During a recent visit to Bengaluru, we took a quick day trip to see the famous Lepakshi temple. The 500 year-old temple, and the massive Nandi statue next door, were well worth the drive.

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Our trip to see the Veerabhadra temple in Lepakshi (known simply as the ‘Lepakshi temple’) started with a two-hour drive from Bengaluru, under brooding skies and through occasional rain. Once we got there, though, the rain gods kindly left us alone. If not, we wouldn’t have been able to see much.

Here’s a photo diary of our day trip to the Lepakshi temple.

The Nandi statue and the Jatayu monument

They say Lepakshi is where the giant bird Jatayu died after trying to prevent the Asura king Ravana from abducting Lord Rama’s wife, Sita. Besides a somewhat kitschy statue atop a viewpoint, there doesn’t seem to be any other indication of this, though.

Still, the intricate Veerabhadra temple, and its massive Nandi bull statue a few hundred metres distant, show that the Vijayanagara empire considered this an important religious site for other reasons.

Also read: 12 heritage sites that left us spellbound

Jatayu statue - Lepakshi
The Jatayu statue viewpoint: the first thing you see as you enter the town
Nandi statue - Day trip to Lepakshi
The huge stone Nandi, said to be one of the largest of its kind
Nandi statue - Lepakshi
Me getting creative, but obscured by flowers
Nandi statue - Day trip to Lepakshi
We had some brooding skies overhead to add atmosphere
Nandi statue - Lepakshi
IQ = six feet; Nandi = 10 feet; Winner = Nandi
Doggies  - Day trip to Lepakshi
Doggies striking a Nandi pose nearby
Cat - Lepakshi
This kitty couldn’t care less
Lonely Planet

A stroll around the outside of the temple

In front of the entrance to the temple complex, we found a paved path running around either side. The path didn’t continue all the way around, but we forged ahead anyway. And were rewarded with some incredible views from the boulders behind.

Veerabhadra temple entrance  - Day trip to Lepakshi
The path around the front of the temple complex
Behind the temple - Day trip to Lepakshi
Behind the temple, it was less civilized, with this boulder looking like the head of a sleeping turtle
Views from Lepakshi
Massive sheets of rock, and lovely views
Granite rocks - Day trip to Lepakshi
Me doing what I do
Landscape - Lepakshi
Jatayu in the distance
Selfie with Jatayu - Lepakshi
Jatayu and I. Bet he wasn’t feeling hot and sweaty, though.
Jatayu statue - Day trip to Lepakshi
Someone isn’t interested in the view
Lepakshi landscape
A little hamlet, fields and distant hills
Temple walls - Day trip to Lepakshi
Peeking over the temple walls
Temple spire - Lepakshi
The spire of the temple’s sanctum sanctorum
Temple walls - Day trip to Lepakshi
The rear wall of the temple, with Jatayu in the distance
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The Veerabhadra temple on its granite foundation

They say the temple, dedicated to Veerabhadra (a fierce form of Lord Shiva), was built in the 1500s by two ministers of the Vijayanagara empire. The similarities to Hampi were striking, even though it’s about 250 kilometres away.

The whole temple complex sits on a single sheet of granite, and has some incredible carvings inside. Interestingly, though the temple is dedicated to a form of Shiva, it also contains shrines and carvings of Vishnu and Brahma.

Also read: Bundi, a town lost in time

Temple courtyard - Day trip to Lepakshi
The outer courtyard, with two trees (!) growing out of the bedrock below
Outer gallery - Lepakshi temple
The outer gallery with it’s lion-carved pillars
Man-lion carving - Day trip to Lepakshi
An interesting Mesopotamian-looking man-lion at the entrance
A small but intricate black-granite Ganesha at the entrance
Carved granite pillars - Lepakshi temple
Deeply carved granite pillars in the inner hall
Granite pillars - Day trip to Lepakshi
More lion-carved pillars
Ceiling murals - Lepakshi temple
500 year-old murals on the ceiling!
Carved pillars - Day trip to Lepakshi
Pillars, pillars everywhere, this one with a female deity
Dogs and pillars - Lepakshi temple
Doggies roam unmolested among the ancient stone pillars
Lady in red - Day trip to Lepakshi
A lady in red strides through the galleries
Bhringi - Day trip to Lepakshi
Bhringi, the three-legged dance teacher of the gods
Bhringi carving - Lepakshi temple
A close-up of Bhringi
Hanging pillar - Day trip to Lepakshi
The famous ‘hanging pillar’; it doesn’t really hang, after all
Western gallery - Lepakshi temple
The western outer gallery, and the raw bedrock on which the complex is built
Naga linga - Day trip to Lepakshi
The Naga Linga shrine, and the carved stone gallery next to it
Naga linga - Lepakshi temple
The Naga Linga: a Shiva Linga, shaded by a six-headed cobra carved from the living rock
Kalyana mantapa - Day trip to Lepakshi
The spire over the temple’s inner sanctum, seen from the Kalyana Mantapa at the back; the crow is incidental
Kalyana mantapa - Lepakshi temple
Itchy doggie at the Kaylana Mantapa
Kalyana mantapa - Day trip to Lepakshi
The temple spire against some dramatic clouds; the rock to the right is the one with the Naga Linga
Puppy - Lepakshi temple
This distressed little fellow kept trying to follow his mum, who wanted nothing to do with him
Puppies - Day trip to Lepakshi
More gambolling pups

Stopping outside Tipu Sultan’s fort for corn on the way home

On the drive back to Bengaluru, we stopped by the roadside to grab some roasted corn-on-the-cob. While we chewed on the smoky corn, we admired the walls of a small fortress that, they say, Tipu Sultan built. Sadly, we didn’t have time to explore it, but we were told it’s full of illegally-built houses anyway. Sour grapes.

This makeshift barbecue is ready for its corn cobs
Flames flare in response to some fanning
The outer walls of the fort, supposedly built by Tipu Sultan
A young corn-roaster enjoys some of her own wares

Also read: 12 vegetarian dishes from all over India that you need to try

TripAdvisor

IQ’s top tips for a day trip to the Lepakshi temple

  • Lepakshi is about two hours from Bengaluru and a little less from Anantapur
  • A taxi ride from Bengaluru will cost you approximately Rs. 3,500, with tolls extra.
  • The main sights in Lepakshi are the stone Nandi statue and the Veerabhadra temple, but I’ve heard there are other interesting temples in the surrounding hills.
  • At first glance, it might seem like everything can be seen in an hour or so. But the temple has incredible details in every nook and corner, so if you like exploring, you can easily spend half a day there.
  • I’ve heard tell that the inner hall has a massive, incredibly detailed mural on the ceiling. Sadly, we didn’t get to see it.
  • Photography isn’t permitted in the inner hall and the in sanctum, but you’re free to shoot everywhere else.
  • The Haritha resort, run by the Andhra Pradesh tourism department, is the only accommodation in Lepakshi. It’s right next to the Nandi statue, and offers basic rooms and meals. You’ll have to make bookings through the Andhra Pradesh tourism (APTDC) website.
  • There’s more accommodation in Hindupur, about 12 kilometres away.

Vegetarian tip

The Haritha resort by the Andhra Pradesh tourism department serves up some basic and very spicy vegetarian food. There also seem to be a few basic snack shops on the road in front of the Veerabhadra temple.

Sustainability tip

If you’d rather not drive, there are plenty of trains from Bengaluru to Hindupur, which is about 12 kilometres from Lepakshi. One train leaves Bengaluru early in the morning, and the others leave either around lunchtime or at night. They all take around two hours to get there.

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