La Pakshi temple, AP added to UNESCO's tentative list of world heritage sites (2022)


The famous Veerabhadra Swamy temple at Lepakshi, about 100 kms north of Bengaluru,  built in 1530 (1540?) AD by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna , both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achyutaraya, at Penukonda, is a famous  Hindu temple and tourist destination in South India. 

Hanging pillar Veerabhadra swamy temple,La Pakshi

La Pakshi temple,

In March 2022 both the temple, an epitome of the Vijayanagara ornate sculpture and painting, frescoes, art tradition and the huge monolith bull were  added to UNESCO's tentative list of world heritage sites in India - The entry reference No. 6607. This tentative listing, though belated,  is a good move and is closer to elevate  the site as the a world heritage status for its cultural, historical and architectural significance. 

Veerabhadra swamy temple,La Pakshi

la Pakshi temple bull Andhra

Veerabhadra temple, La Oalshi, Naga Linga

One among the two entries from the Telugu States, which include the Qutb Shahi monuments of Hyderabad the Golconda Fort, world heritage status for the temple complex had long been due  and it was renewed last year when the Ramappa temple in Telangana was bestowed with a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dedicated to the fiery form of God Shiva -Veerabhadra, we understand from the stone  inscriptions on the prakara walls of the temple, the village is  called  Lepaksha, Lepakshi and Lepakshipura. It is the place, as per legend, where the giant bird Jatayu fought with Lanka king Ravana and got wounded  when the king was abducting the consort of Sri Rama. When Rama reached the spot in search of his consort, he saw the wounded bird and said ''La Pakshi'' meaning ''arise, bird” in Telugu.

The famous temple is located in Anantapur district, AP.  Lepakshi Basavanna, is a monolithic bull in sitting posture lying about 250 meters from the temple. The Nandi, about six meters in height, is made from a single granite stone. A major attraction within the temple is the massive carving of  a hooded serpent with seven heads  shielding a Shivalinga. 

Yet another architectural mystery is the massive hanging or floating stone pillar (Akaasa Sthamba)  that does not touch the floor. Easily a sheet of paper can be passed through the gap between the bottom of the pillar and the floor. In the  colonial period, a British engineer  made a futile attempt to solve the mystery of the tall pillar. How does it defy gravity and how does it stand straight are the moot questions that need explanation.