Veerabhadra temple is a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in the town of Lepakshi. The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva’s furious manifestation, Virabhadra. Constructed in the 16th century, the temple’s architectural characteristics are in the Vijayanagara style, with carvings and paintings covering nearly every visible surface.
It is one of the most stunning Vijayanagara temples and is one of the most centrally protected national monuments.The fresco paintings of Rama and Krishna from the epic legends of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas are extremely detailed in very bright clothes and colours, and they are highly kept.
About 200 m (660 feet) distant from the temple lies a massive Nandi (bull), Shiva’s mount, carved from a single piece of stone and said to be one of the world’s largest of its kind. Due to its proximity to the Karnataka border, the temple contains several Kannada inscriptions.
History of Veerabhadra Temple
Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire as during the time of King Achyutaraya, erected the temple in Penukonda, Karnataka, in 1530 AD (1540 AD is also mentioned). Only Kannada inscriptions can be seen in the temple. The government paid for the construction of the temple. The temple has been one of Lord Shiva’s divya kshetram, or significant pilgrimage sites, according to the Skanda Purana.
The temple is located on the southern outskirts of Lepakshi town, on a low-altitude hillside with a massive exposure of granite rock in the shape of a tortoise, thus the name Kurma Saila. Bangalore is 140 kilometres (87 miles) distant. The approach to Hyderabad from the National Highway NH7, which follows a branch road at the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border that leads to Lepakshi, which is 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) distant. Another way to get to the shrine is to travel from Hindupur. It is 35 kilometres (22 miles) from Penukonda, in the Andhra Pradesh district of Anantapur.
The temple is built in the Vijayanagara style. The main temple is divided into three sections: the Mukha mantapa, Natya mantapa, and Ranga mantapa assembly halls; the arda mantapa or antarala (antechamber); and the garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum. The temple is surrounded by two enclosures as an edifice. The outermost walled courtyard has three gates, one of which is frequently used.
The assembly hall is entered from the inner east gate, which is a big open hall with a large space in the centre.It is located at the sanctum sanctorum’s entrance and features a plethora of sculptures and paintings that cover every inch of the columns and ceiling. Divine creatures, saints, guards, musicians, dancers, and 14 Shiva avatars are depicted on the pillars and walls.
The goddesses Ganga and Yamuna are depicted on either side of the sanctum’s entrance. The hall’s outside columns are erected on top of a decorative pedestal, which is ornamented with blocks of carved depictions of horses and warriors. The columns are thin, with details like colonnettes carved with eaves and curving overhangs. Large columns or piers with carvings of animals define the open area in the middle of the hall.
Images of Natesha accompanied by Brahma and a drummer adorn the columns in the northeastern side of the hall. Figures of nymphs in dance poses surrounded by a drummer and cymbalist adorn an adjacent column. A statue of Parvathi, Shiva’s consort, is accompanied by female attendants atop a column in the hall’s southwest corner. In the northwestern half of the hall, there are other engravings of divinities such as Bhringi with three legs and Bhikshatana sculpted in a dance pose. The hall’s ceiling is completely covered with mural paintings depicting scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Puranas, as well as life sketches of the temple’s benefactors.
The paintings portray the grandeur of Vijayanagara pictorial art in each bay on the ceiling of the main mandapa, the antarala, and minor shrines. They’re painted on top of a lime mortar plaster base. The colour scheme comprises yellow, ochre, black, blue, and green vegetable and mineral colours combined with lime water; the background is often painted in red. Apart from gods and goddesses, the frescoes also represent Vishnu’s incarnations in the presence of worshippers arrayed in rows. The paintings are in spectacular compositions, with the period attire and facial emotions taking centre stage.
The mural in the ceiling of Asia’s largest ante chamber, ardha mantapa (antechamber), stretches 23 by 13 feet (7.0 m 4.0 m). It contains frescoes depicting Lord Shiva’s 14 incarnations, including Yogadakshinamurti, Chandes Anugraha Murthy, Bhikshatana, Harihara, Ardhanarishwara, Kalyanasundara, Tripurantaka, Nataraja, Gouriprasadaka, Lingodbhava, and Andhakasurasmahara, among others.
In the sanctum sanctorum, the presiding god is a near-life-size figure of Veerabhadra, fully armed and adorned with skulls. In the sanctuary, there is a cave room where sage Agasthya is claimed to have lived when he put the Linga picture.
Paintings of the temple architects, Virupanna and Viranna, regally adorned and decked with headgear identical to those decorating Krishnadevaraya’s bronze statue in Tirupati, adorn the ceiling in the sanctum above the god. They are represented in a state of devout worship, with their entourage, being offered sacred ashes of their family deity.There is a separate room within the temple complex, on the eastern wing, depicting Shiva and his consort Parvathi carved on a boulder. An image of Lord Vishnu can be found in another shrine chamber.
Within the temple boundaries, on the temple’s eastern side, is a massive granite rock with carvings of a coiled multi-hooded snake providing an umbrella shade over a Linga.
Another sight in the temple is what appears to be a “hanging pillar.” Because the pillar is slightly displaced and only touches the earth on one side, there is a gap between the base and the ground by which cloth and paper can travel.A massive granite Nandi (bull) sculpted out of a single block stone, 20 feet (6.1 m) tall and 30 feet (9.1 m) long, bedecked with garlands and bells, stands about 200 metres (660 feet) from the temple, facing the serpent statue in the temple’s precincts.
- The nearest railway station is Hindupur Railway Station, which is around 14.2 kilometres away from the Veerabhadra Temple.
- The nearest airport is Bangalore Airport, which is roughly 94 kilometres away from the Veerabhadra Temple.
Image Source: Google