The Orissa

Temples & Monuments

Odisha has a long tradition of art and architecture, the earliest monuments dating back to the 3rd century BC. The remnant of Ashokan pillar, turned into a Siva Lingam and enshrined in the Bhaskareswara temple, Bhubaneswar and the lion head of an Ashokan pillar presently in the State Museum, speak about its past glory. The rock-caves of Khandagiri-Udaygiri and rock inscriptions of Kharavela of the 1st century B.C. constitute the 2nd phase of the evolution in Odian art. The Naga and Yaksha images available belong to the post-Kharavela era. The fort of Sisupalgarh near Bhubaneswar is another monument of ancient Orissa.

Orissa was at the height of superb artistic glory during 7th to 13th century AD. The Sailodbhava dynasty is responsible for the earliest temples of Bhubaneswar. The Bhaumakaras, the Somavansis and the Gangavansis are known for temple building. The Parsuramesvara temple, Bhubaneswar is the earliest existing temple. Rajarani Temple and Mukteswar Temple, Bhubaneswar, Biraja Temple, Jajpur, Kichakeswari Temple, Khiching and the temples at Ranipur-Jharial are few other examples.

Odisha is dotted with large number of temples, which conform to the Indo Aryan Nagara Style of Architecture, with distinctive features. All visible parts of the temple are sculpted with motifs of priests, kings, courtiers, pilgrims, celestial dancers, couples in embrace, erotic poses, birds, animals, scenes from religious epics and legends. The temples of Odisha exhibit a majestic grandeur, built on common plan prescribed by Hindu norms, the structure being divided into 4 distinct parts:


1.    The outer chamber is the ‘Jagamohana’- the front-porch with pyramidal roof
2.    The conical beehive shaped tower forms the ‘Nata Mandap’- a dancing-hall
3.    The third is the ‘Bhoga Mandap’- a hall of offerings.
4.    The ‘Garbhagriha’ the inner sanctum of the presiding deity

The Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar, Jagannath Temple, Puri and Sun Temple, Konark of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries respectively, stand as silent witnesses to Odisha’s glorious past. In the Golden triangle of eastern India, the Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar is 150-feet (46 m) high while the Jagannath Temple at Puri is 200 feet (61 m) high, while only a portion of the Sun Temple at Konark, the largest of the temples exists today, as a masterpiece in Odishan architecture. The Sun temple at Konark is famous for its architectural splendor and erotic sculptures, an UNESCO world heritage site.

Orissa is also known as a Buddhist and Jain pilgrimage destination: there are Buddhist relics and ruins at the hilltops of Udayagiri and Khandagiri of the 13th century BC, which are witness to the tie of Buddhism with this region.

Hindu Temples in Odisha

Brahma Temple

Brahma Temple- Bindusagar- Bhubaneswar, Brahma Temple- Niali.

Vishnu Temples

Alarnatha-Brahmagiri, Anantashayana Temple-Saranga,  Anantasaayi Vishnu Temple- Bhubaneswar, Ananta Vasudeva Temple- Bhubaneswar, Baladevjew Temple-Kendrapada, Chakra Narasimha Temple-Chhatia, Dharakote Temple, Gundicha Temple-Puri, Jagannath Temple-Koraput-Nayagarh-Ranpur-Dasapala-Puri, Khirachora Gopinath Temple-Remuna, Lakhmi-Varaha Temple, Madhava Temple-Niali,  Narayana Gosain Temple-Singapur • Nilamadhav Temple-Kontilo, Raghunath Temple- Odogaon, Patali Srikhetra, Ram Mandir-BBSR, Sakshigopal Temple, Marjaranrusimha Temple, Yagnanrusimha Temple, Yajnavaraha Temple

Shiva Temples

Ajaikapada-Bhairav, Akhandalmani, Annakoteswar,  Bhubaneshwar, Brahmeswara, Chandaneswar, Chateshwar, Dhabaleswar, Gupteswar, Godhaneswar, Indralath Temple, Kapilash Temple, Kedareswar, Kosaleswara, Ladoo-Baba-Sarankul, Lingaraj-Bhubaneswar, Lokanatha-Pur, Mahendragiri, Markandeshwar, Mukteswar, Murga-Mahadeva, Panchalingeshwar, Parsurameswar, Rajarani, Rameshwar, Simhanath, Subarnameru, Leaning Temple of Huma, Yameshwar

Shakti Temples

Bhadrakali-Aharapada, Bhagabati-Banapur, Bhattarika-Badamba, Biraja-Jhankad, Charchikai-Banki, Chausathi Jogini- Ranipur Jharial, Durga Temple-Motia, Durga Temple-Baideshwar, Ghanteshwari-Chipilima, Kakatpur Mangala, Kalijai-Chilka, Kanaka-Durga-Raulapalli, Katak-Chandi, Kichakeshwari-Khiching, Lankeswari-Sonepur, Maa-Tarini-Ghatagaon, Ugra-Tara-, Maheshwari, Mahishamardini, Majhighariani-Raygada, Manikeshwari-Bhawanipatna, Marichi-Thakurani, Mausimaa, Metakani, Narayani, Ramachandi, Samaleswari, Saptamatruka, Sarala-Jhankad, Siddha Bhairavi, Sureswari, Uttarayani, Baghra Devi, Vaital Deula, Varahi Deula.

Ganesh Temples

Budha Ganesha Temple, Mahavinayak, Panchamukhi Ganesh, Siddha Vinayaka,

Surya Temples

Sun Temple- Konark, Biranchi Narayan Temple, Palia

Others

Hanuman Vatika, Harihara, Harishankar, Nrushimhanath, Joranda Gadhi, Sasisena Temple, Siridi Sai Temple

The golden triangle of eastern India

Bhubaneswar - Bhubaneswar-the state capital with over a hundred temples, provides an ideal introduction to the rich cultural heritage of the state, important among them being: Laxmaneswar, Satrughaneswar and Bharateswar (6th century AD), Parasurameswar and Swarnajaleswar (7th century AD), Vaital Deul (8th century AD), Lingaraja Temple and the Rajarani Temple, Brahmeswar Temple (11th century AD) and Ananta Vasudeva temple (13th century AD). The Orissa State Museum, Museum of Natural History, Tribal Museum, Handicrafts Museum, nearby excursions to the Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves (8 Kms) of the 1st-2nd century BC, to Dhauli (8 Kms) with Buddhist Peace Pagoda and the Zoo and Botanical Gardens at Nandan Kanan (20 Kms) cater to a variety of interests.

Puri - One of the 4 religious centers (Chardhams) in India, Puri is famous for the temples of Lord Jagannath, Gundicha, Lokanath and Tota Gopinath and sacred tanks like Sweta-Ganga and the Indradyumna. This popular beach resort is of special attraction for visitors fond of sea-bath with excursions to picnic spot at Balighai (8 Kms) and Satyabadi (20 Kms) with its shrine of Lord Sakshigopal.

Konark - The famous Sun Temple, Konark, built in the 13th century and now in ruins, is famous for the erotic stone sculptures.  The temple known as the Black Pagoda is one of the unrivalled architectural marvels of ancient India, the UNESCO world heritage sites.

Important Tourist Attraction

Bhubaneswar – The Temple City of Odisha

Bhubaneswar, the lord of the universe, (Bhuban means Universe and Iswar means Lord) is the capital city of Orissa, established in 1948. The architectural legacy of temple architecture in this ancient city lies with its 600 temples still intact. It is the only city that enables an authentic overview of the stages of development of Hindu temple architecture. Regular rituals, religious rites, recital of hymns are integral part of these temples which are reminder of the splendor of our ancient heritage. With modern buildings and ancient temples, Bhubaneswar is a pleasant city, a useful base for day trips to Dhauli, Khandagiri, Udayagiri, Nandankanan, Nico-park and the Water-Word. The 1000 temples of the original 7,000, that once surrounded Bindusagar Tank attracts numbers of pilgrims and visitors to the city.

Laxmaneswar, Satrughaneswar and Bharateswar Temple (6th century AD) - The temples of Laxmaneswar, Satrughaneswar and Bharateswar are relics of early religious shrines in Odisha.

Parasurameswara Temple (650 AD) – In the western side of Lewis Road, there is a cluster of about 20 smaller temples. The best among them is the Parasurameswar Temple, a small temple built in the Kalinga style of architecture, liberally sculpted with amorous couples, animals and floral motifs. It has lively reliefs of elephant, horse and Shiva images, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Yama, Surya and seven Mother Goddesses. This 7th century temple being small is highly decorated. The rectangular porch with stepped roof of this best preserved temple was perhaps built after the sanctum, as suggested by the crude junction between the two.

