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 

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......


The Hoysala Temples, Sante Bachahalli -K R Pete

K R Pete (Krishnarajapete) is a hub to Hoysala temples. One such small village of K R Pete is 'Sante Bachahalli', housing a few Hoysala temples. The most prominent among them is the Mahalingeshwara temple built during the 12th century. The temple has a simple structure when compared to other Hoysala temples, and its interiors and the Shikara are grand. There is a temple besides the main temple dedicated to Kalabhairava. Though the priest  was available,  he was quite busy attending and serving the devotees. This kept him from giving any details about the temple. There is an old board outside the temple that provides general information about the temple.
The Old Broad
Mahalingeshwara Temple, Sante Bachahalli
Shikara of Mahalingeshwara Temple, Sante Bachahalli
Beautiful Carvings

Skillfully executed
Lord Shiva in Gribhagriha
From here we moved on to the Veeranarayana Temple located in the village center. The temple looked renovated from outside and we were unable to go inside the temple as the priest was unavailable. Our next was the Lord Hanuman temple, believed to have been built by the Vijayanagar Kings. The lord is carved out  beautifully  on a huge stone. 
Veeranarayana Temple
Hoysala Temples of K R Pete: Hosaholalu, Kikkeri, Govindanahalli, Sheelanere, Sindaghatta, Tonachi, Hariharapura, Kalahalli, Agrahara Bachalli, Aghalaya  many more .