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LEPAKSHI TEMPLE

The grandeur of the Lepakshi temple

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Built in the 16th century, the golden age of the Vijayanagar empire, the Lepakshi temple in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh boasts impressive sculptures and exquisite murals portraying stylised versions of scenes from Hindu lore on its ceilings.

 

This impressive sculpture of Nandi, carved out of a single rock, faces the main shrine of the Lepakshi temple complex.
This impressive sculpture of Nandi, carved out of a single rock, faces the main shrine of the Lepakshi temple complex. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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The unfinished kalyanamandapa.
The unfinished kalyanamandapa. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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A view of the Natyamandapa, or mahamandapa. The paintings are found here and on the ceiling of the verandah around it.
A view of the Natyamandapa, or mahamandapa. The paintings are found here and on the ceiling of the verandah around it. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Five-headed Sadasiva.
Five-headed Sadasiva. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Curious devotees check the “Hanging pillar” theory by running a piece of cloth under it.
Curious devotees check the “Hanging pillar” theory by running a piece of cloth under it. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Cow, calf and bulls in the natyamandapa.
Cow, calf and bulls in the natyamandapa. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Columns featuring musicians, including Nandi, playing the mridangam.
Columns featuring musicians, including Nandi, playing the mridangam. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Heavily armed ganas dominate the columns.
Heavily armed ganas dominate the columns. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Purushamriga (Indian sphinx) depicted worshipping a Siva linga.
Purushamriga (Indian sphinx) depicted worshipping a Siva linga. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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An elephant performing “abhisheka” (ritual bath) to a Siva linga. This part of the monolithic boulder that also has carved out of it a Ganesha shrine and seven-headed serpent with a Siva linga.
An elephant performing “abhisheka” (ritual bath) to a Siva linga. This part of the monolithic boulder that also has carved out of it a Ganesha shrine and seven-headed serpent with a Siva linga. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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A Siva linga being guarded by a seven-headed serpent, another side of the monolithic boulder with the Ganesha shrine and the elephant perfoming “abhisheka”.
A Siva linga being guarded by a seven-headed serpent, another side of the monolithic boulder with the Ganesha shrine and the elephant perfoming “abhisheka”. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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A Ganesha shrine carved in the same monolithic rock that has a Siva linga being guarded by a seven-headed serpent and the elephant performing “abhisheka”.
A Ganesha shrine carved in the same monolithic rock that has a Siva linga being guarded by a seven-headed serpent and the elephant performing “abhisheka”. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Some of the murals have faded or look smudged.
Some of the murals have faded or look smudged. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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A panel depicting Dakshinamurthy. Parvathi can be seen holding lotuses and with hands folded in “anjali mudra” (salutation).
A panel depicting Dakshinamurthy. Parvathi can be seen holding lotuses and with hands folded in “anjali mudra” (salutation). Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Parvathi’s toilet. The seated figure is male while a group of elegantly dressed women gaze at him.
Parvathi’s toilet. The seated figure is male while a group of elegantly dressed women gaze at him. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Maids of honour at the marriage of Siva and Parvathi.
Maids of honour at the marriage of Siva and Parvathi. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Siva and Parvathi playing a game of dice while Nandi (bull’s head on human body) looks on.
Siva and Parvathi playing a game of dice while Nandi (bull’s head on human body) looks on. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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The mural depicting Kiratarjuniya, an episode from the Mahabharata.
The mural depicting Kiratarjuniya, an episode from the Mahabharata. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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The mural depicting Kiratarjuniya, an episode from the Mahabharata.
The mural depicting Kiratarjuniya, an episode from the Mahabharata. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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The ASI has restored the paintings several times since 1979, but many details were lost because of neglect before that.
The ASI has restored the paintings several times since 1979, but many details were lost because of neglect before that. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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A panel showing the rescue of Markandeya by Lingodbhavamurti.
A panel showing the rescue of Markandeya by Lingodbhavamurti. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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Tripurantakamurti, a manifestation of Siva holding a deer (mriga) and an axe (parashu) in two hands.
Tripurantakamurti, a manifestation of Siva holding a deer (mriga) and an axe (parashu) in two hands. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam
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