Temples of Orissa – Illustrious Architectural wonders of India


Image – Simi

How many times have you crooned the national anthem? Did you know that the ‘Utkal’ in ‘Pañjāba Sindhu Gujarāṭa Marāṭhā Drābiṛa Utkala Baṅga’ meant Orissa? Orissa made its place in ancient and medieval India owing to its strategic location. Many trade routes sprouting from Orissa went to lands as far as Indonesia. The pristine 485 kilometres long coastline is another feature of Orissa. The 9th largest state of India, Orissa, is a perfect place for spending your vacations near-shore silence, religious faith, and spiritual peace. The state is famous for its illustrious architectural wonders. Most of these architectural marvels stand interlaced with the religious prodigy. The temples of Orissa are the hidden gems of India.

If you visit Orissa and do not look in on the temples in the state, your visit is incomplete. 

Here is a list of 12 temples of Orissa you must look up to: 

1. The Sun Temple 

Temples of Orissa - The Sun Temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

One of the most prestigious and famed temples of the state, the Konark Sun Temple is a must-visit place. Builtin the 13th century, today, it is a protected UNESCO Heritage site. A chariot design beneath the main complex is the most stupendous attribute of the temple. The unique structural design attracts a lot of tourists. 

The temple stands committed to God Surya. Even after destruction owing to the ravages of time, the temple still stands as one of the best architectural sensations of its time. The red-hue rocks, ornate carvings, and deliberate and detailed Kalinga architectural specialization are captivating.   

2. Lingaraj temple 

Temples of Orissa, Lingaraj temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

The Lingaraj Temple stands elegantly at the centre of the capital city Bhubaneswar. Built-in the 11th century, the temple is one of the oldest temples in the capital city. The old construction and year-long gap haven’t affected the spectacular material and spiritual excellence of the temple. 

Along with being on the list of the oldest temples, the Lingaraj Temple is also the largest temple of Bhubaneshwar.  The expansive main complex consists of sixty-four shrines. The detailed carved sculptures are the most striking feature of the temple.   

3. Jagannath temple 

Temples of Orissa, Jagannath temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

The Jagannath temple serves as the heavenly Abode for the spirits of the Hindu pilgrims. Ratha-Yatra or the chariot festival is its most executive and cheerful feature. The chariot festival marks the glory of this temple in the last 2000 years. 

4. Mukteshwar Temple

Temples of Orissa, Mukteshwar Temple
Image – Mike Prince / Flickr

Mukteshwar temple is not as grand as the Konark temple. The old temple dates back to 950 AD. However, the beautiful carvings on the wall of the temple are remarkable. These cravings depict a plethora of things, ranging from soft stem lotus flowers to frolicking monkeys. 

5. Ram Mandir 

Temples of Orissa, Lingaraj temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

The Ram Mandir of Bhubaneshwar is one of the most visited places in the state.  The prime deity worshipped in the temple is Lord Rama. The temple complex also embraces shrines of Lord Hanuman and other deities. The massive spires are the unique and the most magnificent features of the temple. 

6. Maa Taratarini Temple 

Temples of Orissa, Lingaraj temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

The temple located at the top of the Purnagiri hills is also one of the four Adi Shakti Pitha’s present in the country. The temple is famous for the worship of the twin goddess Tara and Tarini. Legends suggest that Sati’s breast fell at the spot where the temple stands today. The temple is also one of the oldest pilgrimage centres of Mother Goddess in India. 

7. Biraja Temple 

Temples of Orissa, Biraja Temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

The Biraja temple is one of the 18 Maha Shakti peethas of Devi Durga. The 13th century temple is synonymously called Viraja Kshetra as well. This is partly due to the worship of  Girija or Viraja (Goddess Durga). According to religious legends, Sati’s navel fell at this spot. The temple complex has shrines of other deities as well. 

8. Gundicha Temple 

Temples of Orissa, Gundicha Temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

Gundicha temple serves as the resting place of Lord Jagannath during the Rath Yatra. During the Ratha Yatra, the priests transfer the idols to this temple for a span of nine days. The temple got the title of ‘Garden House of Lord Jagannath’ due to this aspect. The name ‘Gundicha’ comes from Lord Krishna’s aunt’s name- Gundicha. The simple, beautiful temple is famous for its Kalinga architecture style and use of single grey sandstone. 

9. Rajarani Temple 

Temples of Orissa, Rajarani Temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

The temple is nationwide famous for its erotic cravings. The temple built in the 11th century extends narratives via spires and sculptures. According to old rumours, the temple served as a pleasure retreat for the Oriya kings.

10. Vaital Deula Temple 

Temples of Orissa, Vaital Deula Temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

The ancient Hindu temple worships Goddess Chamunda. Situated on the banks of river Bindu, the temple’s local name is Tini Mundia Mandira. The temple dates back to the 8th century, adding to the list of oldest temples in the state. The unique khakhra style under the Kalinga school of architecture is the most spectacular feature. Along with this, the architectural style shows elements of both Hindu as well as Buddhist shrines. 

11. Brahmeswara Temple 

Temples of Orissa, Brahmeswara Temple
Image – Wikimedia Commons

This is also a primaeval example of architectural marvels in the religious aspect of the state. Built-in the 9th century, the Brahmeshwar temple is one of the finest examples of old architectural practices. The Somvanshi dynasty patronized the construction of the temple. 

12. Ananta Vasudeva Temple 

Temples of Orissa, Lingaraj temple 
Image – Wikimedia Commons

The 12th-century temple is present in the heavenly city of Bhubaneswar. Lord Krishna, Balrama, and Subhadra are the prime deities in the temple. Queen Chandrika patronized this vaishnavite temple. The symbols and figures in the temple resemble that of the Lingaraj Temple. The effigy of the three idols involves utmost precision. The idol on the seven-headed serpent depicts Lord Balarama. Second, the idol holding a small pot full of jewels belongs to Lord Subhadra. Finally, the idol holding a mace chakra, lotus, and conch denotes Lord Krishna. Temple’s renovation took place in the 17th century under the Marathas.

Here comes the end of our list of temples in Orissa; however, the entire list is eternally long. Several other famous temples of Orissa include Sri Lokanath Mandir, Amarnath Temple, Dhabaleswar Temple, Cuttack Chandi, Parsurameswar Temple, Biranchi Narayan Temple, and Gupteswar Temple. 

The Government of India recognizes 112 temples in the list of the state-protected temples of Orissa in a total of 11 districts. However, the other records mention the presence of more than 700 temples in the godly state. The other name of Orissa is Ekamra Kshetra which means Temple city. Visiting the Abode of temples and not seeing the temples would be a disgrace.

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