Swaranjaleswara Temple (7th century) - The temple of Swaranjaleswara is just south of Parasurameswara temple, built in a similar style with the motifs on the walls depicting scenes from Ramayana.

Vaital Temple (800 AD) - This temple has a double-storey wagon roof influenced by Buddhist cave architecture, a centre of tantric worship. The temple is the shrine of Chamunda (tantric Goddess Kali), seated on a corpse in a dark inner sanctum, with a garland of skulls and is flanked by a jackal and an owl. The outer wall of the temple is plain while the inside wall is profusely embellished. The inner wall niches depict startling images, with scenes of tantric and erotic sculptures.

Mukteswara Temple (950 AD) - This temple built on the Kalinga School of temple architecture is the Gem of Odia Architecture. Not away from Parsurameswar is the small finely carved Mukteswar (Lord who offers salvation through Yoga) temple, exhibiting the mixture of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu styles. The ceiling carvings are striking with the stone arches in high architectural style. The beautifully arched torana show Buddhist influence, a unique feature of this temple in front of the temple. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is carved with figures of various poses of meditation with the scenes from the Panchatantra. It is believed that a dip in the sacred temple well is a cure for infertility.

Kedargouri Temple - It is situated within the same premises next to Mukteswar Temple, Dedicated to Lord Siva (Kedareswar with Gouri), it was built by King Lalatendu Keshari.

Siddheswar Temple (10th century) - Across the path from Mukteswar to Kedargauri this is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar. Siddheswar temple is plain without elaborate carving, built later in the same Mukteswar compound, has a fine standing Ganesh figure. The Gauri Temple to the South has carvings of beautiful women in numerous poses with Ketu, the 9th planet in a temple.

Rajarani Temple (1100 AD) - This temple surrounded by gardens, is famous for the red gold sand stone used for construction. The temple is intricately carved with figures in various stages; the lower portion has 8 guardians i.e. pairs of statues representing the 8 Digapals, guarding the 8 compass points of the temple. Between the 8 Digapals, nymphs, embracing couples, elephants and lions fill the niches decorating the pillars.

Brahmeswara Temple (1050 AD) - The Brahmeswara temple is a smaller version of Lingaraj Temple, standing in a courtyard flanked by 4 smaller structures. While crossing the porch, there is the image of Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth). This temple over 18 mtrs in height depicts the mature Odishan style of temple architecture. The temple using iron beams is intricately carved with musicians, dancers, swans, monkeys, lions, figures of Gods and Goddesses, religious scenes, erotic and amusing sculptures on the outer walls. The scenes in the riches of the upper sections are mainly exotic couples in various poses and female figures elaborately sculpted with ornaments. A rare depiction of Shiva as Natraja playing a veena above a bull is found in the carvings of this temple. There are minor shrines in each corner of the compound, in the western side Siva, Kali and other deities are depicted, the sanctum housing a Shiva lingam. The 9th planet Ketu also finds its place here.

Lingaraja Temple (11th Century AD) - This 54 mtrs high tallest temple is dedicated to Tribhuvaneswar (Lord of 3 Worlds) or Bhubaneswar, built during 1090-1104 AD. The temple dominates the skyline of Bhubaneswar from as far away. Along with the sanctum and Jagmohana the temple has the nata mandira and the bhoga mandapa. The presiding deity Siva Lingam here is Hari-Hara, half Siva and half Vishnu. There are 50 subsidiary shrines within the giant temple courtyard (150 sq mtrs).

Ananta Bashudev Temple (1278 AD) - This temple in Bhubaneswar was built by the Queen Chandrika Devi, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Mohini Temple – This temple is situated on the southern bank of Bindusagar, the sacred tank near Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar.

Ram Mandir - Sri Ram Temple on Janapath in Kharavel Nagar, Bhubaneswar is a recent temple in the heart of the city amidst the busy area.

Lord Krishna Temple – This temple was promoted by ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) located on the western side of NH- 5, Nayapalli, Bhubaneswar.

