According to a Sanskrit proverb, “Seeing a temple tower will give you 10 million good things such as Gopura dharsanam, Koti Punyam.” There are more than 6 lakh temples in India having their own significance and importance. One such temple is the Lepakshi temple. Lepakshi Temple is dedicated to the cult deity Veerabhadra. It is in Lepakshi which is a small village in the Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. Due to its archaeological and historical significance, it attracts a large group of tourists- mostly Europeans. It was built during the period of Vijayanagara Kings.
Lepakshi Temple has three shrines dedicated to the Hindu Gods Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra. There are about 70 pillars at this fabulous 16th-century temple of stone in Vijayanagar style. The beautiful architecture of this temple is really eye catching for the visitors. It has the largest statue of the demon king Veerabhadra and much of the temple is built on a low rocky hill called Kurmasailam that translates to tortoise hill in Telugu.
It is a tourist attraction for the visitors as it is located to the southeast to the Chandikesvara Temple and just stands near the main road to Hampi. It is also well known as the Mudduviranna Temple according to the inscription. One of the pillar in Lepakshi Temple is known as the Aakaasa Sthambha (Hanging Column). This pillar does not rest on the ground fully. During the British era, a British engineer tried to move it in order to uncover the secret of its support but all his efforts were in vain. Also, the pillar got dislodged from its original position.
Besides the Hanging pillar, the other thing that is worth seeing is the spectacular Nandi which is located almost a mile before the main temple. It is 27 ft in length and 15 ft in height which is reputedly India’s biggest monolithic Nandi. Lepakshi Temple also has the idols of Ganesha, Nandi, Veerabhadra, Shiva, Bhadrakali, Vishnu and Lakshmi.
Lepakshi Temple History
- There is an interesting legend that is associated with the origin of cult deity Veerbhadra. King Daksha had a beautiful daughter named Sati who was the devotee of Lord Shiva and married him against the wishes of her father. Ones Daksha held a special occasion and invited all gods and sages except his daughter Sati and Lord Shiva. When Sati arrived at the event without invitation then Daksha insulted Sati and abused Shiva. Unable to bear this insult Sati committed suicide by jumping into the sacrificial fire.
- On hearing the news of Sati’s death Shiva became enraged and plucked out a lock of his matted hair and threw it on the ground with immense anger. Out of that lock of hair were born the demon god Veerabhadra and Goddess Kali.
- The history of Lepakshi Temple dates back to 1583 and was built by the brothers, Virupanna and Veeranna who were in the service of Vijayangar Kings. But according to the Puranic lore, Lepakshi Temple was built by the sage Agastya.
- As Lepakshi Temple was constructed by Virupanna using the state treasury, the king came to know about it and announced the punishment that Virupanna to be blinded. When Virupanna heard about this order, he executed it on his own on the same spot.
- However, there were many other additions that were made during the reign of Achyutaraya but there is no specific record that tells about these additional constructions. The shrine of Veerabhadra acted as the nucleus and there were various structures added around it. The presence of the Uddana Veerabhadra Temple in Hampi points towards the fact that during the Vijayanagara days the people of Hampi used to worship the Gods in their ferocious forms as well. In fact, the ruins of Hampi provide plenty of evidence about the existence of this cult.
- There are different panels of paintings that depict different stories. One of the panel depicts a single large story of Shiva’s marriage. Parvati is shown seated on the raised seat accompanied by six maidens. The paintings of these temples were first noticed by A H Longhurstin 1912-13 but due to no proper attention and leakage resulted in deterioration of these paintings.
Significance of Lepakshi Temple
- Lepakshi Temple comprises of three separate Mandapas. The first one is Mukhya Mandapa (or Natya or Ranga Mandapa). The second one is Artha Mandapa and Garba Griha and third is Kalyana Mandapa. The last Mandapa is unfinished.
- Devotees worship Veerbhadra which depicts Shiva in the ferocious mood, indeed Shiva manifested himself as Shiva. Veerbhadra is a warrior god who was worshipped during wars in ancient and medieval periods.
- There is a mammoth of Ganesha when once reach the temple’s outer enclosure which is leaning against the rock and which is perpendicular to it is a massive Naga with three coils and seven hoods. It is considered by many as the largest Nagalinga in India. The best part about this temple is that one can find Sita Devi’s footprint at the temple, during the battle between Jatayu and Ravana.
What are the timings of Lepakshi Temple?
Darshan Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM.
- The darshan for the devotees is open all days a week. Timings are subjected to change during festivals, important rituals and during grahan (solar and lunar eclipse).
- The first puja is dedicated to the Shivalinga and then to Lord Veerabhadra. During morning hours, the lord appears as Bala rupa (youth) and as a hero in a moustache in evening hours.
- Devotees perform Abhishek to Lord and Mother and offer vastras. They also offer sweet pudding – sarkarai pongal nivedhana. As in Lord Vishnu temples, here too Sadari blessing with the lotus feet of the Lord is offered to devotees. Betel leaf is the prasad in the temple.
