One day trips are always good and rejuvenating… to escape from the hustling life, traffic of city to the getaway landscapes around Bangalore to enjoy nature’s goodness and if possible to explore some history in the form of ancient temples/monuments to understand the associated stories and to indulge in its piousness. One long weekend, we decided to have a day trip to Lepakshi and Nandihills with stop-over at Muddenahalli.
Our first destination was Nandi hills. Nandi hills is a beautiful hill station about 60 kms from Bangalore towards North.. past the Bangalore International airport at Devanahalli. A Sunrise at Nandi hills is very special .. beauty of Sun, sweet chirps of the birds amidst lush green forest and the cool weather of the hills .. a paradise . To witness this beauty we had to leave house at 4.00 AM … but with two small kids , planning an early morning road trip is very challenging .. so we decided to take it easy and skip Sunrise .
The drive to Nandihills from Bangalore is very scenic , roads very beautiful with clear signboards to guide you through . As you start climbing the hill, the road turns curvy with few tricky hair pin bends. Make sure you drive safe.We reached to the top of Nandi hills around 8:30am. We knew that we don’t get anything decent to eat at Hills so finished our breakfast before reaching . As we reached the gate,one of those typical fort types entrance .. Boy-o-boy .. the place was so crowded ! We could see all kind of bikes, motorists heading towards the Nandi hills. Nandi Hills is believed to be a cyclist’s paradise, with around 400 meters of altitude and approximate 7 km of hill terrain ride up to the top. The bikers/cyclists from Bangalore storm here on weekends and holidays. It’s a very good hill training spot for trekkers, photographers and cyclists alike. We saw motorists racing through the lanes to the top of the hills. Parking was bit of a problem as traffic was slowly moving to the top but we finally found a space . You need to pay for the entry fees and parking fees to enter the premises managed by the Karnataka tourism department.
@Nandi hills one can definitely spend 2-3 hours if you have to see all places but there are few visitors who hang a complete day and spend a relaxed time amidst nature . Get a picnic basket from home and enjoy.. There is enough area, various view points and parks that one can spend the day there.
Some spots to see in Nandi hills include:
Sunrise view point: This is a splendid location for photographers and visitors to capture and relish the early moments of the day. The top is very beautiful, windy and cloudy .
Tipu’s Summer Palace and Fort: There is nothing much to talk about in terms of grandeur but it stands to this day as a testament to ancient architecture .It is made of entirely of wood .
Gavi Veerbhadra Swamy temple: on top of the hill, on the way to the Sultanpet, from Tippus palace, natural formation of huge boulders has been transformed into a temple.
Tipu’s Drop – the famous place from where Tippu Sultan had his condemned prisoners and enemies thrown to death.
Children’s Playground – The Horticulture department maintains a lovely garden for children to play games like the slides, merry-go-round, swings etc. Nandi Hills is also a favourite destination for the monkeys, so it is advised to keep your food items well packed and avoid feeding them.
Yoga Narasimha Temple -a beautiful simple Hindu temple which is usually not that crowded .
Paragliding – Nandi Hills is one of the unique place in Karnataka which offers paragliding activity during the vacation seasons.
Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple
We left the Nandi hills around 12:30 pm to go to our next destination, the Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple at the bottom of the hills.
The 19th century Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple in Nandi village is one of the oldest and most beautiful temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati and Nandi. The temple is built in Dravidian style of architecture and has two large shrines: the “Arunachaleswara”, and the “Bhoga Nandeeshwara”. In between, there is a small intervening shrine called with “Uma-Maheshwara” shrine with a Kalyana mantapa (“marriage hall”) supported by ornate pillars in black stone with reliefs depicting of the Hindu gods.
Beyond this compound is a large stepped temple tank “Kalyani”…
From this temple we went to the Muddenahalli which is about 2 kms away… to see the birth place of our renowned engineer and Bharat Rathna Sir M. Vishweshwaraiah. The house where he was born is converted to museum now and adjacent to this museum is the place where his memorial is constructed .
