Lingaraja Temple: The Largest Temple in Odisha
India literally breathes with its ancient temples and monuments. They form the essence of the country’s rich history and culture. Even the ruins of the temple speak volumes of how glorious it would have been once.
Lingaraja Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is acknowledged as one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of Odisha.? Aptly described as the ‘time quintessence of Odishan architecture’, this famous Hindu temple attracts lakhs of pilgrims every year. The temple celebrates Shivaratri festival with abundant enthusiasm.
The sanctum is dedicated to Lord Harihara, a reincarnation of half Lord Vishnu and half Lord Shiva. It boasts of being the largest and the oldest temple of Odisha. It was constructed by King Jajati Keshari and King Lalatendu Keshari of Soma Dynasty during 10th - 11th century. The temple flaunts the typical Kalinga style of architecture with the reflections of Odisha’s medieval times.
Nearly 1000-year-old, this landmark is visible from a distance of 15km. The main temple is 55m tall and has about 50 other shrines. Almost every Lingam temple in India is dedicated to Lord Shiva only. However, Lingaraja Temple is presumed to be the only temple in India to worship both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva together
Following are the main attractions of Lingaraja Temple:
The ‘main temple’ or ‘Vimana’ is composed of red sandstone with the darkest shade of stones. A massive Linga (phallic form of Lord Shiva) is worshipped. It is believed to have self-originated and represents both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. It is washed with honey, milk and a bhang(beverage made of cannabis leaves) everyday.??
The ‘assembly hall’ or ‘Jagamohana’ was added during 11th century to the temple. It measures 11 m by 9.1 m from inside and 17 m by 15 m from the outside. It has a 30m tall pyramid shaped roof. The semblances of the entrances are adorned with perforated windows with a lion sitting on its hind legs.
It is the ‘hall of offering’ where the deities are presented with clean and carefully cooked meals. There are four doors to this hall, each on one side. The exterior wall is adorned with different carvings of men and beasts. Everyday cooked rice along with curries and sweets are offered to the deity, amidst loud chanting of mantras and hymns. This food is later distributed among the pilgrims called as prasad.
Nata Mandir or ‘Hall of dancing’ has been a significant part of every Kalinga architectural style of temple. It is believed to be associated with the cult of Devadasis, young women who stayed and danced in temple.
The Lingaraja sanctum has a beautiful ‘Nata mandir.’? The hall has 3 entrances, with one being the main and other 2 as the side entrances. The walls bear mesmerising carvings of couples and women. Unlike the other parts of the temple, it has a flat roof.
Excursions from Lingaraja Temple
Globetrotters can also explore nearby sites like Rajarani Temple (1.5km), Dhauli hills (7km), Mukteswar Temple (31km),? Puri(53km) and Chilika Lake(57km).
How to Reach
Air: Bhubaneswar Airport (3.7km) is the nearest aerodrome to the site connected to almost all the major Indian cities.
Rail: Tourists can reach Bhubaneswar railway station and take a cab or taxi to reach the site.
Road: Buses, rickshaws and taxis are the common means of transport to reach the temple.
So, get started for a visit to this remarkable Temple, for the best way to comfort your soul. Come and experience it with Lingaraja Temple Tour.
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