Veerabhadra temple is a Hindu temple located in the Lepakshi, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The temple is dedicated to the Virabhadra, a fierce incarnation of Lord Shiva. Built in the 16th century, the architectural features of the temple are in the Vijayanagara style with profusion of carvings and paintings at almost every exposed surface of the temple. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance and is considered one of the most spectacular Vijayanagara temples.
The fabulous designs are taken from the exquisite borders of the pillars of a little-known temple about 120 km from Bengaluru, called the Veerabhadra Temple. Every design is unique and quite intricate. Those sculptors must have taken such pride in their work!
Since most of the temple happens to be built on a tortoise-shaped rocky hill, the hill is referred to as Kurmasailam, meaning ‘Tortoise Hill’ in Telugu.
The temple is thought by many to have been built between 1530 and 1545 by Virupanna and Veeranna, two ambitious brothers who were governors under the Vijayanagara Empire during the reign of King Achyuta Deva Raya.
He was supposed to have been hand-picked by the famous ruler Krishna Deva Raya, who was his older brother, to be his successor. However, there is another school of thought that believes that the temple was built by Sage Agastya.
Replete with idols of Nandi, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, Bhadrakali, etc., the typical Vijayanagara architectural style is very evident all over the temple with its awe-inspiring sculptures and detailed paintings on the walls and ceiling. The sculptures of gods, goddesses, musicians and dancers are similar to what one would find in the more famous Hampi. The various artworks showcase tales from the epics and the Puranas. These include a 24-feet-by-14-feet fresco of the fourteen avatars of Shiva (one of them being Veerabhadra) on the ceiling. And the deity of course — almost life-sized, armed and fierce, with a garland of skulls!