My first introduction to the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar was while I was studying Indian Art at the National Museum. In a lecture on the North Indian Nagara style of temple architecture, the Lingaraja Temple is shown in detail as the best example of Nagara temple architecture. As the speaker explained every aspect of this great temple, the desire to visit it was born within me. Landscape of the temple. Get a perspective of the scale by looking at the visitors It took a few years before I could visit the temple. The sheer size of the temple and the temple complex evokes a sense of awe. Our guide first took us to the viewing base where you can get a view of the temple. It was built for British rulers who were not allowed inside the temple. Yes, this is one of those few temples where only Hindus are allowed. The platform only provides a distinct view that does not spring from inside the temple. Landscape of the temple building from the vantage point/platform What you see is a series of small temples surrounding the large temple in the middle. Devotees move around the building from one temple to another. History of the Lingaraja Temple in Odisha there are four prominent sacred areas called Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Padma inspired by the four Ayudhas of Mahavishnu. Bhuvaneshwar is located in Kshetra Chakra. Also known as Ekamra Kshetra which refers to a mango tree and probably means that the original temple was under a mango tree. Remember that Kanchipuram also has a temple called Ekambareshwar dedicated to Shiva. Who built the Lingaraja temple? The oldest evidence of the temple dates back to the early 7th century AD when it was built by the Keshari kings. Although the main parts of the temple date back to the 11th century AD by Yayati or Jajati Keshari of the Somvamshi dynasty who moved his capital from Jajpur to Bhubaneshwar. Remember that this is the time when the grandest temples like Kandariya Mahadev in Khajuraho and Brihideeshwara in Thanjavur were built. Nagara Architecture – Lingaraja Temple The Lingaraja Temple is one of the largest Hindu temples with a complex size of 520 x 465 feet. It is an east facing temple built in sandstone and laterite. It is built in the typical architectural style of Kalinga Nagara or in the Deula style, and it has all the components of this style. Vimana or Garbh Griha is the longest, followed by Jagmohan or Mandapa, followed by Natyamandapa or ballroom, and finally Bhog Mandapa or performance hall. All of them have roofs in descending order of height. Front view of Shikhara temple surrounded by a tall wall or Prakara, the temple is actually a complex of 150 or so small temples. This follows the tradition of all Tirthas being represented in the local tirtha. This also means that although it is a royal temple, this temple is a sacred heritage. The Bhagawati Temple is located in the northwest corner of the temple. I remember seeing a lot of ancient Shivalingas in the temples as well as open plazas for pilgrims to take a break. View of Shkhara The Shkhara, or superstructure of the temple, is 180 feet high, and is supported by 12 chardulas. However, what makes it so interesting to temple historians is the fact that it is a profusely carved shikhara. Literally every inch of it carved out of stone tells many stories. The entrance to the temple has lions carved on the sides called a simhadwar. Dibi Padahara pond landscape Dibi Padahara pond landscape, temple in the background In front of the temple there is the Dibi Padahara reservoir which you have to go down a few steps to reach. It is surrounded by many small shrines all around, and mini temples. Close-up view of Debi Badahara tank Behind the tank, there is a public park with an elevated platform. If you are visiting the temple, take a look at the landscape of the temple and the tank from there. It is only 100-150 meters away, so don’t miss the chance to see the temple. Debi Padahara tank dashboard READ – Bhubaneshwar Lingaraja Heritage Temples Lingaraja literally means King of Linga or Royal Linga. It is a Shiva temple but Shiva is worshiped here as Harihara or the combined form of Vishnu and Shiva. The linga here contains a line depicting two gods meeting together. The same appears in the flag above the temple which is mounted on the Benaki Arch in place of the Trident or Chakra. Similarly, the leaves of belva and tulasi are offered to the deity. Linga here is an uncarved granite boulder that is about 8 feet in diameter and rises about 8 inches above the ground. It is surrounded by a black