Rules to follow in Lepakshi Temple
- If you are visiting the lepakshi temple, remember the standard rules like wearing decent clothes, not carrying leather bags or belts, etc. However, photography is allowed inside this temple. So you may carry your camera.
Festivals celebrated at Lepakshi Temple
- During the month of February, a 10- day long celebration including the car festival is conducted in the lepakshi temple. During the festival, Lepakshi is packed with pilgrims from all over the country.
On Mahashivratri, lakhs of people gather here to enjoy the Temple fair. The fair witnesses the trade of sweet meats, clothes, bangles, toys, bamboo articles and also goats, cows and other domestic animals. Hindu festival of India celebrated annually in reverence of the God Shiva. Many villagers come here to redeem their vows as well.
Durgamma is four days long festival celebrated in the month of Bhadrapad of Hindu Calendar. Water from Majira River is used for worshipping and many sacrifices are made during the festival. Fairs are also held during the same time.
Masi Brahmmotsavam in February-March and Tirukarthikai in November-December are the festivals celebrated in the temple.
How to reach Lepakshi Temple – Road, Rail and Air
Train: Hindupur railway station serves as the nearest railways station to Lepakshi. It is located about 12 km from our destination which can be easily covered by taxi available outside the station.
Road: Lepakshi is easily approachable through road via Hindupur. There are several private as well as state-owned buses that connect Hindupur to several major cities of the country. Further from Hindupur, tourists can opt for either taxi or buses that frequently run to and fro.
Nearest Airport: The Nearest Airport is Sri Sathya Sai Airport, Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh.
Hotels near Lepakshi Temple – Where to stay
There is no Temple Guest house available. But there are some good nearby hotels where you could stay.
AP Tourism Hotel near Nandi
The booking for this hotel is accepted with a minimum of One day in advance. Tourist is required to carry the confirmed Accommodation voucher / Ticket along with a valid ID proof.
Contact: R. F. Road, Anantapur 515 001, Andhra Pradesh, India
SRS Regency Hotel:
Contact: Kamalanagar, Anantapur-515 001, India.
Contact: 428-1-3, Dharmavaram, Anantapur 515 672, Andhra Pradesh, India
Where to eat
There are several hotels around that includes all the tasty and mouth watering recipes. There is South Indian food prepared which has the unbeatable taste. Meat, Vegetables and greens are prepared with different spices. Other cuisines include North Indian and other modern varieties. The restaurants worth visiting are Annapoorna and Ghuma Ghumalu Restaurant.
- Lepakshi Nandi: There is a monolithic sculpture of Shiva’s bull Nandi on the main road of Lepakshi which is approximately 200m from the temple. The sculpture faces the shiva linga which is shielded by a large serpent inside the temple. It lies in the vicinity of Veerabhadra temple and measures about 4.5m in height and 8.23 m in length
- Sri Veerabhadra Swamy Temple: Sri Veerabhadra Swamy was born brightly to demolish Dakshyagna. After demolition of Dakshyagna with the advice of Lord Maha Vishnu, he again a lived Daksha and the Dakshyagna was successfully completed. Even after completion of yagna, Sri Veerabhadra Swamy could not leave his anger and so he was full in fire that was caused with the Yoga Sakthi of SatiI.To pacify Sri Veerabhadra Swamy, the saints and the devotees went to Vaikunta and requested Sri Maha Vishnu to pacify veerabhadra Swamy. This temple is 48 Km from Kadapa.
- Bayalu Veerabhadra Swamy: Bayalu Veerabhadra Swami Temple idol is in the temple facing north direction and said to be guarding Lord Mallikarjuna Swami.He is the kshetrapalaka of Srisailam.There is no temple for him. He has no roof above him. Hence, it is known as Bayalu Veerabhadra Swamy.
- Sri Bhadrakali Sametha Veereswara swamy Devasthanam: In this temple, the Goddess Bhadrakali is present on the same platform, in order to pacify Veerabhadra Swamy. Here Nithyakalyanam is performed to Veereswara Swamy and Sri Bhadrakali. Everyday in the early hours Veereswara Swamy is made is made as a bridegroom and at night 7 pm them perform the marriage. It is believed that the Veerasware swamy gets angry if the marriage ritual is not performed. It is also believed that by performing the kalyanam those who are not married will get married in a year.
- Sri Agora Veerabadhra Swamy Temple: Dhakshan was blessed with the head of a goat after it was chopped by Sri Veerabadhrar. It is believed that Dhakshan was defeated by Sri Veerabadhrar in this place.Sri Veerabadhrar is seen facing north, holding many weapons. Goddess Sri Kaali is present just outside the sanctum, facing east. Sri Kaali is believed to be very powerful here. This village also has a separate temple for Sri Kaaliamman. Nandhi is seen facing south towards the Lord. This very unusual temple attracts lots of devotees during new moon days and full moon days. This place is said to cure people with mental illness. Many mentally challenged people are brought here and prayers are offered to Sri Agora Veerabadhrar. It is believed that Sri Agora Veerabadhrar blesses them to recover from their mental illness.