Place: Lepakshi Temple and Avalabetta HilltopDistance: 300 km round trip
Type: Hilltop, Temple
Ideal for: Friends and family
Bikes: BikeAvenger, Gixxer, Pulsar
Crew: Vinay, Chandu, Pradeep, Jayraj, Bhimu and me
New bike and a new DSLR, do I need any better reason to go on a ride? After patiently waiting for 110 days and 3500 km, the second service of my bike was done, it was ready to be pushed farther and harder. Lepakshi was the closest place which I had not explored so far (130 km to be precise). As usual, I invited friends for the ride, 6 of them turned up. Bhimu insisted on visiting the Avalabetta, none of the co-riders had visited it, even I had missed photo on the edge so decided to take a detour at Paresandra and have a quick visit to Avalabetta.
|Best of the Beast: Wedding hall of Shiva and Parvathi at Lepakshi|
Sunday Morning: After hardly 4 hours of sleep I woke up at 4 am and got ready. Put on my riding gears and hit the road sharp at 4.30. We all assembled at Vijaynagar while Bhimu joined us at Hebbal at 5.30.
The Ride: We proceeded on Bangalore-Hyderabad highway, there were a lot of motorcyclists on the way most of them were travelling to Nandi Hills. It was bone-freezing cold, riding with full gears definitely helps in such cases, as we had a long way to go we maintained good speed. The butter smooth national highway (NH7) tempted me to push the bike to its limits and I achieved 120 kmph top speed. After a small tea break, we took a left turn at paresandra bridge. Avalabetta is 16 km from this point and shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to reach. Last time we blindly followed google maps and arrived at the dead end, this time I remembered the route. Read my previous post for details.
Finally, we reached the base of the hill, an arch at entrance welcomed us, 2 km of the uphill ride would take us to the hilltop. Concrete road is bit narrow and steep, it was fun to ride anyway (be extra careful if you are an amateur rider).
Avalabetta Hilltop: When I visited this place last time it was isolated but over the year the place gained a lot of popularity especially because of the steep edge which turned out to be profile pic of most of the people on social media (including mine ;)). The parking space was almost full, for bikes. There was still enough place but cars were struggling to find a parking space. Locals were selling tender coconut, fruits and other snacks. The place has lost its importance of being the holy place but instead has turned into a tourist spot with the mad crowd. Most of the riders who got bored of Nandi hills turnabout to this place. I am not saying its wrong, we were part of the mad crowd too.
We had very limited time to spend at this place. Our only agenda was to get the pic on the edge (which I missed last time) and head to our next destination. Without wasting any time we proceeded towards the most interesting part of the place - the pointy edge. To my utter surprise, there was a long queue to take a picture there. I still remember the last time when we visited we were the only soul at this place but we didn't have enough courage to sit on the edge. Sincerely we joined the long queue with around 30 + people ahead of us. People were fearless to sit on the edge and pose for the photo, even girls were sitting like a pro and giving thug life pose. It boosted my confidence, I am not scared of heights but didn't want to risk my life for a photo.
|A big queue lined up to take the photo on the edge at Avalabetta|
After waiting for half an hour my turn came. Walking towards the edge wasn't as simple as it looked, my legs started shivering, I bent down and crawled to the edge, I knew the place was going to be banned soon so I took photos in all the angles, we took a perfect group photo as well. I posed like a stud but inside I was scared to death :D After clicking many photos we left the place at 9 am. As I told already there's a lot of things to explore at this place but we rushed to our next destination as we didn't have much time.
|Thug life: I look daring but deep inside I am scared to death|
|Ditch the selfies this is called group photo|
If you are looking for a detailed post about Avalabetta then I strongly recommend you to read my previous post.
Visiting Avalabetta took us 30 km and 2 hours but a single photo on the edge was worth the time and effort. Lepakshi is another 60 km, we stopped by for breakfast at a roadside hotel. It was 10 am, the sky was cloudy, the climate was cool & soothing. This is the reason I love riding in winter (and post monsoon). The silky smooth road was a treat to ride. My Avenger performed exceptionally well on the highways, though it's not a true cruiser I loved its highway performance especially the stability at high speed. Following the google maps, we took a left diversion at Kodikonda. We joined the inner small road, the road condition was good. Big Nandi statue to the right greeted us, we stretched for a quick visit. The main temple is 800 meters from this place. Lepakshi is at the border of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (majorly), most of them know Kannada so it shouldn't be much problem.
