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