The text below is courtesy kaladarshana.com
This Virabhadra Temple at Lepakshi was built in the mid-16th century by Viranna and Virupanna, Vijayanagara governors of Penukonda. It contains some of the finest sculpture of the period and has the earliest preserved cycle of mural paintings in the Vijayanagara style.
Carved out of a natural boulder to the west of the shrine, this seven-hooded Naga shelters a black-polished lingam cradled in its ribbed coils. A saptamatrika panel is placed below to the right.
Sculpted in low relief on a boulder-face next to the Ganesa shrine, these images depict the legend of Sri (spider), Kala (serpent-king) and Hasti (elephant) worshipping the linga.
This is the east entrance of the large, unfinished Kalyana Mandapa at the north-west of temple compound. Each of the twelve pillars along the entrance has an image of a rishi wearing a crown and jewels and holding up one hand in varadamudra.
Immediately inside the Kalyana Mandapa is an exquisite Karthikeya image sculpted on a wide pier. The diety is depicted with six heads and ten arms, and is framed by pilasters and a makara-torana canopy.
The peripheral columns of this mandapa are elaborate compositions. A yali with bulging eyes and elaborate scrollwork on its side rears over a large kneeling figure holding a dagger. Riding the yali is a diminutive mounted warrior who raises his sword. Elsewhere, piers have cut out colonnettes and are raised on bases carved as squatting yalis.
The central space of the mandapa has a series of massive piers, each magnificently carved on all three sides. This image is of Bhringi, three-legged, dance master of the gods. He wears elaborate ornaments, has a pigtail and holds a flower delicately in his left hand. He is framed by decorated pilasters on either side and a makara-torana above.
This sculpture, perhaps the most spectacular in the temple, is a classic depiction of Shiva as Kankala-murti. His feet are clad in wooden sandals, the right leg slightly bent forward in a gesture of movement. In one of his hands he holds the kankala-danda, placed horizontally on his shoulders. Another hand is in the kataka-mudra held near the mouth of a deer that rears up to it. Other hands hold a trisula and a damaru. Above his head is an elaborate makara-torana. His flowing jata spreads on either side of his mukuta. To his left is a bhuta-gana, carrying on his head a large bowl of rice. At the right edge of the pier is an image of a woman (probably Parvati) serving him rice with a ladle. The woman’s dress is shown slipping down. Figures of gandharvas and rishis blessing Siva are above and to the right.
The murals at Lepakshi are the most important specimens of Vijayanagara pictorial art and illustrate the high level of artistic achievement reached in Vijayanagara. The paintings, recently restored, are in vibrant red, green, and ochre colours. Black floral patterns border the scenes on either side. This panel shows the marriage of Siva and Parvati. The seated figures as well as the maids in attendance on Parvati each have distinct hairstyles, dresses, and facial types.
Most panels illustrate legends from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Siva Purana. This animated scene narrates the hunting episode from the Kirata story. The boar is charging through the forest. A sage is shown fleeing together with antelopes, rabbit, and birds (above). On the right are hunters with bows and arrows.
Wide piers with beautiful sculpture also fill the centre of this inner hall. An aspect of Devi is depicted here. Carved almost in the round, the precision of her flowing jewelry, folds of her costume and the elaborate scrollwork and the fullness of her head, hair, breasts, wide eyes, and aggressive posture.
The monolithic Nandi a few 100 mts away from the Virabhadra temple is the main draw for the temple town. This is the second largest monolithic structure in the country.