'Poor' is a not just number, they are living people, there are hundreds of helpless families: Rahul Gandhi
In India, pretty much every religious spot, each recorded landmark, and each spot of common brightness will have a supernatural occurrence to observe and an interesting legend to intercede. In some cases, a similar legend is related with better places. A giant shake in a town in Kerala, known as 'Jatayu Rock', where the biggest feathered creature form on the planet is manufactured, is accepted to be the hallowed spot where the legendary fowl Jatayu fell when Ravana slashed off its wings. A similar legend wins in a little town in Andhra Pradesh. Here, the neighborhood individuals trust that the injured Jatayu fell on a rough hillock in this town, and when Rama touched base at the spot, he sympathetically expressed the words, "Le Pakshi", which signifies "Rise, O Bird", in Telugu. Along these lines, the spot wound up known as Lepakshi. The amazing Lepakshi is known for the acclaimed Veerabhadra Temple, famously known as Lepakshi Temple.
Lepakshi temple has its reference in the ancient scripture Skandapurana as one of the 108 most significant Shaivite temples in India. It is also believed that the temple was built by Sage Agastya. As per historians, Lepakshi was a famous centre of trade and pilgrimage during the period of Vijayanagara Kings. The temple complex was built in the 16th century, by two brothers Virupanna and Veeranna during the reign of Vijayanagara King Achyuta Devaraya.
Lepakshi temple is situated on a low rocky hill called Kurmasaila, which resembles the unique shape of a tortoise. The temple complex is renowned for the amazing Vijayanagara style of architecture with the magnificence of a 100-pillared Natya Mandapa with intricately carved pillars and exquisite sculptures, a miraculous hanging pillar, timeless paintings on ceilings, colossus sculptures of monolithic Nandi and monolithic Nagalinga, unfinished Kalyana Mandapa, and above all, so many mysteries and legends. Every stone here has a story to tell and every pillar has an episode of an epic. The main deity of the temple is Lord Veerabhadra, the fiery form of Lord Shiva. Other deities worshipped here include Lord Vishnu, Papavinaseswara, Parvati, Bhadrakali, Hanumalinga, Ramalinga, and Sayanagara.
The first thing that will greet you at this site is a massive sculpture of Nandi, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva, lying in its characteristic pose at around 200 meters from the main temple complex. This colossal sculpture of Lepakshi Nandi with 15 feet height and 27 feet in length is regarded as the biggest monolithic Nandi in the country. It is a remarkable piece of artistic beauty with perfectly proportioned limbs, beautifully carved ornaments, and excellent workmanship.
Lepakshi temple has two high-walled enclosures. The outer enclosure has three entrances, of which the northern entrance is the main entrance with a gopura, and also having a mandapa on each side of the passage in the front and rear side of the gopura.
The inner enclosure has its main entrance from the north, which has an intricately decorated gopura built in two sections. The Dwajasthambha (flag post) and the Balipitha can be seen near this gopura.
The main temple is structured in three parts namely the Natya Mandapa (Dance Hall), Ardha Mandapa (Antechamber), and Garbha Griha (Sanctum sanctorum).
Natya Mandapa also called as Ranga Mandapa, which is renowned as the 100-pillared dance hall, is the most remarkable part of Lepakshi Temple. It has intricately carved pillars, sculptures, and paintings that depict the unbelievable talents of the architects of the Vijayanagara era.
The pillars of the central part of the mandapa will mesmerize you with life-like sculptures of gods and goddesses playing musical instruments and dancing. You can see Shiva performing Nataraja Tandava, Brahma playing the drum, Narada on Tamburu, nymphs in dancing postures and many heavenly artists playing drums and cymbals and creating a dream world of divine melodies. The ceiling of the hall is covered with beautiful mural paintings depicting the scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and other scriptures.
Sculpture of a dwarapalaka can be seen on both side of the entrance of Ardha Mandapa and its ceiling is adorned with beautiful frescoes of the 14 incarnations of Lord Shiva. The 24 feet x 14 feet fresco of Lord Veerabhadra on the ceiling is said to be the largest single fresco in India. The Sanctum Sanctorum has a magnificent life-size image of Lord Veerabhadra, and the ceiling of the sanctum has the paintings of Veeranna and Virupanna, depicted in praying pose.
In the main hall in front of the shrine, there is a hanging pillar, the base of which does not touch the floor, which is an amazing piece of architectural wonder that has puzzled several experts. It is said that once a British engineer tried to make this Lepakshi temple pillar to touch the ground, but his attempt became unsuccessful as he realized that it would result in a distortion of the roof and realignment of the nearby pillars, which would collapse the entire structure. It is believed that this miraculous pillar was intentionally built to demonstrate the architectural brilliance of the Vijayanagara builders.
Kalyana Mandapa or Marriage Hall is an open structure behind the main temple in the inner enclosure, which has 38 pillars with intricate carvings of several sages, gods, Dhanwanthari, and the 8 Digpalakas. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati got married at this mandapa. Wonderful carvings depicting the marriage of Shiva and Parvati can be seen on the pillars.
Construction of this mandapa seems to be unfinished and again there is a legend behind it. Virupanna, the royal treasurer was alleged of cheating the king by utilizing the funds from the treasury without the King’s permission and the enraged king ordered Virupanna to be blinded. However, unable to bear the false accusation, Virupanna blinded himself and threw his eyes on the wall. Two red spots still seen on the wall near the Kalyana Mandapa are said to be the marks left by his bleeding eye. “Lepa-akshi” also means “Blinded Eye”!
Behind the main temple, on the south-east corner of the inner enclosure is a mandapa, near which, on a granite base, there is a magnificent rock-cut sculpture of a huge serpent with three coils and seven hoods, which is regarded as the largest Nagalinga in the country. The seven hoods form like a canopy and protect a granite Shivalinga positioned in the center of the top coil. Legend says that this sculpture was cut out by the artisans within an unbelievably short duration while waiting for their meals getting prepared during the lunch break.
Behind the Nagalinga, there is a huge rock with carvings and a monolithic rock-cut sculpture of Lord Ganesha next to it.
Near the Kalyana Mandapa, there is another mandapa called Lata Mandapa or the Hall of Creepers. The pillars of this mandapa are carved with some beautiful designs and intricate motifs of flowers and birds, which are still used as the famous Sari border designs of Lepakshi. Hundreds of such designs can be seen on several pillars.