshi sign. It’s the first thing you see when you enter this small town. With a height of 4.5 meters and a length of 8.23 metres, it is believed to be the biggest monolithic Nandi.