September 5, 2015

Parasuramesvara Temple - Bhubaneswar

Site Name: Parasuramesvara Temple 
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   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, 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 of the most beautiful and popular temples of Bhubaneswar, Parasuramesvara Temple.


Parasuramesvara temple is located on the left side of the Kedara Gauri road leading from Bindu Sagar lake to Kedara Gouri temple.


If you claim that you have visited Odisha or Bhubaneswar without being to Parasuramesvara temple, I would laugh at you. Your visit to Bhubaneswar would be incomplete without visiting this strikingly beautiful temple.

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 in the first half of the 7th century CE. 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. 

Architecture and Temple Layout:

Main Shrine:

Parasuramesvara temple is a living temple which enshrines Shiva Linga idol. The vimana is of rekha order and the Jagamohana is flat roofed with a clerestory. The style is unique as it belongs to early Kalingan architecture style. 

The temple is triratha on plan and triangabada in elevation. 


The west facing temple has two entrances. The main entrances has two dwara palas relief images. The image to the right side of the entrance is unique. The guardian appears in the form of Shiva with Trishul in his arm and serpent on his neck. We cannot have Shiva as the guardian for his own temple. So, I assume he is a dwara pala who resembles Shiva. It appears to be unique. At the top of the entrance, the relief image of Gaja Lakshmi flanked by two elephants are found.

The south facing entrance has more beautiful relief images. Apart from the beautiful dwara palas sculptures, the images of Nayikas, few Mithuna images, lions and different decorations are also found at the doorjamb. The top portion has the image of Ganesha flanked by Ganas.


The vimana is of rekha order and has many beautiful carvings. The main attraction of the vimana is the sculpture of Ravan carrying Kailash where Parvati is seen embracing Shiva out of fear, who are flanked by Ganesha, Kartikeya, a Goddess (Kali?), a skeleton image (who is this?) and few Ganas. Above that the relief image of Nataraja is found. In addition, there are few images of Ganesha, lions and various styles of designs are also found in the Vimana.


The Jagamohana of the temple is unique in style. Instead of being a stepped pyramidal tower called as Pidha deula as found in most of the other temples in Bhubaneswar, it has a terraced roof in two stages. It is rectangular in shape with a clerestory. The style is unique as it belongs to early Kalingan architecture style. 

Niche Images:

The exterior walls of the temple has niches which are surrounded in all sides by intricately carved figures. Although there are many small and big niches are found, only two of them are found with the deities. In one niche, Ganesha, an extremely artistic sculpture, is found in the sitting posture with two lion figures at his feet. Another niche has Kartikeya with peacock as the Parsvadevta. 

Other Parts:

Although the interior is plain, the exterior walls of the temple as well as the vimana have a lot of sculptures, carvings and design in various sizes and styles  such as Dikpalas, Sapta Matas, Makara, decorative motifs like scroll works, hamsa, chaitya motifs, amours couples, Vajaramastaka, birds, mythological animals, Varaha, Ganesha, Nataraja, Ravana Anugraha Murti, Shiva-Parvati-Ganesha with Nandi and lion, various lion figures, elephants, battle scene, soldiers fighting wild animals, saints, Kalyana Sundara Murti (Shiva and Parvati getting married and are flanked by Vishnu, Brahma and other deities), Bhikshatana, Goddesses in various forms, eight armed Mahisasuramardhini, Shiva in various forms, etc. There is not even a single piece of stone which is not sculpted. 

This temple is believed to be the first temple in Bhubaneswar to have Sapta Matikas. The Sapta Matas flanked by Ganesha and Veerabhadra found on the exterior wall is a highlight of this temple. 

The temple does not have Nandi.

A Sahasra Linga idol is found in the prakara near the Sapta Matas' sculpture.


As per the legend, Parasuram, the Avatar of Vishnu, performed penance towards Shiva in this site. He got the blessings of Shiva. Hence, the Lord got the name 'Parasuramesvara'.


There are three inscriptions found in this temple which determine the age of the temple to the 7th century CE. It was built by the Shailodbhavas Kings. 

In the 7th and 8th centuries CE, there were Devadasis dedicated to this temple. 

If you are an art lover, this temple is like a heaven for you. Never miss this great site!

Happy travelling!

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