By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Lepaksi, LepAksi, Lepaaksi
Lepākṣi literally means 'village of the blinded eye’.
Lepākṣi is one of the 108 important Śivakṣetras mentioned in the Skandapurāṇa. Its temple is said to have been established by the great sage Agastya himself.
The present Lepākṣi is a small village which lies 14.5 km (9 miles) east of Hindupur in the Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh. The original temple might have been built in the 7th century CE.
Its famous temple of Vīrabhadra lies on a low rocky hill called Kurmaśilā because it is shaped like a kurma or tortoise. It was constructed by Virupaṇṇa during the 16th century. Since he constructed the temple from the State funds without the permission of the king, he was punished by plucking out his eyes, which he did himself.
The temple campus has four shrines dedicated to Vīrabhadra, the terrible deity who destroyed Dakṣa’s sacrifice. These four deities are:
- Pāpanāśeśvara Śiva
- Śrī Rāma
There are very good sculptured idols of:
- Anantaśayana (Viṣṇu)
- Sage Nārada
- Rambhā (a celestial nymph)
- Virupaṇṇa (the builder)
The nāṭyamaṇdapa is decorated with exquisitely sculptured pillars having life size idols of musicians and dancers. The kalyaṇamaṇḍapa is unfinished. Bas-reliefs on the outer walls and mural paintings with vegetable dyes on the inner walls are very attractive. They depict stories from the epics and the purāṇas. There is a colossal of Nandi, said to be the largest in India at a distance of 180 meters (600 ft.) to the east of the temple. It is carved out of a monolithic rock. It is 6 meters (20 ft.) in height and 9 meters (30 ft.) in length.
- Śivakṣetras means holy place dedicated to god Śiva.
- He was the treasurer of Vijayanagara empire.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore