Lepakshi Temple

Lepakshi Temple

Lepakshi is a small village situated fourteen(14) KMs to the east of Hindupur, Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. We may  reach here  by bus from Hindupur. It is well-known for its temple of Veerabhadra and the mural paintings of the Vijayanagara period. There is a popular legend about this temple which is as follows:

This sculpture, perhaps the most magnificent in the temple, is a classic depiction of Shiva as Kankala -murti (Kankala means skeleton & murti means icon). His feet are clad in wooden sandals, the right leg slightly bent forward in a gesture of movement. In one of his hands he holds the kankala- danda (Danda is a staff/stick), placed horizontally on his shoulders. Another hand is in the kataka- mudra (A classical posture of the hand seen in many Indian statues and also illustrated in Classical Indian dance) held near the mouth of a deer that rears up to it. Other hands hold a Trisula (trident) and a damaru (small Indian thumping instrument). Above his head is an elaborate makara-torana (gateway). His flowing jata (hair-locks) spreads on either side of his mukuta (crown). To his left is a bhuta-gana (Shiva’s follower), carrying on his head a large bowl of rice. At the right edge of the pier is an image of a woman (probably Parvati – Shiva’s wife) serving him rice with a ladle. The woman’s dress is shown slipping down. Figures of Gandharvas (Gandharvas were spirits of the air, forests, and mountains) and rishis (sages) blessing Siva are above and to the right.

The main shrine of Virabhadra is situated in the center of the second enclosure, faces the north and consists of the grabhagriha and antarala surrounded by a pradakshina, mukha mandapa, a pillared corridor outside the mukhamandapa and the natyamandapa. At right angles to the mukhamandapa is the shrine of Vishnu facing the east (fig 9). There is a shrine dedicated to shiva under the name of Papavinasesvara facing the Vishnu shrine. To south of  papavinasesvara there is  Sayanagara and to south of its the parvathi shrine both facing the west. In the western wing of the pradakshina surrounding the garbhagriha and antarala of the Virabhadra shrine are three shrines known respectively as the Ramalinga shrine, Bhadrakali shrine and Hanumalinga shrine all facing the east. In the north east corner of the mukhamandapa there is a Navagrahas vedi . Right of the Main shrine, on pillar Siva standing with left leg on the prostrate body of Apasmarapurusha and the right leg swung across to the left in the Bhujangalalita  pose, the deity holds damaru ,in the upper right arm and flames in upper left arm .he wears a jatamukuta with jatas flowing to the sides.

The hanging pillar is one of the 70 pillars – is hanging well almost on its edge .There is a story about it – a British engineer who wanted to know how the temple was supported by the pillars tried to displace one of it, and it caused the movement of as many as 10 pillars around to maintain the balance. The temple as well as the pillars in the temple was designed to withstand even earthquakes.

There is another story about the pillars – the pillars  was originally hanging, but the Britishers thought it may fall  down and tried to pull it down. But they could succeed only partially on one side, which caused the roof to bend to that side. This is indeed an architectural marvel.

The towel can be moved from one end to another on the floor below the pillar.