The state of Andhra Pradesh is mostly overlooked in tourist books. Unless you visit some national tourist fairs, you might leave out numerous destinations in India just because they didn’t brand their Taj Mahal.
Today I would like to tell you about Lepakshi Village which is one of the cultural day getaways from Bangalore. Lepakshi is mainly a pilgrimage place, though it captures the attention of architecture and culture enthusiasts as well. To give you a broad introduction to Lepakshi, I will focus on the following questions:
- Where the name Lepakshi comes from?
- Places to visit in Lepakshi
- How to reach Lepakshi from Bangalore by bus?
- Lepakshi from Bangalore by car
- Where to eat in Lepakshi?
- Other tips
Where the name Lepakshi comes from?
The town has an important mention in Ramayana (for international readers – there are two main mythological epics in Hinduism – Mahabharata and Ramayana). Lepakshi is the place where Jatayu (bird) fell in a battle with Ravana (demon in Hindu mythology). Jatayu fell in the attempt to save Sita (wife of Lord Rama) from Ravana who captured her.
Lord Rama, on the way to find his wife, saw Jatayu(bird) wounded from his battle and commanded it to rise. Le Pakshi literally means “rise, bird” in Telugu (the language spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh). Since then the town owns this name.
Veerabhadra temple Lepakshi
Veerabhadra temple is the main site of Lepakshi famous for its architecture created by Vijayanagar Empire. The complex was built back in the 16th century but there are still unfolded engineering secrets in its construction to be explained in future. For instance, there is one famous hanging pillar which doesn’t touch the ground. The ceilings near the main entrance have mural paintings of Vijayanagar kings – pay attention to the contrasting colors.
Back to mythology. Gods take different forms depending on the situation. Veerabhadra is a fearsome form of god Shiva. This is the form Shiva took when his wife Sati died. Logically, Veerabhadra is primarily a Shiva temple with many carvings of other gods and goddesses: Lord Ganesha (the elephant God who is the remover of obstacles), Vishnu (Hindu god preserving the universe), Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity) and many other deities.
Off-topic that is in my head: as mentioned previously, Lepakshi is a place where, according to the legend, Jatayu(bird) fell protecting Sita(wife of Lord Rama). Lord Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu who came to this place in searches of his wife and saw the wounded bird. From this perspective, the village has a strong connection to Vishnu and it would be curious if there was a Vishnu temple as well. Now that I tried to explain you briefly Indian mythology, I hope some Indians can share their views on the topic.
Veerabhadra temple is half km from the bus stop if you come by bus. There are no tickets and entrance to the temple area is free. Lepakshi temple timings are 6 AM – 7 PM.
Nandi statue is another famous site in Lepakshi. I would like to share more information about Nandi with international readers. In Hindu religion, each god has their own vehicle (in Sanskrit vahana) which they used to fight in wars. These vehicles are mostly represented as species of fauna. E.g. Vishnu’s vahana is an eagle, Durga’s vehicle is a lion, Brahma’s – swan.
Nandi (mostly represented as a bull) is a vehicle of Shiva (one of three main gods in Hinduism). Lepakshi Nandi is the biggest in India (in the world as well). It is believed, this Nandi was carved out of a single granite. It is another architectural wonder of Lepakshi. If you go around Nandi, you can spot how perfectly symmetrical its structure and ornaments are.
How to reach Lepakshi from Bangalore by bus?
The information point at the Bangalore bus stop told that there are two buses that go daily directly to Lepakshi – 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. I haven’t personally managed to catch them.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to Hindupur – a town 15 km away from Lepakshi. There are regular buses leaving from APCTC terminal (beyond the metro station, here – 12.975087, 77.572104). The driver claims that the first bus starts at 5 a.m., the last at 10 p.m. Since information point at the station told to ask all the details directly from the drivers, here I found at the station the following schedule: 05.00, 09.30, 10.00, 11.00, 11.30, 12.30, 15.00, 16.30, 17.00, 17.30, 18.00, 18.30, 19.15.
Read also: Urban transport in India
The buses leave from platforms 13 and 9. The bus ticket from Bangalore to Hindupur costs 96 INR and you need to pay directly to the driver. It takes roughly 3 hours to reach to Hindupur. From Hindupur there are 15 km further to reach Lepakshi. There are regular buses connecting these two points.
You can also consider going by train to Hindupur if you like train journeys. There are several trains departing daily from Bangalore train station (SBC).
Bangalore to Lepakshi by car
The distance from Bangalore to Lepakshi is roughly 120 km. A car is the fastest way to reach this village and the roads are really good on the way. The shortest way is via Chilamathur, though there is a bit longer way through Hindupur.
You will need to pay two toll fees on the way (130 INR and 135 INR return trip). It takes two hours to reach Lepakshi by car once you leave Bangalore (feel free to add traffic time depending on the area you stay in Bangalore).
Where to eat in Lepakshi?
Lepakshi in some sources is a village in some a town. The bottom line, it’s a small place. It has a few shops with basic needs products and a few street food stalls. With a local influx of Indian tourists, there have been opened a few cafes. I’ve spotted Nandini and Aptdc hotel with food facilities. Prices are regular despite the hotel status.
There are as well numerous Dhabas and Cafes on the highway between Bangalore and Lepakshi serving anything from South Indian to Foreign cuisines.
Read: Food in India explained
Overall, Lepakshi is not a trendy place overcrowded with tourists and filled with souvenir stalls every now and then (and it’s one of the best things about it).
- Try to leave Bangalore early (not later than 8 a.m.) especially if you are traveling not in winters. It’s a temple so you will need to take off your shoes. Though it’s not hot inside the complex due to the smart architecture. It’s quite breezy if you stay in one spot. Nevertheless, the whole area is made out of stone and it’s not fun to walk on it in the sun.
- Dress modestly (covered legs, covered shoulders) to show respect towards other culture and religion. Read: What to wear in India?
- Photography is allowed on the territory, though it’s forbidden inside the temple. If you are in doubt about certain sites of the complex, there are several temple workers in the area – ask them.
- It takes roughly two hours to visit temple and Nandi statue. The overall journey takes 6-8 hours – almost a day getaway from Bangalore.
- Lepakshi is just one of the numerous gems in Andhra Pradesh, don’t hesitate to explore it more!
What about you? Have you been to Lepakshi?