On the day of Sankranthi (Jan 15th) we (P, My In-laws, BIL and I) drove to Lepakshi. We started at around 7:30 AM and stopped at Chikkaballapura first where we had our breakfast at Kamath. After Bagepalli you cross the border to Andhra Pradesh. Here you have clear instructions to turn left towards – Lepakshi/Hindupura. The place is about 140 Kms from Bangalore and can be easily reached in 3 hours due to good roads.

As soon as you enter Lepakshi, there stands a Nandi idol facing the hill on which the Temple is carved. The Nandi is supposed to be the third largest in India. A bunch of police constables were on a tour, so I began to capture their group and looking at my camera one of them asked – “Photo letha hein?” (Do you take pictures?), so I answered “yes”. “Post se bejengey?” (Will you send it by post?)” Now I realized that he was referring to professional photographers who you may find in tourist locations to click pictures and send them by post. By then his friend clarified that I am a tourist like them. But to help him I said – “I could take a picture and send you by post, if you want or by email if you have an email address.” to which he denied and left.

After capturing the beautifully carved Nandi, we drove to the temple. The temple is extremely well planned with several sculptures complimenting one another. What looks to be left incomplete seems to be a much planned layout of something very magnificent and ambitious, every details thriving to perfection. The dedication is simply seen if you pick one pillar and observe it completely from top to bottom. After viewing the temple with no greater background, we enquired the priest about a relative we knew. He apparently is a well known personality in this village. Owning a hotel and being a great follower of Staya Sai Baba principles, he offers free food to the poor frequently. So it was easy finding their house; interiors of which are filled with life size pictures of Sai Baba that emits ash; lumps of them, which was very surprising.

The gentleman offered us another guided tour to the temple and we readily agreed as we were not satisfied with what we saw earlier with no one to clearly translate the architecture. So we walk back again to the temple this time with interesting facts about the built.

Lepakshi in Telugu translates to – Le Pakshi – “Wake up, O Bird”; told by Lord Rama to the bird, Jatayu (a kite) in the place where it fell dying after its war with Ravana during its attempt to free Sita from the kidnap. It is here that Jatayu had fought bravely to save Sita, with tearing feathers it fell crashing on to the ground and it is here that it waited to inform Sri Rama of the terrible incident and here it was offered Moksha (Salvation). Yuga’s passed and around 400 years ago, a Nayaka who ruled this part of Vijaynagara Empire, named Virupanna got his dumb son cured at this place and in gratitude he wanted to build a temple for Lord Veerabadhra. He took special interest in designing the layout and it is believed that the funding to the temple was actually done by his Late father’s hidden treasure that he is believed to have disclosed in a dream to Virupanna. But as temple construction reached to almost finish, the Vijayanagara Kingdome saw some transfer of powers and the new one suspected Virupanna to have misused the dynasty treasure for his selfish purpose. It was ordered that he be blinded. Hearing this news, Virupana plucked his eyes off himself and threw it towards a wall that still has the blood stains on them.

With this prior information, we walked into the temple and it seemed so different now. Written on wall, some old Kannada texts represent Vijayanagar times. On the outer sanctum are rest areas for devotees with roofs with overhangs and cutouts to tie cradles and some idols.

Carved here is a beautiful snake with a Shivalinga sitting on it and a huge Nandi outside the city built for the Shiva linga residing here on the hill. A story also goes that the mother of the sculpturer’s requested her sons to wait for lunch as she cooks and within that time the son’s built this beautiful snake, when she walked out she was surprised to see the sculpture and it is believed that her Drishti (Vision) left a crack on the idol. A nice Chauthi Ganesha is also carved on the side of this sculpture.

Beautiful wedding hall is incomplete with only pillars. A foot carved on the rock is worshipped as Sita Pada. (Seeta’s foot) and some pallets are carved on the rocks formed the rest of the interiors.

When Virupanna sacrificed his sight, all the sculpturer’s abandoned the temple work and moved away, but to complete his thoughts they painted the ceilings of the interiors with what they had in mind. Though poorly maintained the paintings still are fresh in places and depict the mogul art influence. The main shrine has a very ceiling provides itself as a huge canvas for large images of Veerabadra and Shiva.

After that really informative tour around the master piece that has beauty even its incompleteness, we went back to the house and had a special lunch on the day of Sankranthi. After which, we spoke about Satya Sai Baba, who is doing several community services around the world. Also about the declaration of his day of death and reincarnation in Mandya district of Karnataka as Prema Sai.

We next drove to Puttaparthi. I have been here before and well though it is not a tourist spot in spite of some long museums being an overdose of General knowledge; it’s always a good feeling to see the culture practiced around here. The devotees are very humble and always request you than demanding you to follow rules. Several devotees come here and offer their service at various days of the year.

This makes me think that perhaps it’s these uncommon things that people do that make them God like. Probably it was killing of the demons or beasts and setting examples to live that made humans God like. Self realization has been common in all these people that had given them the status they today are perceived as. As far as Satya Sai baba trusts offer free education, free medication with best techniques, free food to the poor, I think they deserve a status that in a common man’s perception could be termed as Godly.

We drove up Nandi Hills on the way back but the gates were closed at the top. They close at 6:00 PM. But the drive up was nice as we viewed the city lights appeared gleaming as we gained height.

Lepakshi was one big trip to the history, as I would like to see it, a work of art that embodies several emotions, several thoughts, several creativity and many lives.


  1. Very nice post Ajeya. I have been to Lepakshi during my childhood. Those memories are still fresh. I liked it a lot.

    Thanks for this post.


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