When a Devotee sacrificed his eyes for a construction of a Temple

In the mystical land of India, there are many tales, stories and legends adding glory to our culture and personifying the greatness of many great kings, devotees and warriors who put in their lives for our Culture. A great devotee who belonged to this genre is Virupanna, a treasurer in the kingdom of the Vijayanagar King Achyuta Deva Raya, younger brother of the great king Krishna Deva Raya. Not only famous for being built by the Vijayanagara kings, but Lepakshi temple is also known for many of its famous incidents which happened in this divine place.

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Lepakshi is a sacred site right from the time of Ramayan. It was at this very place that the great Jatayu fell down after his fight with Ravan in the process of rescuing Mata Sita. Shri Ram and Lakshman searching for Mata Sita came to this place and found Jatayu waiting for them with his last breath. Seeing Jatayu, Shri Ram had said “Le – Get up, Pakshi – Bird, since then this place came to be known as Lepakshi.

At this very sacred site, The Veerabhadra Temple was built in the 16th century by Virupanna. Virupanna was a treasurer in the court of Achyuta Deva Raya and an ardent devotee of Virabhadra. Achyuta Deva Raya entrusted the task of the whole temple construction to Virupanna and he put all his life and breath into it and the temple started to take a beautiful shape. However, there were some courtiers who were jealous of Virupanna’s fame and decided to turn the king against him. They approached the king and lied to him that Virupanna was misusing the treasury for his own purposes

The king without looking into the truth immediately ordered Virupanna to be bound into chains and bought to him. When the soldiers reached the temple and told Virupanna about the order, Virupanna was aghast. To prove his innocence, he pulled out his eyes and hit them to the walls of the temple. All were shocked by this gesture and when the king came to know about this, he repented his decision and gave back Virupanna his post and status in the society. But as a mark of respect for Virupanna’ great sacrifice, the portion of the Kalayan Mantap till date remains unfinished. One can see two black spots even today on the walls, as the marks of the truthful devotee’s eyes. In Sanskrit, Lepakshi also means torn eyes, and hence too, this temple became famous as the Lepakshi temple.

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The temple is a huge structure with a big complex. The largest monolith of Asia (carved out of a single stone) Nandi is also present here. There is a huge Nagalingam too in the temple premises which is believed to be carved in a single day. The Nagalingam is encircled by the coils of a five headed snake which crowns the Shivling. There is a tale that the mother of the sculptor was proud of her son who sculpted the huge shape in a day. As pride is not a quality liked by Bhgwan Shiv, a huge crack appeared in the middle of the sculpture breaking her pride. One can see the crack even today on the sculpture. With all such wonderful tales and stories associated with it, The Lepakshi temple is indeed a worth visit for all its wondrous stories and beautiful sculptures which reflect the splendour of Indian Art.