Day Ride – Lepakshi

After much “being on the radar”, the Lepakshi ride was finally agreed on. Anand had already been there some months back and knew the way. There really isn’t much knowing the way required, though. You head straight North on the Airport Road from Bangalore, avoid getting into the Airport, and keep going North. Cross the border into Andhra, and take left where a board with an arrow left says “Lepakshi”. Go on for 16 km on that road, and you see the Nandi on the right. Go on a bit further, turn left where everyone else does, and you have the Veerabhadraswamy Temple.

Well, this is pretty much what we did. We left from my place at 7:45 AM, me on my Bullet Electra, and A on his Classic 500. I expected an arrival at Lepakshi at 10:30 AM with a half hour for breakfast. The Goraguntepalya railway overbridge is now ready, so timings should be predictable. The breakfast stop was at the fancily named “The Indian Paratha Company”, which was reached at around 8:45 AM. The place was crowded, and seating was in the morning sun. The Paratha came on time, but we spent 20 minutes waiting for tea. What was expected to be a 30 minute stop, took 1 hour. Really good food, but service needs to go a long way!

The ride along NH7 is plain boring. There is no other term for it. You get your speedometer to 80-90 Kmph, and stay there on the four lane road and keep watching the odometer ticking. There are neither trees nor curves to keep you interested. We reached the turn-off from NH7 by 10:40 and the Nandi before 11 AM.

The Nandi is carved out of a monolith and thankfully we got a few shots before the crowds streamed in. I figured it might be smaller than the one at Bull Temple road or the one at Chamundi hill. Turned out, I was wrong on all counts. This is the second largest Nandi in India, after one in Aimury, Kerala.(Not completely verified accounts I believe. Some claim it’s the largest.)

Monolithic Nandi - Second largest in India!

Nandi from the back

Apart from size, the carvings showed a garland of bells, and what looked like two ghosts on the body.

Bhoothas...

After spending a few minutes there we rode on to the Veerabhadraswamy temple. There seemed to be a monkey guarding the footwear stand, until the woman in charge shooed it away and took back control.

The temple dates back to 1530-1540 CE. It was commissioned by Virupanna and Veeranna, Governors under Achutaraya of the Vijayanagar dynasty. Being a Vijayanagar construction, a lot of signature elements are to be found, similar to the Virupaksha temple in Hampi. The Mantaps with the elephant-lion-horse pillars, those frogs on each pillar, lions, are found everywhere.

Mantapam at entrance

Lion
The temple itself is built on a rocky hillock, so walking inside it is an experience by itself.
Built on a rock

And like the Vittala complex in Hampi, there’s a Frangipani tree inside the complex. The tree was in bloom, and there was the fragrance of the flowers around the tree.
Frangipani tree

The main temple’s mantapa had a lot of carved pillars, with Shiva begging for food with his Ganas and Annapoorneshwari filling his bowl.
Shiva begging with a Gana

There was one with a dancer showing two poses, by using three legs to show the two postures.
Dancer with 2 poses, note the use of 3 feet!

Most of the pillars were about dancing Ganas and Nandi, for Shiva’s wedding with Parvathi.
Dancing Gana and Nandi

There’re also mural paintings on the ceilings, as seen in the Virupaksha temple. The stories were mainly about Shiva’s wedding with Parvathi. Mostly people waiting upon Shiva and Parvathi.
Ceiling Painting - Shiva's wedding

Ceiling painting - Shiva's wedding

And also that about Arjuna’s penance for the Pasupathasthra. Shiva appears as Kiratha, a hunter, to Arjuna and picks a fight with him over a boar that they both shoot. Eventually he shows his true form and blesses him with the Pasupathasthra and other divine weapons.
Ceiling Painting - Kirata theme, Shiva disguised as Arjuna

There was also one of Shiva being worshipped as Ardhanareeshwara. Note the halves in his body.
Ceiling paintings - Ardhanaareshwara being worshipped

The walls had carvings similar to those on the Hazaara Rama temple at Hampi. One story we did notice was that of Arjuna fighting Shiva over the dead boar.
Arjuna and Shiva fight over a boar - the gaining of the Pasupatha

And some discussion over something. Arjuna and Shiva again?
Arjuna and Shiva

There is one Kalyana Mantapa that has remained incomplete. The pillars are laid out, but the roof never got done, giving it a stone-henge like appearance.
Incomplete Mantapam

Incomplete Mantapam
Incomplete Mantapam

Rishi

Incomplete Mantapam

And like in Hampi, there were also the monoliths. Idols carved out of monolithic rocks. There was a huge Nagalinga. A shiva linga protected by a Naga.
Naga linga

And similar to the Sasuvekaalu and Kadalekaalu Ganesha of Hampi, a Ganesha carved out of a stone, though not as large.
Ganesha on the rock

And lingams carved into another rock with a sage worshipping. It was too sunny to notice more there.
Shiva lingas carved in the rock

And similar to Hampi, and Shravanabelagola, there were inscriptions etched into the rock.
Inscription in Kannada

We left from the temple at just after 12:30 PM. There was a crowd building up, being a Sunday and we could not linger too much without being annoyed by people climbing onto the monoliths or palming the sculptures despite multiple boards asking them not to touch anything.

The return ride was even more boring than the onward one. Managed to keep the bike at 90 kmph and made good time to reach home by 3:15 after a brief halt for lunch near the Airport.

Rest of the pics here. (All photos shot with iPhone 6 back camera. The black and white ones are processed using the “Noir” mode, and some light added on top of it.)
Lepakshi - Jan 2017

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9 thoughts on “Day Ride – Lepakshi

  1. Interesting! Didn’t realize this was a day trip, as someone mentioned it does appear that it is easy to get there than your workplace!
    Had heard of this in context of Sarees, maybe the patterns have some connection with temple? Also heard from someone about hanging pillars in the temple.

    Is Paratha valid for breakfast now in South India as well? Or is that some dhaba type place?

    1. The title says “Day Ride”. 😛
      No clue about sari patterns. Might be more to do with textile industries around in Hindupur. There was a hanging pillar, yes. Dunno about South India, but Bangalore has a sizable Northie population as you might be well aware. It wasn’t a dhaba type place. I could say we’ll go there when you’re here next, but don’t think we’ll still be young enough at that time for that. 😛

    1. Thank ye… lovely place. Do visit, better during weekdays… the crowds are annoying with their poor behaviour. It has also become a sort of bikers’ destination.

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