Lepakshi temple is located in Andhra Pradesh, built during the era of Vijayanagara Empire.
About Lepakshi Temple Complex:
Lepakshi is famous for its three shrines, which are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Veerabhadra.
The Veerabhadra Temple was constructed by two brothers, Viranna and Virupanna.
The temple is built in the Vijayanagar architectural style and has beautiful sculptures adorning the walls.
There is a huge Nandi bull made from a single granite stone.
Lepakshi has many murals from the Vijayanagar Era and the famous sculpture of the snake on the Nagalinga.
The original structure is said to have been built by Sage Agastya, and finds mention in the Skanda Purana as one of the 108 Saivaite pilgrimage centres of ancient India.
The entire temple complex was believed to be re-built by Virupanna, and his brother Veeranna under the rule of Vijayanagara king Achyuta Devaraya.
The main shrine, the 70-pillared nrutya mantapa, the detailed and beautiful carvings on them depicts gods and artistes playing musical instruments and dancers in various poses and mudras.
The high ceiling is filled with long panels of fresco paintings.
The Ramayana link
The name of the place itself is linked with the Ramayana.
Legend has it that Jatayu fell at this spot after Ravana cut its wings when he tried to prevent Sita’s abduction.
Rama stumbled upon the bird when searching for Sita.
After the injured bird narrated what had happened, Rama coaxed him to rise again, “le, pakshi” (rise, bird in Telugu).
The Age of Vijaya Nagara (1336-1647) AD :
In 1336, Vijayanagar kingdom was established by Harihara and Bukka, who were two brothers and served in the army of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq.
They broke away from the Delhi Sultanate and established an independent state in Karnataka and established the capital city Vijayanagar on the banks of river Tungabhadra in 1336.
Harihara and Bukka were helped and inspired by contemporary scholar and a saint Vidyaranya for the establishment of their kingdom.
Literary Sources: Rayavachakam by vishvanatha sthanapati
Nicholo de conti visited Vijayanagar durinh times of Devaraya 1 and gave details about his personality.
Abdul Razzaq from Persia visited during Devaraya 2. He described the beauty of capital city Hampi.
Domingo Paes and Barbosa visted during Krishnadevraya time.
Nuniz visted during the times of achyuthdevaraya
Bitragunta inscription is the major source for construction of family history of sangama dynasty.
Srirangam copper plates of Devaraya II provide the genealogy and achievements of Vijayanagar rulers.
Various copper plate inscriptions of krishnadevraya time.
The Hampi ruins and other monuments of Vijayanagar provide information on the cultural contributions of the Vijayanagar rulers.
Political History: Vijayanagar was ruled by four different dynasties
They used the Dravidian style of architecture later added some unique features to it and it came to be called as Vijayanagara style.
Preferred for its durability, local hard granite was the building material of choice, as it had been for the Badami Chalukyas.
Vijayanagar temples are surrounded by strong enclosures and characterized by ornate pillared kalyanamandapa (marriage halls); tall rayagopurams (carved monumental towers at the entrance of the temple) built of wood, brick, and stucco in the Chola style; and adorned with life-sized figures of gods and goddesses.
This dravida style became popular during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya and is seen in South Indian temples constructed over the next two centuries.
The courtly architecture of Vijayanagar is generally made of mortar mixed with stone rubble and often shows secular styles with Islamic-influenced arches, domes, and vaults.
Some famous temples exemplifying the Vijayanagar style include the Virupaksha Temple at Hampi and the Hazara Rama temple of Deva Raya I etc.