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Lepakshi temple

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    17th May, 2022

Context

The Veerabhadra Swami temple, which got recently listed in UNESCO’s tentative list of world heritage sites in India for 2022, is a glorious example of the much-celebrated Vijayanagara architecture.

About

About Lepakshi Temple Complex:

  • Lepakshi temple is located in Andhra Pradesh, built during the era of Vijayanagara Empire.
  • The temple is famous for its three shrines, which are dedicated to
    • Lord Vishnu
    • Lord Shiva
    • 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.
  • It is situated atop the Kurmasailam (tortoise-shaped) hill.
  • 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.

Nagalinga

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.
  • Sources:
    • Literary Sources: Rayavachakam by vishvanatha sthanapati
    • Foreign Accounts:
      • 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
    • Inscriptions:
      • 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
    • Sangama dynasty(1336-1486)
    • Saluva dynasty(1486-1506)
    • Tuluva dynasty(1506-1565)
    • Aravidu dynasty(1570-1647)
  • Architecture:
    • 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.
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