July 30, 2015

Swarnajalesvara Temple - Bhubaneswar

Site Name: Swarnajalesvara Temple 
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   Near Parasuramesvar Temple, Bhubaneswar city, Odisha state, India
Highlights: An earlier temple architecture that belongs to the 7th century CE
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. The city is called as Ekamara Kshetra as it has so many Shiva temples. Let us explore a little known but one of the oldest Shiva temples of Bhubaneswar called Swarnajalesvara temple in this article.


Swarnajalesvara temple is located on the right side of Kotitirthesvar lane leading from Parasuramesvar temple to Bindu Sagar lake. The famous Parasuramesvara temple is around 50 meters from this site.


Swarnajalesvara temple is definitely one of the most beautiful temples of Bhubaneswar. It is unfortunate that people do not care for this treasure. You can find tall concrete houses built around the temple sharing the walls of this temple. Ten years down the line, I am not sure if we could see this temple alive.

The temple is an example for earlier temple architecture in Bhubaneswar. This Shiva temple is one of the oldest temples of the city. It was built by the Shailodbhavas. The Shailodbhavas are not known much in the history. Let me give a brief overview about this dynasty.

The Shailodbhavas ruled over the coastal region of Orissa in the 6th and 7th century CE. Their kingdom was called as Kangoda Mandala. The first ruler was Pulindasena and the last greatest ruler of the dynasty was Dharmaraja. Their rule ended in 736 CE after the Bhaumakaras raised in the coastal Orissa. The Kings of Shailodbhavas were the devotees of Lord Shiva. This temple is a rare temple built by them.

This temple must have been built in the first decade of the 7th century CE and is older than the famous Parasuramesvara temple.

Architecture and Temple Layout:

Main Shrine:

Swarnajalesvara temple is a living temple which enshrines Shiva Linga idol. The temple is small with a rekha type vimana. There is no Jagmohana. The vimana as well as the exterior walls of the temple are full of designs and decorations which make this temple as one among the best in Bhubaneswar.

The temple is triratha on plan and triangabada in elevation. A small Nandi is found facing the temple. It is definitely a later addition.


The doorjamb has two relief images of small Dwarapalas. The figures of dwarapalas are different from that of other temples of Orissa. Each dwarapala is accompanied by a small figure of male assistant found with his arms folded. The remaining areas in the doorjambs are decorated with floral designs and scroll designs.

Near the entrance, the fragmentary figure of Naga holding a pot (ghata) is found.


The rekha vimana is decorated with many architectural motifs like Vajra mundis, lions, birds and elephants. In the middle of the front side of the vimana vimana, Nataraja image is carved in a big circle with a big lion's face on top of the circular design and two lions on his either sides. He is surrounded probably by few Ganas. The images are in ruined state and not very clear.

Below the Nataraja's panel, there is a big rectangular panel where the images of Shiva's entire family is carved out. Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Nandi and Parvati's mount lion are all found. They are surrounded by lions, Yalis, female figures and Ganas.

Below that, in Gandi there is a floral design in the middle with Brahma and probably Vishnu on either sides. 

Below that the Navagraha panel is found in dilapidated state.

Niche Images:

The exterior walls have three beautiful niche images called as Parsvadevta deities in Orissa. 

Ganesha is the first Parsvadevta. He is found in the sitting posture flanked by two Ganas. Below his feet two small lion figures and two Ganas are found. Above him, there is another small image of Ganesha is found.

Parvati is another Parsvadevta. The image is in ruined state. Her face and many of the features are not clearly seen. She is in the standing posture with four arms and is flanked by two short female attendants. Above her image, many small intricate carvings are found. 

Kartikeya is found as the third niche image. He is found with two arms and is in the sitting posture. His head is damaged completely. His mount peacock is found below his feet. Importantly, two small images of lions are also found along with the peacock. It is rare to find Kartikeya with lions. 

Two more niches surrounded by beautiful design works and carvings are found without any deities.

Other Parts:

The friezes and other parts of exterior walls of the shrine have various other designs and depictions. There is a panel depicting Shiva's marriage with Parvati which is attended by Vishnu and others. There is a panel depicting Shiva Linga pooja. Various aspects of Shiva, scroll works, chaitya motifs, lotus design, Nayikas, Nagas, some epic scenes and mithuna figures are all found on the walls.

Happy travelling.

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