Lepakshi – Nandi and Jatayu

Nandi is looking towards the Nagalinga”, my sister stated standing right behind me, while I was busy staring at the colossal structure. Thinking that she was trying to be funny, I turned back with a chuckle. But, in all seriousness, she was reading from the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) description board that was located just next to us. I joined her and in turn read aloud the part that stated – The head is held at an angle higher than usual. Consequently, the typical expression of submission before Lord Shiva is conspicuous by its absence here.

I have seen many other Nandi idols or statues in South India but had never noticed the expression of submission. Well, made a mental note to do so next time.

Pic 1: The massive monolithic Nandi statue.

Nandi is the sacred bull, the vehicle and gate keeper of Lord Shiva. It’s no wonder that the giant monolithic Nandi is located just a stone throw away (about 500 m.) from Lepakshi Temple, dedicated to Veerabhadra, a form of Lord Shiva. Possibly, the Nandi would have been part of the temple complex in the olden days. We had just left the temple, after having spent a little more than 2 hours admiring the 16th century architectural splendour.

The monolithic Nandi, carved out of a single granite rock, is 20 feet in height and 30 feet in length. The details of the carvings, including the necklace and the bells are truly praiseworthy.

Pic 2: The Jatayu Theme Park

Now that we had a close inspection of the giant Nandi, we were all set to go to Jatayu Theme Park and take a closer look at Jatayu. The park was just across the road, hardly a walk of 5-6 min. The giant bird, perched on a huge rock, was clearly visible from here.

Jatayu is a mythological character from the epic Ramayana. No less than a demigod, Jatayu is the form of a large eagle. Jatayu had tried to rescue Lord Rama’s wife, Sita, from being kidnapped by the demon king Ravana. In the fight that ensued, the demon king had chopped off one of Jatayu’s wings. It is believed that the bird had fallen on this rock and remained alive to narrate the incident to Lord Rama. Le-pakshi – meaning rise O’ bird – is what Lord Rama had told the dying bird, blessing him to attain moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death).

I remember having read of another huge rock in Kollam district of Kerala that claims to be the rock where Jatayu had fallen (Read Here). So, when my sister narrated this tale from her ‘Google-Guide’, I protested that she was reading about the wrong rock. However, a description at the park corroborated her findings. Well, nobody will ever know which of these claims is more accurate than the other.

Pic 3: Jatayu statue atop the largest boulder
Pic 4: A foot impression in a boulder just below Jatayu statue, no description provided.

The manicured park is dotted with large and small boulders. On the largest boulder sits the big statue of Jatayu. We climbed up through iron stairs build in the space between the boulders. The park was artificial, so was Jatayu but the boulders and the view from the top were as natural as could be. We found a nice spot up in the boulders and sat there for a while enjoying the cool soothing breeze, which certainly wasn’t artificial.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

17 thoughts on “Lepakshi – Nandi and Jatayu”

  1. AP tourism board is trying to promote the place as an important place. The myth about Jatayu were added later into the narrative. I recently came across a travelogue of Lepakshi during the 2000s and there was no mention of Jatayu or “Rise O bird”. But all the travelogues after 2010 for some reason has this narrative. And I blame the AP tourism board. :-p

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    1. Agree with you Sugan, would be the brainchild of AP Tourism. 😛
      The park is pretty new and didn’t exist before. I do wish they would have left it natural instead of all the iron stairs and Jatayu statue and all that.

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    1. I don’t recall the direction but it was on the boulder just below the Jatayu statue. Probably that’s where you are supposed to pray from. There was a tiny temple though but that was on another boulder.

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  2. I visited Lepakshi as a kid in mid 1990s and vividly remember not hearing anything about the Jayatu tale! So could be a concocted was one 😆
    You’ve got a great blog! 🙂 randomly landed here today!

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    1. Thanks for visiting my blog and for all the kind words. Loved your blog too. The simplicity of your writings is appealing. Read a few posts. Followed you and will go back and read more.
      As for Jatayu, it’s funny how certain stories get associated with certain things and then in course of time become their truth. 😀

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  3. Very interesting to know about Lepakshi. I think the largest Nandi is in Big Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu built by Raja Raja Chola.

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  4. I visited Lepakshi but missed the Nandi bull 🥺 the importance of pre planning cannot be stressed enough. On the brighter side it gives me a reason to go back, but in cooler weather hopefully.
    There are so many places fighting to be Jatayu’s crash landing spot, but the sculptor in kollam was more classy than this one for sure 😀

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