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The mystery and mythology behind the hanging pillars at Lepakshi temple

Lepakshi is a perfect getaway for a day trip from Bangalore being at just about 120 Kms distance. It is culturally and historically significant for India. Built in the 16th century, the Veerabhadra Swamy Temple in Lepakshi is perched on a hillock called the Kurma Saila (Tortoise shaped rock). This ancient temple has inscriptions on every pillar and masterfully crafted roofs.

Pillars in the hall at Veerbhadhra swamy temple at Lepakshi - Mythical India

The fresco paintings are detailed and full of colors. They are well preserved and depict stories from epic the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas.

Nandi Bull Sculpture

The temple visit starts with India’s largest-monolithic Nandi sculpture. The large Nandi (bull), mount of Shiva, is carved from a single stone about 200 metres away from the temple. You wouldn’t stop appreciating the attention to details paid by the artists while carving the body parts like paws and neck of the Bull.

The monolithic rock sculpture of Nandi bull at Lepakshi temple - Mythical India

The expression of a serene calm adulation of the bull is really something to admire and it sends wonderful harmonizing energy to you. The garden that the Nandi sits in is very well maintained and thrives with a variety of flower bearing plants. The Nandi statue is aligned in such a way as if it is looking straight at the Lingam in the courtyard under the hoods of a giant serpent.

Shiva linga protected by the seven headed serpent - Mythical India

Veerbhadra Swamy Temple architecture

The Veerabhadra Swamy Temple is calm, serene and has preserved its sanctity. The outer portion has a massive Dance Hall with numerous pillars supporting the roof. One corner pillar is the famous ‘hanging pillar‘ that does not touch the temple floor at all. Puzzled by this, a British engineer Hamilton tried to rectify this architectural aberration in 1910.

The pillar at Lepakshi temple - Mythical India

Though, he managed to make one corner of the pillar to touch the ground. It led to a tectonic shift in the roof of this outer hall, with distortion in roof alignment and pillars now leaning on and the roof paintings distorted. The engineer realized that any further attempt could instead ruin this entire edifice. Further research revealed that the pillar acted as a ballast to the hall’s roof. Hence, a minor change could ruin this balance and cause irreparable damage to the structure.

In this Hall, statues of musicians and dancers striking poses are kept. A Gopalakrishna mural on the roof appears to be three dimensional and appears to look at you from any direction. Inside the temple complex there is a sculpture of a huge seven headed serpent carved from a single stone and positioned to protect the Shiva linga. Outside the temple premise, there are lot of pillars with carvings and paintings on the walls. One can also see one large foot print on one hillock and lot plates like carving throughout the surrounding.

The murals at Lepakshi are bright and depict the stories of Epics - Mythical India

Mythological Significance

Lepakshi’s origin has two interesting myths associated to it. But, both the tales are impregnated with grief and pain.

Le-Pakshi

This story originates from the epic Ramayana. It’s said that Jatayu had a furious battle with Ravana when he tried to rescue Sita from Ravana’s abduction attempt.

Ravana fighting with Jatayu - Mythical India

But, he couldn’t withstand Ravana’s power and fell off to Earth after losing his wings. It is believed that Jatayu’s wings fell on the rocks here. When Lord Rama commanded the bird to rise (Le-Pakshi), the place got its name. Moreover, we can see footprints of Lord Rama at one of the rocks in Lepakshi.

Lape-Akshi

Another prominent legend is that Veerupanna and Veerana were two brothers who worked for the Vijayanagar King. Veerupanna’s son was blind since birth and it is believed that he got back his eyesight while playing around the Shivalinga in the temple premise. This story reached the king that Virupanna was using the royal treasury to cure his son. The king gave orders to take away Virupann’s eyesight and blind him.

Temple-premise

Hearing this, Virupanna himself took off his eyes and threw them against the walls of the under constructed Kalyana Mantapa inside the temple premise. Thus, the place got its name as Lape-Akshi (village of the blinded eye). Even till date we can see blood stains on that wall and those stain marks has been confirmed as real blood stain marks by British scientist.

Visit to Lepakshi is a divine experience in itself and it makes you wonder about the immaculate skills of artisans which were displayed in building this marvel. Their hard work and determination has been truly immortalized.

Written by Neha Singh

I am a fun loving person. Love adventure and exploring new places. Travelling adds a freshness in my life and adds on to new experiences in my life which is cherished always..Travelling also helps me taste all kinds of cuisines and foods around the world which also explains why I am such a foodie!!

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