Showing posts with label Lepakshi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lepakshi. Show all posts

A road trip to Lepakshi from Bangalore

The 'Natya Mantapa' or the Dancing Hall consists of seventy beautifully carved pillars of which, twelve pillars situated at the center form the dancing hall. The twelve pillars carry carvings including that of the legendary Dancing Queen Ramhba and the audience watching her dance. The audience include Lord Dattatreya, Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Surya, Tumbara, Riteshwara, Brahma, Nataraja, Chandra and other scholars, some of whom are seen holding musical instruments.The ceiling comprises of a hundred petaled lotus carved out of twelve stones, also called as Shathapatra Kamala in Kannada, meaning hundred petaled lotus). On one of the Pillars, we find the sculpture of the Dancing Guru Brungeshwara, having three legs in the form of hoofs and eyes of a horse with plaited hair, and danced on a par with Rambha. The others pillars of the hall carry miniature carvings of various figurines, floral patterns, and designs.
The Natya Mantapa
Pillars with carvings of the Audience at Dance
Other Side of the Audience

Dancing Queen Rambha





Goddess Parvati
Dancing Guru Brungeshwara

Other Pillars of the Mantapa
Right behind the carving of Bringeshwara is a carving that describes the story of Bhikshatana, in which Lord Eshwara appears in the form of a man, disguised as a beggar, in order to test Goddess Parvati's devotion.  Shiva appears as a in human form as a beggar in front of Parvati's house and calls out 'Bhavathi Bhikshandehi'  for seeking alms. Parvati, who hears the call while bathing, immediately wraps a cloth around her waist and brings rice to partly fill the begging bowl of Lord Shiva. While she goes in to bring milk and ghee, Shiva fills the bowl full with rice. Without losing concentration, and with great devotion, Parvati starts to pour in the milk and ghee. Goddess Parvati is therefore also known as Annapoorneshwari. Lord Shiva, whose main intention was to test her degree of devotion, tries to distract her by making the wrapped cloth slip down her waist (This can be seen clearly in the picture below on the right side). Parvati fails to notice this and continues her offering, proving that she is a staunch devotee. Shiva being impressed by her devotion and commitment, appears in his true from as seen in the picture below.

Shiva in Real Form, As a Beggar and Goddess Parvati
Goddess Parvati Completely  Lost in Devotion
  To the north east corner of the Natya Mantapa stands tall an 8 feet Pillar, known as the Gravity Pillar. It is also called as the Antarikhsha Sthamba or Moola Sthamba.in Kannada. It is said that during the British rule, in 1902, an Engineer named Lord Hamilton visited the tempe for inspection purposes, at the time of which he pushed the pillar with an iron rod. The outcome was that apart from the gravity pillar being displaced by a small amount, all the other pillars were also displaced by a short distance, after which, they feared to touch the pillars further. Hence the name Moola Sthamba or the Main Pillar. The pillar is in contact with the ground for a small portion only, whiile the rest is about half an inch above ground.
Moola Sthamba
Closer Look at the Gravity Pillar
As we enter the second prakara, we see a huge sculpture of a Seven Headed Serpent coiled in three layers, at the center of which is seated an idol of Lord Shiva in the form of a Shiva Linga. The story behind this sculpture is as follows. The kitchen situated right opposite to the serpent sculpture belonged to the sculptors, who prepared their lunch there. One day, it so happened that when the sculptors came to the kitchen for having lunch, it was told by the mother of the main sculptor that it would take some more time in order to make the lunch ready. Now, knowing that it would take time and not wanting to waste any time, the sculptors decided to sculpt on the huge rock lying in font of their kitchen, and the result of this was the Seven Headed Serpent. It is believed that, when their mother walked out of the kitchen and saw this piece of beautiful work, she was shocked and surprised at what they had ended up doing  in such a short span of time. She cast her eyes ( ('Dhrishti' in Kannada)) on the sculpture and the effect was to such an extent that the sculpture cracked at three places.
The Seven Headed Serpent

