October 2, 2015

Muktesvara Temple - Bhubaneswar

Site Name: Muktesvara Temple 
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   Bhubaneswar city, Odisha state, India
Highlights: One of the most beautiful temples of Bhubaneswar; Called as 'Gem of Odishan temple architecture'
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, Muktesvara Temple. It is called as the 'Gem of Odishan temple architecture'.


Muktesvara temple complex is a very popular tourist location in Bhubaneswar. You can easily come to this place from any other part of the city, as everyone in Bhubaneswar would know about this most famous landmark. It is located hardly 300 meters away from the famous Parasurameswar temple.


The west facing Muktesvara temple is arguably the most beautiful temple of Bhubaneswar. The temple was built by the Somavamshi Kings in the 10th century CE. The architecture of the temple plays an important role in the study of the development of temple architecture in Odisha. The scholars consider that probably the Somavamshi Kings were experimenting with the new form of architectural style on this temple as well as some other temples of Bhubaneswar such as Rajarani temple and Lingaraja temple. 


Similar to many of the temples of Bhubaneswar, there is no clear evidence of the exact date of construction or the exact name of the King who built this temple. Based on the architectural features, the scholars believe that the temple was built in the 10th century CE by the Somavamshi rulers. Some scholars claim that it would have been built by the Somavamshi King Yayati I, whereas there are few who believe that it would have been built even before his period.

Architecture and Temple Layout:

If you visit the other temples of Bhubaneswar and then visit this temple, you would definitely notice the unique features of the architecture of this temple. The earlier period temples in Odisha have the conventional two tier structure for Jagamohanas, whereas in Mukteswara temple, you can find the pyramidal roof for the Jagamohana. It is believed that it was probably the first temple to have this type of feature. 

The temple is small when compared to most of the other temples in Bhubaneswar and is surrounded by an octagonal shaped wall. The torana (porch), which is located on the frontside of the temple, acts as the gateway as well as the unique identification of the temple. No other temple has this type of arched gateway. It is believed that this feature might have been influenced from the Buddhist architecture.The pillars and the arch have many beautiful carvings.

The door jambs of the shrine has the images of dwarapalas accompanied with Ganga and Yamuna. Above them the dancing girls are found and even above them the images of Rahu and Ketu are found. In the middle of the entrance on the top, the carving of Gaja Lakshmi is found.

The temple is pancharatha on plan and triangabada in elevation. The vimana is square on plan and is of rekha type with curvilinear spire.The Jagamohana is rectangular on plan and is of pidha type with a stepped pyramidal roof. 

The exterior wall and the vimana of the temple are intricately carved. You can hardly find a inch where there is no carving. Some of the carvings include Nayika figures, Naga-nagini stambhas, scroll works, chaitya motifs, various deities, holy men, lions, females riding lions with the elephants on their feet, females riding the mythical animal Yali, etc. In the interior, the ceiling is decorated and carved with the lotus petals and other images.

Other Temples:

Muktesvara temple is surrounded by a lot of small temples in the same complex. There are about eight small temples of Lord Shiva with rekha type vimanas, a twin temple, a Vishnu temple and two more temples. All these temples belong to the Somavamshi period (10th century CE). Two of the temples have the idol of Vishnu holding a pot on his arms. There are few Shiva Linga idols found in few temples. One temple has the new Ganesha idol and another temple even has the new Jagannath idol.

Another important temple which is found in the complex is Siddhesvara temple.

Happy travelling.

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