– By Dr. A Pranesh
Lepakshi is a small town situated in Ananthpur district of Andhra Pradesh. It is about 15 kms from Hindupur and 120 kms from Bangalore.
Lepakshi has shrines of Shiva, Vishnu and Virabhadra. It is interesting both historically and archeologically.
The famous Virabhadra temple built by brothers Viranna and Virupanna, is a notable example of Vijayanagar architecture. The sculptures have intricate design which shows the expertise of the sculptor.
Lepakshi is renowned for a huge Nandi (bull), made out of single granite. The Naga Linga is also made out of single rock. There is a legend that Naga of Naga Linga was carved by sculptors while they waited for their mother to prepare lunch.
The temple complex is on a hillock known as Kurma Shila (tortoise shaped hill), having shrines for Shiva, Vishnu, Virabhadra, Papanatheshwara, Sri Rama and Durga. Of these temples, Virabhadra is very important.
Lepakshi is noted for its sculptures. It is believed that noted Vishwakarma Amarashilpi Jakanachari took part in planning the architecture of these temples. Popular sculptors like Dakoju and Maroju also contributed for this temple sculpture, which is mentioned in the inscriptions found in the premises.
There are many unique features in the temple, like rock chain, hanging pillar, Durga paadam etc. Several stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana are depicted on the walls and beautiful paintings using natural colors on the roof. There are intricate designs depicted on the walls and pillars, which are used even to this day as Lepakshi prints for Saarees and other textiles. There are several pillars with various deities and rishis depicted.
It is very disheartening to know that there was a misunderstanding between the king and sculptor. The king ordered to glide the sculptor. After knowing this ghastly command of the king, Virupakshanna plucked out his eyes by and threw it on a wall. Even to this day that particular wall has red mark on it, which is believed to be Virupakshanna’s eyes.
Around 200 meters away from the main temple, on the main road there is a monolithic Nandi, facing the huge Naga Linga. This Nandi is supposed to be the second largest monolith in India after Gomateshwara.