The Holy Abode – Veerabhadra temple

10.12.2016:

While I was in the bus, I got to speak with the locals travelling along with me and when they heard me saying that I was here to see the Nandi, they asked me to visit the 16th century Veerabhadara (Lord Shiva) temple also.

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I walked back to the temple, one among the three famous shrines of Lepakshi which is just 10 minutes walk from the Nandi. There are few interesting legends associated with this temple. It is believed that this temple has been built on the spot where Jatayu (the bird God) fell after being injured by Ravana who was kidnapping Sita. When Rama reached the spot, he saw Jatayu and remarked, ‘Le Pakshi’ which translates to ‘rise, bird’ in Telugu and hence the name Lepakshi for this town πŸ™‚

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The temple is built on a low, rocky hill called Kumarasilam (Translation – Tortoise hill) and dates back to 1583 and was built by two brothers, Viranna and Virupanna, who were the royal treasurers of the Vijayanagar kings. The temple is built in the Vijayanagar architectural style and has beautiful sculptures adoring the walls. There is also a belief that the original temple has been constructed by Saint Agastya himself.After climbing some 30 or 40 steps, I reached the Dwajastamba and I entered the temple from the left side.

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The temple’s main deity is Lord Veerabhadra, the fiery god created by Shiva from his hairs in his rage after the immolation of Sati Devi during the Daksha Yagna. There are also other manifestations of Lord Shiva like the Kanakala Murthi, Dakshinamurthi (Guru of Gurus), Tripuranthaka or Tripurasurasamhara (vanquisher of demon Tripurasura), Ardhanareeshwara (the half-female, half-male form, where Shiva and Parvati are equally represented in one body). This temple also has the fiery goddess Bhadrakali. After the darshan, I walked around the Garbagriha and I noticed what made this temple stand apart!

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Those are the finest specimens of mural paintings of the Vijayanagar kings. It is said that the 24 ft by 14 ft fresco of Veerabhadra on the ceiling, before the main sanctum sanctorum is the largest in India. They are beautiful and the attention paid to their details is amazing. The colors are strikingly contrasted – black limework against an orange-red background with some green, white, black, and shades of ochre-gold and brown make for a stunning visual spectacle. It is said that most of those were natural dyes or pigments and the paintings depicts the scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Most of these paintings are now fading and are peeling off in many places. I think it’s time for the government to act for their better maintenance and expert restoration!

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Another important feature of this temple is the famous “Hanging Pillar”. This pillar doesn’t fully rest on the ground and to prove that, the guides over here executes a newspaper test and pass the newspaper from one end of the base to the other! There are about 70 pillars in this temple, but this one is the best known and is a tribute to the engineering genius of ancient and medieval India’s temple builders. However, it is a bit dislodged from its original position β€” it is said that during the British era, a British engineer tried to move it in an unsuccessful attempt to uncover the secret of its support.

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I entered the outer enclosure of the temple where there is a huge Ganesha in stone, leaning against a rock as well as a massive Naga (the Snake God) with three coils and seven hoods, which shelters the Shiva Linga. The temple is divided into three parts, the ‘Mukha Mandapa’, the ‘Artha Mandapa’ and ‘Garba Griha’ and the ‘Kalyana Mandapa’ with 38 carved monolithic pillars. Legend also has it that Lord Shiva and Parvati were married on the spot where Kalyana Mandapa now stands (the most photographed place in the recent times).

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There is also another legend attached to this temple. It is said that Virupanna, the royal treasurer, was accused of drawing funds without the king’s permission from the state treasury to build these shrines and is supposed to have blinded himself. And there are two red stain marks on the western wall of the inner enclosure and these are believed to be the marks left by his bleeding eyes. But I couldn’t find them :(. Might be next time! Time to go, as it’s getting dark and I have to reach Anantapur town!

Lepakshi – A date with history

09.12.2016:

19.00 hrs – Trivandrum : Boarded a Volvo bus to Bangalore. The bus was not that comfortable, yet manageable. And I had an assumption that they would stop somewhere in the middle for dinner, but they didn’t 😦 Sleep overcame my hunger and I was into my dreamworld within few moments and by the time opened my eyes, I was on the outer area of Bangalore. Though the arrival time was mentioned as 06.00 hrs in my itinerary, the bus reached Bangalore only by 08.00 hrs.

09.15 hrs – I was at my Aunt’s home in Bangalore. Quickly refreshed myself and filled my starving stomach with some yummy dosas prepared by my aunt. In the meanwhile, few of my aunt’s friends visited our home and my departure was delayed as my aunt started introducing me to everyone πŸ˜€ . Once done with the exchange of pleasantries, I took leave from them and headed to the Majestic Bus Station, from where I have to catch a bus going to my first destination – Lepakshi.

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12.30 hrs – There were no direct buses running in between Bangalore and Lepakshi, but there were a good number of buses running in between Bangalore and Bagepalli as well as Hindupur. There was this Bagepalli bus ready to leave and when I approached the driver, he asked me to get down at Bagepalli and head to Lepakshi which is 25 kms away. It took me three hours to reach Bagepalli and when I inquired about the buses to Lepakshi, the people there asked me to go to the Checkpost, from where I would be able to board some private buses or auto-rickshaws going to Lepakshi.

