It was the month of December in the year 2016 when I stepped on the grounds of Bangalore. This was my first time traveling solo in Bangalore and was pretty much excited. The excitement was so much that I re-scheduled my flight and transformed a two-day work trip into 4 days exploration. After spending a day in Bangalore witnessing the majestic Bangalore Palace, St. Basilica Church, and Iskcon Temple, I was left with a day and a half before my flying back home. Early in the morning I texted my local friend and she suggested me two spots Nandi Hills and The Hanging Pillar of Lepakshi Temple. A little research on Google I found that both the spots make for a perfect day trip from Bangalore.
All set for the Hanging Pillar of Lepakshi Temple
So here I was at the Majestic Bus Stop…It was around 9:30 in the morning and after striking against two-three bus drivers asking for the bus to Lepakshi, I finally hopped on the right one. Soon we left the platform at 10:00…Wait did I said ‘We’ but I was traveling solo right!
No more solo…I found a company while searching for the right bus. There was this guy Shubham who was also traveling solo to witness the serenity on Nandi Hills. Since there was no bus to Nandi Hill any time sooner I asked him to join me to Lepakshi and then further to Nandi Hill in the eve…Well said is the thought that ‘One is solo only until he/she steps out’. Now I had a stranger friend to have a blast with and I was no more solo to travel around Bangalore.
The journey from Bangalore to Lepakshi Temple
As I said the clock was ticking 10:00 as our rickety bus throttled the engine. For quite a while I was tracking our journey on Google maps as to get an approximate time we would be reaching Lepakshi. But who knew that it would take 4 hours to cover that 120 km that too on metaled roads. Instead of taking the straight route, the bus went round and round to take a halt at small villages falling on the way. When the sun shined bright, finally at 1:30 in the noon we were dropped at Kodikonda check-post.
Another 30 minutes of journey followed from this point…this time our ride was an auto rickshaw. And guess what? I was not only accompanied by Shubham but also a medium size briefcase to look after.
And then we reached Lepakshi Temple
A narrow street lined by small shops led us to the temple. Witnessing the shops selling Prasad and other offering that are made to the god, we firmly thought not to spend more than an hour here.
The enigma of the temple, its intricately crafted pillars and a mysterious story that I had only heard in the news so far…all this made the time flew so fast. Even though we left as per schedule to reach Nandi Hills before sunset, we missed it. My biggest mistake was to rely on public transport however I didn’t let it ruin the essence of my first ever Rambling Solo in Bangalore. Before I recite the mysterious lore behind the hanging pillar of lepakshi temple, let’s peek into to the history and architecture of Lepakshi Temple.
History of Lepakshi also called Veerabhadara Temple
The year 1530 saw the construction of Veerabhadara Temple and since then stands majestically on the land or rather say a huge rock in a small village of Anantpur. The temple was built by the two brothers cum governors of Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya, at Penukonda namely Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna. Skanda Purana, one of the eighteen Hindu religious texts with 81,000 versus, mentions that this Veerabhadara temple is one of the divyakshetras, making it an important pilgrimage site of Lord Shiva. It’s intricately done architecture is as captivating as the history of Lepakshi Temple.
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Architecture of Lepakshi also called Veerabhadara Temple
Every nook of the temple reflects the architectural features from the 16th century. The temple built-in Vijayanagara style has almost every exposed surface of it profuse with carvings and paintings adoring its beauty. Each of its eye-catching carvings recites a story taking you down the history line. Still well-preserved are the bright and colorful fresco paintings with scenes of Rama and Krishna from the epic stories of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. Not for a second will that vow expression evaded from our face.
As we passed through one and only entry to temple, the board outside read ‘Archaeological Site of India’. Centering the four walled arena, on left of the sanctum is massive three coiled seven hooded Naga canopying black granite Shivalinga. Perpendicular to the linga is an idol of Lord Ganesha resting against the wall.
Walking past the idol we reached a large open arena with quite a large number of pillars…Oh by the way did I tell you that the whole temple is supported on approximately 70 pillars…and hanging pillar of lepakshi temple we are to talk about is the one supporting the main sanctum.
By now you must be wondering that why I am beating around the bush and not coming on the topic…
There must be questions popping up in your mind…questions like What is so special about the hanging pillar of Lepakshi? OR What is so mysterious about the hanging pillar? OR Are you wondering what mythology has to say about this mysterious temple?
Mystery and Mythology behind the hanging pillar of Lepakshi Temple
In the outer portion of the sanctum also called the dance hall, of the many supporting pillars, one on the left is the hanging pillar. Now when I say hanging you must be imagining it like supported only from the top…well you are almost right with your thoughts but wrong.
The much hyped hanging pillar of Lepakshi Temple is not completely in air but a nook of its corner touches the ground and that’s how it supports the whole structure. But then why has it captivated mind and eyes of so many around the world.
Going back in time preceding the year 1910, it is said that the pillar was actually as called “a hanging pillar”. It was only until 1910, when a puzzled mind of a British engineer Hamilton tried to rectify this architectural aberration. It’s the result of his curiosity to defy this science defying phenomenon that today a corner of the pillar is seen to touch the ground.
But at what cost?
As a result to his trials, there was a distortion in roof alignment causing the pillars to lean on and the roof paintings distorted. In order to keep the temple intact any further research was aborted and it was concluded that any minor change in it can be catastrophic for the temple as the pillar acts as ballast.
Frankly speaking, I was a lot excited to see this but it didn’t turned up to my expectations and I found architecture of the temple and the murals far catchier to the eye. In fact for the first time I didn’t even noticed the pillar and only when we were about to leave the arena it ticked me and I inquired as to where it was. Now that you have read this post, you know where the pillar exactly is and otherwise if you take a guide he will demonstrate it in detail using a cloth and paper as props.
That’s all about the mystery and now coming to the mythological significance of Lepakshi Temple.
Of the two stories the first one revolves around the word Le-Pakshi. Mentioned in the epic Ramayana is a story that when Ravana abducted Sita and Jatayu tried to rescue her but failed. As a result Jatayu fell on the rocks here and lost his wings. Wait ! Did I mentioned the existence of footprints of Lord Rama in the temple? It was Rama who commanded the bird Jatayu ‘Le-Pakshi’, a Tamil word meaning rise bird. Hence named Lepakshi Temple.
Another story derives from the word Lape-akshi. Blind since birth, Veerupanna’s son got his eyesight back while playing around the Shivalinga in the temple. Listening to this the king thought Veerupanna is spending the royal fortune to cure his son and gave order to take away his eyesight and blind him. Before the king’s troop could do anything Virupanna voluntarily plucked his eyes and threw them in the Kalyana Mantapa inside the temple. This gave the temple its name Lape-akshi meaning village of the blinded eye. The existence of blood stains can still be sighted on the wall under which the eyes were thrown claims the British Scientist.
Got pretty long right but that’s all I had to say about mystery and mythology behind the hanging pillar of lepakshi temple. Let me know in the comments if you spot those blood stains or the big foot imprint on the rock because I couldn’t spot them.
Also Read – Rambling Solo in Bangalore