July 14, 2015

Uttaresvara Temple - Bhubaneswar

Site Name: Uttaresvara Temple 
Site Type: Group of Hindu ancient temples
Location:   Near Ananta Basudev Temple, Bhubaneswar city, Odisha state, India
Highlights: Group of temples built by Bhauma Karas and Soma Vamshis
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 one ancient and famous Shaivite site called Uttaresvara group of temples in this article.


The Uttaresvara group of temples is located on the northern banks of Bindu Sagar Tank around 200 meters from Ananta Basudeva temple. A small tank named Gadavari tank is found near the temple.


Although the site is generally called as Uttaresvara temple, it is not a single temple but a group of temples. This site is popular in Bhubaneswar; however, devotees do not regularly visit the site; it is visited only occasionally during some auspicious days.

The temple complex has Uttaresvara temple, Bhimesvara temple, eight identical temples called Ashtasambhu temples, Godavari tank and one or two dilapidated temples.

Uttaresvara Temple:

Uttaresvara temple is the main temple in this complex. It was built in the 8th century CE by the Bhaumakara Kings. It was renovated in the 19th century CE.

The temple has moola sthan (sanctum sanctorum) enshrining Shiva Linga. It is a living temple. The shrine has rekha type vimana. The Jagmohana has rectangular flat roof. The east facing temple's vimana is tri ratha on plan trianga bada on elevation.

The temple, as it is painted in yellow and red color, partly lost its antique beauty. The temple walls and vimana are almost plain without any decorations.

The exterior walls have beautiful niche images which are called as Parsvadevta in Orissa. Ganesha, Kartikeya and Mahisasur Mardini images are found as the niche deities. Kartikeya is very stylish with his right arm rested on his hip and holding Vel on his left arm. A female attendant or probably his spouse is found nearby. The image of Mahisasura mardini with six arms seems to be a later addition. She rests over the hip of the buffalo faced Mahisasura demon.  

The top portion of the entrance of the temple has Navagraha panel and Gaja Lakshmi panel. Also two Dwarapalas in different posture along with the attendants are found at the entrance.

Bhimesvara Temple:

Bhimesvara temple is located next to Uttaresvara temple in the same complex. This east facing temple is a living temple enshrining Shiva Linga. The sanctum sanctorum has rekha type vimana and Jagmohana has flat rectangular roof. The vimana is tri ratha on plan and trianga bada on elevation.

This temple is also painted in yellow and red color due to which it has lost its antique beauty. The niche images are very beautiful though they appear to be later additions. Ganesha in the sitting posture, Ganesha in the standing posture, Kartikeya along with cock and peacock, Narasimha killing the demon, Parvati with four arms, an unidentified male with two females and another unidentified deity are found as the niche images.

This temple was built by Bhaumakara Kings in the 8th century CE. 

Godavari Tank:

The temple complex has a small tank named Godavari tank. It is a natural spring with an outlet channel leading into Bindu Sagar. 

There is a legend associated with this holy tank. After killing the demons Kirti and Basa, the Goddess Parvati felt thirsty. To quench his wife's thirsty, Lord Shiva struck his trident on earth where a spring (this tank) came out. To make the water holy, he invited all the rivers to enter into the spring. All except Godavari river came. She could not come due to her menstrual cycle. Shiva cursed her water to be impure throughout except on the occasion of Kumbhamela.

Ashta Sambhu Temples:

The temple complex has a cluster of eight identical style and sized temples. They are called as Ashta Sambhu Temples. Five of the temples are arranged in one alignment and are called as Pancha Pandava. All these temples were built by Soma vamshi Kings in the 10th century CE.

All the temples have only sanctum sanctorum with rekha type vimana. Jagmohana is not present. They are all non living temples. The entrance has Navagraha and Gaja Lakshmi panels. They are all pancha ratha on plan and trianga bada in elevation. 

The relief images of dwara palas at the entrance and the empty niches without any deities on the exterior walls are found in all the eight temples.

Happy travelling.

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