October 18, 2015

Lingaraja Temple - Bhubaneswar

Site Name: Lingaraja Temple 
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   Bhubaneswar city, Odisha state, India
Highlights: The most important and the biggest temple of Bhubaneswar; one of the most popular temples in the entire country
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. The most popular temple of Bhubaneswar is Lingaraja Temple. Let us explore this temple in detail in this article.


Highlights:
  • The biggest temple in Bhubaneswar.
  • One of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar and in the entire state (Odisha).
  • One of the magnificent temples in entire India.
  • God Lingaraja, Harihara, Kirtivasa or Tribhuvaneswara
  • Goddess Parvati or Bhuvaneswari
  • Around 150 small and big shrines are located within the complex of Lingaraja temple.
  • Built by Somavamshi Kings in the 11th century CE.
  • The Ganga Kings made later additions to the temple
  • Located in spacious area of around 250,000 sq feet and surrounded by fortified walls.
  • The elaborately carved temple vimana rises up to 180 feet.
  • The Shiva Linga (Lingaraja) idol is very big and it is around 8 feet in diameter.
  • Built in Deula style that has four components, Vimana, Jagamohana, Natamandir and Bhoga Mandapa.
  • More than 6000 devotees visit the temple everyday.
  • 22 kinds of services are performed as part of daily poojas in this temple.

Introduction:

Lingaraja temple, the gigantic temple, is the most important landmark of Bhubaneswar city. The temple is architectural marvel, historically significant and full of beautiful sculptures. The temple attracts all sorts of people such as history enthusiasts, architects, art lovers, devotees and travelers. Whatever I write about this magnificent temple cannot be complete. It will take ages to identify each and every sculpture of this temple. Nevertheless, I will try to cover as much information as possible which cannot be found in any other sources in the internet so far.

Legend:

Brahma Purana is one of the 18 Maha Puranas. It has reference to Bhubaneswar as Ekamra Kshetra which enshrined one crore Shiva Lingas

Lingaraja is also called as Tribhuvaneswara which means the master of three worlds. Probably, the city was named as Bhubaneswar after him.

As the deity of the temple was originally under a mango tree, the site is called as Ekamra Kshetra. The word 'Ekamra' means mango tree.  

As per the legend, an underground river originating from the temple fills the Bindu Sagar tank, the famous tank of Bhubaneswar. Thus the tank became sacred and got the healing power. 

As per another legend, Lord Shiva told his consort Parvati that he liked Bhubaneswar more than even Varanasi. Parvati was eager to visit Bhubaneswar. She took the form of a cowherd woman and wandered into the city. Two demons named Kritti and Vasa were attracted by her. They troubled her to get married to them. She requested them to carry her on their shoulders. When they did so, she crushed them to the ground and killed them. She felt very tired and thirsty after killing them. Shiva created Bindu Sagar lake to quench her thirsty and thus he was named as Krittivasas, which became Kirtivasa. 

History:

Although the current structure of the temple was built in the 11th century CE, as per the evidence found in some ancient texts, this temple must have existed in some other form even in the 6th century CE or 7th century CE

The current structure of the temple was partly built by the Somavamshi Kings in the 11th century CE. Although some believe that it was the King Yayati II of Somavamshi dynasty who built this temple, there is no strong evidence for the same. The Bhoga Mandapa is a later addition. It was built in the 12th century CE. The Nata Mandir, though was built in the 11th century CE, was also a later addition. 

In the 12th century CE, the Ganga Kings started ruling this region. They were followers of Vishnu. The famous temple of Puri Jagannath was built by them. The Ganga Kings added a lot of Vaishnavite features to the temple. The idols of Jaya and Vijaya, Jagannatha, Lakshmi Narayana, Bhoo Varaha and Garuda were added by them. Along with Bilva leaves, the priests started using Tulsi leaves also for the poojas. Even the main deity who was called as Lingaraja or Kirtivasa was named as Harihara, a combination of Vishnu and Shiva. Some of the festivals similar to that of Puri temple were introduced in Lingaraja temple.  

A lot of stone inscriptions are found in this temple.

Temple Layout:

The temple complex has the main entrance in the east direction. There are other entrances in the north and south directions too. 

