130 kms drive to see a temple? Not worth it, I had said. I stood corrected and humbled by the magnificent architecture.
Built in typical Vijayanagara style, Veerbhadra Swamy temple in Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh is an architectural marvel. Other than the architectural marvels, the myths around the temple make the place extraordinary.
Do read about the myths before you visit Lepakshi. There are enough links available online.
From Bangalore, it’s highway almost all the way through. Cross the airport toll, and take the Hyderabad highway. Then the Kanyakumari-Srinagar highway. From Kodikonda, take a left and head to the Veerbhadra Swamy temple. If you are following Google Maps, then it’s pretty straight forward.
Around 10kms after Chikkaballapur (towards Lepakshi), there are a few good places to eat (Kamat, Nandhana Palace, Swagat). If you are planning to have lunch/snacks on the way then consider having it here. Or you should appease your hunger before crossing Nandi Hills (again while towards Lepakshi). Otherwise food joints are kind of rare on this stretch.
The temple looks unassuming from outside, but once you enter, you stand wow’ed by the beauty of the temple carvings and paintings.
1. The hanging pillar
One of the main attractions of this place is a pillar which does not touch the ground. You can pass a newspaper or a thin cloth from right below it. Some call it a mystery. Some say that it was restoration work which was completed. Whatever be the reason, the fact that a pillar is hanging from the ceiling with this few millimeters gap from the ground is pretty amazing.
2. The dance chamber
Once you enter the temple, you’ll get into this chamber with intricate work on the pillars. Do not miss the ceiling. They have amazing paintings on them.
3. The sanctum
The Sanctum has many idols, Veer Bhadra Swamy being the main idol, flanked by idols of Bhadrakali, Durga among others. Photography is not allowed inside.
4. The Shivlinga
The Shivlinga under a seven-headed Naga is another attraction of this place. Head towards the back side of the temple for this. Just behind this architecture is a beautiful Ganesha idol carved out of the same rock.
5. The unfinished marriage hall
Behind the Shivlinga is an unfinished marriage hall. Again resplendent with beautiful and intricate designs on the pillars, myth says that it remained unfinished as the minister who was in charge was charged with embezzlement of funds, post which he carved out his own eyes. There are red marks on the walls which supposedly happened when he threw his eyes on the wall.
6. The footprint of Sita
There is an almost 3 feet long footprint on the stone. This is said to be of Maa Sita. You might have to ask a few people around to locate this.
7. The monolithic Nandi
Right on the main road towards Veerbhadra Swamy temple is the Nandi. It is said to be the largest monolithic Nandi. It’s not much of a wow factor, but definitely worth a visit on the way/back from the main temple.
Overall, though it is just a medium-large sized temple complex, there are so many stories and myths around this place, it is definitely a place worth visiting.
If you are in Bangalore, then do this day trip. Spend some time around. However, avoid going there in summers.