An imposing structure of Nandi – the bull of Shiva welcoming visitors, a stone-pillar that hangs above the floor of an age-old stone-temple and sculptures of Hindu Gods carved out of single stones are few of the things among many that make the small village of Lepakshi special. The place is of great religious and mythological significance I had learnt and seeing the magnificent structures all around I couldn’t have agreed more. But that was not what had taken me there on a bright Saturday morning. I had been feeling bored since the last couple of weeks and had not headed out anywhere. I just wanted to break the monotony. Also, given the fact that Lepakshi was just a short ride from Bangalore, it seemed perfect.
Built during the Vijayanagara Kings’ period (1336–1646), Lepakshi is home to shrines dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra and hence, has great religious significance as well. Located roughly 120 kilometers from Bangalore, it makes for a wonderful day-ride (or drive).
As I hopped-on from one step to another and towards the main temple, I saw throngs of devotees going in and out. They seemed to be unaffected by the furnace-like hot stairs which were burning my feet moments back. To avoid the crowd, I skipped going inside the temple and veered towards what seemed to be a big court-yard. Walking though dark and narrow alleys with stone walls on either side.
Because I had not even heard anything about Lepakshi half a day before starting for it, let alone do any basic research about it, I was being pleasantly surprised literally at each turn as I walked inside the compound. The place is a marvelous example of art. The rock carvings on the pillars and the walls, done centuries back still felt as lively as they would have ages ago. They not only depicted various Gods and Goddesses but also many significant events, giving us a peek into history.
The ceilings of the long alleys that surrounded the uneven court-yard were no different either. Even though the centuries that had passed seemed to have made the colors of the murals above fade away but that did not stop me from appreciating them. Just a few moments of watching them, oblivious of anything else around me and I was in awe at the intricacies of the paintings. The stories they depicted. This — getting lost in the beauty of the colorful murals — was undoubtedly something I relished the most.
Like I had mentioned at the somewhere above, Lepakshi also boasts of more than one sculptures that are carved out of single stones. My first encounter with one such sculpture happened just as I came out after pushing myself through a gap between two huge boulders (sort of a short-cut) next to one of the corners of the compound. I found myself in-front of a stone-structure of Ganesha which at the first look, seemed nothing special and I was almost on my way ahead when I realized that this whole thing was made of a single stone! So was the seven-headed Naga holding a black shiv-linga.
On my way out of the temple, I came across another beautiful piece of architecture. An unfinished Kalyana Mantapa. Even though it is something the construction of which was never completed, the place seems to have its own charm. Unlike the other parts of the compound which were crowded and noisy, this place was wonderfully calm and peaceful. Probably because no Gods were there on this side of the compound.
I sat there on the uneven plinth of the structure, staring at the imaginary roof of the mantapa, I couldn’t help but imagine what would it have been like there, centuries ago, when work on the mantapa must have been going-on, only to be abruptly stopped.
Do you like visiting places which are architecturally great? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you.