Lingaraja temple is the main structure in the vast temple complex.  It is built in the Deula style and has four components namely Vimana (the sanctum sanctorum), Jagamohana (the assembly hall), Nata Mandir (the dancing hall or festival hall) and Bhoga Mandapa (hall of offerings). Each hall is decreasing in height compared to its predecessor. 
The Vimana is of rekha type and it rises upto 180 feet. The Bhoga Mandapa has a pyramidal roof. The exterior walls of the hall has many decorative sculptures. The side walls of the Nata Mandir has sculptures of women and couples. The Jagamohana has a pyramidal roof and the facade to the entrance is decorated with perforated windows.Except Vimana, all other structures are of Pidha order. In front of the niche deities (Parsvadevtas) there are structures which are called as Nisha shrines. They are later additions. All the structures are Panch ratha on plan and Panchaanga bada on elevation.
The sanctum sanctorum enshrines the big Shiva Linga idol called as Lingaraja. It is a naturally formed unshaped stone (Swayambhu). The Shiva Linga is of very large size. The shrine is facing east direction.
The entrance of Jagamohana hall has the relief images of Shiva and Parvati. In the same hall, there is a separate south facing shrine dedicated to the Goddess Gauri. It is not a stone idol but a metal idol.
The Parsvadevta (niche) idols are of large size. Ganesha, Subramanya and Parvati are found as the niche deities.
The exterior walls as well as the vimana are full of architectural designs and sculptures such as Khakhara mundis, Pidha mundis, Naga and Nagini pilasters, balustrade windows, Vajra Mundi niches, miniature rekha mundis, vajramastaka motifs, scroll works, etotic image, royal figures, processions, various forms of Shiva like Ardhanareeswara and Nataraja, other deities like Kama, Bhairava, Parvati, Lakulisa, Surya, Brahma, Mahisasuramardhini, Jaya-Vijaya etc. 

Parvati Temple:

Parvati a.k.a Bhuvaneswari is the Goddess of the temple. There is a separate temple dedicated to her in this complex. The temple is architecturally beautiful. Similar to Lingaraja temple, it is also built in Deula style and has four components namely Vimana, Jagamohana, Nata Mandir and Bhoga Mandapa. The temple belongs to 13th century CE and was built by the Gangas. The sanctum sanctorum enshrines the beautiful idol of Parvati who is found in the standing posture. Although there are niches found in the exterior wall, only one Parsvadevta namely Parvati is present and the other niche idols are missing.  The exterior wall of the temple is full of designs and sculptures such as scroll works, Naga stambhas, Naga and Naginis, dancing girls, erotic figures, perforated windows, lions, miniature shrines, etc. The Vimana is of rekha type and the Jagamohana is of Pidha type.

Other Shrines:
We might be able to count the number of stars on the sky; but it may not be possible to count the number of shrine in the Lingaraja temple complex. Let me try and give the details of most of the shrines. 

Anantesvara Temple:

Deity: Baladeva, Ekanamsa Devi (Subhadra) and Krishna
Period: 13th century CE
Built by: Gangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana

Baidyanath Temple:

Deity: Baidyanath (Shiva Linga)
Period: 15th century CE
Built by: Gangas
Structure: Pidha Vimana

Bhairavesvara Temple:

Deity: None
Period: 13th century CE
Built by: Gangas
Structure: Vimana is damaged and not found; Pidha type Jagamohana; due to Ekapada Bhairava sculpture found in the Vimana, the temple is called as Bhairavesvara temple; the Jagamohana is found with a lot of designs and sculptures

Bhuvanesvari Temple:

Deity: Bhuvanesvari a.k.a. Gopalini 
Period: 12th century CE
Built by: Gangas
Structure: Khakhara Vimana and Pidha type Jagamohana

Chandesvara Temple:

Deity: Chandesvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 12th century CE
Built by: Gangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana; exterior is full of sculptures and designs; Dwarapalakas at the doorjumb

Chitresvara Temple:

Deity: Chitresvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 16th century CE
Built by: Suryavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Rekha Vimana

Dakshina Kali Temple:

Deity: Dakshina Kali with four arms in the standing posture
Period: 16th century CE
Built by: Suryavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Pidha Vimana

Ekadasi Mahadeva Temple:

Deity: Ekadasi Mahadeva (Shiva Linga)
Period: 15th century CE
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana

Ekambaresvara Temple:

Deity: Ekambaresvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 11th century CE (possibly older than the main Lingaraja temple)
Built bySomavamshi
Structure: Rekha Vimana

Ganesha Temple:

Deity: Ganesha with two arms in the sitting posture
Period: 12th century CE with some additions in the 13th century CE
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana and Pidha Jagamohana; the exteriors and even the interiors are full of designs and sculptures; the notable sculptures are Anantasayana Vishnu and Shiva-Parvati marriage scene; the entrance has Navagraha panel; there are two Ganesha idols as niche deities (Parsvadevtas)

Gauri Shankar Temple:

Deity: Gauri Shankar (Shiva Linga) with Gauri 
Period: 14th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana; the upper portion is broken; Navagraha panel and Gaja Lakshmi relief image at the top of the entrance; two small Dwara palas relief images at the doorjambs; 

Guptesvara Temple:

Deity: Guptesvara (Shiva Linga) 
Period: 16th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Rekha Vimana; two small Dwara palas relief images at the doorjambs; Navagraha panel at the top

Isanesvara Temple:

Deity: Isanesvara (Shiva Linga) 
Period: 16th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Rekha Vimana and Pidha Jagamohana; Very beautiful niche deities (Parsvadevta) of Ganesha, Subramanya and Parvati

Kapilesvara Temple:

Deity: Kapilesvara (Shiva Linga) 
Period: 16th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Pidha Vimana; very small and simple temple

