Lepakshi is a hamlet in the district of Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh. Lepakshi is culturally and archeologically significant as its the location of shrines that’s dedicated to lord Veerabhadra, Vishnu, and Shiva. These shrines were built during the Vijayanagara empire era and hence, one can notice the elaborate mural paintings of the Vijayanagara kings and the kannada inscriptions.
This place also holds an important position in the Indian Mythology. The Valmiki version of Ramayana says that at this place Jatayu, the vulture, was killed by Ravana when he tried to save Sita, who was being abducted by the latter. Rama, found the dying Jatayu at this place and helped him to achieve salvation.It is said that during this, Rama uttered the words ‘Le Pakshi’ which means ‘Oh bird, rise’. Lepakshi is also famous for the puppet shows based on Hindu mythology.
Being situated at just 15 kms away from Hindupur town in Lepakshi Mandal of Ananthapur district, Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh has a beautiful synthesis of the old world charm. The mythological grandeur and stories of the Vijayanagara empire is evident from the larger than life sculptures and elaborate friezes. Large number of pilgrims flock this place during Shivaratri and other shaivite festival days.
Places to visit
The main attractions in Lepakshi is the Veerabhadra Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Veerabhadra, who is believed to be created from the wrath of Lord Shiva. According to Indian mythology, when King Daksh insulted his Son-in-Law Shiva, Sati was unable to bear the insult of her husband and immolated herself. And after her death, out of severe grief Shiva took the form of wrathful Veerabhadra.
This temple has three sections – The Mukha Mandapa, The Kalyana Mandapa and The Artha Mandapa and the Garbha Griha. The paintings on the ceilings of the temple showcase several scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana and also from other Indian mythologies. There is also a hanging pillar which looks very similar to the other 70 pillars but this is the only hanging pillar and you can actually pass a towel through the pillar even till today.
This temple was built during the Vijayanagara reign and the two brothers Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna were given the responsibility to construct the temple. It is said that virupanna was accused of misusing the state treasury during the construction and his eyes were plucked out and were crushed on the temple wall. The two red spots can still be seen till this day. Also look out for the giant footprint in the temple premises, some claim the footprint to be Sita’s and the others Hanuman’s, but till today it’s a mystery.
The temple also houses the huge sculpture of the snake over the Nagalingam. Locals say that the Nagalingam was carved out of a single block of stone while the sculptors were waiting for their mother to cook lunch for them. This is the largest monolithic Nagalingam in India.
Lepakshi is a fine spectacle of timeless art and the village is credited for its artistic finesse. This small village has lot to offer, especially if you are fond of ancient structures and architecture. The whole village was set up around the main attraction of the place which is the Veerabhadra Temple and hence it can be said that the Nandi bull is also a part of the Veerabhadra Temple. A few metres away from the Veerabhadra Temple, there is a huge Nandi bull, the mount of Lord Shiva, sculpted from a single granite stone. It is an outstanding piece of art and is also regarded as the finest specimen of Vijayanagara style of architecture. The Nandi is the second largest Monolithic structure in India after the Gomateshwara in Shravanabelagola. The Nandi is positioned in such a way that it faces Nagalingam in Veerabhadra Temple complex.
Jatayu park was built in 2015 and hence is a recent addition to the attractions in Lepakshi. It is believed that Jatayu fell in this particular place and was found by Rama, who then helped him to achieve salvation. Jatayu is a large vulture mentioned in the Hindu epic of Ramayana. This place has a small hillock which can be climbed by the visitors. The view from above the hillock is spectacular especially during sunrise and sunset as you can see the entire village from here. You can have a Birdseye view of the village along with the Veerabhadra Temple and the Nandi Bull sculpture. You can sit here for some time and enjoy the open space. With that you can also see some caricature and sketch artists present there who can sketch you on commission.
Lepakshi is also famous for Banjara embroidery and jute products. Kalamkari painting is also quite popular among the tourists. If you are looking for any souvenirs, you can look for Kondapalli toys carved out of soft wood.
Lepakshi is a great half day outing or a long drive road trip from Bangalore as it is just 120 kms away. If you plan to take a road trip to Lepakshi you can also pair it up with Nandi Hills which is on the way to Lepakshi from Bangalore. Lepakshi is a must visit place if you want to skip the city hustle and pollution for a day. Lepakshi’s weather can be really hot so the best time to visit Lepakshi would be from November to February. You might not find much options to eat here. There are only a few small eateries where you can find both Andhra and Karnataka cuisines.
How to reach
By Air: Lepakshi does not have an airport of its own. The nearest airport to the Lepakshi village is The Bangalore International Airport which is around 100 kms away. You can easily find hired cabs from Bangalore airport to Lepakshi.
By Bus: Lepakshi is just 15 kms away from Hindupur bus stop. You can find autos easily from Hindupur to Lepakshi or you can also find APRTC buses at every half an hour interval from Hindupur. Lepakshi is easily accessible by car and its a few kms away from the highway. By road Lepakshi is around 120 kms from Bangalore city.
By Train: The nearest railway station to Lepakshi is the Hindupur railway station which is around 12 kms away. Lepakshi is easily accessible by train as it has connectivity with almost all major cities via railway.