Dates Back : 650 A.D.
Significance : Belongs to the Earlier Group of temples of Bhubaneswar
The Earlier Group
The small temple of Parashurameswar, also at Bhubaneswar, is believed to be a good specimen of early Orissan architecture of the post-Buddhist period, as is seen from its rudimentary vimana. Although dating as far back as circa 750 A.D., it is still in a good state of preservation. It is notable for its intricate stone engraving of the marriage of Shiva and Parvati (Uma) and for the elaborately sculptured medallions on its front facade. The royal lion, Kesari's proud symbol, is conspicuous by its absence. In place of the bold, strapping animals depicted on the walls of other Orissan temples, those at Parashurameswar are almost invariably victims of the huntsman's spear.
Another example of the early phase is the Vaital Deul, although it differs fundamentally from the Parashurameswar temple in that it derives from quite another tradition. The tower of its inner sanctuary is reminiscent of the gopurams of the Dravidian temples, and many architectural features, such as its elongated vaulted roof in two stories, its ridged finials and its gable-ends, suggest that like those structures, it too developed from the Buddhist chaitya-hall. The Vaital Deul has four replicas of the main shrine in each angle of the jaganmohan, which is also of uncommon design, and is thus representative of a panchayatana, or five-shrined temple in the earliest stages of its evolution.
On each of the exterior faces, a central 'spine' projects from the rest of the facade, giving an overall sense of vertical tapering 'ribs' which converge at the top. Some scholars feel that this reflects the memory of ancient rudimentary shrines, based on bamboo poles tied together at the top. The porch is of an extremely early type, rectangular in shape, rather than the square, which was adapted later. It is covered with corbelled slabs of heavy masonry. Light enters the interior through skylights, doors, and pierced latticed windows.
The sensitive eye may find the junction point of the two structures i.e. the 'Deul' and the 'Jagmohana', to be somewhat awkward, and this led earlier scholars to postulate that the porch was added at a much later date. It seems more likely, however, that this was a result of the construction technology.
The method of building these immense structures involved burying the completed portions in successively higher layers of earth, building inclined planes up which heavy pieces of stone were then dragged. Even in recent times, the temple at 'Khiching' was reconstructed using this ancient method. The disadvantage was that the porch could not be built until the 'Deul' was completed and the earth incline on its front face removed. It is this that leads to the tension at joining point.
The rectangular niches running around the base of the porch contain imagery of diverse deities. Although this was a Shiva temple, it is attractive to note that images of Vishnu, as well as the Vedic nature deities of 'Indra', 'Surya' and 'Yama' appear, in addition to a group of seven mother Goddesses.