It was an unplanned trip. We decided on a Friday evening about it over a short phone call, and early next morning we were on our way. That simple.
Wild grass in morning sun
We started before dawn and hit NH7 out of Bangalore. After a brief photo-stop just out of Bangalore, we were cruising through the open roads for next two hours. It was a pleasant drive all the way(bad roads, I will not talk about!) and we kept driving without realizing that we missed the left turn from the highway to Lepakshi. All for good it must be, as we ended up driving through many pretty waterbodies and stopped at a place or two to make pictures. A few photo-stops and another breakfast stop later, we were at Lepakshi as late as 11am. Or may be much later.
We lost our way, and stopped at some pretty lakes..
Sun was high up and showing off himself a lot when we reached Lepakshi. Instead of getting into the temple, we decided to rest for a while and drove on until we found a nice shaded place – a tamarind grove. We whiled away some time there, and returned at lunchtime for some food. With little else to do after food, we entered the temple and immediately signed up with Virupanna, a guide. He said – ‘give me whatever money you please’ – a business deal I hate immensely. He did not budge when we asked for a quote and eventually hired him anyway.
Outer wall of the temple
It turned out Virupanna was good. He had a good voice, a confident and pleasant way of narrating things, and he knew the place well.
A few minutes of wandering around the temple, and I fell in love with the place. The temple has a nonchalant air to it. It doesn’t go by the rigid rules with which temples are often constructed, but more like – its architects decided to do a fair deal of experimenting and redesigned things on the go. Unusual as it seems, the moment you enter from the main door, you hit a wall, and need to take a right turn to enter another door to get to the temple interior. Our guide said that some of the sculptures were carved by the workers with the only purpose of whiling away time. Thats very likely, as a few structures looked very out-of-place from rest of the temple complex. There are some boulders within the temple complex that are left as is, and part of the floor of the temple complex is left unleveled. These out-of-place structures and natural elements immensely add to the charm of the place. What I loved the most is an incomplete Shiva-Parvati Kalyana Mantapa that stood out beautifully with its pillars standing out to the sky with no roof on their top.
Our guide Virupanna explaining us..
This, Virupanna says, was built as the sculptors were waiting for their lunch to be served!
There was much more. I was gawking at the frescoes(something that I am fond of) at the outer wall, and Virupanna said – “come inside, I will show you more of them”. The inside roof of the temple had many well-preserved frescoes on the roof, and Virupanna had a story to tell about each of them. Much can be said about the carvings on the wall, frescoes and other elements that make up the temple, but they would sound no more than boring descriptions until one sees the place. I will leave it at it.
Frescoes on the inner roof
The temple was built during the reign of Vijayanagar kings by a local chieftain named Virupanna. Not surprisingly, part of the structure looks so much similar to Hampi. The outer walls, pillars and the Mantapas seem to have drawn influence from Hampi’s Vithala temple.
After the guided tour, we settled down in a corner of the temple till evening, made another trip around the temple in the evening hours, and headed back to the town around 5.30pm. Lepakshi is yet another place where I would like to return again some day to spend more time.
Lepakshi is around 140km from Bangalore. Take Bangalore – Hyderabad highway and drive till Andhra border. Just at the border, you need to turn left at a village called Kondikonda and drive for another 14kms. The left turn is easy to miss, so look for it carefully.
There is no accommodation available at Lepakshi, so it is best done as a day-trip from Bangalore. There isn’t much option for food too, and you will have to settle for a couple of small restaurants.
Besides the temple, there is a monolith Nandi statue just outside the village, which is said to be largest Nandi statue in the country.