Temples of Bhubaneshwar
While many associate Odisha or Orissa with the Jagannath Temple in Puri and the Sun Temple at Konark, not many travellers are aware of the many old temples in Bhubaneshwar. The capital of Odisha is filled with ancient monuments including rock cut cave temples and monasteries. There are shrines dedicated to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and even ancient Tantrik temples are found here. The city takes its name from Tribhuneshwar, a form of Shiva and most of the old temples of Bhubaneshwar are dedicated to him.
The 1000 year old Lingaraja temple dedicated to Harihara is at the centre of the town. The largest temple in the city, the architecture is typical of the Kalinga style with a curvelinear tower . The assembly hall or the viewing porch is referred to as Jagmohana with a multi tiered pyramidal roof.
The towering Vimana over the main shrine stands at a height of 180 feet. There are three main halls or mandapas here. The first one is the assembly hall or the Jagmohana , the Natamandira or the dancing hall and Bhogamandira or the hall of offerings. Surrounding me are figures of lions that stand out everywhere on the façade of the temple. Unfortunately photography is not allowed here.
I spend almost half a day here before exploring the other temples of Bhubaneshwar. Pottering around, I discover the Raja Rani temple, Mukteshwara temple followed by Brahmeshwara, Parasurameswara and Bhaskareshwara temples . Here is a photo feature of some of these temples of Bhubaneshwar.
Raja Rani Temple in Bhubaneshwar
The Raja Rani temple is one of the many popular temples of Bhubaneshwar The temple of love as it is referred to stands amidst manicured lawns and is called the Indreshwar temple.
Built in the 11th century around 1000 years ago, it is believed that the name “ Rajarani” refers to the unique sandstone that is used to build the temple.
The temple is typical of the architectural style of most temples built during the period, with a Vimana above the sanctum and the Jagamohana or the porch from where one can pray to the diety in the sanctum.
Mukteshwar Temple in Bhubaneshwar
This is the most beautiful temple according to me in Bhubaneshwar and is referred to as the gem of Odisha architecture. Located away from the tourist circuit, it is a picture of serenity and was built in the 10th century.
Located inside an octagonal compound, you can see the two pillars of the torana while the roof of the Jagmohana resembles a pyramid. The temple is smaller and is filled with carvings. There are several shrines in the complex. Although the shrine is dedicated to Shiva, it might have been a centre for tantric worship.
On the gateway, there are carvings of peacocks and monkeys as well. Meanwhile sculptures of Nataraja and Kirti Mukha decorate the shikara while a kalasa sits atop it.
The ornate window which has carvings of demons and dwarfs sculpted on it. Locals believe that a dip in the temple tank can cure childless women of infertility.
Parasurameshwar Temple in Bhubaneshwar
Built earlier than the Mukteshwar temple is the shrine called Parasurameshwar temple, one of the oldest temples of Bhubaneshwar that lies in solitude.
There is not a soul around as I see the tall vimana filled with sculptures . There is a curvilinear spire over the roof here as well.
Besides deities, there are depictions of Nagas and Nagins and vetalas or ghosts as well.
Bhaskareshwar Temple in Bhubaneshwar
My next halt is at the Bhaskareshwar temple, which is dedicated to Shiva as well, one of the pictureque and smaller temples of Bhubaneshwar.
Brahmeshwara Temple of Bhubaneshwar
Finally am at the Brahmeshwara temple built in the 9th century . The temple is a bit different from the others in terms of architecture.
The style is referred to as panchanatya with four subsidiary temples in addition to the main shrine.The Vimana of the temple is about 60 feet and it has been carved with sculptures after the structure was built. Even the Jagmohana is richly ornate with carvings.
The walls and niches burst into pretty sculptures with musicians and dancers, some of them showcasing the devadasi tradition as well.
The temple, dedicated to Shiva was also believed to have been a tantric shrine
Five temples are barely not enough to explore the heritage of Bhubaneshwar. Almost every corner of the city has a shrine. However I finally leave the town and head to the villages to explore more offbeat destinations.
If you like architecture and photo essays on temples that you must check out the beautiful photographs of my friend Siddharth Joshi on the Harminder Sahib Golden Temple Amritsar.