Complete View of  Serpent and the Adjacent Rock
On the rock adjacent to the carving of Lord Ganapthi can be seen carvings of a Spider (Jedara Hula in Kannada), Bedara Kannappa, a Snake and an Elephant, all f whom are seen worshiping the Shiva linga. It is therefore believed that Shri Kalahastii existed long before Lepakshi was built.
Carvings of Spider, Bedara Kannappa, Elephant & Snake
After entering the second prakara, wee see an idol of Ganesha carved on a rock which is about six feet tall.It is a custom that before worshiping Lord Veerabadhraswamy, the devotees have to take the darshana of Lord Ganapathi. Hence, this place is visited before worshiping Veerabadhraswamy.
Lord Ganapathi - Vigneshwara
About 200m away and in line and opposite to the Seven Headed Serpent that houses a Shiva Linga is a big and beautiful idol of Nandi, the guardian of Lord Shiva. The idol is about 27 feet in length and 15 feet high. The body of Nandi  is decorated with carvings of bells and anklets.

Nandi - Front View
Read the previous posts here and here

Lepakshi Chitra Katha

       The high ceilings of Lepakshi are bedecked with Murals (ceiling paintings), depicting various mythological scenes from the Epics and the Puranas. The Lepakshi Murals are a proof of the exemplary artwork of the Vijayanagar period. The paintings belong to the15th century and are quite well known among art lovers. The Fresco technique of mural painting was adopted, and the source of colors were the naturally occurring dyes present in vegetables and flowers. Though some of the paintings have retained its bright colors, most of them have become less vibrant and  lustrous or vanished. Sad but true, the paintings are failing the test of time and need some serious restoration measures.The panels are bordered by floral patterns, mostly in black, while  the background color of the paintings is orange red.
Builders of Lepakshi-Brothers Virupanna and Viranna (right)
Virupanna's Assistants and Advisers
The above picture shows the panel depicting the Builders and Patrons of Lepakshi worshiping Lord Shiva. Note their tall head gears (Kulavis) and the style of their Dhotis.
Vatapatrasayi - Baby Krishna sucking his toe and lying on Banyan Leaf
Marriage of Draupadi with Arjuna
Arjuna shooting the fish eye with bow and arrow

Draupadi on her father Drupad's lap and Kalabhairava
The above three pictures form the panel depicting the Swayamvara of Draupadi, the daughter of the Panchala king Drupada.Amongst all he contenders, it was only Arjuna, who shot the eye of the wooden fish fixed on a revolving wheel, while looking at the reflection in the water below and the consequent marriage of Draupadi with Arjuna.
Parvati (in green) with her maids getting ready  for the wedding 
Ashtadikpalakas





Sadashiva, Vishnu, Ladies, Himavantha and MeenaDevi
Shiva and Parvati with Brahma (priest) and Ashtadikpalakas
The above four pictures form the panels depicting Lord Shiva's marriage shows Goddess Parvati in the company of her maidens. The  hairstyles and costumes (clothing and ornaments) worn by the maidens are  worthy being noted. The maidens are bare on their upper half. The panel shows Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati,  Lord Brahma, the priest of the wedding and the Ashtadikpalakas.
Story of Manu Needhi Cholan
The calf is seen under the chariot (left)
Shiva and Parvati on the bull, King, Queen, the Cow and Calf
Lord Shiva in the form of Ardhanareeshwara
The above four pictures depict the legendary story of Manu Needhi Cholan, a righteous Chola king, who went to the extent of killing his own son in order to provide fair justice to a Cow. On knowing that a calf was crushed under the chariot of his son, the king ordered his son to be crushed under the same chariot in a similar way. The Cow was thus giver fair justice by this . who went on to punish his own son. Being impressed with this, Shiva and Parvati come down to restore the lives of the prince and the calf.
Ravana asking for Help from a Shepherd (Lord Ganesha in Disguise)

