The prehistoric and esoteric temples of Odisha are renowned for their spiritual value and architecture. People worldwide are visiting Odisha, discovering the architecture and sculptures on the temple walls. The impressive architecture and works of art in these temple walls are genuinely spectacular. On the walls of these temples, you can view the work of history, culture, faith, and art. These are the temples you can discover and get an insight into beautiful architecture, history, and interesting mythological stories. Therefore, make sure you visit all these temples in Odisha if you want to see the temples’ complex specifics.
Art and architecture Odisha’s history begin with its history, i.e., from 261 B.C., when Asoka invaded this region known as Kalinga. Odisha’s art and architecture took a new turn in its creation. The style is so elegant, balanced, and lovely that a new identity has been formed. It was recognized as an art school in Kalinga.
Odisha preceded Nagara with a distinctive regional choice considered the ‘Kalinga’ from the three types of temple architecture found in India: Nagara, Dravida, and Vesara.
The Kalinga style of Orrisa: The developmental stages or the creation of the Nagara are traced by the regional schools. In the area of Kalinga, during the 7th to 13th centuries, the evolution of style is demonstrated.
Based on their architectural features, Bhuvana Pradipa listed around three kinds of temples. The following: Rekha (curvilinear superstructure), Bhadra or Pidha (pyramidal roof monument), and Khakhar (oblong building with wagon-vault roof). The text mentions 36 Rekha varieties, five Bhadra varieties, and three Khakhara varieties, each with its respective height and proportionate measurements.
The axial structure in the Odishan Temple of the Rekha and Bhadra components started with the sanctum that was later attached to the porch. The same axial line was followed later with Nata Mandira (dance hall) and Bhoga mandapa (offering hall).
Concerning the plan, there are four components in the Odishan Temple like the pista (platform or Vedika), the Vada (vertical wall), the gandi (trunk), and the mastaka (head or crown).
Bhubaneswar’s Parsuramesvara temple dates back to the 7th century A.D. It is thought that this place is where Parashurama, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, got penance from Lord Shiva. This is the first temple that has a hall for worshippers called Jagamohana. It has a tower and Vimana, which looks much like the South Indian temples in its structures.
The earliest image of a 6-armed Mahishamardini (Durga) is in the temple. The interior is not sculptured but straightforward, as with other temples in Orissa. Another impressive sculptures are Shiva, which subdues Ravana, a demon-king who attempts to uproot Mount Kailasa, the Shiva house. Shiva is carved in the temple as Nataraja in separate tandavas. Scenes and bits of architecture depict other grafts on the temple depict several fruits, flowers, birds, and animals.
This temple has ‘Saptamatriks’ and is displayed in the form of goddesses. There are also sculptures of 8 planets of Vedic astrology, excluding Ketu.
The Temple of Muktesvara is unique in the architecture of the Odishan Temple. It was built to become one of India’s most beautiful temples and named the “Gem of Architecture of Odisha.”
It was constructed in 950 A.D and was renowned for its splendid architecture during the Somvansh Dynasty’s reign. Part of this temple was also designed in the Buddhist architectural style. It is situated on the top of a hill, one of the several Bhubaneswar temples devoted to Lord Shiva. Within this temple, there are sculptures of several gods.
Compared to other more significant Bhubaneswar temples, this temple is small. Inside an octagonal wall with sophisticated cravings, the temple has been surrounded. In comparison to its predecessors, it is thought that the experiment with newer patterns of the temple showed a mature period and resulted in a repetition of similar practices in subsequent temples. The shrine has a Torana porch, which serves as a portal to the octagon. The temple has two structures, the vimana, and the mukhasala, the hall constructed on a raised platform, is the main hall.
Bhubaneswar’s Vaitala temple (A.D. 775) is a typical architecture of the temple. It shows the perfect architecture of the Khakhara form.
The striking feature of Vaitala Temple is the architecture of its shrine tower. The roof’s half-cylinder shape reflects a prominent example of a Khakhara-type temple related to the South Indian temples’ Dravidian Gopuram.
The exterior walls are embedded with Hindu deities in their shakti form, primarily Shiva and his consort Parvati, hunting processions, capturing wild elephants, and sometimes erotic couples.
Two chaitya windows dominate the facade of the Deula above the left of the jagamohana — the lower one with a beautifully carved figure of Surya the Sun God, with Usha (Dawn) and Pratyusha shooting arrows on either side and Aruna in front of it, driving a seven-horse chariot.
A 10-armed Nataraja or Shiva dancing is housed in the upper Chaitya window. A stone post is lightened with two Buddha-like figures sitting in a dharma-chakra-pravartana mudra opposite the flat, roofed Jagamohana.
The Tantric connections identified by the rustic carvings in the sanctuary and the central niche images are a striking feature—the Goddess of Durga’s terrifying form in eight-armed Chamunda locally known as Kapalini. Hence implying Vaitala Deula is a Shakti Shrine.
