Odisha is a land of temples. The concentration of the largest number of temples all over the state has made it a centre of unique attraction for the scholars, indologists, tourists and others.Architecture in Orissa found its supreme expression in the form of temples, some of which are among, finest in the country. Of these, three are most famous the Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneswar (11th century), the Jagannath Temple at Puri (12th century) and the great Sun Temple at Konark (13th century). These mark the culmination of a distinct style of architecture called the Kalinga style remarkable in its plan elevation and details of decoration. In the simplest form, a temple of this style consists of a structural due, the main temple or shrine and the frontal porch.
The Vaital temple at Bhubaneswar and the Varahi temple at Chaurasi in the Prachi Valley with their semicylindrical roofs are examples of a different order of temples .There is yet another class of temples which are almost unique in their conception and execution in the whole country; these are the circular shaped, hypaethral or roofless structures dedicated to the sixty-four yoginis belonging to the Tantric order. Out of all the five shrines of yogini worship existing in the whole country, two are situated in Orissa, the Chausathi Yogini temples one at Hirapur near Bhubancswar and the other at Ranipur-Jharial in Titlagarh subdivision of Balangir district.
Bhubaneswar, the ‘Cathedral City’ was once the capital of an ancient kingdom-Kalinga.Today this bustling centre for commerce and religios activity is Orissa’s modern capital.Having merged its intirugin past so uniquely with its modern aspirations, it forms an integral link in the Golden Triangle hat incorporates the holy city of Puri and Konrak, for the tourist that flock to pay their homage to the religious, cultural and natural wonders that abound here.
The striking feature of the city are the numerous tempeles and shrines that seem to be all around you. The temple walls teem with youthful figures, delicately modeled. Their chiseled smiles defy the passage of time and the onslaughts of decay.
This is an exquisite example of early Odishan architecture. The two characteristics of Odisha temples, firstly the tower (Deula) and the porch alike hall (Jagamohana) are fully developed. This is profusely sculptured and the niches at the basement contain the images of diverse gods. This is the city’s oldest surviving temple, having been built around 650 A.D. Although the first example of Odishan architecture dating back to perhaps the sixth century AD can be seen at Lakshmaneswar and Bharateswar temples. Here one finds the early evolution of the style which later on culminated in Parasurameswar.
This temple is considered as the epitome of Odishan architecture. It dominates the city of Bhubaneswar and its soaring spire dominates the landscape for miles. If one could see only one temple in Odisha this would undoubtedly be the choice. Though the temple is dedicated to Lord Siva it has many intriguing features and shows the infiltration of rising Vaishnavism or the worship of Vishnu into a purely Siva temple. The temple is surrounded by massive stonewall and the portal to go inside is also a work of art. A viewing gallery has been specially built for non-Hindus.
There are many tanks in the old town area considered to be sacred. The largest is the Bindusagar tank. It lies to the south of the Lingaraj temple. The size of this tank 1300’x700’ and the depth of the tank is 10’. It is embanked with stone forming magnificent flights of steps. A tiny island 100’x110’ protected by stone revetment is situated in the centre of the tank with a small temple in its north-east corner. During Chandan Yatra in summer which lasts for 22 days, the proxy image of the Lord Lingaraj is carried by a beautiful decorated boat to this temple in the island on every evening.
The term gem becomes hackneyed while talking about the temples of Bhubaneswar. But certaintly Mukteswar is a gem. The first thing to draw one’s attention is its elegant and superb arch gate. It appears as if it has been finished by jewelers and not sculptors. Such is the delicacy and intricacies of its details! But the temple is also important as the first example of development of a style which ultimately led to the gigantic monumental temples of Lingaraj at Bhubaneswar, Jagannath at Puri or unique Sun Temple at Konark. This temple is open to non-Hindus.
The marks a distinct stamp of evolutionary progress in the Odishan temple architecture. The temple facing east consists of a Deula and a Jagamohan. The Jagamohan is a pidha temple and the arrangement of the pidhas is having resemblance to those of the Mukteswar. The facets of the temple have been relieved with floral motifs of great beauty. The Rajarani Temple was constructed in the beginning (1006-1023 AD) of the 11th century. The name is believed to be derived from a particular variety of sand-stone called Rajarani as of which the temple is made. Its magnificent sculptures are similar to that of the Mukteswar and the Lingaraj. It is situated in a large garden, liked by the visitors because of the setting sun forms a dramatic backdrop to the chiseled lines of the temple.
Lord Jagannath Temple
Lord Jagannath literally means the Lord of the Universe resides in Srimandir at Puri. The temple of Jagannath built on an elevated ground about twenty feet above the level of the surrounding area, presents an imposing sight and can be seen from miles away. The height of the main temple or Vimana above the road level is 214.8ft. It is a fine specimen of the Pancharatha style of Odishan temple architecture.
The images of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and the emblem, Sudershana are installed in the inner sanctuary of the temple on a raised platform called Ratnavedi or the jeweled platform.
The temple kitchen was situated at the rear south of Satyanarayan Temple. On account of shortage of space, the present kitchen was built during the reign of Divyasingh Dev (1682-1713 AD). The roofed kitchen lane leading to the Natamandir was constructed between 1720-25 AD. There is a subsidiary kitchen, Medra Rosa behind the Satyanarayan Temple. Special kitchens of Lakshmi and Surya also exist. Fifty six varieties of food/delicacies are prepared here daily which can feed as many as 25,000 people and it has the capacity to cook for one lakh people at a time. The holy food is cooked in earthen vessels and the fuel used is wood only. Nearly 600 suaras (Temple cooks) and 400 associates are engaged daily for cooking.
KONARK, THE EPIC IN STONE (13th CENTURY AD): 65 km from Bhubaneswar and 35 km from Puri is the site of one of the most spectacular examples of religious architiecture in the world. It is the third link in the Orissan Golden Triangle. Built by King Narasimhadeva in the thirteenth century, the entire temple was designed in the shape of a colossal divine chariot, carrying the Sun God- Surya, across the heavens. It is an image, in fact, which came to India with the Aryans, and its original Babylonian and Iranian source is echoed in the boots that Surya images, alone among Indian deities, always wear.The SunTemple conceived as a massive chariot hauling the Sun God across the heavens by the mighty of seven splendidly carved horses, standing aloft on 24 chariot wheels-intricately carved-symolizisng the march of tiem, lies in partial ruins near Chandrabhaga Beach.
Today the amphitheatre with the Sun Temple at the backdrop is the venue forone of the most exciting dance festivals. The ancient stones ring with the sound of ankle bells and the beat of the mridangam and mardala as the exponents of classical dance take the stage during the Konrak Dance Festival in winter.Rightly listed as a World Heritage Monument, the magnificent Sun Temple at Konark is the culmination of Orissan temple architecture, and one of the most stunning monuments of the world. Nobel Laureate Poet Rabindranath Tagore said, ‘here the language of stone surpasses the language of man’ . It is true that the experience of Konark is impossible to translate into words.
The massive structure in solitary splendor surrounded by drifting sand is located three kilometers from the sea, but originally it was reported to be closer for which it was used as a navigational point by European sailors, who referred to it as the ‘Black Pagoda’.