Next we halted for about an hour in one of the small temples on the way to Lepakshi… to eat lunch which we had carried with us from Bangalore. I tell you this was one of the best decisions we did as we hardly could spot some decent restaurant in this route . After having our lunch amidst serene nature and a small rest , made us recharged to proceed towards our next destination – Lepakshi.
Lepakshi is a small village about about 130 km from Bangalore and 70 kms from Muddenahalli .Lepakshi is famous for Virabhadra temple built in 15th century by Vijayanagara kings and known for the largest monolith of Nandi and the Nagalinga. The road to Lepakshi ,Bangalore to Hyderabad highway ( NH 44 ) is excellent til Bagepalli . After crossing Bagepalli village there is a toll plaza crossing which we need to take the left deviation at about 4km and drive 15 kms from there. The drive stretch is really bad.
We reached Lepakshi around 3:30pm and we were welcomed by the sight of the large monolithic Nandi statue. The 15 feet height and 27 feet length statue is said to be biggest Nandi in India .Carved out of a single stone , the Nandi faces the temple. We were impressed with the maintenance of the place .
From the Nandi statue we went to the ancient Veerbhadra temple situated around 500metres . The temple built in the mid-16th century by brothers Viranna and Virupanna, the then Vijayanagara governors of Penukonda.
As the history goes, it is said that Viranna executed the plan in the absence of the king and used the treasure. When the construction was almost finished, the king returned and found the treasure empty. The king ordered, as a punishment to this heinous crime, that he should be blinded. The Virupanna being a loyal person carried out the punishment spot with his own hands. Even today one can see two dark stains upon the wall near the ‘Kalyana Mandapa’, which are said to be the marks made by his eyes, which he himself dashed against the wall.
Another legendary story associated with the village takes us back to the Ramayana period . It is said that , Jatayu during the fight with Ravana to save Sita from getting kidnapped , got wounded and fell at Lepakshi . When Lord Rama visited this site , Jatayu attained moksha . And hence the name of the place Le Pakshi – derived from “Laya pakshi” (unconscious bird). There is a Ramalingam and a Hanuman Lingam installed by Rama and Anjaneya respectively.
This temple is divided into three parts – the ‘Mukha Mandapa’, ‘Artha Mandapa’ and ‘Garbha Griha’.
Entire temple is covered with the finest masterpiece of the art and sculpture . Each pillar is different from the other and has a story to tell . Definitely a paradise for photographers and art lover .. .
Don’t miss out the floating pillar- a pillar that is attached at the top but does not touch the ground.One can easily slide news paper through it .
The ceilings have paintings depicting the stories of Hindu` gods.
The monolithic Nagalingesvara statue in the temple premises is one of the main attractions, the seven headed serpents shielding a huge Shiva linga. We were told that if we stood on top of that sculpture, we could see the Nandi statue.
Next to this we can see the beautiful red stone Ganesha idol carved inside the mantapa on the same stone.
As we step outside the temple , one can see uncompleted gorgeous Kalyana Mantapa having beautiful carvings on its pillars depicting different Hindu gods and goddesses. It is said that Lord Shiva and Parvathi got married here …
Near the kalyana mantapa there is an interesting giant footprint with traces of water in it. As per the folklore it is believed that during the Ramayana the bird Jatayu fell here and Sita pressed her footprint here to provide water to Jatayu to survive till he narrates his fight and gives direction to Rama and Lakshmana.
By around 6.00 PM we were done with seeing the temples and clicking don’t know how many pics . If you are planning a photo shoot for pre wedding or for classical dancer .. lepakshi is picture perfect .We loved Lepakshi as it is so serene , peaceful and well maintained !!
Don’t know how far all these stories are true .. but inspite of travelling since morning kids didn’t crib as they were super excited and curious to see some places associated with Ramayana .. all these days they had just heard them in stories . I really missed my evening tea as unfortunately there is no decent restaurant around till you hit highway .
We reached home around 8.30 PM .It was a nice drive and we were back after a good satisfied day’s outing. We felt very refreshed the next day… ☺ Nandi hills and Lepakshi is yet another place where I would like to return again some day to spend more time.