Nandi Statue: The 15 ft tall beautiful Nandi statue is carved out of a single rock and is one of the largest Nandi in India. The sculpture has been positioned so that it faces the Shivalinga which is shielded by a large serpent inside the temple. It is surrounded by a well-maintained garden. We crashed down for half an hour taking rest and capturing photos. I'm not obsessed with photos but felt I really need a photographer travel companion after my friends clicked blurred pictures of me :@ (happens with me all the time)
|Beautiful 15 feet tall Nandi greets as soon as you enter the town.|
|Is it only me who feels Nandi is smiling?|
|Lotus pound at surrounding garden, well-maintained \../|
|We crashed down for quick break and a lot of photos ;)|
After a quick break, we moved on to our next destination - Lepakshi temple.
Lepakshi Temple: You can see a lot of devotees at this place, unlike most of the busy places this one is a quite and peaceful. The history of this place dates back to the Ramayana, it has many interesting stories most significant is about the mythological bird Jatayu, who helped Rama in his battle with Ravana. When Ravana was taking away Sita in his flying chariot, the bird Jatayu stood in his way. Ravana had to injure the bird which fell on the ground. Rama while looking for Sita found Jatayu at this place. He healed Jatayu with his divine powers and as he said "Le Pakshi" (rise bird), Jatayu rose again. Since then this place is called Lepakshi.
The temple dates back to 16th century built by the brothers Viranna and Virupanna, is dedicated to Veerabhadreshwara. .This is one of the very few temples dedicated to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu
The temple area itself is a very interesting place to explore, there are guides available at lesser cost make sure you hire one but we didn't :( let me split it into three parts.
1. Pillars and wall paintings: As soon as you enter the temple you can see a lot of pillars with each pillar having a unique carving on it and going through each of them itself can reveal a lot of stories embedded within them. As you look up you can notice the paintings on the ceiling depicting several stories like wedding of Siva and Parvathi, wars, folks praying.
|This is the first view of the temple as soon as you enter|
|Don't forget to look up to see art on the ceilings|
|Each of these pillars have unique carving and tells story|
|Paintings on the ceiling depicting several stories|
The most interesting part is the Hanging pillar. The temple is supported by 80 pillars, out of which one hanging pillar balances the weight of rest of the 79 pillars. Attempts were made to move this hanging pillar but resulted in cracks and crevices into rest of the structure. I bent down to see the gap with the ground, I could see little part of the the pillar was touching the ground.
|Can you see the gap|
|While there are photographers who took awesome pics at Lepakshi this my best photography skills :P|
2. Core temple: The presiding deity deified in the sanctum sanctorum is a near life-size image of Veerabhadra, fully armed and decorated with skulls. There is a cave chamber in the sanctum where sage Agasthya is said to have lived when he installed the image of the Linga here. No photography is allowed here, so didn't take any photos.
|No photography inside the temple|
3. Courtyard: This is the most interesting part for all the photographers and visitors. We first encountered the beautiful sculpture of seven headed serpent shading above the Shiva-linga which finds its way into almost every article or blog post about Lepakshi. According to the associated stories this sculpture was completed when the sculptors were waiting for their food but it wasn't ready so they utilize the time and built this marvelous article (don't believe them it sounds stupid ;P).
|Beautiful sculpture of seven headed serpent sheltering the Shiva-linga|
|You know where to go if you are planning for a prewedding photoshoot?|
|You can see the wedding hall to the right|
|Mantapa where marriage of Shiva and Parvati|
|This pier has several pillars full of sculptures.|
|The main temple|
|Huge footprint of Sita whose big toe always contains water|
|Pillars and the art|
This place feels like a slice of Hampi, after spending around an hour we decided to depart. It was almost 3 in the afternoon and we were feeling hungry. Inquired with locals for decent place for lunch. But unfortunately there are no good hotels around. We had lunch on the highway side.
Ride Back: It was long way home, we had to ride straight 130 km until we reach home. Though the climate was in favor of us we were tired. After 80 km it started raining near Chikkaballapur. Before we could find shelter we got drenched, the climate turned really good and made the ride interesting again. We took couple of tea breaks until we finally reached Hebbal where Bhimu got down. I reached home by 8 pm.
Conclusion: Lepakshi is far but the roads are super smooth, whether you have bike or car you should never miss this destination. I had put my new beast through tough test and it survived. It was one hell of a ride and awesome memories created with best friends.
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