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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.