Kartikeya Temple:

Deity: Kartikeya in the standing posture - a damaged idol
Period: 12th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi 
Structure: Rekha Vimana

Kasi Vishwanath Temple:

Deity: Kasi Vishwanath (Shiva Linga)
Period: 12th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi 
Structure: Rekha Vimana; Parsvadevtas (niche images) - Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati; dwarapalas along with Ganga and Yamuna at the doorjamb; Navagraha panel and Lakshmi at the entrance

Ladukesvara Temple:

Deity: Ladukesvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 12th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana; Ganesha and Kartikeya as niche images

Lavanesvara Temple:

Deity: Lavanesvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 12th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana; Ganesha and Parvati as niche images

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple:

Deity: Lakshmi Narasimha with four arms in the sitting posture (Padmasana); his upper arms hold conch and discus; flanked by Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi
Period: 14th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana; a beautiful Bhoo Varaha as the niche image

Mahavir Temple:

Deity: Mahavir (Hanuman) 
Period: 16th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Rekha Vimana

Pasana Durga Temple:

Deity: Pasana Durga a.k.a. Kanaka Durga
Period: 16th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Pidha Vimana; balustrade windows

Pataleswara Temple:

Deity: Pataleswara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 14th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana; miniature designs and sculptures

Pejakhia Temple:

Deity: Pejakhia (Shiva Linga)
Period: 11th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi 
Structure: Rekha Vimana; 

Ramalingeswara Temple:

Deity: Ramalingeswara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 13th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana; a lot of beautiful sculptures

Ram Sita Temple:

Deity: Shiva Linga along with the metal images of Ram and Sita
Period: 12th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi
Structure: Rekha Vimana

Rishaba Temple:

Deity: Rishaba (Nandi)
Period: 13th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana; Surya on the chariot in the balustrated window; Kartikeya image; Ganga, Yamuna, Navagraha panel and dwara palas at the doorjambs; mithuna images

Sakchi Shankar Temple:

Deity: Shiva Linga 
Period: 16th century CE 
Built bySuryavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Pidha Vimana; Navagraha panel at the top of the entrance; Gaja Lakshmi at lintel; Dwarapalas along with Ganga and Yamuna at the doorjambs

Sasthi Temple:

Deity: Sasthi Devi with four arms in the standing posture 
Period: 16th century CE 
Built bySuryavamshi Gajapati
Structure: Pidha Vimana; 

Satyanarayana Temple:

Deity: Satya Narayana with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi on his either sides; he is found with four arms and holds conch, discus and lotus. Garud is found at his right foot. 
Period: 13th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana and Pidha Jagamohana 

Savitri Temple:

Deity: Savitri in the seated posture 
Period: 12th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Khakhara Vimana with unique semi-cylindrical roof; Yama shrine nearby without any deity

Siddhesvara Temple:

Deity: Siddhesvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 12th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana;  Gaja Lakshmi at lintel; Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati as the Parsvadevtas

Shiva Kali Temple:

Deity: Shiva Linga
Period: 14th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi
Structure: Rekha Vimana;  Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati as the Parsvadevtas

Tarakeshvara Temple:

Deity: Tarakeshvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 14th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana;  Gaja Lakshmi at lintel; Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati as the Parsvadevtas

Tarakesvara Temple:

Deity: Tarakesvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 14th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana;  Gaja Lakshmi at lintel; Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati as the Parsvadevtas

Ugresvara Temple:

Deity: Ugresvara (Shiva Linga)
Period: 15th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana and Pidha Jagamohana

Varahi Temple:

Deity: Varahi in the seated posture; four arms; holding fish and a child; sitting on the mount buffalo
Period: 11th century CE 
Built bySomavamshi
Structure: Rekha Vimana 

Vishnu Temple:

Deity: None
Period: 15th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Pidha Vimana 

Vishwakarma Temple:

Deity: Shiva Linga (locally worshiped as Vishwakarma); Vishwakarma painting is also found
Period: 12th century CE 
Built byGangas
Structure: Rekha Vimana 

Apart from the temples mentioned above, there are so many small  temples dedicated to Shiva Linga. There is no specific name for some of these deities and all of them are merely called as 'Shiva'. Some of them are named as Ramanath, Kedareswar, Nageshwar, etc. Many of these temples belong to 16th century CE and were built by the Somavamshi Gajapati rulers. Some of them belong to 14th or 15th century CE and were built by the Gangas.

There are few temples without any deities but are believed to be Vishnu temples. They belong to 13th century CE and were built by the Gangas.

There are also few ruined Shiva temples with or without Shiva Linga idols that belong to 13th or 14th century CE and were built by the Gangas.

Festivals:

Shivaratri is the main festival celebrated in this temple. Thousands of devotees throng to the temple during the celebrations. 
Chandan Yatra is a 22 days festival celebrated every year. 
The car festival is also very popular. The deity is taken in the chariot till Rameshwar Deula temple. 
Happy travelling.










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