Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Trip to Lepakshi: Place where Jatayu fought Ravan

After living through serious back aches and period of illness, caused mainly due to my massive two week north India trip, I was back to what I insanely love doing, travelling! And what a way to start, the experience just couldn't get better. Here is my travelogue- visit to beautiful Lepakshi.

“Ley Pakshi” translates to “Rise bird” and is believed to be uttered by Lord Rama to the bird Jatayu, who had fought Ravan in order to release Seetha, in the process incurring life threatening injuries, losing his wings, counting his final moments at this very particular place and waiting for Lord to arrive. Jatayu was cremated here and Lord Ram established a “Shiva linga” on top of it, one among atleast 4 of Shiva linga’s I saw here(I recall- some of them are established by Hanuman, Sage Agastya and Constructor Virupanna). This place has a massive footstep of Seetha (Locals believe that Seetha was 25 feet tall) on a rock and is filled with water all-round the year!

Lepakshi is located at a distance of 120kms from Bangalore and driving becomes pleasure in this AH 47 once you cross new Bangalore Airport at Devanhalli. We started at 8am and stopped for breakfast at “Kamath Upachar”, 4 kms away from Chikballapur, at 9.45am. Route was pretty simple after that- cross Bagepalli, enter AP (it is till AP!), you’ll see a signboard to Lepakshi soon after Konikonda, and then, 15kms of drive in a state highway (that goes to Hindupur, which houses thousands of weavers and you get silk sari’s for half price!) to the destination.

The Veerabadhra Temple is built on a rocky hill called Kurmasailam and today is spread over 2 acres. India’s biggest monolithic “Nandi” is the prime attraction (2nd biggest is in Tanjore and 4th is in Basavangudi of Bengaluru). The temple has over 4000 designs, many sculptural illusions and 80 pillars, out of which one is the mysterious hanging pillar that actually balances the complete stone structure. Hire a guide and you’ll enjoy the architecture and no doubt, you will end up praising our 8 feet tall (again a local belief!) ancestors! You get a feeling of entering a cave and the calm and cool weather inside is very enjoyable.

Built in 1538, rooftop of which is painted with herbal colors- stories depicting Shiva’s marriage, Ganesh and Ravan’s “Athmalinga” encounter, pictures of nobles of Virupanna who built this temple is mesmerizing. There is incomplete portion of a “mantapam” dedicated to Shiva’s marriage to
Parvathi in Kailasa. Virupanna, constructor of this temple, was a cashier of this province ruled by Achyutaraya, brother of great Krishnadevaraya. Due to unstable government and dirty politics, Virupanna removed his eyes off before the King would order to do so, and our guide claimed/showed that there were blood stains in the wall (I still don’t digest this!).

“Mantapam” remained unfinished as great Vijayanagar empire fell off to Bahamani rulers, who also damaged some idols. The “Halagannada” (mother of modern Kannada) inscriptions are also notable. Here, every pillar tells a story, every idol is artistic, the way the stones are carved out is just astonishing, beautiful paintings are breath-taking (Painting of Veerabhadra on the ceiling before the main sanctum sanctorum is the largest in India of any single figure), architecture at it’s best, peace and serene, less
than 2 hours to tour entire place, beautiful folk tales those are associated, spiritual bells ringing in the heart, indeed, what a place to be!
Every truth becomes justice,
Before it’s not too late…
We turned them into morals,
Immortalized in our sculptures… 
Today, I am staring at them,
Waiting for a story to unfold…
Staring at the antic glory untold…
Before it’s not too late…

[Photo Credit: Sharath P R, Thanks to Chikkappa [Ramesh], Chikkamma[Ratna], Doddappa[Karunakar] and Munna[Sharath] for being the part of this trip!]