Sri Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, Lepakshi

   "Lepakshi" village is located about 14 km from Hindupur in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh State. It is famous for the Veerabadhra Swamy temple, said to have been built by Virupanna during the 16th Century. The temple is known for its paintings of the Vijayanagar period which are named after the temple, as Lepakshi Paintings.The main features of the temple complex of Lepakshi are the Moolasthamba, Nandi Monolith, the Natya Mantapa, the Seven Headed Serpent, the Asampoorna (incomplete) Kalyana Mantapa, and the Latha Mantapa. Each feature being unique, has a different story to tell and true to its name.
Nandi or the Big Bull
         The 'Asampoorna Kalyana Mantapa' has a very interesting story behind its incompleteness. The reason is attributed to Virupanna, who was the treasurer, in charge of all the financial aspects of the kingdom. A few ministers and their sub-ordinates who were against Virupanna, falsely accused him of atrocities not committed by him. On listening to all these, and presuming them to be true, the king also suspected Virupanna of the same and decided to punish him. It was ordered that Virupanna's eyes should be plucked off. On hearing the king's verdict, Virupanna was shattered. He knew that he would never betray his king. He was true to his conscience and very firm about not committing any sin. Hence, as a sign of devotion, Virupanna himself plucked off his eyes and offered them to his king  The blood stains on one of the side walls, and the mark left on one of the walls while he threw  his eyes off against the wall is presumed to be linked to this story of Virupanna. The false accusations on Virupanna of not having taken permission from the king for building the Kalyana Mantapa and spending money unnecessarily, and the subsequent acts lead to the incompleteness of this Kalyana Mantapa.
Blood Stains of Virupanna's Eyes 
    Though the Mantapa is incomplete, it looks grand and one can only wonder how it would look if it were complete. The Mantapa was being built for the celebration of the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. A huge pillar depicting the same, with the priest blessing them, welcomes us as at  the side entrance of  the Mantapa. On one the entrance pillars, there is a carving of two monkeys, which, by the skill and intelligence of the sculptor, is made to look like four monkeys. Also, there is a carving of a cow, with one body and three heads, which actually depicts three cows in three different forms.
Entrance to the Asampoorna Mantap 
Priest Blessing the Couple
Carving of the Cow
Guests attending Lord Shiva's Wedding
    The pillars inside are arranged in the form of a circle and depict the guests who attended the marriage. The list of guests is as follows, Meenadevi, Himavantha, Devendra, Agni, Vishwamitra, Varuna, Bruhaspathi, Brahma, Vishnu, Vaayu, Kubera, and Vashishta. The Lord guests came on their respective vehicles (various animals and birds) to bless the married couple.
   The pillar carrying the carvings of  Himavantha, shows him in a standing posture, while he carries a bowl of water in his hand for performing the Kanyadaanam ritual (The ritual of giving his daughter. Kanya means a girl, bride or daughter and  Danam means to give away, Gift ), wherein, the father entrusts his daughter to the groom by washing the groom's feet and gives custody of his daughter to the bridegroom.There is also a beautiful carving of Sadashiva with five heads and ten hands welcoming the guests.
Lord Sadashiva
   The 'Latha Mantapa', situated besides the Asampoorna Mantapa has 39 pillars carrying wonderful carvings of shapes and designs, unique in its kind, on each side of its pillars. The designs have long been used in making the borders of silk sarees. It is an amazing treat to the eyes.
Latha Mantapa
 Pillars carrying unique designs
 
    A little further away from the Kalyana Mantapa are seen the plates used by the sculptors for having their food. From the size of the plates, it can be easily guessed that the size of man at that time was pretty huge. There is a notion that these plates were also used for mixing colors, like a palette and used for painting.
  A few yards away is the 'Seetha Hejje' or the impression of Seetha Devi's right foot. The impression of her left foot is supposedly at Penugonda's Veeramma Betta. From the toe of Seetha Devi's right foot, water springs up and a small amount of it is always present, which is its specialty.
Seetha Hejje

 To be continued......