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03.30 hrs – After a 20 minutes journey in a tightly-packed auto-rickshaw (there were 13 members in all along with the driver in a 7 seater auto), I reached the check-post, where a private bus was waiting to leave to Hindupur via Lepakshi. The road leading to Lepakshi has an entrance with the mighty sculpture of Jatayu welcoming to this historical place. Also, there is a small Nandi statue in middle of the road representing the significance of this place. I got into the bus and took a ticket which costs Rs. 12 and it took me around 45 minutes to reach Lepakshi.

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Lepakshi, located in Anantapur district of southern Andhra Pradesh is an ideal weekend destination for people who are looking for an off-the-beaten-track day outing. To be frank, when I first heard about Lepakshi from Bilal, the first thing that came to my mind is the monolithic Nandi (the bull god) about which I read in my school textbooksΒ and the story which explains the name Lepakshi. And finally, am here πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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04.30 hrs – The bus dropped me in Lepakshi and I had to walk back for 10 minutes to see the marvel for which I traveled all the way from Trivandrum. There it was, the colossally large spectacular Nandi, which is 27 feet in length and 15 feet height and is amongst the biggest monolithic Nandi in India. What makes this structure more spectacular is the smooth structure and finely-carved ornaments on it! Besides the record size, the perfectly proportioned body, finely-carved ornaments, and smooth contours add to its grandeur. I walked around the Nandi and the surrounding gardens before heading to the other famous landmark – the Veerabhadra temple.

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By the way, if you feel peckish, there is this Andhra Pradesh Tourism Resort from where one can eat and the food is good πŸ™‚

Halebidu – The Hoyasala Beauty

Time for another tale πŸ™‚ This time it is a blend of history, heritage, nature and adventure. One of my childhood friends and I decided to go on a short trip around Karnataka. Though we thought of going to Mangalore and Murudeshwar, we changed our mind and decided upon Chikmaglur. After a thorough discussion of the plan with some of our other friends, the only ones who could make up to the plan remained the same. That’s me and my friend πŸ˜€ . Though we decided to drop our plan initially, we hit the road on 10th of September finally πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

As it was only we two into the trip, we thought of choosing a package instead of driving ourselves to this place. In our search over the Internet, we came across a 2-day, 1-night package and found it feasible enough. The package was offered by the Karnataka Vacations and we contacted Mr. Mahesh, Manager of KV. He is an amicable person and made few quick changes we have asked for and the payment was done.

10.09.2016

We set on our trip from Bangalore at 10.00 AM from Bellandur, Bangalore and the cab driver Vasanth Kumar, though a very reserved person found to be quite friendly. We had our breakfast on our way and managed to be on the outskirts of Bangalore by 11.30 AM. The drive from here was smooth as the roads are in very good condition and there wasn’t too much of traffic. About a distance of 200 km from Bangalore, situated is the Hassan district and it took us around 3.5 hours to reach here and a further drive of around 30 kms left us at our first destination Halebidu.

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We got down our car and started walking towards the famous Hoyasaleswara temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple which was previously known as Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra, or the entrance to sea is believed to derive its name from the Hoyasala ruler King Vishnuvardhana Hoyaslaeswara. The temple has four entrances on east, west, and south and the visitors usually enter through the entrance on the north side. The temple is dark inside as there are no lights other than the light entering through the entrances.

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Inside the temple, there are huge pillars, highly polished and carved diligently and also few statues and it is said that no two statues looks like the same. There is a garbagriha (sanctum) inside the temple where in which the deity Hoyasaleswara is seated. We walked around the temple whose walls are carved very well; probably the best handiwork in entire India and the sculptures depict the mythological epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. This art which has been preserved so well even after many invasions and lootings by the Muslim rulers is truly astonishing πŸ™‚

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There are two large mantapas hosting two large Nandi (the Bull god) statues in each one of them located such opposite to two of the temple entrances. And one of these is known to be the most beautifully decorated Nandi statue in India and is also amongst the largest statues among the world. The temple complex also has an archaeological museum which preserves the important excavations in and around the area.

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We finished our tour around the temple and headed towards Jain Basadi, which is located at a distance of 2km from the Hoyasala temple, and has three Jain temples dedicated to Parsavanatha (west), Adinatha (central), and Shantinatha (east) thirthankaras. We entered the temple complex through the gate at the West and walked towards the temple which is just infront of the entrance. This is built of soapstone and had a garbagriha. The most important attraction of this temple is the 18 ft tall Parsavanatha Tirtankara statue in the Garbhagriha (sanctum). The temples were so dark without any lamps and we should be very careful while walking inside the sanctums as we will be hardly able to see anything.

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The temple complex is not very rich in architecture on the outer walls of the temple. Though we can see some fine architecture inside the sanctums, we can hardly see any carvings on the outer walls of the temple except for some inscriptions. But the striking thing in this temple complex is that, while in one of the temples the pillars are highly ornate and coarse, the pillars in the other are highly polished and has a glossy look and touch. In all, Halebidu is a place which shows how secular the kings were in the good olden days.

Time for the next! πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