chlorite rim that represents the yoni. It is also called Tribhubaneshwara – Lord of the Three Realms. Another username is Kritibasa. A landscape of the temple and the pond in front of it is believed to be a self-manifesting swayambhu or lingam, one of the 64 prominent Shiva Kishitras throughout the country. They say that this lingam appeared only during Dwapar and Kaliyuga. It is also believed that Bindusagar – the nearby reservoir is filled with a river that originates from the bottom of the temple. Tradition says that Yatra to Jagannath Puri is not complete unless you visit Ekamra Kshetra first. Even Chaitanya Mahaprabhu followed this tradition before visiting Puri. The Ekamra Kanana Pauranic tales tell us that here Ekamra Kanana or Mango Orchard was a favorite of Shiva. He even preferred it over Kashi and shared it with Parvati. Curiosity led Parvati to visit the area and she came here as a Jubica or shepherd woman. As she was wandering, two asuras named Kriti and Basa followed her. And because of their admiration for her beauty, they proposed to her to marry. Parvati shyly asked them to lift her on their shoulders first. They did so easily, without realizing the divine nature of Devi. They were crushed under her weight. Parvati felt thirsty after this incident when Shiva created Bindusagar Lake to quench her thirst. It is said that he invited water from all sacred rivers and lakes to come here. Everyone is obligated except Godavari. She was cursed and that curse was only removed after she worshiped Shiva and Parvati. Bindu Sagar Lake The pilgrimage to the city really begins with a swim in the Bindu Sagar Lake. This is especially important on days like eclipse or sankranti. Next, she visits Ananta Vasudeva who is the main deity of the region. After his family members are worshiped, you finally enter the great temple of Tribhubaneshwara – Lord of the Three Realms or Lingaraja. Brahma Puran describes in detail the practices of this temple. A landscape of Lake Bindu Sagar, Bhubaneshwar Temple prasad is served in small sugarcane baskets just as it is served at the Jagannath Puri Temple. It is not customary to give prasad in Shiva temples but due to the presence of Vishnu, prasad is given here. 22 different rituals involving Abhishika with different things like water and milk or bhang, aartis and puja are performed throughout the day as is customary in temples. They switch from awakening the god in the morning to sleeping at night. Festivals at Lingaraja Temple Being a Shiva temple, Mahashivaratri is the biggest festival celebrated here. People fast, present pil papers and perform Abhisheka on this day to Lingaraj. Mahadwipa lit on this day. During the holy month of Shravan, a month with a deep association with Shiva, pilgrims called Bol Bums carry water from mehendi to the temple and present it to Shiva. This is equivalent to the Kanwariyas in northern India. The Rathotsava / Rath Yatra or chariot festival is celebrated in the Ashoka Ashtami or Chaitra Shukla Ashtami. On this day, Lingaraj and Rukmini Murtis from the temple visit the ancient Rameshwar temple in the city. This follows a tradition where deities who came later are visited but may now be more prominent the oldest deity in the city. Chandan Yatra is a 22-day festival where chandan or sandalwood paste is served to devotees. Gods, priests, and temple staff were smeared with sandalwood and then immersed in Bindusagar during this time. The Sunni day is celebrated during the monsoon month in Bhadrapada when people associated with the temple pledge allegiance to the temple. I suppose this was a royal practice at some point in history. Another Temple Landscape Travel Tips Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. Others can view the temple from the viewing gallery. Ideally, you are expected to take a bath before visiting a temple, and do not pollute the temple in any way as stipulated in spiritual texts. The temple is open from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 3:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Photography is forbidden inside the temple, and even the use of a mobile phone is not allowed. Temple belongs to ASI although it is managed by the Trust Temple Board. You need 2 hours to see the temple in detail but it also depends on the crowd that day. It is in the city and therefore well connected with public transportation facilities like city bus, cars and taxis. Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Odisha, is well connected by air, train or road. Accommodations for all ranges are also easily available in the city.