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The Lingaraja Temple




Bhubaneswar, Orissa



One of the oldest and the biggest temples in Bhubaneswar

Best Time to Visit


March - April

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Along with the Jagannatha Temple at Puri, the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar district represents a masterpiece of Orissa's medieval architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva as Lord Lingaraja, it is a 11 th century temple. The temple is not only well known as a religious site but also an architectural achievements. One of the oldest and the biggest temples in Bhubaneswar, it is said to have been built first, by the ruler Jajati Kesari in the 7th century who had shifted his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneswar.

The local legends says that once Lord Shiva, said to Parvati that he prefers Bhubaneswar over Benaras. Then Parvati decided to take a look around the city and changed herself as a cowherd. During her travel, she was followed by Kitti and Vasa, the two demons who were subsequently killed by her. Following this incident Lord Shiva resided here as Lingaraja.

Sprawled over 25,000 sq. ft, spacious compound, the Lingaraja temple and its 150 smaller subsidiary shrines are enclosed by solid red sandstone high walls. The 520 feet long and 456 broad walls are meant to protect the temples from invaders. The temple has a huge 54m spire which dominates the Bhubaneswar landscape. An architectural wonder, the spire is hollow, made up of several chambers reached by a stairwell, built through the seven inch thick wall. The amla head is supported by four lions, surmounted by the pot shaped pinnacle, in turn carrying the trident of Lord Shiva. 

The compound has another outstanding temple, dedicated to Parvati. Although non Hindus are not allowed inside, it is possible to get a glimpse of the main features of the temple from a famous vantage point. It is a raised platform, built by the British just outside the north perimeter wall. On the eastern side of the temple, is the entrance which is known as the Simhadwara or the Lions' Gate. It has Lord Shiva's Trishul on one side and Lord Vishnu's Chakra on the other.  The temple is divided into four chambers interconnected to each other; the external part (Jagamohan a pillared hall), the inner sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagriha a square structure), and Nata Nandir (hall of dance) and the Boga Mandir (hall of offering). Both Nata Nandir and the Boga Mandir are of later origin. 

Lovely sculptures depict the kings and queens, royal court, dancing girls, hunters, cultivators, musicians playing on musical instruments, etc are carved inside the temple. 

The main deity of the temple is Svayambhu Linga, reflecting Lord Shiva as hari-hara or half Shiva and half Vishnu. The deity is also referred to as 'Tirubhuvaneshwar' meaning 'Lord of the Three worlds'. The sanctum contains the lingam made of black granite which is plain and without any embellishment. The lingam is 8 ft in diameter and is raised 8 inches above the ground. The deity is bathed daily with water, milk and bhang (marijuana).

 In some of the other subsidiary shrines can be seen a number of images such as 'Parvati', 'Karttikeya', 'Ganesa', 'Surya' 'Balarama', 'Subhadra', 'Krishna' and 'Trivikrama'.

Thousands of devotees comes here to offer prayers on the occasion of Shivaratri festival in February-March. On the night preceding the new moon thousands of pilgrims light lamps in a nightlong ceremony of devotion. Hindu mythology says Shiva married Parvati on this day. The devout believe that worshipping Shiva on this day brings happiness and prosperity. The annual chariot festival conducted on the day of Asokastami (April) is also a major draw.

 To the north of the temple, is the Bindu Sagar Lake. Also known as the Ocean Drop Tank, it is believed that the lake contains water from every holy stream, pool and tank in India. During the festival of Ashokastami, the shivalingam of the Lingaraja temple is taken to the Jalamandir which is right in the center of the Bindu Sagar Lake for ritual bath. Bindu Sagar is 2 km south of city center. This attractive lake, which is popular among the locals and tourists, adds grace to Bhubaneshwar city. The scenic beauty of this lake is enhanced by the stones, which have been laid along the embankments.