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Temples of Orissa:
Glorious Symbols of Art, Architecture and Culture – 2
by Aniket Kumar

Temples of Bhubaneswar

Lingaraj Temple

The temple of Lingaraj by far the most notable temple not only of Bhubaneswar but also of Orissa, and according to expert opinions is also one of the best archaeological monuments of the East. Rising to a height of about 180 feet and dominating the entire landscape within an area of about 10 miles, this great temple represents the quintessence of the Kalinga type of architecture and the culminating result of the architectural activities at Bhubaneswar. Its stands in the midst of a number of smaller temples within a spacious compound of laterite measuring 520 feet in length and 465 feet in breadth and having gates on the east, north & south.

Rajarani Temple

Although the Rajarani temple has been one of the most notable monuments of the place, such a name does not occur in any of the four Sanskrit texts that profess to deal with the history of Bhubaneswar from the orthodox standpoint.

The names of all Saiva temples at Bhubaneswar ends with Eshwar, e.g. Parsurameswar, Brameswar, Mitreswar, Yameswar etc. The names of non-Saiva temples have been derived from their presiding deities, e.g., Gauri temple, Parvati temple, Mohini temple and Ananta-Vasudev temple etc.

Brahmeswar Temple

The next dated temple, Brahmeswar, shows mature workmanship and advanced architectural features. Here the canons of Orissan architecture is found to have been fully applied. Among the dated temples it is the earliest one where iron beams have been used, and where porch or the Jagamohana consists of the full-fledged Pidha-Deula with the usual crowinging members. It is a pancha-ratha temple with five plasters, namely two corner plasters, two intermediate ones & one central one, fully developed which give the structure almost a rounded appearance.

Swarnajaleswar Temple

It stands on the road from the Lingaraj to the Kedargouri temple and was in a utterly ruined condition, but the structure is being restored now. The evidences that connect with the Parsurameswar are that the cult images in both have attributes and that both possess close architectural affinities. It bears on the lintel of its northern niche a scene of Lord Siva's marriage, which can be regarded as a replica of the same scene carved on the lintel of the eastern niche of the Parsurameswar. The Swarnajaleswar like all the early temples also bears several scenes from Ramayana & The Mahabharata in a sunken panel running round the Vimana and making the transition between the Vada and the Sikhara.

Yogini Temple

On the outskirts of Bhubaneswar is Hirapur village with its Hypatheral temple of sixty-four Yoginis.One among them the two such distinguished temples in Orissa and four such in India,it has beautiful Yogini images -a great study for the connoisseurs of art & architecture. The second one is located at Ranipur-Jharial with a plethora of others temple.

Sari Deul Temple

It is situated just behind the Jagannath Ballabh Matha on the southern side of Vindu Sarover. The temple both in dimension and workmanship is in no way inferior to that of Ananta-Vasudev, but with houses surrounding it on all sides,it is now relegated to an obscure corner. It is a typical example of a Sapta-Ratha temple and its art & architecture provide ample evidence to indicate that it belonged to the Ganga period. The pilasters have been over crowded with numerous scrolls containing the favorite designs of the Ganga art.

Satrughaneswar Temple

This temple belongs to the 6th century A.D. group of temples. Even the earliest extant temple, the Satrughaneswar, is found to be a mature conception and origin of the monument apparently lie further back. It represents a Sikhara temple and its shape as available now after restoration and a few sculptures that still exists on the monument or have been recovered from it, supply affinities with those of the Dasavatara temple at Deogarh. The sculptures of the Satruganeswar are marked by the vigor & exuberance of the designs recalling the best characteristics of the Post-Gupta Art. The ruined temple of Laxmaneswar standing by its side appears to be a closely analogous monument in shape as well as from and it seems to be an immediate successor of the Satrughaneswar.

Sureswar & Gouri Temple

There are two other temples at Bhubaneswar, which may be regarded as close contemporaries of the Mukteshwar temple. One of them is the Sureswar, a very small structure which stands near the Kotitirtheswar temple in the close neighborhood of the Swarnajaleswar temple and the other is the Gouri temple situated in the compound of the Kedareswar temple.

Bhavanishankar Temple

It has been recently discovered while digging a drain in the compound of the later Bhavani- shankar temple and it is to be found between the Lingaraj temple and the Vindu Sarovar tank. This is a very small temple with attractive gestures.

Ananta-Vasudeva Temple

The plan of the Anata-Vasudeva temple differs considerably from that of the other temples. The main temple stands on an uniform platform, a peculiarity which is the first of its kind in a dated temple, and has a three- chambered frontal adjunct consisting of Jagamohana, the Natamandira and the Bhogamandapa. It is stated in the epigraph that a temple was built for SriKrishna & Valaram on the bank of Vindu Sarovar tank by Chandrikadevi, daughter of Ananga-Bhimadev III, in the Saka era of 1200 (1278 A.D.).

Yameswar Temple

It is a fairly large-sized temple situated on the left side of the road to the Khandagiri. It bears all the peculiarities of a Ganga monument. Its stands on a high plinth and had a side structures in front of the niche containing side deities. It shows advanced architectural features in being Sapta-ratha in plan, in having corbelled arch and iron beams and seven pilasters.

Bhaskareswar Temple

It stands about a quarter mile to west of the Megeswar. The local people make a confusion between these two temples and assign the name of one to other. The Bhaskareswar contains a huge Siva lingam, about 9 feet high and 12 feet & 5 inches in circumference, which has characteristically been described in the local sacred texts as Vrihalingam.  

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