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Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple

[ Edit ] Overview

The Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple (also known as "Veerabhadra Temple" or just "Lepakshi Temple"), which stands on a rocky outcrop in the town of Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh, is an important repository for the styles of painting and sculpture that evolved during the rule of the Vijayanagar Empire (of the Hampi fame). 

The Lepakshi Temple consists of three shrines - dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Virabhadra (a wrathful manifestation of Shiva) all built around a central pavilion and beautiful sculptures and carvings. Virabhadra was the patron deity of the rulers who built the temple.  In addition, the temple contains a series of exquisite paintings, set against a beautiful orange-red background, that illustrate in a colorful and lively fashion, various episodes from the puranas.

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Visitor Quick Facts

[ Edit ] Famous For

The Veerabhadra Temple is famous for having some of the best preserved murals from the period of the Vijayanagar Empire.  Also associated with the temple is the largest Nandi Bull - sculpted out of a single granite rock.

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[ Edit ] Location

Virabhadra Temple is located in Anantpur District in Andhra Pradesh.

Driving distance to Lepakshi from:

For a detailed guide on how to get to the monument, please refer to Rang7 Guide on Lepakshi.

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[ Edit ] Best Time To Visit

November to March are the best months to visit Lepakshi.

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[ Edit ] Days of Operation

The Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple is open daily.

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[ Edit ] Hours of Operation

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[ Edit ] Entry Charges & Fees

Entry charges and fees for the Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple are as follows:

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Historical Quick Facts

[ Edit ] Type

Heritage / Religious / Temple

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[ Edit ] Architecture

Vijayanagar style temple architecture.

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[ Edit ] Construction Period

Construction of the Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple commenced in 1535 and was completed in the 16th century.

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[ Edit ] Built By

The Virabhadra Temple, in its current form, was built by Virupanna and Viranna, two brothers who were Treasurers of the Vijayanagar kings and ruled out of the Penukonda Fort (town of Penukonda - 35 kms from Lepakshi).

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[ Edit ] History

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[ Edit ] Myths or Facts

Myths and facts regarding the Virabhadra Temple include:

  • Legend states that Virupanna, one of the Treasurers of the Vijayanagar Kings, decided to build the temple without first seeking the permission of the King.  Virupanna’s plans for modifying the temple were so extravagant that it left the treasury empty.  The furious King ordered the Treasurer to be blinded.  Virupanna, a faithful servant of the King, carried out the sentence himself by dashing his head against a wall in the temple.  A wall still carries two dark stains that are believed to be the markings made by Virupanna’s blinded eyes.
  • Several myths exist related to the origin of the name Lepakshi.   Among them:

    1) Following the loss of Virupanna's eyesight, the village came to be called Lepakshi, meaning “the village of the blinded eye” and;

    2) Lord Rama, asked Jatayuvu, the mythological bird who was injured, to “le-Pakshi” (which in Telugu means “raise up bird”.

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[ Edit ] Architecture And Structural Description

The Virabhadra Temple stands in the middle of two concentric enclosures built on three levels.  It is entered through a gopura on the the north side.   The larger exterior wall, has a narrow verandah attached to it which served as resting places for pilgrims who came from afar. The outer walls and adjacent hall is called Nithya Mandapa or Mukha Mantapa.

Inside the Nithya Mandapa, is another small complex, called the Artha Mandapa where the main sanctum sanctorum or and other subsidiary shrines are located.

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[ Edit ] Things To See

The Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple is known for the carved pillars and sculptures that are visible once you pass through the main entrance.   Among the more notable sculptures are:

  • The Natyamandapa, or Dance Hall, is supported by 100 pillars finely sculpted with figurines of a dancing Siva, Nandi, Tumbura, Rambha and other celestial beings playing the drum, veena and other instruments
  • Kalyana Mandapam (Marriage Hall):  The Kalyana Manadapam is without a roof as its construction was left unfinished.  According to mythology the marriage between Lord Shiva and Parvathy is supposed to have happened here.  The 38 pillars of the wedding hall have images of Lord Shiva and Parvathi along with sculptures of dikapalakas, sages, deities, and guardians. 
  • The imposing Seven headed monolithic Naga (Serpent God) sheltering a Shiva lingam.  The legend is that this sculpture was created by workers over time while they were waiting for their lunch to be prepared and served.

The central mandapam has a dome that rises 21 feet.  The inside ceiling of this huge mandapa is divided into different panels by beams that are painted with some of the most exquisite murals of South India - some of them echo the murals found at Ajanta Caves - but the style of painting is unique and has come to be known as Lepakshi Paintings. 

Lepakshi Paintings:

Much of the glory of Lepakshi lies in the amazing frescoes on the ceilings of the Virabhadra Temple.  These painitngs are characterised by elegant linework set against the trademark orange-red background.  What makes the paintings striking are the beautiful costumes, detailed hairstyles, jewellry and textile patterns. The figures are shown in profile with prominent eyes and sharp facial features.   Given the use of vegetable dye paints, the range of colours are limited to white, green, black, and several shades of golden yellow and brown.

The paintings include a series of episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics as well as the Puranas.  Examples include:

  • Parvati and Maid: This painting shows Parvati with her maids getting ready for  her wedding. 
  • Boar Hunt: The painting shows a wild boar charging at Arjuna and Lord Shiva as they are preparing to shoot him with thier arrows.
  • Dakshinamurthi: Dakshinamurthi (or Lord Shiva as a Mendicant) is shown seated on a hill sharing his philosophies to sages who have gathered at his feet. 
  • Marriage of Shiva and Parvati: Arguably the most spectacular of the paintings at Lepakshi, shows the wedding of the two gods in progress with beautiful detail on costumes, jewellery and guests.

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[ Edit ] Nearby Attractions

Other attractions near the Virabhadra Temple in Lepakshi include:

  • Puttaparthi:  The birth place of Satya Sai Baba and one of the more important pilgrimage dest
  •  Penukonda: Home to the hill-top Penukonda Fort that played an important role in Vijayanagar, Qutb Shahis, Mughal and Maratha history.  Also has a Parsavanatha Temple with a remarkable sculpture of the Jain saint dating to the 12th century.

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[ Edit ] Other Information

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Recent News

Grand Structure of Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple Suffers from Official Apathy and Neglect

by Rang7 Team
´╗┐The grand historical and religious structure of Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple located in Lepakshi village in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh is loosing its sheen due to neglect and official apathy. Lepakshi Virabhadra Temple is a magnificent 16th ce... More
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