The temple of Rajarani (A.D. 1000-1022) in Bhubaneswar is a magnificent architecture of Odisha. This temple has no presiding deity and is regarded as a deity-free temple.
The sculptures have a depth that was missing in the statues of the Mukteswara Temple. The guardians of the eight directions project from the base of the temple in eight directions, starting from the gateway in the clockwise direction around the porch and the deul, finishing at the Torana (entrance).
The scenes of Shiva, Nataraja, and Parvati’s marriage are the cult images in the temple. There are tall, curvy, intricate nayikas gracing the walls of the sanctum portrayed in various roles and moods in a flirtatious alliance with actions such as turning her head from an altruist, caressing her child, holding a branch of a tree, looking into a mirror, taking care of her toilet, taking off her ankle bracelet, cuddling her pet bird and playing an instrument.
The temple of Lingaraja in Bhubaneswar is especially worthy of mention among all the temples of Odisha. It has the splendor of architecture, and it is considered one of Kalinga’s most excellent east archeological monuments, with its total perfection. Between 1025 and 1065 A.D., it was built. A massive 180-foot-tall tower overlooks the entire Bhubaneswar landscape. The temple is inside a sizeable 520-by-465-foot complex of laterite with many smaller temples. Tribhubanesvara (Bhubaneswar), which has given the city its name, is regarded as the deity presiding over the temple.
The Temple of Lingaraj is Bhubaneswar’s largest temple. The temple has four frontal projected parts, including The Deula, Jagamohana, Natamandira, and Bhogamandapa. It is considered by the temple to be “one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temple in India.”
The presiding Goddess is a manifestation of the Parvati Goddess, and in this temple, there are several deities. These temple walls are carved form of the goddess Durga, Chamunda, Bhairava, and other deities. The courtyard is also known as the Sahastralingas, as there is a Thousand Lingas. The tank water is said to have healing powers inside this temple to cure physical illness
The temple of Lingsaraja, which reflects the matured artistic excellence of the Kalinga form, is architecturally magnificent.
Jagannath Temple or Shree Mandira
The Jagannath temple at Puri is worthy of commendation among the temples constructed during the Ganga period.
One of the holiest places of pilgrimages in Odisha is the Temple of Jagannath. It is Lord Vishnu’s temple and is of great significance. It has a very significant spiritual value and is visited every year by thousands of employees. Do you want to know about this temple a mysterious fact? Well, the flag flows in the opposite direction to the wind on the top of this temple.
Priests of this Jagannath temple in Odisha should ascend the 45-story temple to change the flag. Since the temple was built, this ritual has been followed. There is a misconception that the temple shuts down for 18 years if this practice is skipped even for one day. one more amazing fact is there are also no temple shadows apparent during the day.
The vast complex occupies over 400.000 m2 and is enclosed by a high fortified wall. An extensive temple complex surrounds the structure. This 20 feet (6.1 m) high fence is called the Meghanada Pacheri.  The main temple is surrounded by another wall known as the kurma bedha. It is one of India’s most majestic monuments with its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya temple architecture style.
The main temple of the temple is a curvilinear temple. The top is the eight-spoke wheel ‘srichakra’ of Vishnu. It is made of Asthadhatu and is considered holy, also known as the “Nilachakra.” The temple of Shri Jagannath is the largest among the present temples in Orissa. The temple tower was designed on a lifted steel frame and overlooked the surrounding landscape at the height of 91 feet (65 m). The temples’ pyramids and neighboring hallways or mandapas rise like a ridge of mountain peaks in steps toward the tower.
Temples inside The Jagannath Temple Complex
The temple of Vimala Devi is worthy of commendation, among other small temples in the Jagannath Temple complex. Iconographically, the building may be dated before the establishment of the temple of Jagannath. The sacrifice of the goat in the festival of Dasahara before the Goddess Vimala clearly shows the temple’s Sakta-Tantric nature. Few more shrines to be mentioned are Sakshigopala shrines, Kanchi Ganesh, Panchasakti Nilamadhava, and Bhadrakali shrines. In Lord Jagannath’s temple complex, the temple of the Goddess Laxmi is another impressive architectural splendor. The pilgrim’s scene is charmed by elephants, who pour the water on the goddess’ head for artistic excellence.
Another Shrine within the temple complex is the Navagraha Temple, with the Sun god. The community of Saura is evident in the glorious Ganga days, as is also evident from Konarka’s Sun temple.
In the temple complex, Anandabazar is another crucial location. Here the Lord’s Mahaprasada is sold. In this place, both men and women take the Prasada together regardless of caste and faith. Lord Jagannath’s temple premises are other essential features to be seen, the Koili Vaikuntha, the Nilachala Upabana (garden) and a museum (recently opened), etc.
Sun Temple at Konark
The Konarka Sun Temple is by far the most complex expression of the Kalinga architectural form, which is popularly called ‘Black Pagoda.’
The legend says that the building of this massive structure took 12 years for 1200 Odishan artists. Located 35 km northeast of Puri, the Sun Sanctuary draws visitors from around the world on the Chandrabhaga river bank.
Konarka is popularly regarded as the Sun God’s Arkakshetra. Vimana, Jagamohana, and Natamandira make the Sun temple. Owing to the stone fall of the temple, Vimana is now missing. On a high platform stands the present Jagamohana (Mukhasala) with a pyramidal roof. The 24-wheels on which the Deul (sanctum) and Jagamohana (porch) stand, sculpted on the sides of the raised platform, represent 24 hours a day. A herd of seven horses spirited carved on the stairs marks seven days a week. Together, the wheels and the horses present the notion that the temple was constructed as a gigantic Solar Chariot.
Sundials carved out of this temple tell the time precisely during the day and night. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple’s structure was designed so that the Sun’s rays would fall directly into the temple’s central sanctuary. Besides, magnets are placed on top of the temple, holding two iron sandwiched plates between stones.
The Konarka Sun Temple is notable for its sculpture collection. They contain deities, celestial musician-nymphs, birds, animals, mythological figures, secular statues, erotic figurines, insects, motifs, decorative bodies, etc.
One of the most impressive deities are chlorite depictions of Surya, the rising Sun, midday sun, and setting Sun, respectively, in the three predicted South, West, and North niches of the Deul. The artists rightly matched their talent by portraying the Sun rising with a smiling face, the midday sun with a severe look, and the Sunset with a fading appearance.
Other Noteworthy Temples In Odisha
Another piece of architectural work is the Navagraha sculpture of the temple. In the following order, from left to right, planets like Ravi (Sun), Chandra (Moon). Mangala (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Sukra (Venus), Sani (Saturn), Rahu (the ascending node), and Ketu (the descending node). The Siva (in the form of Linga), Purusottama (God Jagannath), and Mahisamardhini (Durga) worship is taken from the sculptural remains of the Konarka Sun Temple. Four such sculptures were preserved in four separate locations. One at Konarka’s Sun temple, one at Konarka Museum, one at the National Museum (New Delhi and the last in the Bhogamandapa of the Jagannath temple at Puri.
The three outstanding animal figures guard the three staircases of the Jagamohana, which are a notable feature of the sun temple at Konarka. In the East, elephants are situated on the north and warhorses on the south, among these figures Gajasimhas (Lion on Elephant). These animal figures express the Oriya sculptors’ artistic abilities.
The ingenuity of the Oriya artists from that time is amply demonstrated by many sculptures, such as the décored gate, the royal chambers, musicians playing various musical instruments, the king’s procession to receive the warriors, saints meditating, the figures of elephants, goats, snakes, camels, and divine figures. The image of Giraffe eating grapes on Konarka’s Temple wall is fascinating as it is an African animal. The Oriya artists have come into contact with the animal is unknown. However, it is undoubtedly a remarkable feature of Konarka’s temple art.
The Konarka’s sun temple is the finest example of Oriya artists’ artistic genius. With the building of the Sun Temple in Konarka, the architecture of Kalinga reached the peak of perfection. The only temple in East India is one of the seven wonders of the world from sophistication, harmony, and beauty.
The other noteworthy temples in Orissa are :
- Maa Tara Tarini Temple – The Maa Tara Tarini Temple on the banks of the river Rushikulya is considered one of the Shakti Peethas in India.
- Temple of Brahmeswara – constructed in the architectural style of Lingayat. The foundation of this temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built in the ninth century, making the temple one of the oldest in Odisha.
- The Temple of Gundicha has a lovely garden and is crowded in Jagannath temple only during the annual Ratha Yatra.
- Ram Mandir — It is said to be the most visited temple in Bhubaneshwar and one of the most famous in Odisha.
- Temple of Ananta Vasudeva – One of Bhubaneswar’s most popular places for visiting because of its history and art of the 12th century. Lord Krishna, Lakshmana, and Subhadra are the principal deities.
- Cuttack Chandi Temple – which is supposedly Cuttack’s signature temple, is flooded with almost 20 visitors per year.
- Chausathi Jogini Temple – The Archeological Survey of India has the temple preserved; according to legend, the temple is Goddess Durga, who has taken the shape of 64 semifinals, in the attempted derailment of a demon.
- Mausi Maa Temple – Located in the center of Grand Path. It is a small temple devoted to Ardhashini, the Goddess.
Visiting Beautiful Temples in Odisha
We hope we are able to give you some good insights on temples in Odisha and Indian traditional Architecture. I am sure this journey will be an outstanding one for you if take the road.
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