Orissa State Museum - The state museum on Lewis road, which open from 10 AM to 5 PM daily, except Monday is worth a visit. It has collection of rare palm-leaf manuscripts, traditional musical instruments, Bronze-Age tools, old armory, tribal anthropology, rare sculptures, coins, copper plates, stone inscriptions, collection of natural history, Buddhist and Jain sculptures, displayed in chronological order, which constitute the important antiquities in the museum.

Handicrafts Museum – The state handicraft museum has splendid collection of stone-sculptures, patta-paintings, brass-castings, horn-toys and the famous filigree work, appliqué works, the prides of Odisha.

Tribal Museum - This museum provides an insight into the tribal Culture of Odisha, primarily being an anthropological study and research centre. There is a rich collection of tribal dresses, ornaments, weapons, household articles and musical instruments.

Museum of Natural History – This museum located in Acharya Vihar, houses a large collection of rare exhibits relating to natural history.

NICCO Park –This park is centrally located with exquisite vegetation, children’s park, with a small lake with boating facility, a place to booze during idle afternoon.

Other Important Temples in Odisha


Jagannath Temple, Puri (12th century) – It is the most revered pilgrimage destination in India, being one of the 4 Dhams (abodes) of the divine lord, present in the 4 cardinal directions of India. The temple architecture has been restored to its full glory. This 241 mtrs high temple houses the deities of Lord Jagannath, his sister Subhadra and elder brother Balrama. Enjoying the blessed food (Maha-Prasad) in the temple courtyard of this walled temple and visiting the golden beaches nearby, is a must for the tourists/ pilgrims especially during Car-Festival.

Sun Temple, Konark (13th century) - Under the rule of King Narasimhadeva, the temple was designed in the form of a chariot with sculpted wheels. The temple is an integral part of ethnic art and crafts of Odisha. This chariot of the Sun God Surya, driven by 7 horses was built over 16 years, by 1200 artisans on the golden beach of Chandravaga. The sea has moved from this shore temple by 2 Kms in the meantime. The present surviving temple, the dancing hall of the temple is known as the ‘black pagoda’, one of the rarest in India.

Madhava Temple, Niali (13th century) - The famous Madhava temple is located on the eastern bank of the River Prachi, 6 Kms from Niali in Cuttack District. The presiding deity Madhava (4-armed Vishnu) is famous in the epic Gita Govinda of Jayadeva. The temple is also called as Durga-Madhava, due the presence of a Durga image next to Madhava in the sanctum. This joint worship of Durga and Madhava is unique to Odia Vaishnavism. The temple draws large number of pilgrims from all over Odisha.

Simhanath Temple, Badamba (9th century) - Situated 10 Kms from Badamba in Cuttack District, on an island in Mahanadi River, the temple is famous for its images of Shaiva, Shakti of Vaishnava cult. The jagmohana (porch) appears to be influenced by the Vaital temple, Bhubaneswar. The temple is a synthesis of old features with new experiments, which can be seen in the addition of a 3rd terrace to the roof of jagmohana.

Nrusinghanath Temple (14th century) - 84 Kms from Baragarh, this temple stands at the foot of the Gandhamardana Mountain. According to the Chinese traveler Hiuen-Tsang, this place was a center of Buddhist learning. According to legends, the Gandhamardana Mountain from the Himalayas was carried by Hanuman to this place, as described in Ramayana. The temple is an important pilgrimage site, immensely fascinating and beautifully located and is worth the journey to this remote spot. The temple is located at the origin of the Papaharini stream. Stone steps on the hillside behind the temple leads to a waterfall and under the fall some beautiful, well- preserved sculptures are found.
 
Harishankar Temple - On the opposite slope of the Gandhamardana hill, is the famous Harishankar Temple. This is the temple of Lord Hari (Jagannath) and lord Sankar (Siva) is situated in the Bolangir District. Between the 2 temples there is a 16 Kms plateau with Buddhist ruins, the remains of the ancient university of Parimalagiri, referred to by Hiuen Tsang in the 7th century, as ‘Po-lo-mo-lo-ki-li’. The trekking along this plateau is tiring but it is a lifetime experience.

