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Architectural Style : Orissan Temple Architecture
A Magnificent Example Of Temple Architecture Of Orissa
It is one of the finest Shiva peetha in India and is named after the 'Ling' or the 'Phallic symbol enshrined in it.This temple is called a temple complex because almost 65 secondary temples cluster around the central structure.
Lingaraj temple was built in 617-657 A.D and its height is about 54 meters. Its towering spire-like beauty dominates the Bhubaneswar skyline.It represents the the peak of Kalinga style of architecture spanning over 25 centuries of progressive history.This 11th century temple is the culmination of architectural beauty and sculpted elegance.
The temple is surrounded by a massive wall of 520 feet long and 456 broad and the main gate is guarded by two lions and capped by a pyramidal roof. This temple is called a temple complex because almost 65 secondary temples cluster around the central structure. Of these the Parvati temple takes pride of place.
Some of the finest sculptures that are embodied in it turn out to be the product of very rare artistic genius. The sculptures depict the Kings and queens, royal court, dancing girls, hunters, cultivators, musicians playing on musical instruments, etc. Lingaraj, the God in the temple is represented as a linga or a black stone eight feet in diameter. Such a representation of Lingaraj is called as Swayambhu a natural linga. It was Jajati Keshari who laid the foundation of the Lingaraj temple and his great grandson Lalatendu Keshari completed the work.
Traditionally, the construction of the temple is associated with three of the later 'Somavamsi' kings with names ending in 'Kesari' but there is no reliable record of its date.
However, an inscription on the wall of the 'Jagamohana', recording the grant of a village for the maintenance of a perpetual lamp in the shrine of 'Krittivasas', by which name the temple was anciently known, and dated A.D. 1114-15 in the reign of the 'Ganga' king 'Anantavarman Chodaganga', sets the later limit of the date of the temple.
The temple is a combination of four structures, all in the same axial alignment - 'Deul', 'Gahamohana', 'Nata-Mandira' and 'Bhoga-Mandapa', the last two being subsequent additions. The spacious courtyard is full of shrines, big and small, of varying dates, their number exceeding a hundred, of which only a few are of outstanding merit. The complex is enclosed by a massive compound-wall pierced by an imposing portal on the east and two secondary gates on the north and south.
The Temple Deity
By the time the Lingaraja temple was constructed, the Jagannatha cult had become predominant throughout Orissa. This is reflected in the fact that the temple deity here, the 'Svayambhu Linga', is not, as in all other cases, strictly a 'Shiva linga'. It is considered to be a 'Hari-Hara' linga, that is, half Shiva, half Vishnu. This and the variety of deities represented elsewhere on the temple, once again point out the basically syncretic nature of so much of Orissan religion.
There are 150 subsidiary shrines within the immense Lingaraja complex, many of them extremely interesting in their own right, but non-Hindus cannot visit them.
Minor Shrines In The Compound Of Lingaraja
Amidst the group of subsidiary shrines clustering round the great temple, two, one, on the north of the 'Jagamohana', known as "Gopalini" or "Bhuvanesvari" and the other, on the south of the 'Deul', known as "Savitri", are of the "Khakhara" order. The 'Parsva-Devatas' in them are different forms of 'Parvati'.
In some of the other subsidiary shrines can be seen a number of images of different dates, mostly of 'Parvati', 'Karttikeya', 'Ganesa' and 'Surya' and rarely of 'Balarama', 'Subhadra', 'Krishna' and 'Trivikrama'.
Many of them found their way into these shrines after the decay or destruction of the temples, to which they had originally belonged. Particularly noticeable is an early image of 'Parvati', housed in a tiny shrine to the northeast of the Lingaraja temple.