June 19, 2015

Chitrakarini Temple - Bhubaneswar

Site Name: Chitrakarini Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient Shakti temple
Location:   Near Lingaraja temple, Bhubaneswar city, Odisha state, India
Highlights: 13th century architecturally beautiful temple built by the Gangas; Panchayatana style temple
Nearest Railway Station: Bhubaneswar
Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: There are many options across the city
Restaurants: Varieties of options 

Bhubaneswar is not only about the gigantic Lingaraja temple or the architectural marvels such as Raja Rani temple or Parasurameshwar temple. The city has a lot more to offer for any enthusiastic and art loving traveler or devotee. The city, which is the capital city of Odisha (formerly Orissa) state of India, is called as 'the City of Temples'. It once had around 3000 temples and even today hundreds of temples are located in every nook and corner of this heritage rich city. Though the city is originally a Saivite center where Lord Shiva was given importance, historically Shaktism also got prominence and several temples for various forms of Shakti were built. One of the important temples of Shakti in Bhubaneswar is Chitrakarini temple. Let us explore this beautiful temple in this article.


It is very difficult to provide the exact location of small and little known temples. Chitrakarini temple, though is historically prominent and architecturally important, remains little known. It is located in a small lane backside to the famous Lingaraja temple. You need to take the road on the left side of Linga Raja temple (called as Lingaraja Temple Road), cross the place where the aerial view of Lingaraja temple can be photographed, and also cross the Parvati temple entrance and come to the end of Lingaraja complex. After this complex ends, you will find a small lane to your left where you can find Chitrakarini temple. 


Chitrakarini temple belongs to the later group temples of Bhubaneswar. It is certain that it was built by the Ganga Kings. It was perhaps built by the Ganga King Narasimha Deva I, who was also called as Parama Mahesvara, in the middle of 13th century CE.

Architecture and Temple Layout:

Although the Orissan temple architecture style falls under the broad category of Nagara style of temple architecture, it has its unique and distinct features. Within the Orissan temple architecture style, there are three types based on the period of the construction and which dynasty constructed the temple. Chitrakarini temple, which was built by the Ganga Kings in the 13th century CE, is a Panchayatana temple, where there is a main shrine in the middle with four sub-shrines in the four corners. 

The main shrine has two divisions - sanctum sanctorum (moolasthan) and Jagmohan. The other four shrines have only sanctum. All the sanctum sanctorums have tall vimanas (called as rekha deul as per the Orissan term). The Jagmohan of the main shrine has the pyramidal shaped roof called Pidha. It should be noted that Orissan temple architecture has tall vimanas unlike Dravidian temple architecture where the vimanas are shorter.

In the main shrine, Chamunda's idol is found. It is a red colored stone idol. In the Jagmohan, the idols of Hanuman and bas relief idols of Navagraha in a single row are found. All these idols are not old as the temple. It is said that once, there were five idols in the main shrine and four idols each in the other four shrines, making totally nine idols of Shakti in this temple. However, no idol is found in the other four shrines nowadays.

The vimana, pidha as well as the walls of the shrines are intricately decorated and lot of sculptures such as elephants, lions, lions controlling elephants, dancing girls, erotic figures, Nagas and deities are found on them.

When you go to Bhubaneswar, do not stop just by visiting one or two well known temples. Unless you visit such little known temples, you would not get the complete heritage feel of the city.

Happy travelling.

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