Kichakeswari Temple, Khiching (7th or 8th century), - Khiching in the northern Odisha is a remnants of the glorious past. This was the place of Virat Kingdom, where the Pandavas of Mahabharat fame have resorted to secret exile (Angyatabasa). The tall temple of Kichakeswari, (Goddess Durga) was reconstructed from the ruins of the earlier temple in early 20th century. The reconstruction proved that the ancient skill of temple building architecture has survived in the current century. The sculptures on Khiching temples are exceptionally beautiful, with large and tall images, which are slender and graceful. On the side of the temples, there is a small museum with some fine images.

Leaning Temple, Huma - Huma is adorned with a leaning temple dedicated to Lord Bimaleswar. The place is 32 Kms from Sambalpur and 350 Kms from Bhubaneswar, on the bank of river Mahanadi, in a scenic spot. The colored fishes in the river pools are very friendly to visitors and are believed to belong to lord Siva.

Baladevajew Temple, Kendrapara - Known as the Tulasi Kshetra the temple of Lord Baladeva, has the rites and rituals of Lord Jagannath at Puri, which makes this temple equally attractive, at a distance of 95 Kms from Bhubaneswar.

Pataleswar Temple, Budhikomna, Nuapada - The temple is made entirely of brick in Trirath Style, with the architectural design, highly appreciable by the art-lovers and visitors. It is 115 Kms away from Bhawanipatna,

Samaleswari Temple, Sambalpur - Temple of Goddess Samalai situated on the bank of the river Mahanadi, amidst the Sambalpur town, 321 Kms from Bhubaneswar.

Gupteswar Temple - The deity of Lord Siva inside the natural caves at Gupteswar is very fascinating, located 52 Kms from Jeypore in the Koraput District.

Chausathi Yoginis Temple, Ranipur Jharial - The temple is fully built out of bricks and biggest of all temples here. The temple is well known for the seats of Chausathi Yoginis, called as the Soma Tirtha of Lord Someswar (Siva). It is located 42 Kms from Titlagarh in Bolangir district.

Kapilash, Dhenkanal - Kapilas is famous for the temple of Lord Chandra Sekhar (Siva), situated on the top of the mountain 223 feet high from ground, 10 Kms from Dhenkanal.

Nilamadhab Temple, Kantilo - The famous temple of Lord Nilamadhab in located on the bank of river Mahanadi, in the district of Nayagarh, 100 Kms from Bhubaneswar.

Ladubaba Temple, Saranakul - Only 13 Kms away from Nayagarh is the famous temple of Lord Siva built by Ladukeswar Singh Mandhata, the King of Nayagarh.

Raghunathjew Temple, Odagaon - 15 Kms from Nayagarh, the temple of Lord (Rama) Raghunath is located, famous for the Gold Cobra on the temple top.

Bhagabati Temple, Banpur - One of the famous Sakti-Pitha of Orissa, this temple of Goddess Bhagabati is situated at Banapur, 105 Kms from Bhubaneswar and 5 Kms from the railway station of Balugaon.

Cuttack Chandi Temple, Cuttack - On the heart of the silver city Cuttack, the ancient capital of Odisha, this famous temple of Goddess Chandi is located.

Dhabaleswar - At a distance 5 Kms from Cuttack, the Temple of Lord Siva stands on an island in the middle of the river Mahanadi. Mythology tells that to save a devotee, the God had turned a black bullock into white one here.

Charchikai Temple, Banki - In a small town Banki in Cuttack district, this famous temple of Goddess Charchikai (Goddess Durga) is located, another Sakti-Pitha.

Bhattarika Temple, Baramba - The Temple of Goddess Bhattarika is situated to the east of Baramba of Cuttack district, on the bank of river Mahanadi.

Sarala Temple, Jhankad – Jhankad is famous for the temple of Goddess Sarala (Goddess Durga) located 40 Kms away from Cuttack.

Khirichora Gopinatha Temple, Remuna - It is at Remuna the famous temple of Khirichora Gopinatha (Lord Krishna) is located, only 9 Kms from Balasore, visited by the devotees round the year.

Akhandalamani Temple, Aradi - The Temple of Lord Akhandalamani (Siva) is situated at Aradi, only 10 Kms from Chandabali beach in the district of Bhadrak.

Tara Tarini Temple - On the Hill-top, the temple of Maa Tara Tarini is situated, which is approachable by ascending a large number of steps, recently facilitated by rope-ways. It is 32 Kms away from Berhampur, a beautiful spot for picnic, amidst beauties of nature, highly enjoyable in winter.

 

 


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