Lingaraj Temple

About Lingaraj Temple
Vital Information for Visitors
Address:

Lingaraj Temple, Rath Rd, Lingaraj Nagar, Old Town, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Open & Close:

Open on all days: 06:00 AM to 09:00 PM

Entry Fees:

Free

Duration:

Approx 2 hr

Festivals:

in February, Ashokastami (car festival of Lord Shiv) in April & Yatra (sandalwood ceremony) in May.

Built in the 11th century, the Lingaraj Temple is the most prominent tourist attraction of Bhubaneswar. Dominating the skyline of Bhubaneswar is the Lingaraj Temple, the largest temple in the city. Though the Lingam of the Lingaraj temple is worshipped as Harihara (half Vishnu & half Shiv), but images of niches of the temple convincingly prove that it was built for Siva. It is adorned with sculptures described in Vaisnav Puranas. For its decorative art embodied in its superb sculpture, this temple is famed as one of the finest monuments in the East. Surrounded by smaller shrines, the main temple consists of a curvilinear tower, and several halls for offerings of material things, dance and music. The compound is enclosed by a high wall. It is set in a huge walled-in compound with dozens of smaller votive shrines and really forms a world in itself. Entrance is limited to Hindus only, but there is an excellent vantage point platform erected at the time for the archeologist Viceroy, Lord Curzon. Pilgrims flock here to take blessings from the gods and also to make their ablutions in the neighboring Bindu Sagar Lake which is supposed to be filled with water from every sacred river in India, and which should consequently possess full powers to wash away all sins! Lord Lingaraj, the idol himself, is brought here once a year from the temple for a bath. In the center of Bindu Sagar is a tiny island with several shrines which is a must visit place for Hindu pilgrims. Near the central ghat of the tank stands the fine Ananta Vasudeva Temple.

The Lingaraj dates from about the year 1000 AD and originally consisted only of the porch and shrine; the dancing hall and the hall of offering being added some hundred years later. The compound measures 520 by 465 feet, and its curvilinear tower (vimana) built entirely without mortar rises to a height of 127 feet. The tower is divided into vertical sections and at the top just below the lineal spire are the figures of a lion crushing an elephant. The tower is hollow and one can reach its top by an interior staircase hewn out of the 7 ft.-thick walls. The inner walls of the shrine are without any adornment at all and house the lingam symbol of Siva. Out outside the sculpture is profuse and lavish and represents a high point of Hindu decorative art. Here are gods and goddesses, nymphs and dryads and some of the ‘mithuna’ couples whose amorous poses seem sometimes to shock Western visitors to India. The carvings on the outer walls clearly represent the dexterity and imagination of the artists. All the designs are not only artistic but lively also. The way the artists have engraved the background of the images it can easily be inferred that they were alert in giving relief to the eyes of the visitors to appreciate the art fully. In the northeast corner of the compound (among sixty some other votive shrines) is a temple dedicated to Parvati which would shine as a small jewel in its own right if it were not in the shadow of the majestic Lingaraj. Along the eastern side of Bindu Sagar are several minor temples of the same shape as the great Lingaraj.

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