Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi, AP- ''Hanging Pillar'' - why does it attract more tourists every month?

Hanging pillar, Lepakshi, AP

Hanging Pillar - Lepakshi, Andhra

It is needless to say that  many historical Hindu temples of India, in particular, South India, besides being fascinating  and inspirational are not only famous for their unique  architectural styles but also for their size,  amazing caved ornamentation  and imaginative  creatures hewn with them. They are never short of quite awe-inspiring and mind-boggling but they highlight the mastery of the sculptors and stone workers. The huge Nellaiappar temple in Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu and Hampi temple complex (UNESCO recognized) in Karnataka  are best known for their richly ornate and engrossing musical rock pillars.  As for huge halls with 1000  artistic pillars, the temples that immediately come to our mind are the vast Ranganathar temple complex (the largest functional temple in the world) of  Srirangam,  Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar Shiva temple (representing water)  and the Arunachaleswarar temple of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu  that is dedicated to one of five elements (Pancha boothas) Agni (fire).  Likewise  Ajanta and Ellora temples of Maharashtra are  big old cave temples built centuries ago.

Among the Hindu temples of beauty and grandeur equally famous is the  Veerabhadra temple of  Lepakshi town (10 mile from Hindupur railway station in Anantapur district) , Andhra Pradesh. One of the centrally protected monuments of national importance, it was  built in the 16th century  and  the architectural  style is that of the Vijayanagara  period.  Adorned here  in profusion are impressive carvings  and paintings  of exceptional workmanship

The temple dedicated to a form of God Shiva has  countless  architectural wonders and among them is the presence of hanging  stone  pillar in one of halls. Hanging from the ceiling it barely torches the floor. through the hairpin gap one could insert a sheet of paper of a piece of cloth. Rest of the pillars 70 in number  are well built and thy support the ceiling. This tall pillar hangs from the ceiling or floats without any support.nnn People who come to the temple  strongly believe that  passing objects  through the gap between the floor and bottom of the pillar will bring  them prosperity and peace of mind.  The temple was built in 1583  by the brothers, Virupanna and Veeranna, who were initially in the service of the Vijayangar kings. However, legend has it  that the Veerabhadra temple was built by the sage Agastya. It has idols of Ganesha, Nandi, Veerabhadra, Shiva, Bhadrakali, Vishnu and Lakshmi.  The outer compound, has  an  enormous monolithic Ganesha- sculpted in stone and inclined against a rock. There is a shrine  dedicated to goddess Bhadrakali in the temple

Veerabhadra temple Lepakshi,

The temple has many meticulously carved  stone images and the major attractions are huge hooded serpent over the Shiva Linga and a giant monolithic Nandi  in sitting posture, facing he shrine several hindered meters away from here. Th nandi   4.5m high and 8.23m long is without  any shelter over it.

Said to be the second largest monolith  stone Nandi in India, after Gomateshwara, the Nandi sports a huge kaasu malai, a bell chain, earrings and other jewelry beautifully carved in the stone. Another huge monolithic stone Nandhi is in the 1000 plus year old  Big temple - dedicated to Brihadeshwara (Lord Shiva) in Thanjavur city, TN which has a huge mantaba over it. 

The primary god is a fiery god created by Shiva in his rage after the Daksha Yagna and the immolation of Parvathi.  The Lapakshi temple is a  sort of sermon in stone, a repository of sculptural wonders of vious sizes and rich stone carvings. It was in this place during the Puranic period God  Sri Rama is said to have met the huge bird 'Jatayu'   who had been struck by the king of Lanka Ravana   (Lankeswaran) who was on his way back home with his hostage Sri Sita Devi,  consort  of Sri Rama. Sri Rama addressed the wounded bird as Le-Pakshi (Arise bird) 

Quite inquisitive as he was, during he colonial time a civil engineer wanted to solve the puzzle of the hanging pillar  Upon  trying to dislodge the pillar, to his dismay,  he discovered  that it  made the adjacent pillars move  to  maintain the equilibrium. Though it is not an earthquake area (supposedly Shield area and geologically stable)  the temple, it is believed, can withstand any seismic event.

The famous ''Temple Car Festival'' in Lepakshi is held in February for ten days and people from Andhra and other states visit this temple.  According to history, the temple's builder, Virupanna, a treasurer in Kings cout was accused of misusing the funds for building the temple and  the king ordered him to be blinded. Hearing this, the builder as a punishment removed  his own eyes,dashed against the wall and died. Even today those blood marks can be seen on a particular wall.

nd largest bull-Nandi, Lepakshi,

Hooded serpent over Shivalinga, Lepakshi,

In the first week of February, 2023 the  G-20  delegates 'of several countries, who were  in India  were very much impressed by the monolith Ganesha, huge Nandi hanging pillar/Akaasha sthambha (built in 1530 CE) etc  on a visit to the Sri Veerabhadra Swamy temple, Lepakshi. They were awe-struck by the architecture of the 16th CE temple. The ASI Archeological Survey of India (ASI) Amaravati Circle archaeologists briefed them about he temple history, its sculptures and murals,etc.